Pre-Roman artefacts such as Neolithic flint axes have been found in the environs of our settlement. The Roman road goes through Ubbeston - from Heveningham Long Lane, across the fields and past the church towards Cratfield and beyond. Many Roman finds have been discovered along this route. It has been suggested that our former church, St Peter's, now a private house, was built on or near a Roman structure of some kind (see An Historical Atlas of Suffolk edited by David Dymond & Edward Martin p43). Romano British flue tiles were found suggesting it was a Roman villa.
We know the Vikings were here because they left us the legacy of the name of Ubba or Ubbi. With the Old English word tun, we then get Ubba's farmstead.
In the Domesday Book we appear to have two manors, although this is also in dispute. There is mention of Vbestuna held by the Saxon, Thorth or Toret, and then given to the Norman, Ralph Baynard (Baynards/Banyards Green, Laxfield). We also have the disputed manor of Warabetuna or Uurabretuna held by the Saxon freewoman Asmoth and given to the Normans, Roger Bigod and Robert Malet. Some sources claim Warabetuna is actually in Sibton - maybe the boundary changed but the name seems more likely to be a variation of Ubbeston than Sibton. However, interesting to note that Saxon landowners included women!
We know that John Sone had a house built in the 17th century called Harefield House, where Ubbeston Hall stands today. This may have been on the site of the former manor house but not proven. Another possible site for the original manor is Taylors Hill on the other side of the Low Road. And another candidate for the site could be near the church. By the eighteenth century Harefield House had passed to the Kemps of Gissing through the marriage of John's daughter and heir, Mary, and become Ubbeston Hall. John's widow, also Mary, gave the tithes back to the church. They had been taken from the church by Henry VIII. The Kemps were big land owners and baronets. At various points they married into the Heveningham, the Wingfield and the Blois families, all local to Ubbeston.
The Lordship of the Manor of Ubbeston was owned by Heveningham from the 14/15th century and briefly returned to Ubbeston when the Kemps were in residence (for about a hundred years from the end of 17th century). In 1784, Sir Joshua Van Neck, by then Lord of the Manor of Heveningham, bought back Ubbeston.
The Lords Huntingfield of Heveningham Hall eventually had the manor right through ‘til the 1960's. Many Ubbeston properties were copyhold to Ubbeston Manor and therefore Heveningham and any of the Lord Huntingfields.
Sir Robert Kemp altered or rebuilt Harefield House in the early eighteenth century and produced a grander house with 15 hearths. A 1741 deed mentions a ‘mansion house called Ubbeston Hall otherwise Harefield House'. The name is associated with Tile House in a work of Frederick Hitchin-Kemp when referring to papers from 1585 to 1710. The position of the old manor house is likely to be at the top of Clay Hill - on Taylors Hill once called Tile House Hill - but again this is not yet proven.
SOME HOLDERS OF THE MANOR OF UBBESTON (a work in progress):
- Thorth & Asmoth 1066
- Roger Bigod, Ralph Baynard & Robert Malet 1086
- John, son of Robert/Walter son of Robert
- Roger, son of John at the time of Edward I (1272-1307)
- Robert de Ubbeston 1286
- Robert de Redesham 1328
- Robert de Ubbeston 1332
- Edmund de Redesham 1404
- Sir William Argentine Kt., Edmund de Bedingfield et al 1404
- Sir Roger Swillington, kt., Philip de Heveningham et al 1404
- Sir John Heveningham 1448
- Thomas de Heveningham
- Sir John Heveningham 1500
- John Browne the elder of Halesworth 1580
- Sir Arthur Heveningham 1600
- Henry Heron
- Sir Robert Kemp 2nd Bart 1674
- Sir Robert Kemp 3rd Bart 1710 MP for Dunwich
- Sir Robert Kemp 4th Bart 1734 MP for Orford
- Sir John Kemp 5th Bart 1752-1771
- Dame Elizabeth Kemp (wife of 5th Bart.) 1771
- Mary Kemp (niece of 5th Bart)
- Manor purchased by Sir Joshua Van Neck 1784