Hartest lies in West Suffolk, in an area known as `High Suffolk` at the north-western extremity of Babergh district, on the B1066 and midway between Bury St Edmunds and Sudbury. Hartest Hill is said to be the steepest hill in Suffolk and anyone who has walked, run or cycled up it would certainly agree. The larger villages of Glemsford, Lavenham and Long Melford are all within a six mile radius. The adjoining hamlets of Boxted and Somerton are closely linked with Hartest. A small river flows through Hartest from its source in Somerton.
The Green is at the heart of the village. Close to the Green are the medieval parish church of All Saints, the primary school, the Hartest and Boxted Institute, the doctors' surgery and the Crown public house. A butcher's shop and the village garage also face the Green.
On the Green is the Hartest Stone.
History tells us that the stone was dug out of High Field in Somerton, on 7th July 1713 it was decided to move it to the Village Green to commemorate the victories of the Duke of Marlborough in the war of the Spanish Succession.
A sledge was constructed and the stone was pulled to Hartest Green by 45 horses with Mr Marks of Rivets Hall sitting on top and blowing a trumpet. The story goes that the whole village celebrated for the rest of the day!
A 300 year anniversary event was held on Hartest Green in 2013 to celebrate the placing of the Stone on the Green on 7th June 1713. Families from the villages of Hartest, Boxted, Fensted End and Somerton brought picnics and there was a lit bbq for those who wanted to cook! Children from Hartest School participated in a re-enactment of the Stone coming to the Green plus enjoying Maypole dancing.
At the north corner of Hartest Green there is a large granite boulder, of uneven size and shape, which, although few villagers are aware of it, was placed in the prominent position it now occupies to commemorate a famous treaty.
Soon after Queen Anne ascended the English throne, there broke out the Great War known in history as “The War of the Spanish Succession” For long years it raged, until nearly every State of Western Europe was drawn into the conflict. It was this war that the famous Duke of Marlborough won his many battles, and also most destroyed the military power of France.
By 1713, however, the long struggle had almost exhausted the strength of the warring powers. In particular the people of England were weary of the conflict, and on April 11th of that year the treaty of Utrect was signed, the contracting powers being Great Britain, France, Savoy, Portugal, Prussia and the Dutch states. By this treaty England gained Gibraltar, Minorca and Newfoundland and the rights in Canada which laid the foundation of our Canadian empire.
July 7th was appointed as a day of general thanksgiving, and in London, the lords and commons went in procession through the streets to service in St. Paul's. Throughout the country festivities took place, and Hartest was not backward in participating in the general joy of the people of England.
At that time the great stone , which now lies on the village green, lay in a field on the mile end farm, near Somerton common, and it was decided to place it on the village green as a memorial to the treaty. A sledge was specially constructed to carry the stone, and all the neighbouring farmers lent their horses to draw the huge mass to the village. Forty horses were harnessed to the sledge, and with a trumpeter mounted on the top of the stone, the procession triumphantly proceeded to Hartest, where the stone was placed in its present position, and where it has remained until its commemorative interest has been almost forgotten.
Taken from an undated old postcard
For more information and a very interesting read, click here to access information about `Hartest - A Village History` - this book edited by Clive Paine and researched by the Hartest Local History Group, has plenty of information about Hartest through the ages . You will also find information about how to purchase this book.