Saxmundham & District History

There are a few explanations for the meaning of the Saxmundham name, some believe that it refers to the home of a warrior lord called Seismund or Seizmond.

In his book ‘The Place-Names of Suffolk’ (pub. 1913), the Rev. Walter William Skeat provides the following interpretations.

Spelt Saxmundeham, H.R.; Saxmondeham, D.B., p. 116. An s has been dropped; the original form must have been Saxmundesbam, where Saxmundes is the gen. case of Saxmund, an O. Merc. form. Though Saxmund is not in Searle's list, it is perfectly regular; since Sax- is a common prefix, and -mund a common suffx. The sense is “Saxmund's home” or “enclosure.”

Spelt Benhall, Ipm., p. 161; but Benhale earlier, Ipm., p. 121. D.B. has Benhala, pp. 57, 128; Benehala, pp. 57, 130; Benenhala, pp. 56, 130; Benehalla, p. 34. The right form, amongst these, is Benenhala ; where Benen represents A.S. Beonan, gen. of Beona; a personal name occurring in Beonanfeld, in Kemble's index. The sense is Beona's nook.'

The O. Merc. hale, A.S. heale, only appears in the dative case ; the nom. ended in h, the O. Merc. form being ha,lå, and the A.S. heath. Hath has given us the modern haugh, which is explained in the E.D.D. as meaning ' low-lying, level ground by the side of a river'; while the prov. E. hate (from the above dative case) is similarly defined as 'a piece of flat alluvial land by the side of a river.' The old sense of halh or healh seems to have been a corner, nook, or sheltered place ; it seems safe to define it as 'a sheltered spot, beside a river'; perhaps we may call it 'a nook' for the sake of brevity.

Spelt Keleshulle, ROB. (wrongly); but Keleshale, H.R. ; Ipm.; and Keleshala, D.B., p. 59. Copinger has many other forms, giving the prefix as Cheles (in Norman spelling, with che for ke), Kales, Kelis, Keils, Kels (very rarely with ll ) ; so that the vowel was long. Perhaps the prefix was Céoles, gen. of Céol, a known name; for though Céol would normally be palatalised to Chele, this process was sometimes arrested by Danish influence, as in the case of Kellington in the West Riding, which is from Céolinga-tün; gee Prof. Moorman's explanation of this name. The very same thing seems to have occurred again in the case of Kelshall (Herts.), which has the same prefix, though the suffx -hall has there been substituted for ' hill'; see my Place-names of Herts., p. 34. Thus the name probably means ' Céol's nook.'

Spelt Sternfeld, Ipm. ; Sternefella, D.B., p. 72. But an es has been lost, in a difficult position between rn and f; hence we also find Sternesfella, D.B., p. 71 ; Sternesfelda, D.B., pp. 33, 128. The apparent meaning is “Stern's field.” This personal name is not otherwise recorded; but cf. AS. styrne, E. stern, adj. 'severe.'

NOTE: Carlton is not specifically mentioned in the book but might be similar to the following text.
Carlton Colville is to the S.W. of Lowestoft ; and Colville is the name of a norman family connected with it. Spelt Carleton, T.N., H.R.; Carletuna, D.B., p. 254; Karletuna, D.B., p. 43. For A.S. Carla tün, ' farm of the churls' or husbandmen. Carlo is the gen. pl. of cart, a churl, a husbandman; where cart is not the true native word, but borrowed from the O. Norse kart, a man, rustic, carle ; the A.S. related word is ceorl, mod. E. churl ; as in CHELSWORTH.

Saxmundham Timeline

This feature is under development


Domesday Book

Kelsale, Carlton, Benhall and Saxmundham are mentioned.


Market Charter

Edward II awarded the Charter. The weekly market used to be held on Thursdays until Woodbridge changed theirs to that day.


Swan Chapel

added to St John's Church



John Shipp

Born in North Entrance, joined the army as a boy and rose through the ranks to become a Lieutenant in His Majesty's 87th Regiment.


The Bell Hotel

was rebuilt following the fire which had destroyed the old inn


Market Hall

Built as a Corn Exchange and completed following the patronage of W. Long from Hurts Hall


Town Gasworks built


The URC Chapel

Built on Rendham Road


The Railway Station Opens

The railway came to Saxmundham when the Station opened in June.


Juvenile Oddfellows Hall Built

Fairfield Rd


Lawn Tennis Tournament

The Second oldest Lawn Tennis Tournament, founded in Saxmundham, still takes place over at Framlingham.


Board School

New school opened on 29th October, eventually to become the Primary School before finally closing in 1993(?).


Town Gasworks Sold a London firm, Messrs. Schultz, Comins, and Co., Cannon Street.

It was offered the Saxmundham Urban Council who declined to buy it.


Saxmundham Mill dismantled

All but the brick round house was demolished by William Clarke.


Mains sewers are laid

The town's waste water had been discharged into the Fromus. Aline Aldous, in her rememincences, recalls how her mother was unable to hold summer parties on the lawns of Hurts Hall because the smell from the river.


Foundation of Abif Lodge

Lord Stradbroke laid the foundation stone for the Freemason's Lodge on July 2nd.


Wilfred Pickles

The BBC radio show "Have a Go" was broadcast from the Market Hall.


Roman Lamp Found

Roman lamp in red ware was found at a depth of 3 feet, 20 feet behind Ashfords (Currently Flicks).

This artefact is believed to have been given to Southwold Museum.

SHER Number: SXM 001


Livestock market held for the last time

The Market moved to Campsea Ashe.


A12 by-pass opened


Saxmundham Museum founded

Members of the Saxmundham and District Local History Society including Richard Crisp (Trustee), Helen Revell (Trustee), Gary Eves and John Shove.


Saxmundham Museum Opens

The first public visitors join with the committee and special guest Peter Purves on the opening night at the Museum.


Dedication of War Memorial

The event was marked with a short service, in Fromus Square, which included the releasing of white doves.
11th Novemember 2004.


Saxmundham Free School opens on the site of the old Middle School


WW1 V.A.D. Hospital

The Gannon (Institute) Rooms were used as a Voluntary Aid Detachment (V.A.D.) hospital during World War One.

Aline Auldous - Speaking during an Oral History interview.

Some of the staff and volunteers who served at the VAD hospital are listed on the British Red Cross website: Miss Ethel Clara Cook, Dorothy Phyllis, Mrs. Augusta Catherine Cutting, Miss Bertha Cutting, Miss Aimee Frances Elias, Mrs. Elizabeth Frances Elias, Mrs Emma Newson Ellis, Mrs Edith Forsdike, Mrs. Ethel May Geater, Mrs. Kate Mary Gray, Mrs Amelia Kenworthy - Brown, Miss Alice Lacy, Miss Winifred Violet Levett-Serivenes, Miss Ethel May Linder, Miss Eliza Llewellyn, Dr John Charles Ryder Richardson, Miss Dorothy Scrimgeour.

One of the last woman sentenced to be burnt

The Last Woman to be Burnt.pdfMargery Beddingfield,(1742—1763), murderer of her husband John, was one the last woman in England to be sentenced to be burnt.

Where was the Bottle and Glass?

Possible location of the bottle and glassThe Bottle & Glass is mentioned on an 1837 map of the area. Overlaying the old map onto a modern one appears to show the Bottle & Glass alongside the stream that is a tributary to the Fromus.
Map here

Leaving Saxmundham via Harper's Lane (locally referred to by some as the 'old coach road to Rendham'), through Henley Close and across Felsham Rise. Follow the path alongside the stream and continue just west of what is now the Saxmundham Primary School's site.

A few locals remember seeing the remains of the building many years ago. Some refer to it as being at the bottom or back of Saxon Road which is roughly the same area as shown on the map.

Click on the image to open a report with photographs.

Offical Guide to Saxmundham

"Offical Guide to Saxmundham" by J.S.Waddell c1940.

What is or were the 'layers'?

A possible explaination : An area of land to the south of Saxmundham where stockmen would 'lay up' their stock prior to the bi-weekly livestock sale.

The land was used for events when the Suffolk Show was held in Saxmundham.

The Layers was also a popular camping ground for the 6th Suffolk Cyclists during the Great War as mentioned in the "Offical Guide to Saxmundham" by J.S.Waddell c1940.

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