Southwold Railway Trust Archive of Wenhaston

History Note #22: Mells

History Note #22: Mells
Recorded in the Domesday Book; and the many changes of ownership over the years

In the Domesday Book of 1086, Mells is listed separately from Wenhaston. In Saxon times it was owned by a free man, Manning, and had a Mill. It supported 8 villeins, 12 borders and 3 serfs, possibly about 70 people. However by 1086 the Mill had gone and the Manor was owned by Robert De Todeni, who had been a Standard Bearer at the battle of Hastings. Mells was just one of his holdings, his main property being at Belvoir, where he built his Castle on top of a hill, and a Priory at the foot, where he was buried. At the Dissolution his coffin was moved to the castle and his coffin lid is to be seen outside the chapel entrance.

The Manor passed through many hands during the next two hundred years, until it was finally sold around 1316 to Sir Walter de Norwich who at that time owned Wenhaston. Later the Manor was made over to Mettingham College until the Dissolution when the Denny’s were granted the Manor. There was a Sale of the Manorship on 3rd April 1991 when it is said to have sold for £6,500.

The chapel of St Margaret was built around 1104, but as it never had a burial ground St Peter’s Wenhaston was its Mother Church. By 1485 it was no longer in use.