Book reviews from the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology and History:
Household Inventories of Helmingham Hall: 1597–1741. (Suffolk Records Society vol. 61). Edited by Moira Coleman. xxxvii + 342 pp., plates, appendices, glossary, bibliography, index. Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 2018. ISBN 978 1 78327 274. Price £35 hb.
Helmingham Hall has been the home of the Tollemache family for the last five hundred years. It was built as a Tudor moated house in 1510 to replace the former Creke Hall which was demolished after John Tollemache married Elizabeth Joyce in 1487. Originally from Avranches in Normandy, the Tollemaches arrived in Suffolk not long after the Norman Conquest and have resided in Suffolk ever since, firstly near Ipswich and subsequently at Helmingham. John Tollemache’s descendants were upwardly mobile and rose from gentry to a baronetcy and finally to the earldom of Dysart. They also had large numbers of children, so the genealogical table provided at the beginning of the book is very necessary, especially as all the baronets were called Lionel!
The present volume is based upon four household inventories for the years 1597, 1626, 1708 and 1741. Having spent many years transcribing and analysing probate inventories, it is a quite different experience to examine household inventories. Valuations are key to probate inventories whereas household inventories have no valuations but set out household furnishings and goods room by room. Compiling an inventory of such a large house is an enormous task, more than 4500 items are recorded in the volume and over 1500 for the 1626 inventory. Many goods are described in considerable detail. Probate inventories are frustrating in this respect, for example, they will list just ‘a clock’, but these household inventories include not only the type of clock but even the maker so that we discover that Helmingham Hall had a pendulum clock made by Benjamin Gray, Watchmaker in Ordinary to George II.
Paintings in the Great Hall are described in detail; a picture of four young ladies hand in hand in the 1708 inventory is easily identified, for it still hangs in the Hall over the fireplace. The volume helpfully produces a colour plate of this painting and another recorded picture also still in the 500 REVIEWS Great Hall, a full-length portrait of Sir Lionel Tollemache, the second baronet. A benefit of having inventories covering a century and a half for the same property and for the same family is that changes over time can be analysed and this applies both to the rooms and to the goods. By 1708, the ‘hall’ has become the ‘Great Hall’. There is also ‘the roome where Mr Bockenham lay’, a reference to the Revd Anthony Bockenham, rector of Helmingham, whose refusal to take the oaths to King William and Queen Mary led to his resignation and subsequent employment at Helmingham Hall. He died in 1704 shortly before the 1708 inventory was taken. The contents of this room reveal that it was a bedroom.
The 1741 inventory lists goods associated with the new caffeine drinks, tea and coffee. It records cups and saucers, kettles, a sugar dish and a ‘teaboard’. It is no surprise to find these goods at Helmingham Hall, indeed they might have been expected in 1708. The gentry led the way in owning such goods but within a few years of the 1741 inventory, ownership had spread to most social groups amongst the ‘middling sort’. Two very extensive appendices in the volume cover the development of the Hall over the period of the inventories, and material relating to a second Tollemache property known as ‘Lugdons’, at Fakenham Magna.
The volume also includes a very extensive glossary comprising more than a hundred pages which not only explains lesser-known terms, but also lists references to the goods which considerably aids analysis. For example, the entry for maps lists all maps recorded in the inventories by subject so that we note that the family owned maps of the world, Europe, Italy, England, Scotland and Suffolk. This facility is a boon for the researcher. Moira Coleman has done a wonderful job in assembling the material together. The book will be essential reading for anyone who is interested in Helmingham Hall, the Tollemache family or in household inventories. It will also be of relevance to specialist researchers in furnishings, textiles and art. The book may also inspire a visit; the award-winning gardens of the Hall are open to the public and are spectacular. Whilst the Hall itself is not open, a visit to the gardens can be followed by a delicious lunch or cream tea in the Coach House.
The Cartulary and Charters of the Priory of Saints Peter and Paul, Ipswich. Part 1: The Cartulary (Suffolk Charters XX). Edited by David Allen. xix + 292 pp., b&w pls, bibliography, maps. Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 2018. ISBN 978 1 78327 354 6. Price £30 hb.
Here is a long-awaited volume; the only known cartulary from an Ipswich priory, and the first volume in the Suffolk Records Society charters series since 2012. The SRS has been publishing documents of fundamental importance for the history of our county since 1958, and the present volume continues this fine tradition. The editor worked for a long period in the Suffolk Record Office, and with his wide knowledge of the history of Ipswich and its town muniments, as well as his profound experience as an archivist, he is the ideal editor for this cartulary.
Each deed is presented with an introductory summary and dating information, followed by a complete transcription of the Latin text. In some cases, the editor has identified the original document of which the cartulary contains a copy, and presented an edited version of this original. When the date of a deed is uncertain, which is often the case, a final note presents the editor’s justification for the proposed date. The cartulary has a curious history; it was deposited in a library in Lexington in Kentucky, via an uncertain route, and was bought by the Suffolk Record Office in 1970.
David Allen unravels some of this mystery in his superb introductory chapter, which as well gives us a detailed history of the priory, its landholdings, and of the gentry families who were amongst its benefactors. No other religious house in Ipswich has preserved as much documentation. The other large priory, Holy Trinity, has left us two detailed rentals of the thirteenth century, but with this publication we now have for the first time much additional data relevant to the history of Ipswich.
Superficially, a cartulary such as the present one merely contains copies of deeds recording grants of lands to the priory. But for the modern scholar it is much more than this; it is indirectly a history of the priory (if only a partial and secular history), and of its place in the social structure and economy of Ipswich. It is also a record of some of the family history of the upper levels of Ipswich society. And since many of the priory’s estates were in villages surrounding Ipswich, it is a historical geography of these places, with much information about agricultural practices.
For onomasticians, those interested in the linguistic history of the names of people and places, it is a basic source of data. For place-name scholars, there is valuable new information, such as the identification of another farming settlement called Carlton (in Newbourne); the element Carl- here being evidence of Viking settlement. Much of the effort in editing medieval documents is in determining the correct reading in cases of ambiguity between, for example, the scribal forms of c and t, u and n, e and o, and C and T. In the Latin text, the context will nearly always fix the correct reading. But in names, both place-names and personal names, difficulties are frequent, and here an appeal to a basic principle of onomastics can help considerably.
This principle states that names are most often compounded of known elements, and so are interpretable. This is especially true of the numerous field and tenement names in the present cartulary, and the principle allows to disambiguate many cases of doubt. Thus, for example, in deed 31, Goldhaveth is nonsensical, and should be read Goldhavech to agree with Goldhavek in 43. It is the personal name meaning ‘Goldhawk’. Similarly in 31, Gedescalec should read Godes-; it is the surname of the Ipswich Godescalk family.
The same applies to place-names; for example the unintelligible Comeres in 122 should read Tomeres to agree with 99. The name means ‘two meres’, and was REVIEWS 499 a place in Hintlesham. It is perhaps a matter of editorial policy whether an apparent Comeres should be rendered otherwise in print, but I suggest that at least a comment is needed to avoid misleading the naive reader. Sometimes a misreading can have consequences for interpretation; in 151, I suspect Willelmi de Bodelle should be Willelmi de Bodesle, where Bodesle is a known place in Foxhall, and thus this William does not belong to the de Badley family. When we read Helioch in 44, we lose the interesting fact that there was a ‘holy oak’ (i.e. Holioch) in Brooks to the north of Ipswich. I counted about thirty such cases of mistranscriptions of just a single letter in names, many of which render an intelligible name unintelligible. The following clarifications to place-names can also be made: Childemelne in 20 cannot be Chelmondiston, but must an unidentified mill. In 24, Aldulueston is not Alston in Trimley, but the place in Grundisburgh or Culpho called Eduluestuna in Domesday Book (DB), and further recorded in the Leiston and Blythburgh cartularies published by the SRS. Fachendune in 27 and elsewhere is the place in Bramford recorded as Fachedun in DB. On page 280, Theford is not Thetford (in Norfolk), but the ford on the Belstead Brook to the south of Ipswich, which is recorded in the descriptions of the bounds of the liberty of Ipswich. Despite these quibbles, this volume will be an essential source for everyone interested in the history of Ipswich, and the concluding second volume, containing further documents and the indices, is keenly awaited.