|Westerfield Green & ‘Inclosure’ 1808
The nineteenth century brought changes in the character and buildings in the village in several ways. One of the most significant was the ‘Inclosure’ in 1808 of Westerfield Green, an area of approximately 50 acres of open land, stretching from Swan Lane in the north to Mill Farm in the south. The Green was split into allotments and the plots had to be fenced. The ‘enclosure legislation’ was intended to improve on the old wasteful methods of farming, but hardly surprisingly, the change was not universally welcomed. The Green had been the venue for ‘cricket, football, donkey races and other rustic amusements’, wrote G.R.Clarke, the Ipswich historian. He obviously knew the Green well, and deplored its loss. It was also used for military exercises, and on one occasion George III held a review here of 10,000 troops.
One consequence of the Enclosure was the demise of the original Swan Inn in 1829 (now a private house called The Slade). The present Swan, on the opposite side of the road, opened its doors to the public a year or two later. Further to the West, on the edge of the Green, the smock windmill (located by the footpath from Swan Lane to Lower Road), was dismantled in 1819. Either it was re-erected, or a new Mill built close to Mill Farm, and this remained in use until the 1860s, before finally being demolished in 1889.
The Village School, which replaced the brick vestry attached to the Church, was designed to accommodate 111 pupils, and opened in Lower Road in 1880. For a time the school flourished, and during World War Two, local children shared the school with evacuees from London and elsewhere. However, post-war plans by the Education Authorities favoured the better conditions and facilities obtainable in those schools with larger populations, and the authorities decided to close the school in 1968, with no prior consultation with either parents or teachers. Petitions to seek to reverse this decision were well supported locally, but were in vain. The buildings were later taken down and houses built on the site.
Also, only a distant memory, is the Westerfield Brewery once situated by the road to Witnesham. Owned by John Bird (of the Manor House), the Brewery supplied Westerfield Ales in cask and bottle to the locals and to nearby villages and communities. The Brewery had to close in World War One, due to the effect of cereal rationing, and never traded again.
As the 19th Century drew to a close, a small plot of Glebe land was sold to the Trustees of a new charity, for the construction of what became the Parish Hall, which then was managed and operated under the terms of a Trust Deed dated 1894. The original building was extended in 1923 by the addition of a room on the east side and a kitchen, and four years later the Committee Room was built on the south side.