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Cockfield tower

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Cuckfield; Kokefelda

In the civil parish of Cockfield.
In the historic county of Suffolk.
Modern Authority of Suffolk.
1974 county of Suffolk.
Medieval County of Suffolk.

OS Map Grid Reference: TL90415430
Latitude 52.15453° Longitude 0.78089°

Cockfield tower has been described as a probable Timber Castle.

There are no visible remains.


Building mentioned once about the time of Henry II, with an enormous wooden tower may well have been a castle. (King)

The manor of Cockfield Hall dates from 967 when it was held by Earl Alfan and his daughter Athelfled. They gave it to the Abbot of Bury in 1086 who granted it to the Prior of Bury in 1275. At the dissolution it was given to the Spring family, in 1545, by the Crown. (PastScape–ref. Churchill Babington)

magnum mesuagium, ubi aula Ade de Kokefelda primi quondam sita fuit, cum berefrido ligneo septies xx. pedum in altitudine
The great messuage, where the hall of Adam the first of Cockfield was once situated, together with a wooden belfry, seven score feet high (Butler 1949)

Old Cockfield Hall, which stood by the green is the most likely site, although there are also moats at TL913549 and TL917549.
There were two medieval manors in Cockfield. Cockfield Hall and Earl's Hall. Earl's Hall was held by the De Vere Earls of Oxford, but seems unlikely as a residential manor for them. The Cockfield Hall, held by Bury Abbey, was tenanted by the the Cockfield family (Churchill Babington, 1880) of knightly status and was clearly a major residence for a family that held several other estates in East Anglia and Yorkshire. They may well have dressed their home up with martial symbols to reflect their status.
The term berefrido is an unusually one for a description of a tower ( turris would be the normal term). It is a term used for a moveable siege tower but also for a belfry. Gatehouse suspects Butler is correct to translate this as 'belfry' and the question here is is this a documentary reference that suggests a post-Conquest continuation of the Saxon 'Bell House' (see Williams, A., 1992, 'A Bell-House and a Burh-Geat: Lordly Residences in England Before the Conquest' in C. Harper-Bill and R. Harvey (eds), Medieval Knighthood iv pp. 221-40 and Shapland, Michael, Forthcoming, 'Anglo-Saxon Lordly Towers and the Origins of the Castle in England', in Transformations and Continuities in the Eleventh Century: Archaeology of the Norman Conquest (Society for Medieval Archaeology))
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:19:30

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