The Angel as seen from the top of Ravens Lane c1900

The Angel as seen from the top of Ravens Lane c1900

It’s always sad to see any village pub close its doors for the last time especially having served the community for hundreds of years.  The Angel, at the top of The Street, has been an Inn for at least 400 years.  The earliest reference is in the Parish Registers where it is recorded that Thomas Brooke – the landlord of The Angel – was buried in 1608.  In fact the Brooke family appear to have owned the pub, if not actually running it, until it was sold to the Acton family of Bramford Hall in 1762.  It included “meadows and pightled lands” (a pightle is a small field or enclosure) probably forming part of the site of Angel Close and Angel Road today.

National events didn’t pass it by during this turbulent century as it is recorded that Dorcas Wood – a maid living at the Angel – died of the plague in 1666.

During the 18th Century it clearly became more than just a village pub but was also a centre of entertainment in the area, judging by these advertisements in the Ipswich Journal:


This is to give Notice, That on Monday and Tuesday being the 12th and 13th Days of June will be a Match of Cock-fighting, at the Sign of the Angel, in Bramford, Suffolk, where will be showing 31 Pair of Cocks and as many to Fight, and as many as fall in Fray for a Guinea a Cock, and the odd Battle Ten Guineas a side.




THIS is to give Notice, That on Thursday the First of July, at the Angel Inn Bramford, there will be a Saddle and Bridle run for of Thirty Shillings value, by any Grass Horse, Mare, or Gelding, that never won the value of a Guinea at any one time by Plate or Match, or have exceeded above a Month in the Stable from Grass at the Day of Running; they are to run the best of three Heats, each heat to be four times round Scotland Field near Bramford. Each Horse, Mare or Gelding to be enter’d by 12 a Clock on the Day of Running at the Angel at Bramford, and the Owners of each Horse, Mare or Gelding to pay 2s. 6d. at the time of entering, and to start at 4 a Clock in the Afternoon. If any of the Riders offer to cross, jossel or strike each other, they are to have no share in the Saddle and Bridle; to be allowed half an Hour to Rub between each Heat. Note, If any Horse comes any distance from the Place, must bring a Certificate with him that the Horse, &c. never won the sum above mentioned.



“Scotland Field” was on the road between Bramford and Great Blakenham, roughly where the Water Park and Golf Centre is now.

Other references in records include:

In 1756 a lease for 9 years was given to Richard Cuthbert, “a dishturner”, of Bramford
In 1762 it was occupied by “Elizabeth Cuthbert, widow”
In 1787 the Angel was leased to William Button for 11 years by Nathaniel Acton.

The Angel was the centre of many activities in the village but one of its sadder functions was to host the local Coroners Court:

April 20th 1782

Inquest at the Angel Inn at Bramford on Ebenezer Edwards aged 12 of Ipswich, son of the Rev Edwards, who crossed the road as a loaded cart was passing he tripped and the wheels went over his head.


The Nineteenth Century

The first full census of the United Kingdom was held in 1841. Thomas Markham, age 45 is listed as the landlord of The Angel with his wife, Elizabeth (40) and three children Thomas (8), Charles (7) and Elizabeth (5).  Also in the household was Joseph Markham (50) –assumed to be a relative – listed as a male servant and Harriett Wiltshire – a female servant.

By 1851 Thomas Markham had left the pub and was a farmer in Earl Stonham.  The Angel was now in the hands of the Rodgers family – Thomas (36), Ann (39) with children also called Thomas (4) and Ann (2).  They employed three servants – Rebecca Norbrook (17) from Ipswich, a barmaid, Susan Glading (20) from Barking and Daniel Pryke (26) from Bramford, both house servants.

In 1852 Ann Rodgers gave evidence at a Coroners Inquest over the death of Susan Flory of Church Green, Bramford.  Local Inquests were routinely held at The Angel (as seen above) and this one examined the case of Susan Flory who had died from head injuries.  Susan and her husband Francis had both been drinking at the pub the night before she died and the allegation was that she had been struck by her husband after returning home. The full story was published in the Ipswich Journal.  Francis was eventually charged with manslaughter, found guilty at a later hearing and sentenced to a year in gaol.

Moving on to 1861 we see the Palmer family taking on the business.  Henry Palmer, 37, was from Barham and described as a farmer of 30 acres as well as a publican, employing two men and two boys.  His wife, Elizabeth was from Thetford.  Interestingly, Henry has been traced in the 1851 Census where he was working for the Earl of Lewis in Shropshire as a “Groom of the Chambers”.  A Groom of the Chambers was the one who attended the main door, opened doors for members of the household, filled ink-pots and saw that everything the household members needed was within reach.
The 1861 household was the largest yet with three children – Henry Arthur (6), Julia (2) and Frank James (1) with Henry senior’s brother, William Palmer (44), a widower and pensioner.  Six employees are listed; George Gardener (Ostler), Sarah Keer (Cook), Ann Cuthbert (Housemaid) and three farm labourers John Rose, John Pratt and John Leathers.  The latter three must have caused some confusion on the farm when Henry wanted their attention!

In 1871 business was certainly booming with Henry now farming 160 acres and employing six men and five boys.  Two servants were listed at the pub with three lodgers as well as Henry’s niece, Mary Palmer (13), from Woolwich.

By 1881 Henry and Elizabeth were still running the pub but sons, Henry Arthur and Frank James, had taken over the farming side of the business.  Both boys were unmarried and living at home.  Another niece, Ellen Ward (17), was employed as Assistant Innkeeper.  In addition there was a Groom and a farm labourer, listed as employees, with one lodger.

In 1882 a Coroners Inquiry was held at The Angel to do with the death of Harriett Lay, of Bramford Tye, who had been run over by a cart.  A number of witnesses were called including Henry Arthur Palmer.

Henry senior died in 1885 having run the Angel for approximately 30 years.

Henry Arthur Palmer married Ellen Ward in 1887 and they took over the Angel.  In the 1891 Census they were living there with their son (also named Henry Arthur!) age 1.  There is no mention at this stage of any farming activity associated with the Angel –  Frank is now married and farming at Park Farm in Somersham.

Henry Arthur Palmer (senior) died in 1894 aged only 39 and by 1901 his brother Frank is now running the pub with his wife Ellen.  Ellen King was the daughter of the village wheelwright and postmaster – the couple were married in 1882.  Following her husband’s death Ellen leased the pub from “year to year” for the sum of £108 per annum from the Bramford Estate.  In the lease agreement Ellen is described as a “licensed victualler and farmer” apart from the buildings the lease included just over 40 acres of land.



A picture of the staff at The Angel in 1897

A picture of the staff at The Angel in 1897.


Left to right:

Back row: Jimmy Keeble, Mildred Sheppard, Geo Pryke

Front Row: Lizzie Mutimer, Geo Riches, Polly Woods, Ephraim Keeble, Lizzie Keeble

Jimmy Keeble
Probably James Arthur Keeble born in Bramford about 1884 so seen here aged about 12.  In 1901 he is a Porter on the railways but by 1911 is a Police Constable in West Ham.  (Older brother to Bertie Keeble of the tape recording)

Mildred Sheppard
Born in Nettlestead about 1874, full name Mildred Sarah Sheppard.  Married George Pryke in 1899. 1911 family living at Parish Pond, Bramford with three children and her brother Cecil Sheppard. (possibly related to the Sheppards on the memorial??)

Geo Pryke
George Pryke (see Mildred above).  Born Bramford about 1875.

Lizzie Mutimer
Elizabeth Mutimer born in Stowmarket about 1872.  Listed as Domestic Servant at The Angel in the 1891 census.

Geo Riches
No trace.

Polly Woods
No trace.

Ephraim Keeble
No trace although many branches of the Keeble family living in the village

Lizzie Keeble
Possibly [Alice] Elizabeth Keeble born in Bramford about 1884.  In 1891 (age 6) living with parents Frederick and Alice in Station Alley but by 1901 working as a servant in Framlingham.
Lizzie was the sister of George Frederick Keeble and Harry Walter Keeble both of whom were killed in the First World War.

Just after this photo was taken the pub was leased to Tollemache Brewery by Lady Loraine-Broke for 21 years.  Ellen Palmer is recorded as the occupier.

The Twentieth Century

In 1901 Frank and Ellen are listed at The Angel with a Housemaid and a Groom living with them but by 1911 Frank and Ellen were running the Horseshoes Hotel in Eye.  Frank died in 1923 in Gosbeck.
The 1911 Census now records the Elmer family at The Angel.
Thomas Elmer was from Lindsey and had previously worked as a blacksmith before taking on the pub.  He lived with his wife Eliza Jane and their only son Thomas Ebner Elmer.  Thomas Ebner (sometimes spelled Abner in census returns) was aged 26 in 1911 and working for his father and mother in the pub.
Thomas Ebner died in 1916 shortly after being called up to serve in the Army.  He died in Bury St Edmunds Military Hospital in 1916 and is buried in Bramford Churchyard.  He is commemorated on the village war memorial.