Church of England Diocese of Norwich Woodton

Woodton and its link to the Suckling family

Suckling is a Saxon name which was probably written ‘Socling’ which meant “A person holding his estate by socrage or the tenure of the plough”.

In 1575 Robert Suckling (4x Great Grandfather to Horatio Viscount Nelson) became Lord of the whole of Woodton; he represented Norwich in Parliament in 1570 and 1585. His eldest son Edmund became Dean of Norwich. Another son Charles inherited the estate and enlarged it by the purchase of the manor of Barsham in Suffolk from the poet (the son of his younger brother Sir John Suckling).

The new Woodton Hall was built in 1694 by Robert Suckling and his wife Sarah Shelton (Great Grandparents to Horatio Viscount Nelson). Nelson is said to have played in the grounds, especially near a cedar tree which still stands today and can be viewed in the photo album.

A famous Norfolk Huntsman’s grave can be found at the back of Woodton church yard; this is of Ned Baldrey.
He was born in the parish of Woodton in 1705 and worked in the stables at Robert Suckling’s Hall from the age of 13. Later, he was promoted to kennel-keeper and second whipper-in; eventually then being chief huntsman and gaining his fame through the Skewbald horse ‘Shell’.
Robert Suckling’s death left Ned with the ownership of Shell and the hounds with ample to support him.
Ned travelled to Ireland and France but returned back to Woodton to lie Shell to rest in the park of Woodton Hall.

 Woodton Hall was pulled down in 1841/2.

Another family of Suckling’s lived in Woodton at the same time as the Suckling family lived in Woodton Hall, with the coincidence of the boys having the same names; for example Robert, Maurice and John.

Joseph Suckling married in Woodton church to Honor Read in 1793. They had seven children who all relate to Woodton; Mary, John, Phobe, Harriet, Elizabeth, Maurice and Zacharias.

Many thanks to Sylvia and her husband for documentation and support, John Suckling’s (mentioned in the second Suckling family) Great Great Granddaughter.