© 2017 Bulmer & District History Group

Bulmer & District




        Bulmer & District History Group



We have passed the 'Deal Nursery' of which Tom Rowe recalls, ''When we went sheep shearing in the 1920's the fir trees were a real landmark - we could see them as far away as Hundon!”

Legend has it that this route, which leads to Sudbury, was sometimes used to avoid paying toll gate charges. Somewhere in Bulmer, and quite possibly in the vicinity of this track, may have been the 'missing length' of Roman road which connected Braintree with Long Melford.

On Jenkins Farm to the east, the scythe was first used for cutting wheat in Bulmer about 1850. On Broom Ley to the west, the first 'self binder' was tried about 1882. Imagine then, gangs of, sturdy men, scything, 'shocking up' and later loading the harvest waggons with sheaves. Picture also groups of women and children waiting outside these fields for the final sheaf to be carted, so they could start gleaning, or scurrying along these footpaths to bring the 'harvest lunches' to their husbands or fathers.

Generations of workmen also plodded this route to work at the brickyard. One of them - Philip Rowe - actually staged his own brick kiln beside the metalled lane opposite 'Upper Houses'. But it was during the Great Depression of the 1930's. ''I reckon I was the worst bloke I ever worked for!'' he said later.

In the late 1920's and 30's, ploughman Ernie Lot would stop beside this hedge to let his horses rest.

''You ploughed an acre a day - and walked at least twelve to thirteen miles a day doing it”, he remembered. But he also reminisced of the brief years he spent away from Bulmer on the North West Frontier, and in the trenches of World War One.

Eighteen men from this parish paid the supreme sacrifice in that conflict. Over ninety actually served. Every single one of them knew these footpaths and routes. In World War Two, a searchlight was based near here.

One of the small fields adjoining the metalled lane was known as

'Hop Ground'. Locally, hops were quite an important crop until the early nineteenth century.

To reach the Village Hall, continue along path until it becomes metalled. Proceed for approximately quarter of a mile then ascend track on right hand side of lane. This route affords fine views of the surrounding countryside.

In bygone days, however, the steep hillocks presented agricultural problems.

''lf you were loading a harvest wagon with sheaves on Cutters Field recalls Tom Rowe, “you had to take account of the slopes - and how you placed the sheaves in the wagon. If not the whole lot might come tumbling off - especially when you turned round. Goodness knows what people would have said then!!

''Another time, though, I saw ol' Walter Eaves - who was horseman at Griggs Farm - up a tree in the hedge there ...... And do you know, because he couldn't see over the hill, he's climbed that tree to check his furrows - to make sure they were straight. People were perfectionists that time of day!''

''Further up the hill,'' recalls Evelyn Reeve, ''a stony area was once exposed. My mother, who was born at Upper Houses in 1890, said there was an ancient tradition that soldiers were buried there. Some older people said they were Danes. The field was called Dane Field.”


Turn right and follow track to Jenkins Farm. Turn left at Jenkins Farm along metalled lane. This becomes a footpath after some 200 yards before rejoining road near Bulmer School. At the school bear left and follow lane beside the school, after 50 yards turn right onto a permitted path back to Village Hall.



To the right is Parsonage Wood - famous for its Lilies of the Valley. Nearby is Stonhams Field. Horace Elsey recalls that farm horses were agitated by the passing hunt.

''But one time on Stonhams Field, my mate couldn't hold it, and this horse completely 'took off' with a cottis hoe dragging behind, and went careering off right back to the farmyard!!!''

Horace continues: ''At Jenkins Farm, it was my job to pump up the water for the livestock - I had to turn the handle THREE HUNDRED times every evening!'' (Both from LF)

Plough Green itself may have been named after the 'Plough Inn' which stood next to Jenkins.

In the 1770's Bulmer 'Tye' (or 'Green') still covered some 23 acres. All day games of cricket were played here, whilst stage coaches, farm wagons and great droves of turkeys and geese were driven through on the way to London. The Tollgate, or Turnpike, was near today's 'Fox' inn. ('Bulmer, Then and Now’).

In earlier centuries pilgrims travelled this route to Bury St. Edmunds whilst a Shakespearean actor, Will Kemp, morris danced his way from London to Norwich via Bulmer Tye.

A 'Blacksmith's Lane' records a crucial village industry - ''when the parish had at least a hundred heavy horses'' whilst the lines of young trees in fields beside the path tell of a more recent success story - production of fruit stock from the parish's soil.

As mentioned before: turn left at Jenkins Farm onto metalled lane-cum-footpath. At the school bear left and follow lane beside the school, after 50 yards turn right onto a ‘permitted’ path back to Village Hall.


Walkers of the 'shorter route' will have passed Cutters Field.

Legend has it that in one disastrous harvest the sheaves were not carted from this field until Boxing Day.

The lane opposite the Village Hall leads down to Sudbury.

Thomas Gainsborough's famous painting 'Mr. and Mrs. Robert Andrews' was undertaken in the private grounds of the 'Auberies' to the right.

Jack Cornell recalls the Home Guard attempting 'a quiet march' from the Village Hall down Ballingdon Hill and back up Sandy Lane. ''We had to set off at internals ........ and we were quiet to begin with. Trouble was there's a pub at the bottom - The King's Head. Come the finish we all had a pint and came scampering up like a herd of bullocks!''. (L.F.)

Stories are also told of 'Dad's Army' being trained in dummy hand grenade use by lobbing bricks over the Village Hall ........need one write more! Not one roof slate got broken - but several!!

Yet Bulmer is not a village that is locked in the past. Each week the Village Hall is host to a range cf activities including carpet bowls, country dancing and keep fit, whilst enthusiasts ensure that St. Andrew's Church is still open for worship and provides a warm welcome throughout the year.