Archaeological finds indicate there has been a settlement on the site of the present Campsea Ashe dating back 400-500.000 years BC.
The area is considered an Environmentally Sensitive Area with many archaeological finds supporting this claim.
In 1953 a small flint hand axe was found near the Blackstock crossing area dating back to the Palaeolithic age 400-500.000 years BC
Fragments of Roman pottery have been found in various sites around the village and Roman coins consisting of 2 silver coins circa 200-300 AD and 7 bronze coins circa 300-400 AD have been found.
15 Shards (broken pottery) have been found including 12 Samian (black earthenware pottery) shards, which was made in Italy circa 100 BC.
A medieval finger ring dated 1201-1301 was found in the same area.
There are other finds not mentioned here.
The wood known as 'the Oaks' is classed as ancient woodland.
Domesday Book Records
Circa 1066-1087 according to the Domesday Book there were possibly 27 families living in 'Campesia'. Campesia is recorded as having 190 acres of arable land, 11 & 1/2 acres meadowland, 2 mills, 61/2 plough teams of oxen, 2 rounceys (horses),
8 swine, 20 sheep, and 3 hives of bees. These were divided between the main manor of Brictmar, sokeman of Ely Abbey and the holdings of freeman Swarting or Edric, 16 other freeman held the other 5 main holdings.
In1066 Brictmarus was tenant of the water mill set astride the river Deben boundary.
It is believed that a large low lying area was set aside to be flooded as a fishing lake adjacent to the Priory, then belonging to the Augustinian nuns, enabling the residents of the Priory to fish and eat.
To achieve this the river was dammed in two places; one by Ashmoor Hall and one by the ‘lost' area of Le Yox and the olde Cee forming what is now known as the decoy pond, in 1783 this pond was known as Campsey mere. The course of the river Deben was changed in 1204 and Quill Farm was so named because of the 'quills' used to drain the water when the river was diverted. The tenant of the mill in 1288 was Redot Molend and in 1433 Le Mellemud was tenant of the Ashe / Loudham Mill set astride the river boundary.
The mill was a working mill during the 1939-45 war but has long since disappeared.
The Augustinian Priory 'St Mary's Priory of Augustinian Cannonesses' (privately owned now and known locally as Ashe Abbey), was founded in 1195 by Theobald de Valoines for his sister Matilda of Lancaster, a descendent of Edmund Crouchback brother of Edward 1st 1239-1307. It was built for 21 inmates and attracted considerable endowments becoming a fashionable resort for women of high birth. There was also a small college of Cannon attached to the nunnery and it became quite a successful priory. In 1249 it is recorded that the 'monks of Campes obtained a free warren from Esce'.
In 1527 Cardinal Wolsey (the Ipswich boy) was looking for money, building material and income to build his colleges at Ipswich and Oxford. He obtained Papal Bulls for the suppression of a number of small religious houses whose communities had dwindled in size. Priories at Snape, Rumburgh, the Ipswich priory of St Peter & Paul and Felixstowe were closed.
In 1536 Wolseys secretary, Thomas Cromwell, closed those priories whose value was less than £200.00 and the properties were confiscated by the crown. So the nuns of both Campsea Ashe & Bungay were turned out along with the monks of Eye and the dissolution of Leiston Abbey.
History of Campsea Ashe Name
CAMPSEA ASHE was, at the time of the Domesday Book c1066/1078, two villages, the larger being Campesia meaning a small island, with field or enclosure upon it, and the adjoining village written as Esce. When the two became one is a matter for more research.
The spelling of Campsea Ashe has throughout the ages evolved from Campesia to Campesse c1211, Campeseye Ass c1254, and variously Capesea, Capsey, Caumpes and more recently Campsey, prior to todays spelling of Campsea Ashe.
In the Domesday Book Esce (an ancient word for Ash tree) is mentioned immediately after Campesia, again the spelling has changed throughout the years, being variously Ahys, Ayssh, Ayssch juxta Campsey, Ashe juxta Campessy, Ash next Campsey and eventually Campsea Ashe.