The History and Antiquities of the County of Suffolk: Volume 1. Originally published by WS Crowell, Ipswich, 1846.
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Gorleston was, probably, a place of importance before Yarmouth was built, and seems to have declined in prosperity as the latter town has advanced. Yet of its earlier history little can be said. Even the national annals of East Anglia are meagre and defective, and the records of its villages must, consequently, be incomplete. Many large stones, however, arranged in the form of a circle, which were removed from a field called Stone-close, in the year 1768, and three from a neighbouring enclosure, of a large size, and full ten feet high, attest in a great measure the truth of a tradition, that Gorleston was a spot selected by the Druids for the celebration of their mystic rites. But more certain evidences of Roman occupation are gathered from the frequent discoveries of coins and urns, and broken utensils, of that wonderful people. And here, crowning the summit of some bold commanding cliff, now wasted, perhaps, by the ocean, might have stood Garianonum, with more probability than at Burgh. Its very name, as anciently written, is by no means unindicative of such an appropriation; Garleston bearing an evident reference to its situation at the mouth of the Gar. (fn. 1) If the intermediate syllable be considered epenthetical, we have simply "the village on the Gar;" but if the word be composed of the Saxon Gar-leas-ton, we derive from the combination, "the smaller town on the Gar," or, in modern language, Little Yarmouth: a very singular coincidence. I do not, however, advocate such a position for the site of Garianonum, for reasons already adduced, but would contend for a minor station, or speculatory fortress; which, if erected here, must have commanded a most advantageous view of the ocean, with the fullest means of interior communication.
Upon the final abandonment of Britain by the Roman legions, Gorleston, from its prominent position on the "Saxon shore," must have been the scene of various and sanguinary encounters. Human skeletons and fragments of bones, found in vast profusion, attest the truth of traditions current to that effect; and probably the landing of Cerdic, in the year 495, was not far distant from this spot. Any attempt, however, to detail with minuteness the particulars of this or subsequent irruptions, might amuse the fancy of the ardent, but would only perplex veracity, and fail to elicit historical truth. Of the geological changes which Gorleston has witnessed, the formation of the sand-bank on which Yarmouth now stands is the most remarkable; but leaves and fruits, and other productions of nature, which have been found underlaying at a considerable depth the present surface of the soil, in the lower parts of the village, show the vast accumulation that has been made, since the remote times when the river filled the entire valley.
In the reign of Edward the Confessor, Earl Gurth held in Gorleston five carucates of land as a manor. There were then twenty villeins, or husbandmen; but at the period of the Domesday Survey, and when this lordship was royal demesne, these were reduced to twelve. There were at both periods five bordars. The Earl had five slaves here, but the Conqueror possessed only four: in short, the value of the entire estate was greatly depreciated. Gurth had employed two ploughs on the demesne lands, but the King used only one. The Saxon tenants had five ploughs, but the Normans kept only three. The former had possessed two draught horses, but at the Survey there were none. The Druidical oaks, if they ever flourished here, must have disappeared at any early period, for in the Confessor's reign, and also at the Conquest, there was wood sufficient to maintain only five swine. There were but ten acres of meadow in the parish, from which we gather that the fertile lands, which now lie between Braydon and the town, were covered by the tides, or formed boggy salt-marshes at the best.
Three salinæ, or salt-works, were established; and the manor always maintained 300 sheep. A curious return, connected with Gorleston, was that twenty-four fishermen, who belonged to the manor, resided at Yarmouth. Ninety acres of land, parcel of the lordship, were situated in Somerleyton, which seem to have been the property of twenty free-men dwelling at Gorleston. Four other free-men also held an estate in the latter parish, which had fallen in value from 20 shillings to 16 shillings. Roger Bigod was the King's steward over the whole lordship. (fn. 2)
The manor of Gorleston appears to have remained with the Crown till the reign of Henry III. or Edward I., when it was held by Warin de Munchensy, by the service of one knight's fee.
Inquisitio de singularibus feod: milit: de socag: et sergantiis que tenent: de d'no R: in cap: in comitatibz Norff. et Suff. Que dicit Warin de Munchensy ten: Gurleston p: s'vic feod: uni: mil. (fn. 3)
In the reign of Edward II., John Baliol was lord of Gorleston, when it seems to have been annexed to the Half Hundred of Lothingland, as it passed in succession through the same descents. Being forfeited by the De la Poles, it was regranted on the 28th of January, 1510, by Henry VIII., to Edward Jerningham, Esq., and Mary his wife. Sir Edward died in 1515, seized, inter alia, of the manors of East and West and North and South Leet, in Gorleston. (fn. 4) Following the same conveyances as the Half Hundred, this property fell into the family of Anguish, and afterwards descended to Lord Sydney Osborne, who sold it in 1844, to Samuel Morton Peto, Esq.
The court books for the manor of Gorleston begin in the year 1665; the style of them is, "The court of ancient demesne." From the above year till 1670, the leets are regularly entered, and chief pledges sworn for Gorleston, and the usual presentments and entries made. There were formerly a set of stewards of these leets, elected from among the chief tenants of the manor, and called Chievers, whose office was to collect the ancient demesne rents, yearly, in rotation. An ancient MS., commencing in 1583, contains "a particular of the Cheevers in Gorleston, who are to collect the ancient demesne rents there, yierlie, by and in their courses and orders, being xxxiiijs. and iiijd. per an., there being xviij cheevs in number. To be elected by the inquest of office at a court yerelie, at Gorleston, called the auncient demeasne court, holden for the manor of Gorleston on Fridaie in Quinquagessima weeke, to beare the office of Bayliffe for the said manor of Gorleston. The rents are to be collected at thanciation and michaelmas following after the election, and to be paid to the lorde of Lothingland, or to his Bayliffe yerelie by equal porc'ons, viz. the some of xxxiiijs. iiijd. And the Chiever, or his deputie, is to have for his labour vjs. viijd., so in all there is yerelie to be collected the some xlis., as appears by ancient rentals." Among the Chievers' memorandums is one dated 1595, "That Richard Ward did leave the office for this chief (Hertes Chief) in ano. 1595, anoque Eliz. R'ne Angl. xxxvij, and then did paie the whole rent w'tout eny helpers, because he could not fynd eny lands belonging unto the said Tente or Chiefe, out of his owne possession or occupation." Then follows a list of persons annually elected from 1645 to 1662; the last of whom was the lord himself. The chiever has not been elected nor the rent collected for many years, and indeed no traces remain of the custom.
The Manor of Bacon's, in Gorleston.
This manor seems to have acquired its name from the ancient family of Bacon, who possessed considerable interests here towards the latter end of the thirteenth century. In 1292, John Bacun, most probably the warrior buried in the chancel of Gorleston church, is mentioned in the Inquisition Rolls, "de via in Reston inter Jernemuth et Morford includenda." (fn. 5) In 1335, Sir Henry Bacon appears to have been enfeoffed of this manor, which seems to have been always held of the paramount manor of Gorleston; for in the reign of Henry VIII., John Spring, Esq., who was then lord, paid for his manor of Bacon's 26s. 4d. (fn. 6)
In the first of Edward VI., Richard Gunville, Esq., was lord of Bacon's, with whose descendants it remained till the reign of Queen Elizabeth, when Alice, relict of Henry Gunville, Esq., died, seized thereof, in 1580, or the following year. Richard Ward next held this manor in right of Ann, his wife, sister of the aforesaid Henry Gunville; and in the forty-fourth of Elizabeth, Henry Ward was lord. In the reign of Charles I., William Vesey, Esq., was in possession of the manor of Bacon's in Gorleston, and in 1645, Alice, his widow, held it. In 1681, Richard Vesey, Esq., was owner; and in 1693, William Vesey possessed it. In 1723, Mary Prattent, widow, occurs as lady of this manor. It was next the estate of Francis Larwood, Esq., who by will, dated February, 1749, and proved in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, 7th of May, 1750, devised it to Christopher Routh, of Norwich, Gent., in fee; who by will of the 9th of July, 1774, and proved on the 31st of July, 1783, devised it to trustees for sale, who conveyed it to Robert Harvey, the elder, Esq., citizen and alderman of Norwich, on the 11th and 12th of October, 1785. The said Robert Harvey, by will, dated October 8th, 1810, devised it to his three sons, Robert, John, and Charles, in fee, as tenants in common; who, on the 9th and 10th of October, 1818, sold and conveyed it to Thomas Read and Robert Read, of Erettenham, in Norfolk, farmers, who sold and conveyed it on the 13th and 14th of November, 1821, to James Barber, of Hopton, and afterwards of Gorleston, farmer. James Barber by his will, bearing date the 29th of January, 1842, devised his manor of Bacon's to trustees for sale, who conveyed it to William Thurtell, of Great Yarmouth, Esq., and Arthur Steward, of Southtown, otherwise Little Yarmouth, Esq., who are the present lords.
The local history of Gorleston is principally confined to the suits and contests in which it has been engaged with Yarmouth respecting the rights and privileges of the port. These have been so fully detailed by Blomefield and Swindon, in their respective histories of Yarmouth, that they require the briefest recapitulation here. While Yarmouth and Gorleston were in the King's own hands, these suits and jealousies appear never to have existed between the two places. No sooner, however, had the former obtained a charter from King John, investing its burgesses with important privileges, and the sole government of the town, than the inhabitants of Gorleston and Southtown, apprehensive of the future power of Yarmouth, discovered themselves as formidable rivals and implacable enemies. We do not, however, find any material opposition between them till the year 1228, when Roger Fitz-Osbert, warden of the manor of Lothingland, took certain customs in the port of Yarmouth, against the express liberties of the burgesses; which being represented to the King, he commissioned Martin de Pateshall, and others, to inquire into, and ascertain what customs belonged to the burgesses, and what to his said manor of Lothingland. Whereupon an inquisition was taken at Yarmouth, the same year, upon the oaths of twenty-two knights, and others, of Norfolk, and twenty-six of Suffolk; when a verdict was found that all wares ought to be sold and unladen at Great Yarmouth; and that all the haven belonged to the burgesses of that town; but that the lesser wares and victuals might be unladen at Lothingland, or the Yarmouth side, at the option of the owners, or the importers thereof. This determination, however, was far from satisfactory to the burgesses of Yarmouth, for since by it ships might unlade with victuals on the Lothingland side, and as their chief trade was fishing, they found themselves considerably injured in the disposal of an article whence arose their greatest profits. In the year 1256, therefore, they petitioned for and obtained of the King a new charter, that all merchandizes and wares, as well of fish as of other commodities, should be sold at Yarmouth, by the hands of the importers of them into the haven, whether found in ships, or without; and that henceforth there be no brokers in the aforesaid town of Yarmouth, by whom the buyers and sellers may be impeded, to the detriment of the said town. Notwithstanding this charter, there were afterwards frequent controversies between the burgesses and the inhabitants of Gorleston. The latter on many occasions continued their claim to, and exacted, some of the customs exclusively granted to Great Yarmouth. In the eighth of Edward II., an inquisition was consequently taken about the rights of John Baliol, in his Hundred of Lothingland, and the towns of Little Yarmouth and Gorleston: he having taken for every foreign ship 18d.; for every English ship 4d. per annum; for every loaded cart or horse one halfpenny; for every last of herrings by a foreign merchant 4d.; the payage belonging to him was valued at 4d. He used also to take attachment of every ship anchoring on the Lothingland side, as far as the file of the water.
Disputes continuing to arise between the contending parties, in the beginning of the reign of Edward III., the men of Little Yarmouth and Gorleston, in defiance of the King's proclamation and all means used to restrain them, proceeded to the most daring and tumultuous riots, by which the burgesses of Yarmouth were insulted and plundered of their goods, and one of the inhabitants killed. In the third of Edward III., six men of Gorleston were tried for taking away, by force, herrings and other goods, to the amount of £20, the property of Richard Rose, of Great Yarmouth; and the next year the said Richard Rose again prosecuted five other men of Gorleston, for carrying away his vessel, by force and arms, value £10. In the same year, also, Henry Randolph impleaded fourteen men of Gorleston, for taking away £30 of his cash; and beating, wounding, imprisoning, and otherwise cruelly treating John Whynhowe, his servant, so that he was deprived of his services for a long time. In the fifth of the same King, anno 1331, amongst other cases, John Elys impleaded eleven men of Gorleston for a similar offence; and in the same year many men of Little Yarmouth and Gorleston were judged for murdering a man in one of these riotous conflicts. However, as the rights of the burgesses of Yarmouth became more clearly determined, and more solemnly ratified, these daring assaults and contests in proportion subsided. Thus matters continued, without any material interruption, till the twelfth of Queen Elizabeth, when the Earl of Richmond, and his tenants of Southtown, or Little Yarmouth, raised a contest about the ground on the south side of the haven's mouth. This and other differences were referred to the arbitration of Sir Christopher Heydon and Sir William Butts, whose award, in a few plain articles, was conclusive and satisfactory to both parties. In the first place, they decreed that certain stakes or doles should be set near the haven of Great Yarmouth, and that the south part thereof should be to Sir Henry Jernegan, then lord of the manor of Gorleston, and his heirs, for ever, and the north part unto the town of Great Yarmouth, in perpetuity. Provided that if the haven shall win or run in its former passage, and leave the same waste soil between the haven and the sea, then this article to bind no longer any of the parties. Also, that Gorleston and the inhabitants thereof, whensoever they fish, shall and may as largely and lawfully sell and discharge their fish, out of their own bottoms, at their pleasure, and where they will, as heretofore they have used, so as their order extend not to any stranger not inhabiting there. Also, that whensoever there shall happen any boat to be fastened on Gorleston side, so that the same do not float to the nuisance of the haven, or else drawn up on land on that side, that no bailiff, or other officer of Yarmouth, shall from henceforth any ways arrest, attach, or take the same boat, during the time that the same remain so fastened or drawn up. Provided that this article, or any part thereof, shall not extend to the imbarring of the admiral-jurisdiction, or any parcel of the same. Also, that all manner of suits now depending between the town of Great Yarmouth and Sir Henry Jernegan, or between the same town and the town of Gorleston, shall utterly cease.
Notwithstanding this equitable arbitration, about six years after, anno 1579, when Queen Elizabeth was at Norwich, an old dispute having been revived concerning the sale of fish and other merchandizes at the town of Gorleston, the burgesses obtained a letter, addressed to the sheriff and justices of Suffolk, from Her Majesty's Privy Council, forbidding "such fair, market, buying, selling, &c.;" upon which the men of Gorleston, Lowestoft, &c., petitioned for a repeal of that prohibition, which occasioned the burgesses again to produce their charters in their justification. In 1616, the bailiffs of Yarmouth petitioned for an extension of their privileges to the west side of the haven, but apparently without effect, till the twentieth of Charles II., 1668, when Southtown was incorporated with Great Yarmouth. This was in consequence of a Bill brought into the House of Commons by Sir Robert Paston, Knt., on behalf of himself and the men of Southtown, or Little Yarmouth, in the sixteenth of that reign; but, from the opposition of Great Yarmouth, the Incorporation Act did not take place till 1668, when the burgesses thought fit to make a virtue of necessity, as the Bill had been already passed three years; and they accordingly settled the terms of their incorporation with Sir Robert Paston, when the two towns were united. Hence a period was put to their numerous disputes and contentions; for as these chiefly originated from a desire of superiority and a jealousy of each other's privileges and prerogatives, their liberties and franchises no sooner became common, than quarrels and controversies gave place to peace and unanimity. (fn. 7) Southtown is therefore now within the jurisdiction of Yarmouth, although it is considered a hamlet of Gorleston, to which village its inhabitants are parochially assessed.
In the second of Edward III., 1329, Gorleston sent representatives to a council held by that monarch. (fn. 8) In the seventh of the same reign, we find this place furnishing its quota of mariners and ships for the King's service in the Scotch wars.
R: taxatoribz et collectoribz decime et quindecime in com: Norff: saltm: mandamus vob: qd: de denar: de decima, &c., solvatis Johi Perbroun, quem constituims capitaneum et admirallum flote n're navium que in obsequium n'rm ad p'tes Scocie sunt venture centum marcas sup: expensis marinarior quinq: navium quas apud Magnam Jernemutam et P'vam Jernemutam et Gorleston p'videri, et exinde usq: d'cas p'tes Scocie ordinavim destinare faciend: put: &c: Et hoc &c. (fn. 9)
In the nineteenth of Edward III., Sir John de Herlyng claimed a tallage on the herrings brought into Gorleston haven. This must, I presume, have been imposed in right of his manor of Newton, in which parish the mouth of the river then joined the sea.
Joes de Harlyng huit quandam custumam duor: denar: de quolibet lasto alecis apud Magnam et Parvam Jernemuth, et Lothingland. (fn. 10)
The bridge over the Yare, which unites Yarmouth and Lothingland, was first built in 1417, at a place where there had been a ferry-boat employed before; but it was not until 1553 that it became a drawbridge. This alteration was not made for the convenience of commerce, but for the purpose of defending and keeping the town of Yarmouth for the use of Queen Mary, in whose favour the burgesses had greatly exerted themselves. This drawbridge was broken down and carried away by a strong tide and tempestuous weather in 1570. As there was no passage over the haven while this was rebuilding, the jealousies of the inhabitants of Yarmouth and Gorleston rekindled disputes about the ferries. It appears from old rolls, that in the reign of Edward II. there were two ferries; one, a foot ferry, where the bridge now stands, and a horse ferry at the north end of Gorleston Street, which continued to be so used, as the king's highway passed the Yare at that spot, till the building of Yarmouth Bridge. The pontage of the former ferry belonged to the burgesses of Yarmouth, but the right of the ferry at Gorleston Street was always an appendage to that manor. In the first of Henry VIII., 1509, the ferryman at Gorleston paid 8s. 4d. rent to the lord. (fn. 11) The right of a foot ferry is also mentioned in the grant of the manor, by the same monarch, to Sir Henry Jerningham and his heirs for ever, to be enjoyed as hath been used and now is. (fn. 12) This right was also conceded to Sir Henry Jerningham and his heirs by Sir Christopher Heydon and Sir William Butts, when they compromised the disputes, as already related, in the year 1571.
In consequence of the increase of population and commerce, the following application was made to the lord of the manor of Gorleston, in 1834, for the establishment of an additional ferry over the Yare.
"To the Rev. George Anguish.
"We the undersigned occupiers and owners of property in Great Yarmouth and Southtown, constantly experiencing great inconvenience from the want of an additional communication between the present ferry at Gorleston, and Yarmouth Bridge, beg to request Mr. Anguish, the proprietor of the ferry, to provide an additional ferry-boat to ply on the river, in the vicinity of the Armoury, by which persons connected with trade will be accommodated, and facilities of communication afforded to the increased number of inhabitants, on either side of the river.
(Signed) William Barth.
"Yarmouth, January 27th, 1834."
Nearly one hundred signatures were attached to the above requisition, which was complied with by Mr. Anguish.
Tradition relates that Gorleston possessed a weekly market in the time of King Canute, but no records seem to prove the fact. Domesday Book makes no mention of such a privilege, and the public rolls of the subsequent reigns contain no grant to that effect. It is true, that in the unhappy contests in which this village was involved with the burgesses of Yarmouth, in the reign of Edward III., it was asserted, that both before and after the making of the aforesaid charter, they—the men of Gorleston—were always seized of a fair and market—"ante confeccionem predicte carte et post, semper fuerunt seisiti de feria, mercato," &c. And again, at an inquisition taken at Norwich, in the fifth year of the same reign, although it was admitted that there was no certain fair day at Gorleston, yet the inhabitants claimed a right to hold a market on Thursday. "Dicunt quod ibi est mercatum per diem Jovis, et esse debet, et non est ibi certus dies nundinarum." Still, in all the subsequent arrangements made to heal these dissensions, no concession appears to have been made to the men of Gorleston of the privilege of a weekly market. So that we may presume, if a market was occasionally held at Gorleston, the holding it was one of those aggressions on the rights and privileges of Yarmouth which led to the contests already related. A small fair, however, for toys, &c., is annually held at Whitsuntide, but, I believe, by custom only.
A Cross formerly stood near the White Horse Inn, Fenn Street, and another near the Feathers' Inn, High Street. The mutilated remains of others were visible a few years since; that at the south end of the town, removed in 1798, latterly bore the appellation of the Devil's Tomb-stone. (fn. 13) The ancient name of this relic of by-gone days was Clement's Cross, as appears from an entry in the Chievers' accounts for 1597. "Hered: Rogeri Godsalve t. ij acr: terr: quond'm d'ci Johis Gunvile, olim Henrici Reppis, contra crucem Clementij; anglicè, at or against Clem'ts Crosse."
And in the same record, mention is made of half an acre of land "juxta crucem Clem'ts, abutting sup: viam dūcem a Holgate-way pd. v'ss Fritton v'ss aquilon." A white stone, which divided Corton and Gorleston, is mentioned in the perambulation of Newton, where it was called John-a-Lane's Crosse.
It is said that two or three streets were burnt down in Gorleston by an accidental fire, in that part of the town called Burnt Lane, and that a rope-manufactory was also destroyed by the same calamity in the vicinity of Roper's Lane. The fire is stated to have broken out in the kitchen of the priory, and to have devoured all the houses which surrounded that edifice. The houses thus consumed are said to have been large and good structures, and were the property of the prior and monks. (fn. 14) But as Leiston Abbey held houses in Little Yarmouth as early as the thirty-fifth of Henry III., (fn. 15) might not the dwellings which were thus destroyed have belonged to that abbey, rather than to the mendicant friars of Gorleston, who by their vows were to remain destitute of all fixed revenues and possessions? Butley Priory had rents in Gorleston, as appears by the court-rolls of the manor for the fourteenth of Edward I. (fn. 16)
Magdalen College, Oxford, as owners of Caldecot Manor, in Fritton, also possessed an estate in Gorleston, called Spitlings, granted, apparently, by Henry Spitling, of Gorleston.
Colleg: t: un ac: ib'm in d'co Clo: voc: Spitling, et jac: ext: occid: co'is vie duc'em ab ecclie Sci Andrea de Gorleston usq: ad eccliam p've Jernemuth. (fn. 17)
The Cistercian Abbey of Beaulieu, in Hampshire, had rents amounting to £6. 13s. 4d. per annum, arising from houses and fisheries in South Town, as appears from the Taxatio Ecclesiastica of Pope Nicholas IV., made about the year 1291. The Prior of St. Olave's, also, had 1s. 8d. annual rent here; the Abbey of Boxley, in Kent, 13s. 4d.; the Abbey of Leiston, £2. 10s.; and the Prioress of Campsey 9 shillings.
The Priory of Austin Friars, or Friars Eremites, in Gorleston.
I have been able to collect very little concerning the history of this conventual establishment, and Camden, more than two centuries ago, made the same admission. "Here I saw," says he, "the tower of a small suppressed monastery which standeth in good stead for a sea-mark;" which is all I find of it, for the 'Monasticon,' and Speed, out of Leland, make not the least mention of it. This convent was founded by William Woderove and Margaret his wife, about the middle of the reign of Edward I., and probably before 1291, because South Yarmouth is mentioned in the Lincoln Taxation, made in that year. In 1310, the fourth of the following reign, the precincts of this establishment were enlarged by the liberality of Roger Woderove, as appears by an inquisition for Suffolk, taken at that time.
De donatione Rogeri Woderove pro manso elargando: pro priori Sci Augustini Gernemuthe plac: terr: contin: 64 pedes in longitudine, et 4 pedes in latitud: in Bradwelle, Jernemutha Parva. (fn. 18)
The house seems to have been early involved in disputes with the vicar of Gorleston; and Tanner mentions, as existing among the collections of Bryan Twyne, "instrumenta tria de litibus inter fratres Augustinienses et vicarium ecclie pōch de Gorleston coram Will'mo de Bergavenny, S. T. P., Cancellario Oxon, et aliis commissariis Johannis Epis. Oxon, conservatoris privelegior: istius ordinis, &c." A composition was afterwards entered into between the provincial of the Friars Eremites of the order of St. Austin, in England and Scotland, and the prior and convent of St. Bartholomew in London, proprietors of the church of St. Andrew, in Gorleston, and St. Nicholas, in Little Yarmouth, respecting a house and oratory in these parishes. (fn. 19)
The priory of Gorleston is chiefly remarkable, and has a high claim to distinction, as the seat of literature at a period consigned to contempt by many, as barbarous and dark. Lambard, speaking of this convent, says, "here was of late years a librarie of most rare and pretious workes, gathered together by the industrie of one Jhon Brome, a monk of the same house, which dyed in the reigne of King Henry the Sixte." Fosbrooke terms this John Brome " an Ayscough, or Wanley of antiquity." This John Brome, prior of Gorleston, he tells us, put indexes to almost all the books in his library. William Smith, of Weston, by Beccles, in 1504, by his will gave as follows: "Item. I bequeath to the Austyn Friers in Southton, i. e. Gorleston, 20 shillings: they to pray and say for my fader and my moder a solemn dirge with a mass; and every fryer ther, beying a preste, to have 4d.; every one being no preste, 2d." Swindon, in his history of Yarmouth, has noticed several of the burgesses as benefactors to this convent. In 1355, William Oxney gave to the Austin Friars of South Town 10s. In 1362, Stephen de Stalham left to the friars of St. Austin, of Little Yarmouth, five marks. In 1374, John de Stalham left them the same sum to celebrate mass for his soul. In 1374, Jeffery de Drayton bequeathed to the friars mendicants in Little Yarmouth 40s. In 1379, Simon Atte Gap bequeathed to these friars 13s. 4d. Several other donations of a like kind are recorded in the pages of that laborious antiquary. Eleanor, relict of Sir Ralf Gerburge, Knt., of Wykhampton, by her last will, dated 1386, and proved the 20th of August in the same year, leaves her body to be buried in the cemetery (in sepultura) of the Friars Eremites of St. Augustine, in Little Yarmouth, and bequeaths to that convent £iij. vjs. viijd., and to the House of the Lepers there xiijd.
Weever furnishes a list of eminent persons interred within the precincts of this house, some of whom were akin to royalty. But the churches of the Mendicant Friars were singularly rich in every species of embellishment, and universally selected as places of sepulture by the wealthy and high-born. The principal of these personages were, Richard, Earl of Clare; Roger Fitz-Osbert, and Lady Catharine, his wife; Dame Sibil Mortimer; Alexander Fastolph; Sir Henry Bacon, of Garleston; Sir Robert Bacon; Sir Thomas Hemgrave; Edmund de Hemgrave; Joan of Acris, Countess of Gloucester, second daughter of King Edward I., though it is probable she was only registered here, as there is better evidence of her interment at Clare, in Suffolk, &c. The burial-ground attached to this conventual establishment appears to have been large, and well enclosed, though it is now parcelled out, built upon, and otherwise desecrated. The remains of these Princes in Israel are occasionally discovered mingled with the dust of the mean and ignoble. All of them have fulfilled their days upon earth, and at length, in the solemn words of Holy Writ, have become "dung upon the face of the field, so that they shall not say, this is Jezebel." After the dissolution of the Priory of Augustines at Gorleston, the site was granted, in 1544, to John Eyre, whom Weever designates as a great dealer in that kind of houses. Its ruins are situated partly in the hamlet of South Town, and partly in Gorleston; the boundary line of the two places passing through the precincts of the establishment. The conventual church, however, stood wholly within the parish of Gorleston; and, if we may judge of its entirety by the fragments of a very lofty tower, lately fallen, it may be presumed to have been a splendid fabric. But the early reformers, with an honest, though indiscriminating zeal, levelled many a fair specimen of architectural taste, and the shrine-work and elaborate canopies of Gorleston Priory have given place to dilapidated ruins and the humblest dwellings. Three sides of the lofty quadrangular tower having gradually crumbled away, left, in the writer's early remembrance, the eastern face alone standing—entire to the parapets. This tottering fragment, unsupported by angular walls, was hurled to the ground by a furious gale from the westward, in the year 1813. Its demolition was thus recorded in the provincial journals of the day. "The old steeple at Gorleston, about one hundred feet high, which has stood, and been a mark for ships passing through Yarmouth roads from time immemorial, was, on Thursday se'nnight, blown down in the gale, with a tremendous crash." (fn. 20)
Many interesting discoveries have been made at different periods amidst the ruins of this "fallen pile." In 1806, a very ancient stone coffin was dug up in the priory close, which, from its extraordinary size and costliness, excited much attention at the time. Its length was seven feet six inches, and its width at the shoulders two feet. It bore no inscription, but a very beautiful and highly-wrought cross was deposited on the lid. In the same year was discovered in the convent-garden, another very ancient stone coffin, somewhat smaller than the first, with a Calvary cross sculptured on the cover. Fragments of a like sepulchral character, and human skeletons in vast profusion, have likewise been laid bare in the immediate vicinity of the ruins at subsequent periods. (fn. 21) In William of Worcestre's 'Itinerary,' page 375, we read "Longitudo tocius ecclesiæ Fratrum Sancti Augustini de Gorleyston propè Jermuth cum choro 100 gressus. Latitudo navis ecclesiæ 24 gressus." An impression of the seal of this house is in the Chapter House, Westminster, among the deeds of the Court of Wards and Liveries.
The Leper House.
In the year 1372, a house of Lepers was standing in Gorleston, (fn. 22) though its situation is now unknown. It is not improbable, however, that the locality which retains the name of Hospital Yard, and Hospital Alley, may actually be the site. In 1379, Simon Atte Gap, of Great Yarmouth, bequeathed a legacy of 6s. 8d. towards its maintenance. (fn. 23) It was dedicated to St. James, and part of its possessions was held of the manor of Gapton by the singular tenure of an annual payment of a pair of gloves, which seems to have been rendered in kind as late as the middle of the seventeenth century. In the receipts for the quit-rents of the manor of Gapton Hall, for the year 1643, is the following entry: "Received of Humphrey Pinne, Gent., for one acre, called Glove acre, a payer of gloves, of him for the house, late the Hospitall of St. James in Southtowne, lyeth by the way towards Yarmouth. viiid." (fn. 24)
Some of its lands are now in the possession of Magdalen College, Oxford, in right of their manor of Caldecot Hall, as appears by the following extract from the leet-rolls of Gorleston manor:—
"Colleg: pd: q: Domus lepresorum t: tres rod: ter: infra Incl'm q: Willi: Spitling; nunc dict: colleg: que tres rod: ter: jac: inter resid: d'ci Incli' exte: orien: et Incli' Henrici Gunvyle, manij sui de Bacons, voc: le great Incl'm, exte: occid: et abb: sup Incl'm nup ip'ius Henrici voc: Gunvyle's pightle, v'ss austr: et sup ter: hered: Rici Holmes v'ss aquilon, &c."
In the same deed mention is made of the mill-hill of the lord of the manor of Bacon's: "p. montem molendini d'ci d'ni de Bacon's." (fn. 25)
at Gorleston, which is dedicated to St. Andrew, was granted by King Henry II. to the prior and convent of St. Bartholomew, in Smithfield, (fn. 26) who obtained an appropriation and endowed a vicarage. The nomination to this vicarage anciently belonged to the see of Norwich, but was taken from it by Act of Parliament, in the twenty-seventh of Henry VIII., and given to the King. (fn. 27) It is now in private hands; James Salter, Esq., of Salutary Mount, Heavitree, near Exeter, being the present patron. The impropriation was granted, with many others, by King Edward VI., in consideration of £2055. 19s. 10¼d., to Charles Cecil, of London, Gent., and John Bell, of London, tanner, in fee, as joint tenants, by letters patent, dated February the 9th, seventh Edward VI.
The vicarage has no glebe lands, but by prescription is endowed with, or has a right to, some part of the great tithes. There are two marsh-farms at Runham, in Norfolk, attached to the vicarage of Gorleston, with South Town and West Town, that pay, at present, two shillings on the pound, rent to the vicar of Gorleston. (fn. 28) Mortuaries are due, by custom, and constantly paid to the minister thereof. Every boat occupied in the herring fishery, whose owners live within the parish, pays 10s. 6d.; and for every boat employed in the mackarel fare a consideration is rendered. (fn. 29) In 1290, Walter de Melleford, chaplain vicar of South Yarmouth, now called Gorleston, gave to the Hospital by Magdalen Gates, Norwich, an acre in Sprowston, close by their site. (fn. 30) The church is a large but plain edifice, comprising a nave and chancel, with two aisles, all of equal height and width, running the entire length of the fabric. These are divided from the body of the church by octangular pillars, which sustain pointed arches. At the west end stands a square tower, in which hang four bells—all that remain of its former complement of six. The three expansive windows which fill the east ends of the nave and aisles are in bad condition, closed with masonry, and consigned to neglect. The interior is neat and reputably fitted, but is not devoid of modern disfigurements, the most hideous of which is its clumsy altar-piece. It contains, however, several ancient embellishments, which, though partially mutilated, still exhibit boldness of execution and elegance of fancy. In the north wall of the chancel is a pointed arched recess, formed within the thickness of the wall, enriched with crockets and elaborate finials. It contains a mutilated coffin-shaped slab, which probably covers the ashes of the founder.
The east end of the south aisle was formerly separated from the other portions of the edifice by a screen of oak, of which part remains. It formed the private chapel or chantry of the Bacons, lords, in ancient days, of the manor of Bacon's, in this village, and contained, in 1828, four large slabs of Purbeck marble, in which had originally been placed as many sepulchral effigies in brass. Round the edge of one of these memorials was an inscription in Norman-French, illegible in most places, but clearly retaining the letters I O . . . . B Ā . . . . This stone seems to be referred to in Harvey's Collection of Funeral Monuments; for he says, "in the churche of Gorlestone; 1. gu. a bend lozengy sa. on a chief arg. 2 etoiles of the 2nd; Bacon. 2. Sabyne, the mother of John Bacon." The cross-legged effigy of a knight, bearing the same armorial cognizance, and represented in the opposite engraving, occupied the matrix of a second of these slabs. The figure had long been lost, when this church was first visited by the writer, and considered irrecoverable, but was unexpectedly discovered amidst the collection of sepulchral brasses sold after the death of Craven Ord, Esq., in 1830. It was then purchased by the late John Gage Rokewode, Esq., who laudably restored it to the church from which it had been sacrilegiously abstracted. By the care, and, I believe, at the expense of Dawson Turner, Esq., of Yarmouth, it was refixed in its original matrix, and the stone to which it is attached, having been removed from the Bacon chantry, is now placed vertically against the north wall of the chancel, not far from the founder's tomb—a situation selected to preserve it from further injury. The figure is, unfortunately, broken at the lower extremities, but when entire measured five feet six inches in height, and is placed under a canopy supported by buttresses, all of the fashion of the reign of Edward I.; the brass inlays of which are also reaved. Blomefield, in his Church Notes, mentions that the feet of this figure rested on a boar's head, and adds, "I take this to be of the Bacon family, notwithstanding the bendlet lozenge, as also from the stone which joins to the former, under which lies Jane Bacun." No doubt, I think, can be entertained but that this effigy represents John Bacon, mentioned in the Inquisition Rolls of 1292. The whole design and contour of the monument agree perfectly with this date. This extremely curious memorial is one of five specimens only, which the kingdom now possesses, of cross-legged effigies in brass. As an example of early art it yields in interest to none, though it is not so rich in detail as that of Sir Roger de Trumpeton, at Trumpington, in Cambridgeshire, or the still more elaborate one in Acton church, in this county, which is a little posterior in date. The vambraces and gousettes of plate intermixed with the chain-armour of this warrior show the gradual progress of the former, which finally completely enveloped the person, leaving the latter as an inner defence, or shirt of mail only. At the shoulders appear gonfannons, or ailettes—little wings of leather attached by cords to the armour—and which, in the present example, are charged with the cross of St. George. These curious appendages seem to have been introduced in the chivalric reign of our first Edward, and continued in fashion about half a century. In 1828, the slabs which covered the remains of the Bacons in Gorleston church were raised for the purpose of constructing a vault for the Astley family. On removing the stone to which this effigy had been attached, a perfect skeleton was discovered, wrapped in lead, lying about five feet beneath the surface of the soil. The hair was perfectly white, and on being exposed to the air, instantly fell from the skull. Beneath the other slabs several skulls and bones were found, but no perfect skeleton was exhumed.
The font which stands at the west end of the nave, beneath a modern organ loft, is an octagonal block of stone, having seven of its sides charged with sculptures of the Romish sacraments, while the eighth compartment represents the day of Judgment. The Judge of all mankind, seated on the rainbow, and surrounded by cherubim, is calling on the dead to arise. On the lower parts of the panel are seen figures emerging from the water, and hiding beside the hills,—fulfilling the sublime declaration, that "the sea shall give up her dead, and the wicked shall call on the mountains and the rocks to cover them." The legend painted above is decayed, and rather obscure. It has been read,
which is objectionable, inasmuch as this reading would make the consummation of all things immediately consequent on the resurrection of Christ. Perhaps the words of St. Jerome might be more happily applied.
The whole of this elaborate font, now detached from a coat of lime which completely filled in the sculptures, retains much of the painting and gilding with which it was originally illuminated. As examples of art, the subjects cannot rank high, but as delineations of manners, and specimens of ancient colouring, they are entitled to much attention.
Two piscinas and the Easter sepulchre were discovered during restorations which have lately been effected in the interior. The two former are open, but the sepulchre is again concealed from view.
A few years since there were in the aisles of Gorleston church several ancient floor-stones, with floriated crosses upon them. When the church was re-pewed, in 1845, on the removal of the lid of a stone coffin, near the north-east pillar, a skeleton of very unusual size was discovered. The coffin-lid was six inches thick, on which a brass cross, five feet nine inches in length, had been inlaid.
This ancient stone was broken by the masons into six pieces, though quite entire when first discovered. Many other sepulchral memorials of a like character were also then destroyed, but some of them were removed to the west end of the church and laid as floor-stones, the sculptured sides being turned downwards.
Monuments.—Amidst a very large collection of monuments, the following are briefly noticed:
The Rev. Sir John Castleton, Bart., died 7 Nov. 1777, aged 80. Ann Castleton, died 14 March, 1789, aged 72. Lady Castleton, wife of the Rev. Sir John Castleton, A. B., breathed her last in the kalends of February, 1737, aged 45. Castleton bears az. on a bend or, 3 snakes nowed proper. Ambrose Crowch, Doctor of Phisick; Elizabeth his wife, died aged 70. Capt. Francis Saunders, died Sept. 2, 1679, aged 50. Judith, his daughter, wife of John Burrell, Vicar of Gorleston, died 9th of August, 1699, aged 43. Saunders bears party per chev. arg. and sab. 3 elephants' heads erased, counterchanged. Catherine Mary Upjohn, wife of the Rev. Francis Upjohn, Vicar, and only daughter of the late Rev. Clement Tooka, Vicar of Chippenham, in Cambridgeshire, died Sept. 15, 1840, aged 85. Gustavus Belford, Esq., died 28 Dec. 1816, aged 68 years. He was a Colonel in the Army, and son of General Belford, who distinguished himself at the battle of Culloden, in which he commanded the artillery. Anna, daughter of the above, died May 11th, 1819, aged 19 years. Nathaniel Barth, died 19 July, 1803, aged 65. Mary, his widow, died 7 March, 1824, aged 73. Jane, relict of Samuel Jefferies, Esq., late of Windsor Forest, Jamaica, and Pixton House, East Greenstead, Sussex, died 7 Jan. 1826, aged 60. Mary, wife of Lieut. Richard Coggan, R.N., died April 26, 1828, aged 72. He died June 8, 1828, aged 72. Daniel Morrison, Purser, R. N., died 26 Feb. 1836, aged 64. Mary Lane, his wife, died Sep. 16, 1828, aged 40. John Beart, died June 15th, 1819, aged 39. Michael Chitty, Captain in the East Kent Militia, died 7 Aug. 1816, aged 47. Edmund Bennett, Lieut. R. N., died Aug. 21, 1817, aged 43. Elizabeth, his wife, died Feb. 4, 1822, aged 58. Richard Priestley, Esq., R. N., son of the Rev. Thomas Priestley, vicar of Snettisham and Heacham, in Norfolk, died 12 Feb. 1825, aged 44. The Rev. Thomas Tanquary, died Dec. 1, 1841, aged 71. Elizabeth, his wife, died Sep. 22, 1843. Lieut. Daniel Disney, died March 11th, 1792, aged 63. Elizabeth, his wife, died Aug. 4, 1800, aged 61. William Goodericke, Esq., died May 20, 1831, aged 77. Nicholas Bell, died Feb. 12, 1693. George Pattinson, died Sep. 17, 1843, aged 77. He bequeathed £50 to the Gorleston and Southtown national schools. Catharine Astley, died at Norwich, Nov. 9, 1828. She was the grand-daughter of Sir Jacob Astley, Bart., of Melton Constable, and of Henry Bell, Esq., of Wallington Hall, in Norfolk. Thomas Browne, D.D., Master of Christ's Coll., Camb., Rector and Vicar of Gorleston, died April 19, 1832, aged 67. Lucy, his widow, grand-daughter of Sir Jacob Astley, died June 23, 1843, aged 77. Mrs. Mary Master, celebrated for her charities, died Nov. 9, 1753, aged 93.
The registers of Gorleston commence in 1705, though there was, not many years since, a register book commencing in 1674; and in it was the following curious record: "Mr. Bendishe's children set down born, not baptized, because they were not baptized according to the custom of the Church of England, but by Mr. Sheldrake, the Independent." There were formerly in the church the images of St. Christopher, and St. John, and the Guilds of St. Andrew, and St. Maria le père. The former is mentioned in the court-rolls of Gapton Hall, in the twenty-sixth of Elizabeth.
Vicars Of Gorleston.
Estimatio illius xxx marc. Estimatio vicariæ ejusdem x mare.
a hamlet of Gorleston, whose history has been incidentally noticed under that of the parish to which it belongs, was added to the borough of Yarmouth in 1681. It is frequently called Little Yarmouth in old writings, and was an inconsiderable place till the beginning of the present century, when the merchants of Yarmouth began to erect many excellent and commodious houses here. It was formerly divided into two parts, called South Town and West Town, by which names it is described in the disputes with the burgesses of Yarmouth, already related. South Town had formerly a church dedicated to St. Mary ultra pontem, which seems to have fallen into decay soon after the year 1511, when the livings of Gorleston and South Town were united, for it was demolished in 1548, and its ruins subsequently removed, and employed in constructing the haven and piers of Great Yarmouth. In the year 1809, there was an inscription on a stone then placed in a wall adjoining the stables of the Bear Inn, which, till within a few years previous, had stood on a piece of land on the west side of the turnpike-road —the site of the church.
Here stood the Church of St. Mary ultra pontem, destroyed anno 1548.
A chapel of ease, dedicated to St. Mary, was completed in 1831, at the cost of about £3000, on a piece of land granted for the purpose by the Earl of Lichfield. The first stone of this edifice was laid on the 13th of September, 1830, by William Barth, Esq., acting for the Right Reverend Henry Bathurst, Bishop of the diocese, assisted by the Very Reverend the Dean of Norwich, and other clergymen and subscribers to the building. It is built of white bricks and flint, and is a wretched example of modern church architecture. The minister's stipend arises solely from pew-rents, the great and little tithes of South Town belonging to the impropriators and vicar of Gorleston.
Ministers of South Town Chapel.
|Thomas Clowes||1831||Thomas William, Lord Viscount Anson, and others.|
|John Edmund Cox||1842||Id.|
The Hermitage stood opposite to St. Mary's church, between the high road and the haven. The site is still called the Hermitage, and is the only piece of freehold land in the vicinity. It lies midway between the present St. Mary's chapel and the Bear Inn. Nothing, however, exists, that I am aware of, to show by whom it was founded, or whether it enjoyed any endowment. It was granted in 1555 to the town of Yarmouth. The situation of the ancient prison is not so well known, though it is certain that there was one in this hamlet, for an entry in Yarmouth church books states it to have been broken open in 1297, by Simon Blaking, of Martham. A grove of old trees, with some ruined walls, and other tokens of former habitation, situated near the South Town road, and about a mile from the bridge, indicate the site of an ancient house, which was pulled down in 1826. This was formerly the residence of Mrs. Bridget Bendish, third daughter of the Parliamentary General Ireton, and grand-daughter of Oliver Cromwell; much of whose enthusiasm and sternness of character she seems to have inherited. This eccentric lady was engaged during the latter years of her life in the business of a salt-refiner. Her manufactories occupied the site of the present salt-refinery on Cobholm, a piece of land of about thirty acres in extent, near the bridge, which was formerly an island, separated from the adjoining marshes by a narrow creek, called Ladies' Haven, now stopped up. A very ancient and curious chimney-piece, most elaborately carved, and coeval, probably, with the building itself, was removed a few years previous to the demolition of the house. Tradition relates that the White Horse Inn, in Fenn Street, was once the head-quarters of Oliver Cromwell, but this is corroborated by no historical evidence. The story, perhaps, originated in the circumstance that portraits of the usurper, Ireton, Bradshaw, and other regicides, were preserved there till about the middle of the last century. (fn. 31)
There was formerly a fraternity in this hamlet called "The Guild of St. Mary de West Town ultra pontem." In 1479, Robert Atkyn gave 12s. to this guild, which in the thirty-seventh of Henry VIII. was entirely dissolved for ever. In 1481, Simon Bacton was the alderman.
A schedule of the jewels, ornaments, and other utensils delivered to the assembly on Wednesday next after the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, in 37 Hen. VIII., by William Dene, alderman of the said guild, and one of the com'en council, which were appraised and sold, as follows, viz.
The above sum total, as well as all the remaining part of the stock of goods and moneys appertaining to the said guild, was afterwards converted to the use of the town of Yarmouth for fortifications and other public services against the foreign enemies. (fn. 32)
Summary of Population.
|1811. Inhabited houses||371|
|Families employed in agriculture||81|
|Males 787||Females 927||Total 1714|
This decrease in the population is ascribed to the war, and so many of his Majesty's ships being at Yarmouth. In 1841 Gorleston contained 2355 inhabitants. The return for South Town in the same year was 1428.
Gorleston and South Town Tithe Commutation.
|Rent charge payable to the Vicar||214||15||0|
|Rent charge payable to the Rector||110||0||0|
By the Parliamentary and Municipal Reform Acts of 1832 and 1835, the parish of Gorleston was added to the borough of Great Yarmouth.