Location of Sapiston
Sapiston is the tiny village where my Rampley family originates. It is in northern Suffolk lying on the river Blackbourn (really a stream). The name means village of soapmakers. The village was originally right by the ford across the Blackbourn (or Black Bourn), but now only the church and The Grange farmhouse are left. The rest of the village is reputed to have moved a few hundred metres north as a result of the Black Death - I don't know if that's true, but the church (below) does look oddly out of the way today.
Sapiston is bordered to the south-west by Honington, to the north-west by Fakenham Magna, to the north by Euston, to the east by Bardwell, and to the south by Ixworth Thorpe. It is 8 miles from Bury St Edmunds and 6 miles from Thetford in Norfolk.
St Andrew's Church, Sapiston
The local lord of the manor was the Duke of Grafton in neighbouring Euston.
The first Duke of Grafton, previously Earl of Euston, was Henry Fitzroy,
the son of King Charles II. The third Duke of Grafton was briefly Prime
Minister. The current Duke of Grafton is the 11th, and his son is the
Earl of Euston, so I don't know which one lives in Euston manor now.
Sapiston church dates back to the 12th century, (a little before the time of Matilda). It has not been in use since 1972 when the parishes of Sapiston and Honington were combined. The church is now maintained by The Churches Conservation Trust. For more details and photos of Sapiston church, see Simon Knott's informative page on his site www.suffolkchurches.co.uk.
It was in Sapiston that the Suffolk poet Robert Bloomfield, author of "The Farmer's Boy" (1800), worked from the age of ten to the age of fifteen. He was a farm labourer on the farm of his uncle William Austin (who is buried in Sapiston churchyard). Bloomfield was born in nearby Honington, and the church there contains a memorial to the poet, as well as many notes from admirers.
There is a book soon to be published about Sapiston by local resident Mr. Thurlow. Contact me if you're interested in getting a copy.
Sapiston and Honington
The map below shows how small and close together Sapiston and Honington are. The distance between the two red outlines is only about 200 metres! The populations of the villages over the years were:
This sleepy part of Suffolk proved to be an ideal filming location for the 1970s British TV show Dad's Army. In common with much of the surrounding area, Sapiston was used for part of the series, in particular the episode Things that go Bump in the Night.