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Culford Village Sign

Culford is a small village on B1106 about 4 miles (6 km) north of Bury St Edmunds in the English county of Suffolk. It is the largest of the three villages in the Parish.

For several hundred years Culford was almost entirely an estate village, connected with Culford Hall. In 1935 the last aristocratic family to own The Hall and the surrounding estate sold it and it has since been home to a public and prep school. Culford School acquired the 480 acres at the core of the old estate with the rest having been sold off piecemeal.

In the second half of the 20th century the village developed in a ribbon along the Bury road (The Street - a road created in 1804 by the estate) with some development on small roads leading off it. Within the estate the School has converted, extended and developed many buildings to meet the needs of a modern school. 

The Hall itself is a notable building. There has been a house on the site since at least the C16 and the present Hall has a Georgian core (built by the Cornwallis family in c1796), rather swamped by late victorian additions. These were perpetrated by the Cadogan family in the 1880s when they acquired the estate to provide the then earl with a base near to the racing at Newmarket. The Georgian house can be descerned only from the south west - the northern front (depicted in the village sign, above) and the eastern range (which provided service space) are all Victorian, as is the high-level balustrading which was added in an effort to unite old and new in the 1880s. The Cadogans were responsible for much building on and around the estate and buildings of their era are clearly identifiable by the use of the hallmark red brick and terracotta panels also to be found on the Cadogan estate around Sloane Square in London.

Between the Cornwallis and Cadigan families the Hall was owned by the Benyon family. E R Benyon, the second of the two Benyon owners was an exceptionally wealthy 'Squarson' (ie both squire and parson) who was responsible for gradually increasing the size of the estate to the 20,000 acres that it comprised by the late C18 and for adding many buildings..

Benyon believed that whatever the station of a person in life they deserved to have a sense of ownership over their house and land and while this didi not extend to him giving land to his workers he did provide them with good houses. Hence it was under his ownership that the many white-brick and flint cottages that can be seen not only in Culford but in many of the surrounding villages (all of which fell within the estate) were built. Many of these semi-detached pairs built to a back-to-back design (rather than side by side as is more common for semis) so that each house looked out over its own garden.

A lasting legacy of the Benyon era is the fact that the village has no pub. Benyon regarded the White Hart, which stood almost opposite the main gates to the estate, as "a scene of moral debauchery" and had it closed in 1840 - the building is now a private house, known as Benyon Lodge.

The first mention of a postal service in Culford is in July 1852, when a type of postmark known as an undated circle was issued. The village post office was immediately north of Butchers Row (now the northern drive into the School, opposite the phone box) but was closed in January 1990 - it is now a private house. 


Population change

Source: A Vision of Britain Through Time

Population growth in Culford from 1901 to 2001

Year 1901 1911 1921 1931 1951 1961 2001
Population 313 325 284 286 286 286 637
Number of Houses 78 - 78 76 89 96 -