The deserted medieval village
Our parish church stands on a ridge just over half-a-mile to the west of the present village. Although well served by footpaths, this hill-top site can only be approached by traffic via Church Road, which was formerly lined with houses. First recorded in the late 11th century by Domesday Book, inhabitants of the original Bildeston were living on the hill beside a predecessor of the present church and farming surrounding lands. For how long this continued as a thriving community is not known but by the end of the 15th century, all that remained was the church and a farming estate based on the manor house.
Until 1974, earthworks of a deserted medieval village could be clearly seen south-west of the church, which consisted of an impressive homestead moat, a large rectangular marshy depression and linear hollow ways. The moat had encircled a manor house, the marshy area was a stew pond, where fish destined for the table had been kept, and nearby, there were indications of streets and traces of house platforms. The land had not been disturbed within living memory and was probably turned over to pasture soon after final desertion.