The History and Antiquities of the County of Suffolk: Volume 1. Originally published by WS Crowell, Ipswich, 1846.
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Rushmere is so called from its low swampy site, which in early times produced an abundance of reeds and rushes. Draining, and modern improvements in agriculture, have rendered it a fertile tract, and converted the mere, which probably embraced the southern half of the village, into sound meadow-land; so that the ox now fattens on the spot which formerly nourished only the slimy eel. In Domesday Book its name is written Riscemara, when it was the estate of Hugo de Montford, and was valued at 5 shillings and 300 herrings. The Earl held the whole in his own hands, with a fourth part of the church, to which belonged eight acres of glebe, valued at 16 pence. The King and the Earl divided the soc. It had been the property of Gurth. Four of the inhabitants testified at the Hundred Court that William de Doai was seized of it at the time of his banishment, and that afterwards Earl Hugh held it; though at the Survey, Hugo de Montford was lord: but they asserted that the latter did not possess this manor by livery, or legal transfer; and they further declared that the said Walter held it of De Montford. Another estate in this parish belonged, in the time of the Confessor, to Gurth, and was held by Aluric, his tenant, as a manor. It was granted at the Conquest to Earl Hugh, who raised its value from 5 to 10 shillings. (fn. 1)
In 1263, Thomas de Latemer had free-warren in his lands at Ilketshall, Kessinglonde, and Rissemere; but he does not appear to have held the manor here, which seems to have followed in the same descent as Mutford, and to have had its manorial business transacted at the same courts; for in an old court-roll for the latter lordship it is thus recorded: "Mutford. The generall Courte there, holden the Thursday next after Michaelmas, a.d. 1692. At this court the lord granted, in charity to the poor inhabitants of the town of Rushmer, one piece of waste, whereon a house was then lately built, and inhabited by Margaret Hanner; to Thomas Barnet, the younger, Isaac Fenn, John Thurston, and Francis Mawfry, for the use of ye said Margaret Hanner, as long as she should live, and after her decease for the relief of the poor of the parish, by the yearly rent of 4 pence, as by the courte books it doth more at large appear." The lordship is now the property of Mr. Peto, but may be considered as little more than a reputed manor.
The entire parish contains 759 acres, 3 roods, 1 perch of land, of which 10 acres, 2 roods, and 15 perches, are glebes. The commutation in lieu of tithes is fixed at £212 per annum, including the rent charge of the glebes. A new parsonage-house, of red brick, has been lately built by the Rev. Thomas William Irby, the present incumbent. In 1841, the population of Rushmere amounted to 134 souls.
In the twenty-ninth of Edward I., the priory of Petreston gave to that of Westacre, a messuage, and the moiety of a carucate of land at Rushmere, in Suffolk, in exchange for a messuage and a moiety of a carucate in Egmere, Norfolk. (fn. 2) St. Mary's College, in Baily-end, Thetford, had divers lands and revenues in Gisleham and Rushmere, and the adjoining towns, which after the Dissolution continued in the Crown till the twenty-ninth of Elizabeth, and were then granted by that Queen to Edward Wymark, Gent., and his heirs, to be held by the rent of 3s. and 4d. per annum. (fn. 3)
Rushmere Hall occupies a low situation in the meadows at the south of the village: it is a good substantial farm-house, about two hundred years old, but has been much modified in later days. It is now the property of the Rev. G. F. Barlow, of Burgh, near Woodbridge, and was purchased by him of John Lee Farr, Esq., about the year 1820. The Farrs bought it of the Tyrrells of Gipping, in Essex. It possesses a fine old staircase, on the wall of which hangs an ancient picture of our Saviour, formerly in the possession of the Playters family, at Sotterley. It is in a hard dry style, of no value as a painting, but is noticed as a fragment of the wreck of an old and honourable house. This picture was injured in the year 1843 by a flash of lightning, which entered a chimney of the house, and, running along a bell-wire, passed behind the painting, the canvass of which it split, without doing further mischief.
The Church at Rushmere is dedicated to St. Michael, and is a mean and dilapidated fabric, comprising a nave and chancel only, covered with thatch. Its interior, however, is neat, and decently kept. In it may be observed a niche, formerly used as a receptacle for the processional crosses of popish worship; an excellent octangular font, in good preservation; a small Easter sepulchre; part of an old screen, and some benches of rather unusual patterns, in a neglected and rotten condition. The tower, which is circular, and contains two bells, is remarkable for the internal construction of its masonry, which consists of a mixture of flint and bricks; the latter measure on an average about ten inches by one and three quarters. The windows, as is invariably the case where this mixed masonry is used in the circular towers of Norfolk and Suffolk, are all in the pointed style.
Rectors of Rushmere.
Hugo de Montford held a small estate in this, or one of the adjoining villages, called Wimundahal, valued in the time of the Confessor at 2 shillings, but at the Survey rated at 3 shillings and 500 herrings.