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Great Blakenham or Blakenham Magna as it was first recorded, was listed in the Domesday Book of 1085-6., although settlements from Roman times have been unearthed and recorded in the parish. The Domesday Book tells us that the Manor was held by Aluric the Thane prior to the Conquest and had a value of £3.00 with 34 Freemen (Freemen owned land and could choose who they would like to marry). In 1855 there were a recorded 244 residents. Nearly 1000 years on and the parish is now home to 1521 registered electors (figures from the 2019/20) Electoral Register), plus family etc. This population will continue to grow over the next few years as housebuilding continues on several sites in the village.
Great Blakenham has been through a dramatic expansion over the past 30 years, more than doubling in size, both on the residential side, but also with commercial and industrial growth. The most noticeable residential development is taking place on the site of the old Blue Circle Cement Works, which is a triangle between the main Norwich to London railway line, Gipping Road and the B1113 Bramford Road.
There is a medieval church, St Mary’s on Stowmarket Road which has undergone expansion over the past millennium and underwent restoration during the Victorian period. The Church graveyard has been closed for almost a century and the new Lawn Cemetery can be found on Chalk Hill Lane.
Historically the village and its associated river, the Gipping were used extensively to farm, mill and ship the yield to the main port at Ipswich. Sadly, since the Mill burnt down in 1928 and the improvements to road/rail transport, the river has lost it's commercial traffic and has silted up and narrowed, the towpath has long since been lost and a number of the lock gates disappeared. In more recent times, mineral extraction from pits to the south of the village was a large industry, helping to maintain the cement works and its chimney that dominated the skyline until it's closure in 1999 and demolition in 2001. During WWII the Luftwaffe bombed the factory and destroyed the chimney with one fatality. The extraction pit has been used for waste disposal and this facility is due to end around 2020. Taking over from the landfill site is the Incinerator which since being switched on has seen its capacity being reached and maintained, taking waste primarily from Suffolk but from other neighbouring counties.
The village pub the Chequers has been around for over 100 years and has been recently transformed again and can be found opposite the Church.
In 1850 a school was being run in the disused Baptist Chapel (now the Parish Rooms) for around 40 children.
In 1958 the then new Village Hall was built, a single story wooden building and one of the largest in the area. This was eventually replaced with a substantial brick built Hall. Football teams and cycle speedway use the playing field and there is a children's play area. In Oct 2018, forty years after the last village shop closed down, a new village store was opened, sited on Hackney's Corner.
With Suffolk’s capital Ipswich just a few miles away the corridor between us and the town seems to be decreasing but hopefully we will maintain our own identity over the coming decades.