Bredfield Jubilee Meadow
What is glebe land?
Historically, glebe land was the land belonging to the parish church. It might have been strips allocated to the priest in medieval open fields, or it could have been given to the church by benefactors in their wills. It was therefore spread around the village in small parcels. The rents from this land, together with a land tax called the tithe provided the stipend (salary) of the parish priest. Clergy in large parishes did well, but others lived in relative poverty. Sometime in the early twentieth century, the diocese took over the responsibility for paying all parish priests, so that these differences could be ironed out. In return, individual parishes ceded their glebe income to the diocese, which subsequently took ownership of the small parcels of glebe land.
How much glebe land did Bredfield have?
In 1838, the Reverend George Crabbe had sixteen separate parcels of glebe land, totalling 28½ acres. These were scattered throughout the parish of Bredfield. The rectory was built on one piece, but the rest was mainly let to neighbouring farmers and used as pasture or arable land. Later the village school and school house were built on a piece of glebe land, and another piece was sold to Deben Rural District Council to build council houses (Glebe Road). Village allotments were situated on glebe land opposite Chapel Farm until the 1970s.
How much remains?
After the diocesan board of finance took over responsibility for all glebe land in the diocese, many of the remaining small fields were gradually sold off. Until recently, just two fields remained. These were the old allotments (2.78 acres) and a smaller field on the opposite side of Woodbridge Road (2.05 acres). The diocese is now in the process of selling these two remaining small parcels of uneconomical land.
The Jubilee Meadow land purchase
The parish council has purchased the smaller of the two glebe land fields. This field was originally called Winding Field, presumably because of its shape. It also used to be known as the Quoits Field, because that is where the village quoits team played.
The land has not been cultivated for a long time, and it is now rich in wildlife, including orchids. In the Parish Plan of 2006, it was identified as being important in the local landscape as a site which should be protected from inappropriate development, and as possessing significant potential as a village amenity. It is eminently suitable for a wildlife haven which would contribute to meeting agreed biodiversity targets.
In 2011 Suffolk Wildlife Trust completed a survey of the field and discovered a wealth of interesting flora Glebeland SWT Survey They are currently supporting the development of the land as a conservation area and community orchard, as are Suffolk Traditional Orchards Group, which has already offered invaluable advice. A grant has been secured to purchase the land, but money must be raised for landscaping and planting on the land. Thanks should go to several village groups who have already made generous donations to the Jubilee Field funds. An enthusiastic and committed volunteer group is completing a survey of the Field this summer, is busy making plans for the future and is raising necessary funds, although the land will permanently remain in the ownership of the parish council in order to safeguard its future.