St Andrew's, Freckenham
Freckenham shown within Suffolk
|OS grid reference|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Post town||Bury St Edmunds|
|EU Parliament||East of England|
Geographically, it is relatively flat and has the River Kennet, a tributary of the River Lark locally known as the Lee Brook, cutting through the centre of the village. The parish's boundary forms, on its west and south sides, the boundary between Cambridgeshire and Suffolk.
The village's name is listed as "Frekeham" in 895, and appears in the Domesday Book as "Frakenaham". The name is believed to mean "homestead of a man called Freca", or derive from frecena a Saxon word meaning "the home of strong men or warriors".
The parish of Freckenham has been inhabited since neolithic times; a flint axe was unearthed in the village in 1884. With fens on three sides, early residents completed their defense by raising earthworks that are believed to have originally reached perhaps twenty feet in height. The remains can still be found in the field by the church, and Beacon Mound that was used to relay messages in medieval times was added as part of them in c.14th century.
The hoard of around 90 Iron Age gold coins dating from about AD 20 that was found in the area of Mortimer's Lane suggests that the village lay within the territory of the Iceni tribe. Many of these well-preserved coins are now housed in the British Museum. It is probable that Romans also occupied the area, and the celebrated Mildenhall Treasure were found only a few miles away. During the Dark Ages the village may well have witnessed any of the many Saxon raids on the region and may be the origin of the many bones buried near the church.
The first written record of the village dates from 896 when Alfred the Great gave "Freckenham in the County of Suffolk and my small estate in Yselham (Isleham)" to Burricus, Bishop of Rochester. In the tenth century the conquering Vikings sold the village, but it was restored to Rochester only to be lost again when Sweyn Forkbeard invaded and is believed to have destroyed the village's castle, of which only the motte mound remains. When the Vikings were finally expelled in 1046 the parish passed to Harold Godwinson and in 1066 to Odo of Bayeux brother of William the Conqueror.
When Odo fell from favour, the village once again became the property of the Bishop of Rochester and remained in his property with only minor interruptions until in 1536 it was sold to Sir Ralph Warren, twice Lord Mayor of London.
The draining of The Fens in the late 17th century radically changed the region, removing the fishing industry that dominated the area. The village folk thus turned their attention to farming the newly drained land and the primary industry has been arable farming in the centuries since.
It is likely that a place of Christian worship has existed on the site of the present church since the third century, though no archaeological trace remains. Work on the present church began in around 1195 and the chancel dates from this time. The nave was added in the 14th century, and a tower was built in around 1475, though largely collapsed in 1882, being restored soon after in its original style. The original thatched roof was tiled in 1866.
The carved pew ends are noted and there is an alabaster plaque dedicated to Saint Eloi a patron saint of blacksmiths. The five bells date from between 1623 and 1809. The church is dedicated to Saint Andrew, and has been in the patronage of Peterhouse, Cambridge since 1760, the college's first.
There is also a 1281 reference to the "Chappell of the Blessed Mary", indicating that the village was of sufficient size to merit a second place of worship.
Due to a low population it contains limited facilities, but these include a 16th-century pub, The Golden Boar, a church, and a village hall. Children in the area attend schools in neighbouring villages and towns.
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