Nassau Drive, Trimley St. Martin







Nassau Drive in Trimley St. Martin

After  approximately fifteen months of sustained building work, Nassau Drive on the Poppyfield Green development in Trimley St. Martin is now open. Its completion is excellent news for the residents now occupying the freshly built  houses and it is to be hoped they are enjoying every second living in their new homes. However, some confusion exists about the origin of the name of Nassau Drive. Nobody seems quite clear where it originates. There are several places called Nassau scattered around the globe, one being  an island in the Bahamas, another being Nassau County on Long Island, America. Some people think it is named after Nassau in South Africa. However, none of these places are responsible for the naming of the Drive although the patronymic is responsible for the place names. Instead the connection comes from the House of Orange-Nassau. How does it connect to Trimley St. Martin?

The digested read…

…concerning the relevance of  Nassau to Trimley and how the name is pronounced.

During the eighteenth century one George Richard Savage Nassau, a descendent of the House of Orange-Nassau held the local manors of Walton with Trimley, Felixstowe Priory, Grimston with Morston, Russels in Falkenham, Stratton with Seabridge and Blowfield with Burnevills, Russells Manor in Kirton, Falkenham Dodnash Manor and  Priory Manor, Felixstowe amongst other. These manors were located in Kirton, Falkenham, Stratton Hall, Trimley St. Martin, Trimley St. Mary, Walton and Felixstowe. Together they comprised more than half of the old Colneis Hundred as may be seen in the informal map below:

Picture1 Map showing the parishes of the Colneis Hundred.

George Nassau, Esquire lends his name to the Drive in recognition of his historic connection to Trimley St. Martin.

Nassau is pronounced, ‘Na-saw’

 The Long Read

By the time the Domesday Book was compiled in 1086, the manorial system[1] was already well established. It is  possibly Saxon in origin. It ended a hundred years ago in 1922 when it was abolished by ‘The Law of Property Act’[2]. For over eight hundred years, the holders of the title ‘Lord of the Manor’ enjoyed almost absolute control over their manors. They owned everything on their land from wreckage to grazing rights, and trees. Quite how many previous Lords of the Manor  controlled the land  around Trimley, Walton, Felixstowe, Kirton and Falkenham before Nassau inherited is difficult to assess as early records are not easily available or even extant. George Nassau  was nine when he inherited the manors in the Colneis Hundred from Sir John Fytch Barker, who died without issue in January 1766.  His tenure of  the manors lasted fifty seven years, the longest period of time for any of the recorded Lords of the Manor. Because of the size of the holdings, he became possessed of, ‘an ample fortune’[3], although this was managed for him until he reached  the age of 21.

Grimston Hall 2019

Grimston Hall, seat of the Lords of the Manor for Grimston with Morston, etc. 2020

Nassau’s surname originated from a town located in Rhineland, Germany[4], which is home to the  royal House of Nassau or Orange-Nassau which remains the  reigning House of the Netherlands to the current day. George Nassau was linked to this family. You may recall William of Orange became King William III  after the ‘Glorious and Bloodless’ revolution of 1688. He reigned from 1689 – 1702 together with his first cousin and wife, Queen Mary II who died in 1694. To understand George Nassau’s  connection with the House of Orange-Nassau the description of his lineage was best described in his obituary which appeared in the September 1823 edition of ‘The Gentleman’[5]:

“The noble and illustrious house of Nassau has produced heroes allied to the greatest Princes of Europe, and renowned both in the cabinet and the field. Henry-Frederick de Nassau, Prince of Orange and grandfather to William the Third, of glorious memory, Stadtholder of the United Provinces, and King of Great Britain, had a natural son Frederick de Nassau, whom he endowed with the Lordship of Zulestein, in the Province of Utrecht, and who thereupon assumed that name. By his wife Mary, the daughter of Sir William Killigrew, of the County of Cornwall, Bart. and Chamberlain to Queen Catherine, the consort of King Charles the Second, he had issue a son and heir, William -Henry  de Zulestein, a person high in favour with King William the Third and whom, in consideration of his faithful services and eminent abilities, as well as of his near alliance to him in blood, that Monarch was pleased to create, by Letters Patent bearing date the 10th of May, 1695, Baron of Enfield, in the County of Middlesex, Viscount Tunbridge in Kent, and Earl of Rochford, in the County of Essex. His Lordship purchased of Sir Henry Wingfield, bart. (A branch of a very antient and widely-extended family in Suffolk) the Manor of Easton in that County, with the remainder of his estates in the neighbourhood; and made that place his occasional residence.

From this illustrious personage is lineally descended the late George Nassau, Esq.”

“Nassau began as a county; it later became a principality and finally a duchy. The House of Nassau had two branches, founded by the brothers Walram and Otto of Nassau. The present House of Orange-Nassau is descended from Otto and the Grand Ducal House of Luxembourg from Walram.”[a]

coat-of-arms of the kingdom of the Netherlands 2

Coat of arms of the Kingdom of the Netherlands

Born on the 5th of September 1756, George Nassau was the second son of Richard Savage Nassau de  Zulestein, who died in 1781. He was the last Lord of the Manor to  occupy Grimston Hall, albeit if for a short time thought to be sometime in the 1780s.  His brother William was to become the 5th Earl of Rochford and ultimately inherited the estates from George in 1823.  Their family home was Easton Hall in Easton,  Suffolk and both are buried in the church grounds.[6]  Perhaps more significantly Nassau was  responsible for the Trimley, Kirton and Nacton Inclosure[7] Act of 1805[8], which was awarded in 1807.

“There is little doubt that enclosure greatly improved the agricultural productivity of farms from the late 18th century by bringing more land into effective agricultural use. It also brought considerable change to the local landscape.[9]

Despite his importance  Nassau is comparatively unknown, being overshadowed by other more cavalier   Lords of the Manor namely, Thomas Cavendish of Grimston Hall (d.1592) and Colonel Tomline of Orwell Park in Nacton (d.1889). It is fair to say he was a significant person in the history of Trimley St. Martin as well as the other parts of what we now informally call the Felixstowe Peninsula.

Nassau was part of the upper ten thousand or ‘The Ton”, a phrase originating from the French, ‘Le Bon Ton’.  It means the Beautiful Society and although George Nassau may not  have engaged greatly in social events, it does describe his place in society. The obituary  in ‘The Gentleman’  [10] further described the character of the man:

“Mr Nassau was an universal favourite, inasmuch as he possessed those qualities, of which mankind are seldom jealous, and which they are ever ready to recommend. But his general personal character could only be just appreciated by those who witnessed him in his domestic circle. Here he was eminently distinguished for those virtues which form the chief ornament of private life. With a suavity and urbanity of manners peculiarly attractive, he united an ardour and activity of benevolence to a temper liberal, disinterested, and humane.”

A small part of  the Nassau correspondence is in the public domain comprising  some of the letters he wrote to his Attorneys, Messrs. Wenn and Dunningham of Ipswich. For such a potentially dull and incomplete collection they provide useful insights, containing references to his library, book purchases, circle of friends,  estate concerns and  tenants. An imperfect picture of the man emerges but enough is revealed to supply aspects of his character. As they were not intended for the eyes of his tenants they possess a candour we might otherwise not witness but they do  intimate sensitivity towards them.  There is more than a suggestion of a common sense approach with a degree of leniency towards them  as an  extract from a letter written in September  1811 indicates:

23rd September 1811

“… I have received a letter from Mr. Quilter to which the enclosed, & I beg you will contrive to get it safely delivered to him. For my answer to one part of it, I have referred him to you because I wished to avoid such a topic in a letter, which he might wish to shew to Mr. Chapman’s friends. I am glad to hear of the reconciliation. Mr Quilter says he used now & then to walk over the Blowfield Farm with his gun to take a brace or two of Birds for Mr Chapman – & with my approbation would continue to do so for Mr. Pipe – To this I cannot object – but let it appear to be Mr Pipe’s act & not mine. I wish my Tenant’s to pay a little attention to the game on their own accounts as well as on mine & most readily grant them every reasonable indulgence …”

Included within the letters are regular references to book purchases highlighting his antiquarian interests  and the importance of the Library to this eighteenth/early nineteenth gentleman. Not only was his library a place of solitude, study and learning it stood as a testament  to his good taste and excellent mind. The obituary in the Ipswich Journal[11] states it was, “one of the most valuable in the kingdom”.  After his death, the contents of Nassau’s library were sold for £8,500. In today’s terms this equates to £779,861.  Thirty titles  relating to Suffolk were retained.  The extract from a letter written in 1813 gives a flavour of his enthusiasm.

“… I read the Catalogue yesterday – but could not write by the night post. I see but two articles amongst the volumes that excite my notice – If N.57 the Scapula Lexicon be a fair & perfect copy & with the date as specified viz. 1652 it is worth seven, eight or nine pounds according to its’ condition & I should like to have it. In regard to the other article I can go be guess only & you will be a better judge than myself. Its value depends upon the illuminations & if curious may go for three or four guineas. Pray learn something about it. I hope I shall hear about the remittance on Monday …”

He was appointed High Sheriff of Suffolk in 1805[12]  one of four  Sheriffs from Trimley St. Martin village. (The other earlier Trimley Sheriffs were also Lords of the Manor Nassau inherited. Namely, Sir Robert Barker  of Trimley in 1615;   Sir John Barker, 1st Baronet of Trimley in 1635; Sir John Barker, Baronet of Trimley in 1654. They were the forebears of Sir John Fytch Barker.)

He died unmarried at his London home in 9, Charles Street, Berkeley Square on 8th August 1823. His Will [13] has several items of interest. Firstly, he was emphatic in stating that:

“…I earnestly intreat and enjoin that my Coffin may not be closed up until there shall be evidence of mortality so distinct and certain as to prevent any possibility of a premature interment …”

Secondly, he  bequeathed his manors to  his brother William, 5th Earl of Rochford who died  only a few years later on 3rd September 1830. With his death the Earldom was extinguished. Following his death the manors passed to the Dukes of Hamilton. (Hence Hamilton Road in Felixstowe.)

Earls of Rochford

Coat of Arms of the Earls of Rochford

Thirdly, he desired mourning rings to be purchased for specified friends and intimates. The names of friends to whom he wished to give Mourning Rings o may be viewed below. Some years ago one of the rings came up for sale in an auction. It is nothing short of exquisite.  At the top of the list are two members of the Berners family of Woolverstone Hall, who were close family intimates and friends.

Revd H D Berners          Willm. Berners Esq.                 Viscount Carleton

Sir Willm. Rowley          Rev. Dr Kilderbee                     Spencer Kilderbee Esq.

John Wright Esq.           Colonel Dupuis                          James Daicer (?) Esq.

Revd. Willm. Gibson      John Philips Esq.                       James Vertue Esq.

Sir Willm. Parker Bt.      Sir Robert Harland Bt.           Earl Ludlow

Sir Francis Hillman        Sir Colonel William Allen      George Farrant Esq.

Captain Hopkins           Mr Pemberton                            John Butler Esq.

Revd. Willm. Garratt      Revd Willm.  Adrich               Revd. Saml.  Rous Knight

There are five members of the Clergy and Nassau’s piety was recognised and recorded, although he could be tardy paying his tithes.

NASSAU mourning ring

Mourning ring gifted by George Nassau to one of his intimates.

NASSAU Mourning ring interior

Reverse of mourning ring.


The Ipswich Journal also commented on his concern for the poor upon his estates who would have to, ‘Lament the loss of a kind and liberal benefactor.’  His funeral was an important local occasion and after the body passed through Ipswich, it was  halted in Woodbridge where it, ‘…lay in state from 8 to 10’. The following day it went to Easton for interment.

…The Hearse was drawn by six horses, with plumes and banners, having the family arms emblazoned on each side, and was followed by three mourning coaches, having six horses each , with plumes ad banners , containing the deceased’s friends and relatives….[14]

His brother William erected a wall memorial to him in Easton Church.  Nearby is one erected to William by his close relatives and friends after his death in 1830. And with that ended the relationship between  the previously enumerated manors and the Nassaus.

Memorial George Nassau

Wall memorial to George Richard Savage, Esquire in Easton Church, Suffolk

Memorial William Rochford

Wall Memorial to William, Fifth Earl of Rochford in Easton Church, Suffolk

Easton CHurch

Easton Church, Suffolk

And finally, a two images of the Poppyfield development site prior to construction.

2017 view across Poppyfield devt

View of the footpath from the High Road looking towards the railway line. 2017

Poppyfiled site June 2020

View from Grimston Lane toward Hand Road. The Hand in Hand is hidden behind the trees. 2020

If you found this article interesting you might be interested in:

Criminals: Felons, incendiaries, horse-stealers

The Ralphs of Grimston Hall


If you have any comments or would like to be part of this Trimley St. Martin project, please contact me at:

LR  18/10/2022





[3] The Gentleman’s Magazine or Monthly Intelligencer. Volume 93, Part 2. 1823 Pages 178 – 180. (Accessible via Google Books.)


[5] The Gentleman’s Magazine. Ibid


[7] Find out more about Inclosure/Enclosure here:

[8]  B/150/1/3.17
Copy of award, parishes of Trimley St.Mary & St. Martin, Kirton & Nacton. 1 map, parchment, coloured, of Kirton. 1807     Suffolk Archives


[10] Ibid.

[11] The Ipswich Journal

[12] The current holder in 2022  is Major Anthony  James Moxon Lowther-Pinkerton LVO MBE DL of Sutton Woodbridge

[13] Prerogative Court of Canterbury Wills  Probate 11: Will registers  1823 -1825 Piece 1683 Quire numbers  151 – 200  (1824) George Nassau

[14] Bury and Norwich Post 03 September 1823

2 thoughts on “Nassau Drive, Trimley St. Martin

  1. Dear Liz,
    Your historical research not only makes fascinating reading but also explains the context of naming Nassau Drive. Thank you for being a vigilant village recorder.

    Liked by 1 person

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