adapted from a design by George Bain based on the Book of Kells home Programme Bookings Shop The Wuffings .
Wuffing Education

East Anglian Towns in the Middle Ages

Woodbridge - Cliff Hoppitt

with Professor Mark Bailey

at Tranmer House, Sutton Hoo (map)
on Saturday, 24th April 2010

This course will explore the main themes in medieval urban society and economy, with special reference to East Anglia, 1100 - 1500.

Paperback Book: Medieval Suffolk: An Economic and Social History, 1200-1500
Mark Bailey
List Price £14:99 – available from Wuffing Education at £12

The late middle ages were without doubt the most interesting period in Suffolk's history. By the end of the eleventh century Suffolk was wealthy, densely populated, highly commercialised and urbanised; in the fourteenth century its people faced three of the most tumultuous events of the last millennium, the Great Famine (1315-22), the Black Death (1349) and the Peasants' Revolt (1381). Their response was flexible and innovative, because by 1500 Suffolk was one of the richest and most industrialised regions of England, with a strong economy based on cloth manufacture, fishing, dairying and tanning.

In allying a mass of parochial detail to national and regional developments, as well as the broader historical debates, Bailey brings to the fore a scholarly ability to draw out the significant while also identifying the unusual.... this study has managed admirably to achieve its aim of being clear and informative, while also providing fascinating insights into the complexities of a local society and economy. ECONOMIC HISTORY REVIEW

You can see excerpts from the book by clicking here

Available via pre-order (email to and collection must be made from Sutton Hoo at one of the Study Days.  In this way there is no postage payable.  Bring your book along on 24th April for Mark to personally sign it.

Provisional Programme
  10.00 Coffee on arrival  
  10.15 The Origins of Towns, 600 to 1100
This introductory sessions sets the urban scene for the day school, including an outline survey of sources and the evidentiary basis for studying this subject. It then looks at the origins of East Anglian towns. Drawing from the work of archaeologists and Domesday scholars, it considers the new dawn of urbanisation from the emergence of Anglo Saxon trading emporia to the evidence of Domesday.
  11.15 Coffee  
  11.45 Urban & Commercial Expansion, 1100-1350
The urban structure was transformed between 1100 and 1300, to the extent that the urban foundations of modern of East Anglia were comprehensively laid in this period. Dozens of new fairs and markets were established, and new towns were planted, sometimes as speculative commercial ventures. The growth of the common law, and the military stability of England, encouraged trade and travel. This session considers these developments within the wider context of the broad economic and social changes which stimulated commerce.
  12.45 Lunch break  
  14:00 Discovering East Anglian Towns
This session considers the nuts and bolts of urbanisation. It looks at the topography and evolution of towns, medieval town life, their governance, and the importance of religion. Case studies, such as Castle Acre and Clare, will be deployed to illustrate the major themes. It considers the evidence available to historians, from documentary sources to buildings and town plans.
  15:00 Tea break  
  15:15 The Paradox of Late Medieval Towns
In the 1960s and 1970s the fortunes of late medieval towns were the subject of a lengthy, and ultimately rather dull, debate between historians. The catastrophe of the Black Death (1349) and subsequent population collapse dramatically shifted the economic paradigm within which towns operated, and created serious challenges as well as some fresh opportunities. Well documented case studies—such as Yarmouth, Ipswich, Lavenham and Dunwich—will be contrasted with lesser known ones (Woodbridge, Covehithe, Lidgate and Thetford) to illustrate the main issues, and also to demonstrate the seismic economic realignment of the fifteenth century.
  16:15 Close  

About Professor Mark Bailey

Dr Mark Bailey went to school in Suffolk, and subsequently ran a school in Leeds. He is currently enjoying a Visiting Fellowship in Medieval History at All Souls College, Oxford, and this autumn will become Professor of Late Medieval History at the University of East Anglia. His latest book, Medieval Suffolk. An Economic and Social History, 1200-1500 launched the much-anticipated History of Suffolk series, and has just been released as a paperback.

Some suggestions for further reading
(useful but not essential)

Bailey, M., Medieval Suffolk: An Economic and Social History, 1200-1500 (Woodbridge 2007)
Dyer, C.C., Making a Living in the Middle Ages. The People of Britain 850-1520 (London, 2002)
Dymond, D.P., The Norfolk Landscape (London, 1986)
Dymond, D.P., & P. Northeast, A History of Suffolk, (Chichester, 1995)
Platt, C., The Medieval English Town (London, 1976)


Please phone or email to check the availability of places.  This Study Days are £38 per person, which includes a full day of lectures, access to the NT site, parking, coffee and tea throughout the day, and access to the NT exhibition.  Once you have reserved your place please send a cheque to confirm the booking. For your first booking please complete the application form to ensure that we have recorded your contact details correctly.

Wuffing Education,
4 Hilly Fields,
Woodbridge, Suffolk IP12 4DX
(tel : 01394 386498)

Email cliff AT
(replace 'AT' by '@' in order to send email - we used 'AT' to avoid spam robots automatically sending us emails)

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