Kersey, Suffolk - History and Facts | History Hit

Kersey, Suffolk

Medieval village

Antara Bate

24 Nov 2020
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Kersey, Suffolk

Kersey is an almost unspoilt medieval village with mainly fourteenth to 16th century timber framed houses on either side of a brook which runs through the main street, creating a glorious view from Saint Mary’s Church.

Kersey history

First mentioned in an Anglo-Saxon will of about 900 AD, Kersey was already a thriving community at the time of the Norman Conquest in 1066. The Domesday Book of 1086 described the village’s inhabitants and their farming activities, as well as mentioning the church. Kersey enjoyed prosperity from the 12th century onwards during the heyday of the Suffolk wool trade in the Middle Ages. Kersey was known for its coarse twill broadcloth that was an important component of the textile trade in Medieval England.

Kersey wool was being woven as early as 1262 in Andover, Hampshire, where regulations prohibited the inclusion of Spanish wool in kerseys. English kerseys were widely exported to central Europe and other places. Many of the attractive cottages in the village were home to families of weavers.

Several of the houses show medieval pargetting, or decorative plasterwork, a specialty of East Anglian houses. According to architectural historians, Kersey probably has the best collection of medieval buildings in East Anglia, dating between the 13th and 15th centuries. The main street has a ford across a stream, known as the Kersey Splash.

St Mary’s Church, Kersey is a Grade I listed parish church. In Medieval times it was an important site of pilgrimage with a shrine filling the whole north aisle.

The church survived Henry VIII’s dissolution programme but was destroyed by Cromwell’s soldiers during the Civil War. The oldest parts of the church date to the 12th century. A reconstruction of the church is thought to have started with the north aisle which was joined to the nave by an arcade and completed in 1335. Work then started on the tower, but was delayed by the outbreak of the black death in 1349. The tower was completed in 1481 and the north and south porches were then added.

Kersey today

Kersey is a picturesque village that is particularly popular in the summer. Nestled in the beautiful Suffolk countryside, many visitors enjoy the numerous walks in the area as well as soaking in the peaceful atmosphere and traditional architecture. Suffolk hosts a walking festival each spring.

Getting to Kersey

Kersey no longer has its own bus service within the village. Many visitors choose to drive to the village, the nearest train station is Sudbury.