The History and Antiquities of the County of Suffolk: Volume 1. Originally published by WS Crowell, Ipswich, 1846.
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William the Conqueror held an estate in Weston which had formed part of the possessions of Archbishop Stigand, valued at two shillings; with a church and twenty acres of glebe, worth three shillings. (fn. 1) Hugo de Montford, Roger Bigot, and Goisfridus de Mandeville, had also small estates here. (fn. 2)
Henry I. granted a manor which extended over this parish, and part of Beccles, to William de Luvell, from whom it was called Soka Luvelli. William de Luvell sold it to William de Longo Campo, at that time Chancellor of England, who gave it to Henry his son, who bestowed it, as a marriage portion, on his daughter, the wife of Robert Gresle, who held it when the Record called Testa de Nevill was compiled. (fn. 3) By what tenure this 'Soke,' or power of administering justice and executing the laws of the land within its limits, was held, is not recorded.
In 1266, Walter de Redesham held the lordship of Weston, and obtained a charter of free-warren from the Crown. (fn. 4)
In 1280 it formed part of the extensive estates of Hugo de Berry. (fn. 5) In the fifth of Edward II., Walter de Norwich had a charter of free-warren in his lands in Weston, but he does not appear to have held the lordship. (fn. 6)
From the family of De Redesham the manor of Weston passed to William de Barsham, and from him, by purchase, to the family of Garneys; for William Garneys, of Stockton, by his will, dated Feb. 13th, 1420, and proved on the 6th of April, 1425, leaves to Elizabeth his widow, his manor of Weston, and all his estates in the Hundred of Wangford, which his father had bought of William de Barsham, &c., for the term of her life; on condition that she maintain Ralph and Robert, his sons, to full age, and does not re-marry: then the feoffees are to enfeoff Robert his son in the manor of Weston, for himself and the heirs of his body; and in default of issue, to Ralph his son, &c.
Upon the death of Ralph Garneys, who died about 1450 without issue, the manor of Weston became the property of Peter Garneys, of Beccles, his uncle, who, by his will, dated August 20th, 1450, and proved on the 5th of February in the year following, leaves his manor of Weston, &c., to feoffees to enfeoff his son Thomas in the same, after his decease, according to the will of William Garneys, his brother. By the exem- plification of a recovery in the twenty-seventh of Henry VIII., it appears that Robert Garneys held the manor of Weston, juxta Beccles, with its appurtenances, and ten messuages, eight tofts, five hundred acres of plough-land, sixty acres of meadow, five hundred of pasture, and two of wood, with £4 rent in Weston, Kenting, Debenham, Beccles, Elowe, Wurlingham, and Shanfield. (fn. 7)
Thomas Garneys, Esq., died on the 20th of October, 1566, seized, inter alia, of the manor of Weston, held of Sir Thomas Gresham and Ann his wife, as of their manor of Beccles, late parcel of the possessions of Bury Abbey, in socage, by fealty, and ten shillings rent, valued at five marks per annum. (fn. 8)
The manor-house, called Walpole Hall, is a mere fragment of a very old mansion. In the south wall of what seems to have been a chapel, though only about sixteen feet long, is a recess, very like a fenestella, retaining a portion of an old shelf of oak. The courts for the manor are held here, and adjourned to some more convenient place.
Bartholemew Kemp, of Gissing, in the twenty-third of Henry VIII. sells to Thomas Godsalve, Esq., all his messuages, lands, tenements, and hereditaments in the town of Weston, next Beccles, in Suffolk. (fn. 9)
Weston Hall, a handsome habitable mansion, was in great part demolished about twenty years ago, and the projecting angle of the southern façade converted into a farm-house. It was a good, well-proportioned building, with notched gables and pedimented windows, but deficient in the elegant and decorated finials so frequent in old Elizabethan mansions. It was erected in the latter part of the sixteenth century by John Rede, Esq., who possessed a good estate in the village, which passed, by sale, to the family of Barry, and is now, by a like transfer, held by the Barnes of Sotterley.
Weston Hall—or that fragment of it which retains the name—stands near the high road, which formerly passed close to its door, in a sloping pleasant meadow, still environed by a few old trees, and commanding a view of the church, and of a rising knoll of ground to the south-east. On this eminence is placed a small but curious edifice of red brick, built in a style of architecture prevalent in the time of Charles II., and marking the taste of Thomas Rede, Esq., whose initials remain on its western front. The interior of this fanciful little dwelling is finished rather expensively with moulded cornices and wrought ceilings; and though still two stories high, was originally much loftier. It is said to have been erected for a summer-house, as its upper floor commanded a view of the German Ocean, but tradition relates that it was early converted to a purpose far less innocent.
Weston contains 1550 acres of land, the tithes of which have been commuted at £350 per annum. There are only two acres and twenty-nine perches of glebe, and no rectory-house. The population in 1841 was 211 souls.
at Weston, which is a rectory dedicated to Saint Peter, and had formerly a celebrated image of our Lady, consists of a nave and chancel of very lofty proportions, with a square tower, open to the body of the church by a fine pointed arch. The tower contains three bells, on which are these inscriptions in the old Longobardic character.
The whole fabric is in a wretched state of repair and neglect, vividly contrasted by the remains of ancient taste and munificence exhibited in its oaken ceiling, its richly carved benches, and splendid font. The latter ornament is composed of the finest stone, and is six feet one inch in height from the ground. Its form is octangular; but as seven of its sides were sculptured with representations of the Romish sacraments, the carved work has been sadly mutilated. The foliated tracery of the south windows sustained some shields of painted glass, in the writer's memory, which have now disappeared: of these, the arms of Garneys with a plain chevron, and or, a chevron gules between 3 pheons sable, were most conspicuous. Had these been broken by accident or wantonness, some fragments would have remained; but as every tint has vanished, the inference is that they have been stolen by the glaziers employed in repairing the glass or lead-work. I fear country churchwardens have much to answer for throughout the kingdom, in permitting similar depredations to pass unnoticed. Surely these officers have never considered the meaning of the word 'warden.'
Walker, in his 'Sufferings of the Clergy,' (fn. 10) says that Gilpen, Rector of Weston, was ejected, "of whom I do not know any thing further." His name, however, does not occur in the list of incumbents preserved in the Bishop's office at Norwich. Possibly he held some other preferment of this name.