The area we now call Marlesford Village has associations going back at least to the Bronze Age. We know this because a small axe head dating back to 1200BC has been found here near the boundary with Parham. While something is known about this part of Suffolk in Roman times, little is known of Marlesford itself. However, we know the Romans were here because of a Roman brooch found at the end of Pound Lane.
The discovery of the Sutton Hoo burial ship, which is not so far away, shows that the Anglo Saxons settled this area, and perhaps in Marlesford, but it was not until 1086 that Marlesford made its first appearance in writing when it was mentioned in the Little Domesday Book. At this time Suffolk was one of the most densely populated counties of England. For administrative reasons the county was divided into Hundreds and Marlesford was in the Hundred of Loose, which name still survives in the present day Deanery of Loos.
Lordships of the Manor of Marlesford were held by various families over the centuries until 1793 when William Shuldham bought it. It is William Shuldham’s direct descendant, Mark Shuldham Schreiber, Baron Marlesford, who lives here now.
It is interesting to follow the rise and fall of Marlesford’s population over time. The first mention, in the Little Domesday Book, states that Marlesford had twenty eight and a half taxpayers. This figure, of course, does not include those too old, too young or too poor to pay tax. The census in 1603 gave 160 adults, which is more comparable to modern censuses. The peak population seems to have been in 1851 with 428 people living in the village. Since then the population has declined slowly. An informal survey in 2009 found slightly more than 100 dwellings and a population of some 220, 23% being under 16 and 15% over 65.
Much of the communal village activity is centered on the Grade 1 listed St Andrew’s Church. The list of Rectors hanging in the Church goes back to 1319. Parts of the Church may date from the 12th century. It stands on high ground overlooking the River Ore. We also have an active Village Community Centre, where various events, including those of the Youth Club, Marlesford Massive, are held.
In 1844 Marlesford was described as a “pleasant village”, with most people being employed in agriculture, but also with a miller, a blacksmith and a publican among other tradesmen.
In the 21st century Marlesford is still a pleasant village, but we have lost our pub, our post office and our school. The railway was gradually run down as more and more people got cars and the station finally closed in 1952. We do have a Farm Cafe and a Farm Shop, which go from strength to strength.
This account is largely based on Marlesford, a short history by Margaret Fisher