Great Finborough, like so many other East Anglian villages, can trace its history back through centuries, not least with the existence of many fine listed buildings scattered throughout the community. With thanks to Russell Kent for the black & white photos and for this summary of the history of Great Finborough.
Great Finborough's name is thought to have derived either from Magna Fynbarow - being a barrow (burial mound) in the fens - or as Hollingsworth has in his 'History of Stowmarket' ; Finebg or fineborga, with the Saxon meaning of Fenn as a marsh and Burgh or Borg as a small town, ie. the town of the Fen, or Fentown. "A large piece of shallow water must have filled all the lower parts of the valley through which the stream from Rattlesden now runs. It is still a marshy bottom. The town may have been of some importance - now the pretty village on the hill."
A Roman road ran through Finborough on its way from Stowmarket to Bildeston and The Domesday Book in 1086 mentions the church and manor. Little and Great Finborough were at that time one parish. The population of Great and Little Finboroughs combined in 1066 was 91; in 1841 they were Great (Magna) 467 and Little (Parva) 64.
Finborough Hall goes back to 1795 when the Pettiward family rebuilt the former Jacobean mansion that was destroyed by fire. It was the Pettiward family seat until 1936. From 1948 until 1978 the Hall was the East Anglian Group Headquarters of Eastern Electricity and is now home to Finborough Private School.
In the past the village pub was 'The White Horse' where White Horse Cottages are now and brewed its own beer; in 1876 the landlord moved across the road to the farmhouse and so was born the local pub we have today, 'The Chestnut Horse'. In the past the village boasted a maltings, sawmill, hosiery factory and fish & chip shops as well as supporting the traditional rural crafts of blacksmith, thatcher and wheelwright.
St Andrew's C. of E. Church as we see it today was built in 1875, although it still retains the original Tudor porch. There has been a church on this site for centuries and is referred to in The Domesday Book. For further information about St. Andrew's, just click here.
These are the current listed buildings in Great Finborough, with the dates they originate from:
Butterfly Farmhouse Grade II* (1570); St Andrew's Church Grade II (1874); Finborough Hall Grade II (1795); Coach House, Finborough Park Grade II (18th Century); Chestnut Horse Grade II (Late 16th Century); Old Forge Grade II (Early 16th Century); Chestnut Cottage & Chestnut View Grade II (18th Century); The Green Cottages (1-4) Grade II (Mid 18th Century); Thatched Cottage, High Road Grade II (Late 17th Century); High Green Farmhouse Grade II (Circa 1500); Boarded Barn Farmhouse Grade II (Early 16th Century); Boarded Barn, Barn Grade II (Late 16th Century); Green Farmhouse Grade II (16th Century); Dairy Farm Barn Grade II (Early 17th Century); Valley Farmhouse Grade II (Circa 1500); Bridge Farm, Valley Lane Grade II (Circa 1500); El Tup & Oakwood, Valley Lane Grade II (Late 16th Century).
The Race of the Boggmen
Every year at Easter, the Chestnut Horse hosts the famous Finborough Race of the Boggmen - here's a short history for anyone interested. While having roof repairs carried out on Boyton Hall in the summer of 1975, local farmer Trevor Waspe discovered a contract of employment written, signed and stamped for the year 1897. On closer examination of the document, and through further investigation, the following facts emerged. As it was traditional for sowing to start around the Easter period, each farmer hired a team of six 'min'. The team that Joseph John Hatten hired for Boyton Hall fell out of favour after a drunken brawl on Good Friday 1897. The men were sacked. Word soon got around that another team was needed and on Easter Monday a team from the nearby village of Haughley set out for Boyton Hall. Meanwhile Joseph John Hatten, worried about the situation, had re-employed the 'min'. Both teams appeared, ready for work. To resolve the problem an idea from one James Boggis of Oulton, who was staying at the Hall, was to throw the contract of employment in the air and the first team to get it over the threshold of the pub in the village of Great Finborough won the job. This event was carried on as an annual tradition and as an excuse to relax before the hard work on the land began. However, it fell into disuse in 1915, when so many Suffolk lads were taken for the fields of Flanders during the First World War. The Race of the Boggmen was revived in 1976 and the rest, as they say, is history...
In addition to this annual event, there are egg and spoon races for all ages at Church Road, an egg throwing contest, (with raw eggs) and childrens egg painting, easter bonnet and colouring competitions, as well as a barbecue and other entertainment at the Chestnut Horse. Various local groups have fundraising stalls in the pub car park and there is a grand draw too. A great fun day for all the family is guaranteed, whatever the weather – it sometimes snows!
Click to read an Elizabethan ode that refers to a Saxon battle fought at 'a' Finborough, thought to be Great Finborough in Suffolk.