Victorian era

The nineteenth century was a period of great change for the village reflecting industrial and agricultural changes across the country. At the same time significant changes occurred in the population of the village. In the 1801 census 554 people were recorded and this total quickly grew to 925 by 1841, but by 1901 this had declined to 664. The state of agriculture during this period is probably the key to the population changes. Increased demands for agricultural produce was caused by the Napoleonic Wars. This in turn improved prices and standards of living and a consequent increase in birth rate. Following the wars, agriculture was depressed until 1834, this period being marked by stagnation in the rate of population growth.

Unemployment at this time meant that people had to fall back on poor relief. By 1834 the cost to the village for paupers was £902 per annum. Part of the cost was borne by the village charities including Corders, Stevens and the Town Land Trust. These charities provided coal and clothing for a number of the adult population. In addition children were also given clothing if they attended Sunday school.

After the depression of the 1820s and early 1830s there followed a period of agricultural prosperity generally known as High Farming. Farmers increased their profits by improving their methods of farming by using artificial fertilisers and adopting more mechanised farming techniques, for example the introduction of threshing machines and advances in land drainage. The beginning of the return to prosperity in Lawshall is shown by the population reaching its highest ever total of 925 in 1841.

With reference to various trade directories for the second half of the nineteenth century, Lawshall appears a mainly self-sufficient community, but one that is starting to send goods and services outside of the village. The major "exporter" at this time was the horse hair factory which was first recorded in 1855. There was also rake and hurdle manufacturers which would have also served surrounding communities. These industries received a boost with the arrival of the railways when the Long Melford-Bury St Edmunds branch line and Cockfield railway station opened on the 9 August 1865. The number of carriers increased threefold to accommodate the extra business to and from the station. The line opened for passengers in 1870, enabling some Lawshall residents to visit London for the first time in their lives.

The village had its own mill which was located at Mill Cottage, Golden Lane. In earlier times the 1611 Manorial Map shows that there was a mill site between Lawshall Hall and Harrow Green to the south of the road.

References:

1. Lawshall Village Appraisal Group, ed. (1991). Lawshall: Past, Present and Future – An Appraisal. Appraisal Group.
2. Vera Lloyd, ed. (2004). A Village Pedigree - Cockfield in Suffolk. Cockfield, Suffolk: Vera Lloyd. p. 239. ISBN 094813450X.