Our Village

Brief History of Eyke

Eyke, Eike, Ike, Yke, Eyck, as it has been variously spelt, is thought to derive from an earlier word meaning 'oak'. Nearby Staverton Forest covered many acres of land in area, and was comprised chiefly of oak trees. Eyke is not mentioned in the Domesday Book, but it is recorded that the Manor of Staverton had a church and was valued at £6.00, which works out at 2d an acre. The manor house was probably north-east of The Rookery, where a moated site has been discovered.

Most people probably lived in the lower part of Eyke between the river marshes and the forest where water was easily obtainable from many springs. Here also a route can be traced between the Sutton Hoo burial site and the Royal Palace at Rendlesham.

Eyke is first mentioned in the reign of Henry II, when the King held Staverton Manor from 1171-1185. Adam de Eik had to pay a fine of three marks, but for what is not known. In the latter part of the 14th century, John Staverton, who was Lord of the Manor of Staverton, was appointed Baron of the Exchequer. The brass on the church shows him wearing his judicial robes. There was also a smaller Manor of Eyke Rectory: this included the area around the shop, one of the buildings of which is referred to as a mansion, and Two Barns, where the rector lived.

The people of Eyke have always been independently minded, and there are various recorded incidents of them rebelling against authority. One such was in 1350 when they attacked the Manor House of Eyke Rectory, burst open the gates and rifled a chest, in order to destroy the records of the services due to Robert de Redenhale.

In 1381 they joined enthusiastically in the Peasants' Revolt; in June they broke down the home of John Staverton, destroyed various records and carried away booty to the value of 100 shillings.

In 1589, 1590 and 1591, Eyke people were fined because they persisted in wearing German felt hats on festivals and Sundays instead of the English hats made of pile.

During the Civil War their sympathies were with the Puritans, and in 1644 some testified against John Stoneham, the rector, for the way he conducted the church services and his behaviour generally: they objected to him being present at a camping match, which was a rough type of football.

Eyke has been largely dependent on agriculture and its associated trades. Until the First World War there were six separate farms, and several small holdings. In addition, most families kept chickens and a pig, and grew their own vegetables. The windmill was working grinding corn, there were two shoemakers, a blacksmith, a hurdlemaker, a thatcher, a builder and a carpenter/wheelwright who was also the undertaker. Most of the land was part of the Rendlesham Estate until it was sold in 1920.

By the turn of the Millennium, the number of farms had dwindled to three: Rookery, Sink and Church Farms, the last of which had absorbed the farm at Mill End. There is one smallholding. The windmill has gone, and so have most of the village trades, as the trend has grown for most people to work outside the village. On a positive note, however, the school still flourishes, and a thriving playgroup has existed in the old schoolhouse for nearly twenty-five years. Although Eyke lost its post office in 1997, the remaining village shop is a lively concern, at the heart of the community.

The 1991 census reveals a stable population of around 359, of which 95 were under 18, and 24 over 75. There were 134 households, of which approximately two thirds were owner-occupied. Of the rest, 20 were rented from the local authority, and 32 were private and Housing Association rentals. Since that time, twelve houses have been built, and there have also been two barn conversions.

Phyllis Hatcher April 2000

Extract from 'Eyke' produced by the Eyke Millennium Group