Kessingland is a large village in the Waveney District of the English County of Suffolk. It is located around 4 miles (6km) south of Lowestoft. It is of interest to archaeologists as Palaeolithic and Neolithic implements have been found here, the remains of an ancient forest lie buried on the seabed.
There has been a settlement here since Palaeolithic times. Between the Hundred River and the Latmer Dam was once a large estuary which was used by the Vikings and the Romans. The sea provided the village with its main livelihood, and at one time the village paid a rent of 22,000 herrings to their Lords, which made it more important that nearby Lowestoft. The “Porto du Kessinglande” disappeared from recorded history in the 14th century when the river estuary silted up and the marshland took over. With the loss of the Harbour Kessingland was in a state of decline and the population dwindled, the plague did great damage taking away a seventh of its population.
The Domesday Book entry reads ‘Kessingalanda / gelanda: Kings land, kept by Roger Bigot: Earl Hugh and Hugh FitzNorman from him: Hugh de Montfort Mill (100 herrings). 43pigs.’ Roger Bigod of Bigot was a Norman knight who came to England in the Norman Conquest
The village comprised two separate communities: “the beach” and “the street” and it was until the 1960’s that more housing united the village into a single community, the population at the last village census (2001) was a little over 4000
Pakefield’s former lighthouse was moved to Kessingland Cliffs in 1850, where it remained until the early 1900’s. The sea has always taken its toll, Sea Row was swept into the sea: the old coastguard station suffered a similar fate: the Lifeboat shed and other buildings on the beach have disappeared because of flooding and coastal erosion.
Sir Rider Haggard, having achieved success as a writer bought a property on the cliffs and renamed it Kessingland Grange. He then experimented with grasses to stop the sea encroaching, eventually planting marram grass was successful. A Mr George Staunton was also concerned about sea erosion and planted lupin plants along the cliffs and shingle, Kessingland became know as “Lupinland”. The Marram Grass and the wild Lupins can still be seen today and are still doing their job.
Kessingland’s Beach and coastal area forms part of the Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area and was designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in 1970, it also has the status of a Site of Specific Scientific Interest (SSSI).
St. Edmunds Church is one of the finest in the region. With an imposing tower built circa 1436 for the Franciscans of London. The tower, built like many coastal churches to act as a beacon by ships out at sea, constitutes the majority of the medieval structure, the rest having been built in the ensuing centuries. Renovations continue to the contemporary era with a new window by Nicola Kantorowicz being added in 2007.
Today Kessingland relies on the area’s tourism trade. The population almost doubles in the holiday season with arrival of holidaymakers visiting the holiday camps and caravans sites situated in and around Kessingland. Africa Alive is situated on the southern edge of the village.
Located just off the A12 Kessingland is easy to find, so therefore come and enjoy this part of East Anglia.
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Kessingland Parish Council 2011