Sibton Park Estate’s history dates back to the Norman period with the foundation of Sibton Abbey in 1150. With the dissolution of the monasteries in England, the Abbey and all the estates were acquired by the Howard family, Dukes of Norfolk, before being divided in 1610. It then passed hands until the acquisition and build of Sibton Park Manor by the Fleet Street heir, Robert Sayer, in 1827. Fast forward to the 21st century and Sibton Park has been lovingly restored as part of a wider conservation effort across the estate.
Like nearby Ubbeston named for King Ubba, Sibton (or Sibba’s ton), is one of the few villages in East Anglia of true Viking origin. Sibba and Ubba were not raiders but settlers. Like the Cistercian monks, who built the Abbey upstream from Sibton Park, they were drawn to the rich fertile lands along the Yox river valley.
The Cistercians had their only Suffolk house at Sibton, founded in 1150 by William de Cayneto who was a rival to the (wicked) Sherif of Nottingham. Known as the White Monks, the Cistercian Order was founded in Burgundy in 1098 and its constitution stated that new houses, such as that at Sibton, were to be founded in places “remote from the habitation of men”. Lay brothers from the Abbey would have farmed the Order’s land with granges established across their vast holdings and numerous homesteads like our pink Farmhouse. Sited in some of the most beautiful parts of the country these foundations were also a hub of activity, acting as the centre of rural agriculture and industry. Sibton in its day would have rivalled its sister foundations at Riveaulx in Yorkshire or Tintern in Wales but proved too rich a picking for Thomas Cromwell and Henry VIII.
Given to the rich and powerful Howard’s, Dukes of Norfolk and now uncle to the new Queen, Anne Boleyn, Sibton remained part of their hunting grounds being absorbed into their nearby deer park at Kelsale. By the 17th century, as the family fell out of favour, the estate was broken up to form Sibton Park and Sibton Abbey Estate but the remains of this medieval landscape can be seen in the tracery of ancient oaks that dot the landscape throughout the Park.