The History and Antiquities of the County of Suffolk: Volume 1. Originally published by WS Crowell, Ipswich, 1846.
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Ellough, or Willingham All Saints.
Dr. Tanner says, "Ellough appears to have been the chief name of this village for at least three hundred years, because in one of the Institution Books, prior to the date of 1400, it is called El'gh, quasi alio nomine Willingham omnium sanctorum."
It is a small retired village, lying off the main road, and comprising only 1052 acres of land, the tithes of which have been commuted for a rent charge of £300 per annum, exclusive of the value of the glebes.
In Domesday Book it is written Elga, and is therein stated to have been the property of Burchard, a wealthy Saxon, in the days of Edward the Confessor. It was granted after the Norman conquest to Ralph Guader, Earl of Norfolk, who lost it by rebelling against the Crown, when it passed to Roger Bigot, and was held under him by Robert de Vallibus, at the time of the Survey.
In the ninth of Edward I., Ellough was again the lordship of the Crown, though in the thirty-first of the same reign, Sir Walter Mouncey presented to the church. The manor then passed to the family of Berry; Hugo de Berry being lord in 1322; with whose descendants it remained about a century, and was then transferred by marriage to Sir Thomas Bardolph. In the thirty-third of Henry VI., William Bonds conveyed to John Southwell, and Alice his wife, relict of Sir Thomas Bardolph, and heiress of Berry, the manors of Ellough and Pakefield. (fn. 1) The date, however, of the above transfer, as fixed by Blomefield, is not strictly correct, as Southwell presented to the church in 1452. In 1477, the manor was with Thomas Aslack, Esq., from whose descendants it passed by a female heir to Thomas Playters, Esq., of Sotterley. In 1541, Thomas Playters presented; and by an inquisitio post mortem, taken on the 20th of October, anno 1583, William Playters, of Sotterley, was found to die seized, inter alia, of the manors and advowsons of Sotterley, Uggeshall, and Ellough; and the reversion of the manor of Brusyard. He died June the 6th, in that year, and Thomas was found to be his son and heir. The Playters family held the lordship for above two hundred years, when it was sold, in 1787, to Robert Sparrow, of Worlingham, Esq., and has since descended, with his other estates in the neighbourhood, to the Earl of Gosford, his son-in-law, who is the present proprietor.
By a rental of the manor of Ellough for the year 1685, it appears to have extended at that time into the following parishes: Weston, Shaddingfield, Redisham, Brampton, Sotterley, Henstead, Mutford, Rushmere, Kessingland, Gisleham, Pakefield, North Cove, Worlingham, and Beccles. (fn. 2)
In Dr. Tanner's notes, 1745, it is stated that the Rector of Ellough, alias Willingham All Saints, hath some glebe lands within the bounds of Willingham St. Mary, which the Rector of the latter parish claims the tithes of, and which claim the Doctor seems unable to determine.
The Church, at Ellough stands upon the ridge of what is termed in Suffolk a hill; and, though occupying a rather bleak and naked site, looks down upon a rich but narrow valley, in which the rectory-house and garden are situated.
The preferment is a rectory dedicated to All Saints, and comprises a nave and chancel, without aisles, and a square tower containing three bells, open to the former by a good and lofty arch, the archivolt mouldings of which die into the abutments; a fashion very prevalent in the early part of the fourteenth century.
The body of the church is covered with lead, supported by fine oak timbers, which were originally adapted to a higher pitch; but having been shortened on the principles of modern church economy to a flatter angle, they produce an anomalous effect, not very agreeable to the eye of taste. The chancel is covered by a roof of slate, sustained by a light frame of deal.
There is an octangular font, ornamented with rosettes and shields, at the west end of the nave; and part of what must once have been an elegant screen forms a partition between pews in the nave and chancel. Some open seats in the latter, finely carved in oak or chestnut wood, appear to have been long consigned to a neglect which neither their excellence nor solidity deserve.
On the 6th of April, 1643, this church was visited by the puritanical reformer, William Dowsing, who says in his journal, "we brake down twelve superstitious pictures, and the stepps to be levelled, and a cross to be taken off the chancel, which they promised to do." If this purifier of our churches were now to visit Ellough, he would find little embellishment to condemn; if we except a small unpretending piscina, which occupies the usual position in the south wall of the chancel.
Edmund Besylham, of Ellough, by his will, dated January 4, 1476, desires his body to be buried in the church of Ellough. His will was proved in January, 1498, but Alicia, his wife, who survived him, did not take out letters of administration. (fn. 3)
Monuments.—There is a small brass effigy of a female, placed within the communion rails, the lines of which are nearly obliterated. The inscription, in more perfect condition, commemorates "Margaret Chewt, the faythfull loving wyfe of Arthare Chewt, gentleman, daughter to Christopher Playters, Esquer, who died at thage of 85, in ffebruarie, 1607."
At the head of this effigy are the arms of Playters, Bendy-wavy of six, arg. and az., on the dexter or husband's side; while those of Chewt occupy the contrary position. Chewt, or Chute, bears Gules, three swords bar-wise, arg. hilted or.
Rectors of Ellough.
Estimatio eccliē xviij marc. Synodalia pr. annum xviij. Denarii S. Petri, ixd. (fn. 4)