The History and Antiquities of the County of Suffolk: Volume 1. Originally published by WS Crowell, Ipswich, 1846.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
The Hundred of Lothingland.
Lothingland is called in Domesday Book the Half Hundred of Ludingaland, and was returned as the King's Estate. It appears to have formed a portion of the Hundred of Ludinga, which was afterwards termed the Half Hundred of Mutford. (fn. 1) Lothingland continued to be considered as a Half Hundred only till the year 1763, when it was incorporated with the Mutford division as the Hundred of Mutford and Lothingland. It lies in the Archdeaconry of Suffolk, and gives name to a Deanery which embraces all the incorporated parishes; and in judicial affairs is comprehended in the Beccles division. It forms the north-eastern point of the county of Suffolk, and extends about ten miles in length, though its greatest breadth does not exceed five. It varies much in soil, but must be considered, on the whole, as a fertile district.
It is bounded on the east by the German Ocean, against whose encroachments it opposes a bold range of cliffs, except for about three miles towards the north, where it is separated from the sea by a narrow peninsula of sand, called Yarmouth Denes, and by the River Yare, which mingles with the waters of the ocean at Gorleston. On the north, this Hundred is encompassed by Breydon, a salt-water lake, now the shallow basin of the once impetuous Gar. The navigable River Waveney washes its western side with its winding tides, while Oulton Broad and Lake Lothing form its southern boundary; which, uniting with the ocean near Lowestoft, insulate the district.
This insular character of Lothingland, which it possessed from the remotest period of history, was destroyed in the early part of the last century by the action of the tides, and the fury of the eastern gales, which "play the tyrant" on the coasts of East Anglia. Their combined agency raised a barrier of sand and pebbles about a quarter of a mile wide, across the ancient mouth of Lake Lothing, by which all communication between the sea and the river was interrupted. Occasionally, at high tides, the sea broke over this barrier, as if desirous to regain its former dominion. The last irruption which happened at this place occurred on the 14th of December, 1717, when the sea forced its way over the beach with such irresistible violence as to carry away Mutford Bridge at the distance of two miles from the shore. To guard, however, against future damages, a breakwater was erected between Lowestoft and Kirkley, which effectually resisted all subsequent attacks of the ocean, and across which the mail-coach road from Yarmouth to London was formed. Lothingland thus continued a peninsula till the year 1831, when, in pursuance of an Act of Parliament obtained to transport sea-borne vessels to Norwich by Lake Lothing, a navigable cut was made through the recently formed isthmus, and Lothingland became once more an island. Strong lock-gates were placed at the inner extremity of this cut, to prevent the too impetuous entry of the tides, if danger should be apprehended, and barriers of a like description erected at Mutford Bridge, where there is a dam of earth, which forms a causeway of communication between the opposite shores, and divides the Lake from Oulton Broad. The flow of the tide is permanently resisted here, which is not suffered to pass the lock, as the port of Yarmouth claims the flood and the ebb in Oulton Broad and the Waveney.
At an inquisition, held at Lowestoft, in 1845, before Joseph Hume, Esq., M.P., Chairman of the Royal Tidal Harbours Commissioners, it was shown by Mr. Hodges, Engineer of the Lowestoft Harbour, that the difference between the water on one side and on the other of Mutford Lock was sometimes seven feet, in consequence of the land floods. On the Lothing side, during high water, the tide is four feet higher than the water in Oulton. The tide which flows into Oulton Broad by the Waveney, from Yarmouth, is four hours and a half later than the tide in Lake Lothing.
The fee of the Hundred continued in the Crown as a Royal demesne, from the time of the Conquest to the reign of Henry III. By the latter monarch it was granted to John Baliol and the Countess Devorgill, his wife, and passed to John Baliol, King of Scotland; but upon this King's renouncing his homage to Edward I., this, and all his English estates, became forfeited to the Crown. By Edward I. the fee of the Hundred was granted, in 1306, to John de Dreux, Earl of Richmond, his sister's son. John de Dreux, nephew and heir of the former Earl, died in 1341, in possession of it; and in 1376 it appears to have been held by the Earl of Surrey. It next passed into the hands of Michael de la Pole, Earl of Suffolk, whose descendant, Edmund de la Pole, lost it by attainder of High Treason, in the reign of Henry VIII., when it was regranted by that monarch to Edmund Jernegan, Esq., and Mary his wife, and subsequently passed, as the Hundred of Mutford, through the families of Allin and Anguish, to its present possessor, Samuel Morton Peto, Esq.
In 1561, the island of Lothingland returned the following list of freeholders: Laystoft, 16; Gunton, 2; Belton, 4; Bradwell, 1; Borowcastell, 4; Somerleyton, 7; Heringfleet, 4; Ffritton, 3; Gorleston, 6; Hopton, 1; Lound, 2; Blundeston, 10; Corton, 6; Ashby, 2. (fn. 2) Francis Jessup, of Beccles, was appointed Will. Dowsing's substitute for "Lethergland and Bungay."
The coast line of Lothingland has suffered very considerable changes within the last few centuries; for the village of Newton, recorded in Domesday, and lying contiguous to Corton, has been entirely swept away, with a portion of the latter parish; whilst the point, or Ness, at Lowestoft, has been gradually extending itself into the sea. It was lately shown, before Mr. Hume and the Tidal Harbours Commissioners, that this point had extended 132 yards eastward since the year 1825.
Lothingland now contains sixteen parishes, of which Lowestoft is the only market town, and four hamlets.