© 2017 John Lucas

A successful lawyer who, from modest beginnings as secretary to the duke of Bedford, had risen to become king's solicitor to Henry VII, before investing his self-made fortune in a grand house and country estate near Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk, some twenty-five miles north of Colchester. ---The Vestry of Little Saxham church was built as a chantry chapel in 1520 and dedicated to Our Lady and St John the Evangelist, by Sir Thomas Lucas. He married Elizabeth Kemys from Monmouthshire and was appointed Solicitor-General to King Henry VII, having been promoted to that office from the household of the King's uncle, Jasper Tudor. To his credit, Lucas was no friend of Thomas Wolsey, being sent to the Tower for a short period in 1516 for speaking scandalous words of the Lord Cardinal.In his will Sir Thomas Lucas decreed that "the chancel bee renewed aboute embattiled as the Church is by myne executors at my charge." His executors, however, failed him. Whilst the tower and nave are indeed crenellated, the chancel remains unadorned. Under the archway between his chapel and the chancel, Sir Thomas had built a table-tomb for himself. However, after he died in 1531 he was buried in London and his chantry chapel was taken over by the Crofts family who made it into their own memorial chapel. His tomb was replaced in the roughest possible manner with fragments of it being used to block up the archway. Sir John Crofts bought Sir Thomas' mansion, Little Saxham Hall, which was similar in design and magnificence to Oxburgh Hall in Norfolk.-In 1505, Thomas Lucas arrived at Little Saxham. We can trace nine generations of Lucas's right back to the late 12th century and they had been West Suffolkers through and through. They had filled the posts of aldermen and bailiff of St Edmundsbury at various times in the 13th and 14th centuries. The first we know about was just plain 'Lucas' - they didn't have family names then. He held lands in Westley in 1180.' Our' Thomas was born about 1470. At the end of the 15th century it is known that he held the position of Secretary, one of the household of Jasper, Duke of Bedford. Jasper was the uncle of Henry VII. Thomas rose to become a privy councillor and in 1504 he had been appointed Solicitor-General to the King. This was the number two legal post in the country, his superior being the Attorney-General. The Duke of Bedford bestowed upon him a number of manors and he certainly acquired several others himself. Dunham Hall in Westley was one of the manors bestowed to him. Thomas Lucas himself was in charge of the construction of Little Saxham Hall. He kept meticulous accounts, which can be viewed in full in the British Library, if you can read his handwriting. Excerpts from these accounts are contained in Gage's history and from that we can get a good impression of how the Hall was constructed.

Edmund, son of John Lucas 7th, is called…..

Bury abbey has not yet been disestablished, so that he can only play second fiddle there.

He was twice married. Neither His second wife was Agnes (Tamworth), who had previously been married to Thomas de Ickworth……

This is the certificate indented of Robert Drury knyght, Thomas Lucas, Henry Pope, John Hervy, the king's commyssioners for the sessing of the subsidy granted to His Highnesse in.....1524

Westley sub-manors of Leo's/Luce's Hall (from 1148), Westley otherwise [known as] Pembroke al Dunham Hall (from 1086, with pigeon house listed in 1324) and Fresels (from 1286). 'Manor house site: adjoining road from Westley to Fornham All Saints, near Newmarket Road' .

More Suffolk Notes

Oxburgh Hall, Norfolk.

Contemporary observations suggest that Little Saxham Hall was very similar to Oxburgh Hall which was built around the same time and remains intact to this day now under the protection of The N T.

The Domesday Survey records the following holdings in Great and Little Saxham. First, a carucate of land belonging to the king, held before the Conquest by six free men commended to Eadgifu. Second, a manor of 5 carucates held by St Edmundsbury Abbey. This also included woodland for 80 pigs and 5 acres of meadow. Third, Albert and Fulcher held (from the Abbot) three free men with 2½ carucates of land, 3 acres of meadow and woodland for five pigs. This parcel also included half a mill and two parts of a church with 6 acres of land. Fourth was, Richard fitzGilbert's holding of 15 acres that formerly belonged to a sokemen of Wihtgar. The manors of Little Saxham came into single ownership during the 15thc, and by 1490 they were held by Roger Darcy. He sold them in 1505 to Thomas Fitzlucas, who built Little Saxham Hall and the chantry chapel of the church.