A Short History

There is some evidence that the Romans settled in Drinkstone and certainly there was a thriving Anglo-Saxon community – fragments of Saxon pottery have been found in the stream that courses through the village.

The three entries for the village in the Domesday Book (1085) show three different spellings – Rengestuna, Drencestuna and Drincestona. The fullest entry records that it was held by St. Etheldreda when there was “… one church and 12 acres, 15 small holders, 6 slaves, woodland at 100 pigs, 2 horses at the hall, 10 cattle, 32 pigs, 8 goats …”

Robert Bacon, grandfather of the illustrious philosopher Francis Bacon, was born in Drinkstone in the 15th century at a time when it was “the seat of ambitious yeomanry” according to one writer.

In the 18th century Drinkstone became a squirearchy and several wealthy gentlemen built large houses surrounded by beautiful grounds giving employment locally to grooms, gardeners and servants.

The painter Gainsborough was summoned to make a portrait of a rich businessman, Joshua Grigsby, who had built for himself a grand house at Drinkstone Park.Thomas Gainsborough also painted several rural scenes around the village, the most famous of all, “Drinkstone Park”, is currently in the San Paulo Museum in Brazil.

In the nineteenth century the estate of Drinkstone Park was inherited by Joshua Grigsby the Third who loved the place and asked to be buried in a corner of his garden. This piece of land was duly hallowed and on his death in 1829 he was buried there beneath a mulberry tree.

During the war the big house at Drinkstone Park housed American servicemen who were attached to Rougham airfield, but was demolished just after the war, having fallen prey to death watch beetle.

The lake on the estate is still there and in the grounds homes were fashioned from the converted stable block.

The village school, sited next to the church, was founded in 1859. It closed in 1986 after a valiant fight to keep it open, and has since been converted to a private house.