The removal of Bildeston from its church is fairly well-documented and researched, and thus makes an interesting case study. Here, beside the church, are traces of a substantial manor house. Until 1960s hedge-removal and deep-ploughing destroyed them, there was also evidence of other dwellings; smallholdings, farmsteads and tenements. They were much older than the church; but, of course, this church was built on the site of its predecessor, located for the convenience of the manor house. So, why are there no houses here now?
Some time in the 13th century, people from this parish migrated down to the river valley, possibly to be near resources for the budding cloth industry.
Soon, this new community was active enough to merit a market, and here, on the main road between Stowmarket and Sudbury, it became a busy one. Changing patterns of agriculture in the late medieval period meant the disappearance of the remaining community from around the church, and so now St Mary Magdalene stands grand, isolated, and half a mile or so from the large village (almost a small town) of Bildeston. This, conversely, makes Bildeston a rather curious village, since it has a typical Suffolk market place, except for the fact that there isn't a church on it.

Text credits Simon Knott