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Five things you didn't know about Rushmere St Andrew's history

PUBLISHED: 11:24 30 April 2017 | UPDATED: 12:11 30 April 2017

Rushmere St Andrew common. Picture: GRAHAM MOSS

Rushmere St Andrew common. Picture: GRAHAM MOSS

A special two-day exhibition held earlier this month celebrated more than a century of Rushmere Heath's history.

An old photograph taken in The Drift, Rushmere St Andrew, on display in the Then and Now exhibitionAn old photograph taken in The Drift, Rushmere St Andrew, on display in the Then and Now exhibition

But those compiling the exhibits also unearthed plenty of details about the village’s past that many people won’t be aware of.

From gruesome deaths to military movements the village has its own story to tell.

Much of it has been documented by the Common Committee and the parish council on its website, but more is being unearthed all the time.

During the exhibition, people in the village were also being encouraged to share their own memories and pictures.

Here then are five lesser-known facts about Rushmere’s history.

Rushmere Heath has a rich history. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNRushmere Heath has a rich history. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

A bloody past

While today seen as a charming and quiet Suffolk village, Rushmere Common has seen its fair share of death and darkness in the last few hundred years.

The common has hosted plenty of executions, with some figures estimating around a hundred between 1735 and 1797 for crimes including burglary, murder and robbery.

Among those was 26-year-old John Hodgson accused of highway robbery and defrauding the army of £600.

Hodgson had enrolled in the army 98 times to receive payments while rarely carrying out any military duties, but he couldn’t make the trick last forever and found himself before the gallows, which has thankfully long since been removed.

The tablet on the wall of Rushmere Baptist Church outlining the rights of commoners. Picture: DAVID KINDREDThe tablet on the wall of Rushmere Baptist Church outlining the rights of commoners. Picture: DAVID KINDRED

The common at loggerheads

The common was run under the ownership of local manors for at least two centuries, with the Marquis of Bristol among the most unpopular with the commoners.

A committee was formed in 1881 to resist his claims and his attempts to prosecute some of the individuals.

A prominent champion of commoners’ rights was Nathanial Abblit, who outlined their rights in a stone tablet.

The tablet remains visible to this day on the wall of the baptist church.

The Heath Road Hospital site from the air in the early 1970s as the Maternity block was being built. Some of the former workhouse buildings remain to this day. Picture: JIM EMPSONThe Heath Road Hospital site from the air in the early 1970s as the Maternity block was being built. Some of the former workhouse buildings remain to this day. Picture: JIM EMPSON

Workhouse

A workhouse known as Heathfields Poor Law Institution stood on the corner of Woodbridge Road and Heath Road.

It was built in 1898 but by 1912 housed 385 inmates.

It eventually became Ipswich Borough General Infirmary after the Poor Law was axed in the 1930s, which in time became Ipswich Hospital.

Some of the old workhouse buildings remain at the site to this day.

Golfers on 

Rushmere Heath in around 1949. Picture: DAVID KINDREDGolfers on Rushmere Heath in around 1949. Picture: DAVID KINDRED

Golf club

When Ipswich Golf Club was formed in 1895, an agreement was drawn up between the Commoners Committee and the club for the club to pay £30 a year.

In return the club asked for non-interference and co-operation in its sporting activities.

The agreement was terminated when the club moved to Purdis Heath.

Shortly after in 1929 Rushmere Golf Club was born.

Rushmere Heath. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNRushmere Heath. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Set for war

Troops sent to war with France and Napolean trained on the heath in 1803.

By 1813 some 10,000 troops had been based there.

But between 1814 and 1819 the government had to fork out for repairs to the common made by troops while stationed there.

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