KERSEY – THE
VILLAGE: Kersey is mentioned in an Anglo-Saxon
will of about 990 A.D., and in the Domesday Book as a thriving community
of some 150 souls. The village appears a century later in the tax records
of Abbot Sampson of Bury St. Edmunds, and an Augustinian priory was founded
to the north of the village about this time, on land provided by a local
heiress. Prosperity was underlined by the Lord of the Manor being granted
the right to hold a weekly Monday market in 1252. Despite local sheep-rearing
featuring strongly in Domesday, there is no direct evidence that wool was
the foundation of Kersey’s prosperity, nor that the “Kersey” coarse
ribbed cloth mentioned in Skakespeare’s “Loves Labours Lost” came
from the village. But clothmaking was well established in neighbouring
towns by 1300 and Kersey would undoubtedly have been involved in weaving
the general prosperity of the area, based on wool, Kersey’s
priory declined and was dissolved in 1444, and in the Peasant’s
Revolt, on the feast of Corpus Christi in 1381, five rebels are recorded
from Kersey. The market had fallen out of use by the seventeenth century,
as the woollen industry moved to Yorkshire, but a fair is listed from
1759 to 1805. The registration for hearth tax in 1674 showed Kersey having
upwards of 70 households, but nearly half of these were classified as
poor. In the following century Kersey had an endowed school, paying the
schoolmaster 40 shillings a year, and by 1776 a workhouse, soon to be
superseded by the nearby Cosford workhouse and, after 1834, by a 10–Parish
Union workhouse at Semer.
agriculture–based prosperity supported a population of
787, with representatives of almost every trade and service. The population
has fallen steadily since then to the present c350, influenced mainly
by the agricultural depressions of the 1870’s/80’s and 1920’s/30’s.
The village school, however, was opened in 1873 and thrives today, and
the population – a mix of agricultural workers, commuters and retired
people–appears to be benefiting from a welcome influx of newcomers.
NEIGHBOURHOOD WATCH: The Kersey Neighbourhood Watch group was instigated
by the Parish Council in April 1992 with the objectives of:-
1. Increasing the security of parishioners’ homes and property.
2. Reporting on any suspicious incidents, vehicles, and suspected crime.
3. Making it obvious to potential criminals that the scheme’s presence
makes detection more likely.
A co-ordinator and four parishioners collect any relevant information
and circulate it within the village and to the police. Police warnings
and information are circulated. The village co-ordinator and group are
responsible to all Kersey electors through the Parish Council. Information,
literature and window stickers of various types are available if required.
The group is currently:-
Co-ordinator – John
Robinson, Corner House, Kersey (01473 823247)
Member/Treasurer – John Maltby, PAX, Kersey (01473 828383)
Member (South) – Natalie Blyth, 9 Vale Lane, Kersey (01473 827805)
Member (West) – Albert Walls, Hollies Cottage Wickerstreet Green,
Kersey (01787 210492)
FRIENDS OF THE FABRIC AND BELLS OF ST MARY’S CHURCH: Kersey
Church has 8 bells ranging in weight from 3cwt to 14cwt. Practice night is
Thursday between 7.30pm and 9.15pm with 30 minutes ringing before every
Sunday Service. Beginners, learners and experienced ringers are most
welcome. Ringing outings are arranged once a year to places where the
ringers have not rung before. The object of the association of Friends
is to promote support for the maintenance and repair of the Bells of
St Mary’s Church, Kersey and the associated fabric of the bell
tower. Membership is open to all including people from outside the village
who are interested in bell ringing. The Association is run by a committee
of which the incumbent is an ex officio member. Fund raising events are
held from time to time to support the objects of the Association.
Further details from:-
Tower Captain – Mr Neville Whittell, 39 Anne Beaumont Way, Hadleigh
Tower Correspondent – Mrs Kate Bellman, Elm Farm, Kersey