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Freston Tower
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Me & the Tower
Tower Freston Tower
1909 paper by Rev. C.R. Durrant

To quote from the Proceedings of 1909:

The Annual Excursion of 1909 took members through the Samford Hundred, which is full of places of historic interest. The route covered a distance of nearly forty miles. The start was from the Cornhill, Ipswich, and the first stop was made in Woolverstone Park (by permission of C. H. Berners, Esq.), for members to obtain an opportunity of examining Freston Tower, a familiar landmark standing on the south bank of the Orwell.

The Rev. C. R. Durrant, Rector of Freston, acted as guide, and gave an account of the probable origin of the Tower. He has embodied his remarks in the subjoined paper.

It was printed in:

  • Proceedings of the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology
    — volume 13, 1907-1909, pp382-388

On July 24th, 1856, the members of the Suffolk Archaeological Institute made an excursion to Freston Tower, and a paper was read on the occasion by Mr. Samuel Tymms, in which he stated that:
"there is no authority for assigning it to a period so early as the fifteenth century; or in any way connecting it with the early history of Cardinal Wolsey. Independent of the style of architecture, which indicates a date full half a century later, it is certain, as Kirby himself has declared, that the tower is unnoticed in a very extensive plan and description of the Manor-house, with its offices and outbuildings in the time of Henry the Seventh; that the Wolfferstons, and not the Frestons, resided here at the period laid in the novel"; (this novel is called Freston Tower; it was written by Rev. R. Cobbold, Rector of Wortham, and appears to be the only literary authority for the fifteenth century date), "that the Latimers did not become connected with Freston till some years later; and that in a note in some MS. collections for Suffolk, dated 1565, it is referred to as "part of a house lately built."
But Mr. Fitch, who has kindly permitted me to have free access to his valuable collection of Suffolk documents, informs me that there is still stronger evidence against the novelist's "history" in a Visitation Book of 1561, where the tower is described as "being built within twelve years," of that date, or twenty years after the death of the Cardinal. It is therefore conjectured that the tower was built by Edmund Latymer, about the year 1549, as a quiet retreat, or "pleasaunce tower," for the better enjoyment of the extensive and charming views which are to obtained from it.

That there are some antiquaries who are still inclined to accept the date assigned by Mr. Cobbold was evident at the late visit of our Institute to the Tower on August 5th, 1909. And this opinion found expression in the report of the excursion in the East Anglian Daily Times of the next day, which described the Tower as "this fifteenth century erection." A third date has been kindly sent to me by our Hon. Excursion Secretary, Mr. Vincent B. Redstone, who writes,

"The late Colonel Josselyn of Ipswich lent me a MS. by Reyce which was afterwards in the possession of Reyce's nephew, Mr. Appleton. In 1729 the MS. belonged to Mr. Thicknesse of King's College, Cambridge. In this MS. written in 1655 is, Freston, a Tower not far from the Channel, lately built."
Mr. Redstone suggests that this is the same MS. as that referred to above, and stated to be dated in 1565, and that 1565 is a misprint for 1655. He thinks, therefore, that we must date the structure as early seventeenth century.

Mr. G. R. Clarke in his "History of Ipswich, 1830," appears to take this last view. After describing the Tower, page 402, he writes:

"Excepting a farm-house, at a few yards' distance, there is no trace of any building near the spot. It is not easy to say for what purpose, nor is it certainly known at what period this tower was built. But in the records of the manor-house, and all the out-buildings and offices belonging to it in the time of Henry VII., there is no mention made of the tower, from which we may conclude it was not then erected...

It is, therefore, conjectured that the tower was built by one of the Latymers a short time previous to the year 1655, as an occasional pleasant retreat (or gazebo), for the better view of the river; or probably, it constituted part of an intended house - which may be inferred from a note in some MS. collections for Suffolk, dated 1655, where it is said, 'Here is part of a house lately built, not farre from the channel, commonly known by the name of Freston Tower.' For whatever purposes it was intended, it is a very pleasing object on the banks of the Orwell."

Mr. Clarke seems to be quoting Reyce's MS. as the date 1655 is the same. All the writers appear to think that the Tower was a part - though perhaps a disjointed part - of the Manor House. From the Davy Collections in the British Museum, the Diocesan Registry Records and the Parish Registers, it appears that Robert, son of Wimarc, was Lord in King Edward Confessor's reign. [The name of Whymark may still be seen, I believe, over a shop window in the street (St. Peter's) which leads from the town towards Freston].
  • In 1086 Gilbert de Clare was lord.
  • From 1234 to 1458 the name of De Freston appears amongst the lords.
  • From 1304 to 1349 the name of De Holbroke appears amongst the lords and the patrons.
  • From 1395 to 1458 the name of De Wolferston is found amongst the lords and the patrons.
  • From 1458 to 1550 the name of Latimer is to be met with amongst the lords and patrons.
  • From 1554 to 1627 the name of Gooding is found amongst both patrons and lords. (See Appendices I, II, III.)

Mr. William White in his "History and Directory of Suffolk," fourth edition, 1885, writes under Freston that the Wrights "separated the manor and advowson, and sold their possessions to the Thurston, Jarver, and other families." In the Church is a marble ledger slab with carved shield under the tower. Or, on a chevron between three greyhounds courant sable as many trefoils sliiped argent (Wright), impaling argent, 3 bars and a canton gules (Fuller); Crest, a stag's head erased. Inscription:

Here Lyeth the Body of
John Wright, Esq. Patron
of this Church who Dyed
the 11th Feby. 1723
Aged 78 years.
Here Sleepeth in hopes of a
Joyfull Resurrection Rachell
Wright Late wife of John
Wright Esq Eldest Daughter
of John Fuller of Ipswch Esq.
Dyed ye 28 of July 1717
Aged 46."

Between the Latimers and the Goodwins, Thomas, third Duke of Norfolk, appears as Lord of the Manor. This Duke was committed to the Tower and would have been tried and no doubt executed, but for the death of Henry VIII., which saved him. He seems, however, to have lost his manor of Freston. In Davy's MS. there is a notice of a trial on the 10th day of February, 1602, before Mr. Baron Savile and others, in which it was decided that the Manor of Freston was holden of the Queen by half a Knight's fee, and not of the honor of Clare nor of her Highness' Duchy of Lancaster. Besides the manor of Freston there is in the parish another manor called Bond's Hall, which still gives its name to a farmhouse. This belongs to Lady de Saumarez, heiress of the Brokes of Nacton. (See Appendix IV.)

The two manors, if Freston Tower represents the original manor of Freston, are each of them about three quarters of a mile from the Parish Church and on opposite sides of it; Freston Tower being east by north of it, and Bond's Hall south by west. Clarke,in his history, page 44, mentions that:

"in 1648, great alarm was excited on this coast by the depredations of pirates; the train-bands and auxiliary horse and foot were drawn out of the town to Cattawade bridge, and the town was guarded by seamen."

Was the tower built as a place of safety to retire should the house be attacked by pirates?

In 1730, April 11th, an advertisement appeared in the Ipswich Journal to this effect:-

"To be Lett ready Furnish'd. The Mansion House call'd, Freston Tower, three Miles off Ipswich, containing a large Hall, three Parlours, four Chambers, two large Garrets, a good Kitchen, Brewing-Office and Utensils, two Cellars, a large Orchard, Garden Stable and Pasture for an Horse in Summer. Enquire of Mr. Thomas Grimwood, Linnen-Draper in Ipswich."
The Tower was used for small-pox patients, 1772-1779, and as early as 1767 the following advertisement appeared in the Ipswich Journal for April 11th:-
"Mr. Sutton of Ingatestone informs the public that he has fitted up Freston Tower House for the reception of patients under Inoculation. General terms for patients - six, four, and three guineas."

The old part of the Tower House, which stands forty yards from the Tower, is built of bricks similar to those used in the construction of the latter edifice; the diaper arrangement of bricks is the same in both buildings.

From Davy's MSS., British Museum, Add. MS. 19104-5.
T.R.E. Robert, son of Wimarc.
1086. Richard, son of Earl Gilbert de Clare.
1234. Philip de Freston.
1304. [Sir John de Holbrook] The names in square brackets are taken from a List in the Diocesan Registry of Patrons presenting to the Benefice.
1316. John de Freston.
1317. John de Holbroke died.
1330. Margaret, wife of John de Holbroke, held a part in dower.
Sir Thomas Holbroke, Knt., son and heir.
1343. [Sir John de Holbrook.]
1349. [Thomas de Holbrook.]
1395. [Roger de Wolferston.]
1400. [Roger de Wolferston.]
1451. [Sir Roger Wolferston.]
1458. Margaret, daughter and heiress of Thomas Freston, married Thomas (? Roger) Wolferston of Freston. Dead, 36 Hen. VI., 1458.
Elizabeth, daughter and heiress of Thomas Wolferston.
Thomas Wolferston married 1st, William Latimer of Freston, 2nd, Robert Thorp, Esq. She died 20 Edw. 4 (1480).
1463. [William Latimer.]
1469. [Robert Thorp (in right of his wife Elizabeth).]
1478. [Robert Thorp (in right of his wife Elizabeth).]
1480. William Latimer, son and heir.
1482. William Latimer, son and heir.
1485. William Latimer, son and heir.
1540. Edward Latimer, son and heir, died 32 Hen. VIII., 1540, (but according to the Parish Registers, apparently buried in 1541).
1540. Christopher Latimer, gent, son and heir.
1541. [Christopher Latimer, gent, son and heir] This rather confirms the Registers.
1547. Thomas, D. of Norfolk, attainted.
The Crown as an Escheat.
1550. [Christopher Latimer, Gen.]
1554. [Thomas Goodyng de Gippswico.]
1569. Thomas Goodwin (died 1596). (In the Parish Register, buried in 1595).
1581. [Thomas Godding, gent.]
1587. [Thomas Godding, gent.]
1596. Robert Gooding, son and heir (died 1601). (In Parish Register, buried in 1601).
1601. Thomas Gooding, son and heir (died 1624). (In Parish Register, buried in 1622).
1624. Robert Gooding, son and heir. He married Mary Burly.
Jermyn Burly, Esq., brother of Mary (Harl. MSS., Brit. Mus., No. 410, fo. 85), died 1620.
Thomas Burly, son and heir.
1627. [The assigns of Mary Gooding.]
1646. [Alice Burly de Depden.]
1648. [Alice Burly de Depden.]
1684. [Sir John Wrighte (died 1723).]
circa 1773 William Berners, Esq.



  • Quarterly, 1 and 4, Azure, a chevron between a cinquefoil pierced and three cross crosslets in chief and four in base, Argent (Latymer).
  • 2 and 3, Quarterly, one and four, Sable, a fess wavy between three wolves' heads coupled, Or. (Wolverstone).
  • two and three Argent, on a chevron, Sable three cinquefoils (Freston).

WILLIAM LATYMER of Freston, co. Suff., gent, married Elizabeth, daughter and heir of Thomas Wolverstone of Freston, Gent., son and heir to Roger Wolverstone and of Margaret his wife, daughter and heir of ThomasFreston of Freston, Esq., and the said William and Elizabeth had issue - WILLIAM, son and heir.

WILLIAM LATYMER of Freston, son and heir to William, married Anne, daughter of Edward Bokinge, of Ashbokinge, Co. Suffolk, Esq., and by her had issue - EDWARD, son and heir; Roger, second son; William, Dean of Peterborough, third son; Cecylle, married to Roger Aldred of Lopham, Co. Norfolk; and Elye.

EDWARD LATYMER of Freston, son and heir to William, married Margaret, daughter of Christopher Thwayts of Manningtree, Co. Essex, and by her had issue - CHRISTOPHER, son and heir; Anne, married to Nicholas Bohun of Chelmondistone; Cecylle, married to John Franke; Margaret, married to Anthoyne Clare; Justice, married to Francis Thernelthorpe.

CHRISTOPHER LATYMER, son and heir to Edward, married Eliza, daughter of Richard Wingfield, and by her hath issue - Anne.

Copy of Pedigree in Herald's "Visitation" of 1561, extracted from Metcalfe's Visitations of Suffolk, 1882, pp. 50-1.
The Fitch MSS. in the Ipswich Free Library mention Frances, daughter of Thomas Thorpe, instead of Francis Thernelthorpe.
There is a damaged pane of glass in Freston Church which shows a sexfoil instead of a cinquefoil in the arms.
The entry in the Parish Register of the burial of Edward Latymer (esquyor) seems to read 1541, and not 1540 as in Davy's MSS.

4 Edw. 3. 1330. Nicolas Bonde had free warren
2 Edw. 6. 1548. Simon Sampson, gent, of Kersey.
Sir Thomas Gawdy, Knt. Died 30 Eliz., 1588.
  1609. Leonard Tillet.
  1646. Benjamin Cutler, gent, died 1664.
Rev. Charles Beaumont, died 1756.
  1756. Elizabeth, his wife, died 1791.
  1791. Elizabeth, daughter and heiress, married Philip Bowes Broke, Esq., of Nacton. He died 1801. She died 1822.
  1801. Sir Philip Bowes Vere Broke, Bart, son and heir.


Amended 16-May-2001 by EFB