Halesworth snippets

The Duke & Duchess of Cambridge’s children have as their ninth great-grandfather (through the Duchess) a Halesworth man called Benjamin Fairfax.  Turns out he was a nonconformist Minister who lived and worked in the town over 350 years ago.

  • Halesworth born & bred Sir Robert Bedingfield was Lord Mayor of London in 1707.
  • What with the numerous pubs & tap rooms in Chediston St & those in Quay Street, it is thought that there were up to 50 pubs & tap rooms in the town at one time. Now there are 3!
  • In 1835, Durban, South Africa is named in honour of Halesworth born and bred Sir Benjamin d’Urban, governor of Cape of Good Hope.
  • Halesworth was the childhood home of George Lansbury, leader of the Labour party 1931-1935 and one of its founding fathers. His granddaughter is the well-known actress Angela Lansbury.
  • In 1862, PC Tye was murdered in what were the notorious ‘yards’ off Chediston Street  – his convicted murderer was the last man to be publicly hanged in Suffolk.
  • The actor Kevin Whateley (Sgt Lewis in Inspector. Morse) has an ancestor who was the Rector of Halesworth from 1822-1831.
  • The river was once navigable between Halesworth and Southwold.
  • The ‘Bloomsbury Set’ came to nearby Wissett for their holidays.
  • Cornelius Pedgrift  was a local surgeon who came to national attention (notoriety?) when the townspeople helped fund an appeal (successful) against the necessity to register as a practioner under the new Medical Act 1858.
  • The actor Sir Alan Bates opened The Cut Arts Centre and its auditorium is named after him.
  • Halesworth is mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086, at that time known as Healsurda; by the reign of Henry VIII it was known as Haillesworthe. They all mean‘Homestead’.
  • The town has held an outdoor market every week since 1222.
  • Almshouses were built in the 1680’s and were still in use in the 1960’s providing separate accommodation for 12 poor single men and women.
  • CHB Trollope, a clergyman and early 20th C watercolourist, related to the eminent Victorian novelist Anthony Trollope, lived in the town.
  • Number 5 Marketplace, now a private art gallery,  is thought to be the oldest house in the town, circa 1350.
  • Hemp was an important local crop for very many years, being grown in nearby fields for the sails & ropes of the Royal Navy.