The Brecks

Freckenham

Located on the Suffolk and Cambridgeshire border, on the edge of the fens, Freckenham has a long history dating back to Neolithic times. Several hoards of coins have been discovered over the years including gold coins of the Iceni Tribe, dating from Boudicca’s reign. Early written evidence tells us that in 896 Alfred the Great gave “Frakenham in the County of Suffolk and my small estate in Yelsham (Isleham) to Burricus, Bishop of Rochester”.

It may be difficult to believe that there was once a castle at Freckenham. Originally, it would have consisted of a motte with two baileys but sadly, all that remains of it today is the motte. It is thought that the castle may have been destroyed by the Danish king, Sven Forkbeard in the tenth century. For more information about the castle why not visit the Suffolk Heritage Explorer website where you can find out about what our archaeological colleagues have found over the years?

The Fens were important to the village, who relied on them for their fishing industry. When they were drained in late 17th century the village turned to farming instead.

Worlington

Worlington is a small village located on the River Lark whose church houses one of Suffolk’s oldest Bells, dating back to 1310.

All Saints Church, Worlington, nd (K505/1063)

All Saints Church, Worlington, nd (K505/1063)

For those of you who are golf lovers, it is the Royal Worlington and Newmarket Golf Club which will come to mind. Established in 1893, the club has become world renowned, its nine hole course being named ‘The Sacred Nine’ by golf writer Bernard Darwin.

Mildenhall

The Brecks covers an area of 393 square miles across Norfolk and Suffolk and includes the small market town of Mildenhall.

The Brecks is a fascinating area known for its diverse landscape of heathlands, meres and forests as well as its ancient history and heritage. Why not visit The Brecks website to find out more about the activities you can enjoy, which of course include some fantastic cycling opportunities!

The tour now heads to Mildenhall which is famous for its Treasure! It was discovered in 1942 while ploughing a field, however, the landowner didn’t realise how important it was. He believed the objects were made from lead or pewter. It wasn’t until 1946 that their true significance was understood as they were revealed to be Roman objects, made from silver and when cleaned were found to be decorated with beautiful designs. After they were declared as ‘treasure’ by the Crown, they were acquired by British Museum.

You can learn more about the treasure at the Mildenhall Museum which houses a wonderful collection of replicas, including the spectacular ‘Great Dish’.

Did you know that Roald Dahl wrote a short story called ‘The Mildenhall Treasure’? Unlike his later children’s stories, this was a non-fiction narrative of the discovery at Mildenhall. The town was also the departure point for the Mildenhall to Melbourne Air race of 1934 – read more about it here.

But Mildenhall’s fame doesn’t end there as in 1968 Pink Floyd released their album ‘A Saucer of Secrets’ which included the song ‘Let there be more Light’, mentioning Mildenhall as the possible first contact between humans and extraterrestrial life!

Icklingham

All Saints Church is one of 2 in Icklingham and was declared redundant in the 1970s.  It is now under the care of the Churches Conservation Trust and is a charming example of a 14th century thatched church. The Suffolk Churches website has some lovely modern photographs of the medieval tiles and stained glass.

If you’ve ever looked at an Ordnance Survey map and wondered why there is a Telegraph Plantation in Icklingham then wonder no more!

Icklingham OS map

Icklingham OS map

During the Napoleonic Wars (1803-1815) a series of repeating stations existed at 7 mile intervals between Yarmouth and London.  These formed the Admiralty Shutter Telegraph system which allowed key messages to be transmitted across the country in a matter of minutes by using a combination of open and closed shutters.  There were also chains of shutter stations from London to Chatham and Deal; Portsmouth and Plymouth.  The Icklingham station was between Barnham and Kennett’s Chair in the chain.  An article in the local studies material at the Bury branch records that the telegraph system was often disrupted by fog and other adverse weather, meaning that for seventeen days in December 1813 and the same in January 1814 no messages were able to be sent.  Presumably they had to resort to messengers on horseback.