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Morningthorpe has always been a small parish and this is reflected in the modest proportions of the Church of St John the Baptist, a small flint building with stone dressings.
At the time of Edward the Confessor the parish was known as Thorpe. The prefix of Morning was added to avoid confusion with numerous other Thorpes; it is derived from Mourning, which means a shallow lake.
The Domesday Book recorded two manors - Thorpe Hall the larger, and Boyland Manor owned by Ralph Bainard. Thorpe Hall changed hands several times, eventually being bought by Sir Ralph Shelton and then John Garneys who had bought Boyland Manor in 1534. His son, Richard Garneys, built Boyland Hall completing it by 1571. The Hall was demolished in 1947.
The village still contains some fine examples of Tudor houses. The Manor is Elizabethan in style, built in red brick with stepped gables. Friars Farm is early C17th.
A large Anglo-Saxon cemetery west of the site of Boyland Hall was discovered in 1974; 360 burrials and five interments of ashes were excavated, yielding a mass of grave goods.
Morningthorpe today forms a civil parish with the adjoining village of Fritton, the combined population (2001 census) is 253.