Orwell, a lost port town

On 15 May 1403, the coroner was summoned to the church at Swaffham Prior, Cambridgeshire, to hear the confession of John Aleyn, labourer of Risby, Suffolk. Aleyn admitted that the week before he had killed Geoffrey Hore, another labourer.

Map of the coast of Suffolk showing conjectured location of Orwell, by modern Harwich; http://www.medievalandtudorships.org/search_ports/

Aleyn abjured the realm and the coroner assigned him to leave through the port of Orwell, Suffolk. Aleyn’s case is pretty humdrum, but the port he was assigned is interesting because the town of Orwell no longer exists: situated at the mouth of the Orwell river (upriver of which is Ipswich), its main function in the 14th and 15th centuries was as a deepwater port. See this map and this discussion of the evidence for this disappeared port.

TNA, KB 9/990, mm. 43-44. Top image: BL, Yates Thompson MS 36, fol. 65 – https://www.bl.uk/catalogues/illuminatedmanuscripts/ILLUMIN.ASP?Size=mid&IllID=56701

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