The Battlefield

The area around the town of Bury St Edmunds was amongst the most prosperous in England, and along the River Lark north of the town were a number of mills, at least one dating back to the Domesday book.  The river itself has undergone many attempts to improve navigation over the centuries, including a degree of canalisation, and it is impossible to define exactly its course at the time of the battle. What is certain is that the eastern bank was substantially marshy, and criss-crossed with many drainage ditches. There was a bridge over the Lark at the town’s Eastgate. Another bridge seems to have existed near the 13th century Babwell Priory to the north of Bury, but may well postdate the battle. However, there appears to have been a ford at the location of the modern-day Causeway Bridge, which is likely to be where Leicester was trying to cross the river. Another ford existed about a kilometre further north, at Salmandeford Mill.

At the time, all three Fornham manors belonged to the Abbey. Fornham St Genevieve itself may have been the most important, it was held by the Treasurer, the Prior had a villa there, and one of its three corn mills was known as “the Abbot’s mill”.  However, the mediaeval village and its field systems were destroyed when Fornham Park was created in the 18th century.


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