Anglo Saxon Inhabitants of the Great Bradley
Generally, the most important necessity for living, and the one which often decided the site of a village, was water. Great Bradley was probably no exception. It must have been sited where it is for two reasons. First, it was close to the river, which was likely to have been drinkable during the initial settlement; and secondly, the river here was shallow enough for people to cross, as it still is today.
The Anglo Saxons arrived on the shores from about AD 400 following the collapse of Roman rule. They comprised two closely related groups, the Angles and Saxons, from Northern Germany and Denmark. The term East Anglia is derived from East Angles. Essex means East Saxons. It was the Angles, therefore, who settled in these parts. They were almost certainly living in the Great Bradley area as the name derives from the Anglo Saxon meaning 'Broad Wood or Clearing'
Early Anglo-Saxon period (5th - 7th century AD)
Remains of settlements from this period have only been found in the river valleys and light soil areas but nothing in Great Bradley. Within two centuries, the country was effectively divided into seven kingdoms: Wessex, Northumberland, Mercia, Kent, Sussex, East Anglia and Essex. Eastengle, "the East Angles" was, in fact, an artificial name, created after two distinct tribal groups of Angles, "the North Folk" and "the South Folk", came together. .Suffolk eventually came to be ruled by the Wuffinga dynasty, but was ruled by Wessex, Mercia and Northumbria as well as by its own kings. A smaller unit of rule was a 'hundred', which was a group of villages. Great Bradley was in the hundred of Risbridge, which survived as district name until 1974
Suffolk as part of the Kingdom of East Anglia, began to be converted to Christianity after c.630, when King Sigbert requested help from Rome and was sent Bishop Felix who established his see at Domnoc (probably the present-day Dunwich). Monasteries were soon founded around the kingdom - at Blythburgh and Icanho (Iken) around 654 and Ely (673). Raedwald, King of the East
Anglian had been converted in 597. Over 50 churches were dedicated in the Anglo-Saxon kingdom before the Danish incursions of the ninth century but little else is known about them.
The Middle and Late Saxon Period (7th - early 11th century):-
In 673 the distinction between Norfolk and Suffolk was cemented when Archbishop Theadore divided his East Anglian diocese in two, with Suffolk being run from Dunwich. The county system as such was created in Wessex, with ß 4ßHamtunscirß 5ß, recorded in 755, being the earliest recorded scir (county is a Norman word). As the Wessex kings dominated, the county system spread. In 895, that the name pagus Suthfolchi "the country of the South Folk" is first used to describe a specific area and it is really from this time modern county of Suffolk can be said to date.
Anglo-Saxons & Danes
Suffolk fell under the control of Mercia in the late 8th century and under that of Wessex in the early 9th century. By the end of century East Anglia was independent again and King Edmund, whom Bury St Edmunds is now named, after was crowned King of the Angles on Christmas Day AD 855. The Danes landed in 865 and executed King Edmund in 869 at Haegelisdun, now believed to be seven miles south east of Bury St Edmunds where his body was finally laid to rest around 903. Suffolk became part of the Danish Kingdom and known as East Danelaw
King Alfred's son, Edward the Elder, regained the area for England in 918.By 1013 Suffolk was back in Danish hands, being ruled by King Cnut in 1016. By 1042 the land around Clare was ruled by a Dane called Fyn
In 1044 Edward the Confessor gave the Benedictine monks of St Edmund control of West Suffolk. This County split was to last until 1935. In 1044 Suffolk was created into a Earldom and governed by Harold the first Earl of Anglia. His principal base was at Bergholt. He was of course eventually made King of England in January 1066, a reign which lasted only a few months.
During this period the population of Suffolk rose rapidly, thanks to the fertile nature of the land. By the Norman invasion it was the most populated part of England and most of Suffolk's major towns and most of its present-day villages were already in existence.
It is believed that the area of Great Bradley was held by the Saxon thane, Ulf up to 1066