Although there has been plenty of evidence of Roman
occupation and the Romans were known to navigate up to Clopton,
the name "Great Bealings" is believed to be of Saxon origin,
meaning the area where the Beda or Bela people lived. It was known
as Belinges Magna until 1674 when the current spelling appeared,
although Magna remained until much more recently.
The village is geographically split into two areas,
with the church set in isolation above the water meadows and marshland.
The church has some remnants from the 13th century, but is mainly
14th and 15th century including the tower with its flushwork decoration.
Inside there are monuments to John Clench and Thomas
Seckford amongst others. Seckford was born in Woodbridge in
1515 and was a senior member of the court of Queen Elizabeth I.
He also founded seven almshouses in Woodbridge. John Clench was
the son of the great Elizabethan Judge John Clench, and died in
Great Bealings in 1628. Canon Moore (son of Edward Moore of Bealings
House) was rector for forty years and was responsible for the restoration
of the church in 1842 -1851 making it much as we know it today.
Pew ends were then carved by Henry Ringham and were so well done
that many people think they are 15th century. Stained glass includes
a west window by H.Hughes (1879), a chancel south window by Mayer
of Munich (1886) and a chancel north window by Ward & Hughes
(1882). The pulpit is Jacobean with back panel and tester. The North
door has tracery and three small figures (a rarity).
Hall was the seat of the Seckford family from the time of Edward
I to Charles I. It was rebuilt in 1530 as a country residence by
Thomas Seckford and described by Norman Scarfe as having the most
romantic 16C façade in England. It was then rescued from
decay in the late 1940s by Sir Ralph Harwood who turned it into
a first class hotel.
Bealings House sits in splendid isolation and is
a red brick mid Georgian building of seven bays with parapet and
pitched roof. Its doorway has Ionic columns and pediment.
The Lodge, listed Grade II, is essentially unchanged
since 1849. Its origins are probably a farmhouse, of the 17th or
The Croft, a Victorian house, was lived in by Admiral
Pelham Aldrich and The Old Rectory, with many distinguished occupants,
is early Victorian and sits high overlooking the church.
Annesley House, originally mid Victorian, was partially
demolished and rebuilt much larger for Colonel and Mrs Downing in
1912 to the designs of well known Suffolk architect Harold Hooper.
The roadside gateway is a copy of Cardinal Wolsey's gateway in Ipswich.
The characteristic hump back bridge was built in
1841. There are now occasional accidents there, and there have been
incidences of people using the bridge as a place to show a car in
mid-air. There was a prosecution for this in the late 1980s/early
90s, following an accident caused by the driver losing control owing
to going fast over the bridge and taking off. His photographer was
also prosecuted for aiding and abetting.
The village has had at least two pubs, "The Boot
Inn" in Boot Street and the "Live and let Live" in
Lower Street. It is thought that two windmills existed in Great
Bealings during the 1800s.
Pelham Aldrich, buried in the churchyard, was Admiral Superintendent
of Portsmouth Docks and was also on several surveying expeditions
around the world. Lord Hatherley, a former Lord Chancellor, is also
buried in the churchyard.
Edward Moor bought Bealings House on his retirement from the
army in 1806. He had served in India, being wounded three times.
He was a Fellow of the Royal Society and an author on Indian mythology.
He constructed the stone folly to the front of the house reputed
to contain his collection of heathen idols so that they might come
to no harm. He also wrote the mystery, "Bealings Bells",
The writer Lady
Winifred Fortescue (nee Beech) was born in the Old Rectory in
1888 where her father was then rector of Great Bealings. In her
autobiography "There's Rosemary, There's Rue" she describes
her early life in the village and the people who lived there.
More recently, the Old Rectory was home of the late
Belstead, who was a local farmer, but also Leader of the House
of Lords, Northern Ireland minister, Lord Lieutenant of Suffolk
and a major benefactor for the new sports field and playground.
His grave is in the churchyard.
For further information on the residents of around
the 19th century, please see the details
extracted by Phil Holmes from all the available census records for