Woodbridge in 1842
Woodbridge is in the hundred of Loes, on the river Deben, 7 miles east-north-east of Ipswich, on the road to Yarmouth. The area of the parish is 1,650 acres : the population in 1831 was 4,769, scarcely any part of it agricultural. The town stands on the north-west bank of the river, which, at high water is a quarter of a mile wide : it consists of two principal streets (one of them near a mile long), which contain many good houses, and are well paved ; and of several smaller streets and lanes. The market-place is spacious, and surrounded with well-built houses : in the centre of it is an ancient shire or sessions hall, in which quarter-sessions for the division are held : the lower part of the hall is the corn-market.
The church is large and handsome, built chiefly of black flint: it has a large square tower, built of flint and stone, 180 feet high : toward the top the flint and stone are so intermingled as to form various devices. In the church are several monuments. There are places of worship for Quakers, Independents, Baptists, and Methodists.
There are a custom-house, a small theatre, and barracks, and near the town is a bridewell. Woodbridge is a place of considerable trade : it is a port, and the river Deben is navigable for small coasting vessels : the tide flows above the town. Corn, malt, and flour are exported ; and coal, timber, and general merchandise imported. There are two good quays on the bank, and formerly small vessels were built in the Limekiln Docks. The market is on Wednesday for corn, cattle, and provisions ; and there are two yearly fairs.
The living is a perpetual curacy, in the rural deanery of Carlesford, in the archdeaconry of Suffolk, and the diocese of Norwich, of the clear yearly value of £500. There were in the parish in 1833, six dame-schools, with 44 boys and 56 girls, together 100 children ; seventeen other day-schools with 360 boys and 311 girls, together 671 children ; one day and Sunday national school, with 218 boys and 104 girls, together 322 children ; and four Sunday-schools, with 157 boys and 256 girls, together 413 children.
There are a range of almshouses in the town, for the support of which, and for other charitable purposes, Thomas Seckford, master of requests in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, left an estate in Clerkenwell, one of the suburbs of London, the increased value of which estate has rendered the charity very wealthy. Woodbridge had before the Reformation a small priory for canons of St. Augustin adjacent to the church. The yearly revenue at the dissolution was £50, 3 shillings and 5½ pence.