The History and Antiquities of the County of Suffolk: Volume 1. Originally published by WS Crowell, Ipswich, 1846.
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The name of this parish was anciently written Scipmedu, and Schippe-meadowe, and its history is brief, but clear. Godwin held the manor under Roger Bigot: its value had been 3s. in Saxon times, which was raised by the Norman to 4s. In the twentyfourth of Henry III., Walter de Shipmeadow was lord, (fn. 1) who conveyed by fine to Sir Ralph Bigot his right of fishing in the river Waveney between the towns of Stockton and Shipmeadow, and in the cutting of reeds and flags. In 1302, King Edward I. granted to Sir John de Norwich and his heirs, free-warren in all his demesne lands in Shipmeadow. The village afterwards became the manor of Walter de Norwich, who died in the third of Edward III., and left it to Sir John de Norwich, Knight, who procured another charter of free-warren for the said lands and estates in the thirty-first of Edward III. (fn. 2) He died in the thirty-sixth of the same reign, and left them to John his grandson. The manor of Shipmeadow was soon after transferred to the revenues of Mettingham College; and was granted, upon the dissolution of that establishment, with other possessions in the neighbourhood, to the family of Denny. By an inquisitio post mortem, taken at Bury on the 16th of April, in the fourth of Edward VI., Sir Anthony Denny, Knight, was found to die on the 10th of September preceding, seized of the manor of Shipmeadow, held of the King in capite. (fn. 3) In the fifth of Elizabeth, Henry Denny occurs as lord of the manors of Bungay, Ilketshall, and Shipmeadow, then written 'Sheapmeadowe;' with license of alienation to Nicholas Bacon, who held the latter manor in the tenth, twenty-third, and thirty-second of the same reign. It soon afterwards passed by purchase into the family of Suckling, where it has ever since remained.
The advowson of Shipmeadow was held by Walter de Shipmeadow in the year 1239, (fn. 4) and was granted in 1268 to the nuns and convent of Flixton. Upon the dissolution, the Duke of Norfolk had a grant of this advowson, who presented it to John Blennerhasset, Esq., of Barsham. The deed of gift states, after the usual preamble, that the said Duke presents the advowson of Shipmeadow to the said John Blennerhasset "in considerationem boni et fidelis servitii nobis impensi." What the good and faithful service had been is not expressed. The deed is dated a. d. 1562, and bears the great seal of the Duke of Norfolk in red wax. (fn. 5)
The advowson was purchased of the Blennerhasset family in the reign of James I. by Sir John Suckling, Knight. It was then stated, that "the liveinge of the p'sonage of Shipmeddowe was worth to the p'son 50. p. ann." It remains in the patronage of Sir John's descendants.
The Church is a rectory, dedicated to Saint Bartholomew, and valued in the King's books at £10. It consists of a nave and chancel, without aisles: the former is covered with thatch, and the latter with slate. At the west end is a square tower of red brick and flints, erected, most probably, in the early part of the 16th century, as its solitary bell bears this inscription, iohn brend made me. 1540. The church itself appears to have been built in the reign of Henry III., about the time when it was granted to the nuns of Flixton, as there is a lancet window in the north wall of the nave, the style of which accords well with that era. The beautiful window represented below is on the north side of the chancel, and may be referred to a date but little posterior. It is a relic, without doubt, of the architectural taste of the nuns of Flixton, and is the only embellishment deserving of notice in the whole fabric, which is otherwise mean, ill kept, and damp; and disfigured by modern barbarisms in no common degree. The west window throws its light into the nave through a good arch in the tower, and was, till a very late period, ornamented with stained glass. The writer has sketches of some rosettes of green glass, which have disappeared within these last few years. It may be fairly inquired in this place, how far the parochial guardians of this fabric have been really and truly wardens of its property and interests. The font—now thrust into a corner, is of stone, the eight sides of which are carved with five rosettes and three shields: the latter are charged with a bend engrailed; with the arms of Howard; and the engrailed saltire of Tiptoft. It is probable that a branch of this ancient family possessed estates in this parish from the above circumstance; scions of which would seem to exist in the vicinity under the somewhat modified name of Tiptod. This church had formerly a chapel dedicated to Saint Mary. Katherine Fastolf, widow of John Fastolf, late of Oulton, Esq., by her will, dated the 20th of Nov., 1478, leaves to the reparation of the church of Shipmeadow iijs. viijd.; and also "to the chapel of 'Saint Marie de Shipmeadowe' unum vestimentum viridum de Tarteyn ib'm de serviend: in bte Marie Virginis." The parish of Shipmeadow contained in 1841, 265 inhabitants, including 133 inmates of the Wangford Union Workhouse, which is situated within its bounds. It comprises 799 acres, 2 roods, 15 perches of land, whereof 27 acres, 1 rood, 2 perches, are glebe. Its tithes have been commuted at £228. 2s. per annum, exclusive of the rent of the glebe lands.
Rectors of Shipmeadow.
Estimatur ecclia ad xv marc: Synodalia per an: xijd. Denarij S. Petri, xob. (fn. 6)
"Died Feb. 15th, 1803, after an illness of only twenty-four hours, the Rev. John Suckling, Rector of Shipmeadow, and son of Robert Suckling, Esq., of Woodton Hall, Norfolk." (fn. 7)
In 1709, Francis Warmoll bequeathed by his last will 10s. per annum, to be paid to the poor of Shipmeadow out of his lands in Shipmeadow.