Is bounded on the east by Wilby, on the west by Lerling and Snitterton, on the north by Harpham, and on the south by Quidenham;
it hath one manor only, to which the advowson of the rectory now is,
and always was, appendant. It is often called in French deeds,
about the time of Edward III. L'Eglise, or the Church, which hath
induced me sometimes to think, that it took that name by way of
eminence, it being the Bishop's own church, and a place where most
of them, to the time of Henry VIII. often resided in their palace
here, (fn. 1) as appears from the great number of persons that were instituted at this place, and from the additional name of Eccles Episcopi,
or Bishop's Eccles, by which it was always distinguished from Eccles
by the Sea.
The manor was very extensive, including all this town, great part
of St. Andrew's parish in Bukenham, (fn. 2) or all New-Bukenham, and the
Hagh in Old-Bukenham, besides lands in most of the adjacent parishes. (fn. 3) It was held by Ralf Earl of Norfolk, in the Confessor's
time, and after, by Earl Ralf his son; they jointly gave it to Egelmar,
or Ailmar, Bishop of Etmham, just before the Conquest, (fn. 4) who held
it of them, as did Bishop Arfast, or Herefast, who removed his
see to Thetford; he was succeeded by William Galsagus, (fn. 5) Bishop of
Thetford, who held it at the time of the Conqueror's survey, not as
belonging to the original revenues of his bishoprick, but as part of
those revenues that his predecessors had been infeoffed in by other
pious benefactors, as I take the title De Feudo in Domesday to signify,
and not of his own fee or inheritance, as some interpret it had
then 2, carucates in demean, wood (fn. 6) able to maintain 100 hogs, pasture for 180 sheep, it was fallen from 5l. value to 3l. and was two
miles long, and one broad, and paid 7d. geld. In the record called.
Testa de Nevil, it appears it belonged to the Bishop, but they could
not tell whether it was part of his barony, or whether he held it in
free alms. (fn. 7) In the year 1200, King John, by his charter under seal,
dated at Gaytinton, 28 Nov. in the second year of his reign, confirmed to John Grey, Chief Justice of England, and Bishop of Norwich, (fn. 8) bis great favourite, and to the church of the Holy Trinity at
Norwich, and to the succeeding bishops and monks serving God
there, all their lands, villages, churches, possessions, rents, tenements,
liberties, and ancient customs, whatsoever, which they had confirmed
and given them in the time of King Henry (fn. 9) his grandfather, King
Henry his father, and King Richard his brother; and also all the
charters, deeds, grants, and gifts of all his ancestors. And furthermore, at the request of the said Bishop, by this charter he granted
them throughout all their lands, sac and soc, toll, theam, infengenthef, &c. (fn. 10) with the liberty of not serving at hundred courts, sheriffs
turns, or any other courts out of their manors, and that they and the
tenants residing in their manors, should transact every thing among
themselves, at the views of frankpledge in their manors; and that all
manner of felons goods, and forfeitures of the tenants and burgesses
residing on the Bishop's demeans, should be free from all toll, pontage, paage, lastage, stallage, &c. throughout all England, for all
goods which they shall buy, sell, and carry by water or land, except
within the liberties of the city of London, with other large liberties
expressed in the said charter, all which were exemplified (fn. 11) under seal
the 7th of Febr. 36th of Elizabeth, 1593, at the request of Thomas
and James Plowman, alias Cann, and Thomas Barnes, inhabitants of
Eccles, on the behalf, and for the use of, the tenants, townsmen, and
inhabitants of the said town, who had enjoyed the same liberties from
the first grant to the present time. (fn. 12) In 1250, Walter Bishop of
Norwich had a charter for free-warren here, and in all other demeans
of his bishoprick. (fn. 13) In 1286, (fn. 14) he had view of frankpledge, assize of
bread and ale, a ducking-stool, a gallows, (fn. 15) and weyf, and from this
time the manor continued in the bishoprick, till
Bishop Nix (fn. 16) unfortunately falling under a premunire, for which he
was by law to suffer perpetual imprisonment and loss of all his goods,
was forced to purchase his peace of King Henry VIII. by exchanging
the large estates (viz. 30 good manors and more) belonging to his
bishoprick, for the abbey and revenues of St. Bennet of the Hulme; (fn. 17)
and that this agreement might remain firm for ever, the King procured that it should be settled by Act of Parliament, (fn. 18) that the Bishop
of Norwich should be always Abbot of St. Bennet of Hulme, and
on the contrary, the Abbot of Hulme Bishop of Norwich; by which
exchange this manor came to the Crown, and there continued till
Nov. 12, 1559, when Queen Elizabeth granted the manor, advowson,
sheep's walk, and all other privileges thereto belonging, to Sir
Nicholas Baron, Knt. Lord-Keeper of the Great Seal, and to his
heirs, to be held by him and them, in as full and ample a manner, as
any of the ancient bishops held it, when it belonged to that sec.
He conveyed it to Sir Nathaniel Bacon, Knight of the Bath, of
Stiveky, or Stukey, in Norfolk, his youngest son, who kept court
here, from about 1572 to 1595; (fn. 19) he settled a moiety of it on Elizabeth, his second daughter and coheir, upon her marrying Sir Tho.
Knevet, junior, Knt. son of Sir Tho. Knevet of Ashwellthorp, Knt.;
and in 1631, this moiety was settled by Dame Elizabeth Knevet
aforesaid, on Muriell, wife of Sir Charles Le-Grosse, Knt. of Crostweyt, and her heirs, Sir Roger Townshend, Sir Robert Gawdy, and
others, being then concerned as coheirs of the estate of Sir Nathaniel
Bacon, who had settled the other moiety on Sir Owen Smith in remainder, after the death of Dorothy, his second wife, eldest daughter
of Sir Arthur Hopton, Knight of the Bath, at the coronation of King
James, son of Sir Owen Hopton, Knt. which Dorothy was relict of
William Smith of Burgh castle in Suffolk; and thus it continued in
moieties for some time.
In 1622, Dame Dorothy Bacon, widow of Sir Nathaniel Bacon,
kept court here; in 1629, Charles Le-Grosse, and Thomas Smith held
a court. In 1638, Sir Thomas Hopton, Knt. and Arthur Hopton, Esq.
held their first court for one moiety, and the year following Sir Ralf
Hopton, Knt. held his first court for the same moiety. In 1640,
Alice Smith, widow, and Sir Charles Le-Grosse, Knt. held their first
court for the other moiety. In 1642, Sir Charles Le-Gros, Knt. and
Fitz-Nunn Lambe, Esq. held their first court, the Hoptons having
sold their moiety (as I suppose) to the Lambs, who after became possessed of the whole, in whose family it continued till about 1712, and
then Mr. Edmund Lamb sold it to Mr. William Green of Stafford,
whose son, William Green, Esq. became lord, but is lately dead, and
Mrs. Mary Green of Eccles, his widow, is now  lady.
The Customs of this manor are, that the fine is at the lord's will,
the tenants cannot waste their copyhold without license; the eldest
son is heir; there is no leet fec or common fine, and it gives no
The Commons belonging to this town are these, the Wroo, Rowse
Hill, the Great Fen, the Little Fen, South Moore, North Moor, West
Ling, or the further Heath, containing in all about 180 acres, on all
which the lord hath no right of commonage, but it solely belongs to
the tenants, who can common horses, cows, and all other cattle, and
cut and carry away furze at all times from Rouse Hill, and the further Heath, and flags and turf from the fens, (fn. 20)
There is a hamlet called Overey, which had a church formerly, for
I meet with one Bartholomew, rector of Overey; but it never had any
institution, which makes me think it always belonged to Eccles, and
was served by that rector, because in the beginning of Henry VIII.
Overey is said to belong to Eccles, as it now doth.
The Church is dedicated to St. Mary. It hath a round tower and
three bells; the nave is leaded, the chancel and north porch tiled;
the south isle (which hath a roof distinct from the nave) is thatched.
It is a rectory in Norfolk archdeaconry and Rockland deanery, valued
in the King's Books at 14l. per annum, and pays 1l. 8s. per annum
tenths. It is altogether exempt from archidiaconal jurisdiction, and
so pays no procurations, and it being the Bishop's own seat, he always
excused the rector from payment of synodals, so that there are none
paid, except at the general visitations. It is a small village, having
much decreased for some time, by the lord's purchasing many of the
cottages and small tenements. In 1603, it had 108 communicants,
and now  it hath about 150 inhabitants; it paid 30s. a year to
the tenths, and is now assessed at 338l. 10s. to the land tax. There
is a rectory-house, which was built (according to report) by Bishop
Nix, whose arms, with the arms of the see, were in the windows, but
were lost when the house was burnt down a few years since, in Mr.
Birch's time, who rebuilt it; there is a convenient quantity of glebe
belonging to it.
In Bishop Nix's time, anno 1510, one Thomas, a priest of Norwich,
was burned at Eccles: when he was in prison, he was by persuasion
led away from his former opinions, wherefore, when he went to be
burned, he would for penance be carried on sharp hurdles made of
thorns. (fn. 21)
This Bishop was certainly a greater bigot to Popery than could well
consist with his learning and station, for when he was very old, he
obstinately opposed the reformation then begun, and held secret correspondence with the court of Rome, though he had with a solemn
oath openly renounced the Pope's supremacy. But at last being
accused and convicted, he was imprisoned a long time in the Marshalsea, so that his own sufferings may in some measure clear him of
his vices, and argue his sincerity in his religion, though erroneous. (fn. 22)
1301, kal. April, Simon de Ely, sub-deacon.
1302, prid. non. Feb. William de Knapeton, priest, LL. D. the
Bishop united it to the archdeaconry of Norwich, which Dr. Knapeton
1324, 16 kal. May, Sir Solomon de Swaffham-Prior, sub-deacon.
1338, 18 May, John de Lenn, priest, changed Caston rectory with
1340, 12 Oct. Roger de Haselarton, priest, changed his vicarage of
Ailesham for this, with John de Lenn.
1341, 21 Sept. Robert de Brustewyk, priest, changed his rectory of
Lameleye in York diocese, with Haselarton.
1349, 5 July, Simon Gyzam of Lynford, chaplain.
1357, The Pope named a rector, and certified the Bishop of it.
1400, July 6, Tho. Brademere de Hogham, priest; the Bishop
wrote to the Dean of his own manors, to induct him according to
custom, the Archdeacon never inducting any one in the Bishop's
1401, 30 June, Nicholas Lyons, priest, in exchange with Brademere, for Rollesby.
1403, 4 Febr. John Park, alias Hundon, priest.
1424, 9 Nov. Bartholomew Belaghe of Norwich, priest.
1446, 5 Sept. Mr. Stephen Bole, chaplain, collated by the Bishop
himself in his manor-house at Gaywood, who wrote to Mr. Nicholas
Derman, official of the jurisdiction of his manors, to induct him.
1473, 30 Dec. Tho. Heyr, alias Johnson, priest.
1511, 10 March, George Mawer, LL.B on Heyr's death.
Robert Walden, rector, chaplain to the Bishop,
held it united to Wilby.
1530, 3 June, Cuthbert Owers, domestick chaplain to the Bishop,
on Walden's death.
1542, Mr. Tho. Briggs, S. T. P. rector, buried here.
1551, Sir Robert Picto, rector, buried 4 Jan. 1564.
All the above were collated by the Bishops of Norwich.
1567, 30 Dec. Otwell Wytwood, clerk, who died April 30, 1586,
and was buried here; he held Wilby also. Nicholas Bacon, Knt.
Lord Keeper of the Great Seal.
1586, 24 June, Tho. Basham, A. B. buried her Feb. 2, 1638. Nath.
1639, Ambrose Moneye.
1671, 17 Aug. Roger Bankes, A. M. The King, by lapse.
1688, 31 Jan. Simon Baldero, A.M. on Bankes's death. Simon
1702, 22 Aug. Tho. Newson on Boldero's resignation. Edm.
1705, 10 Aug. John Last, A. M. on Newson's cession. Ditto. He
had Wilby also.
1720, 23 June, John Birch, A.M. on Last's death. William
1721, 2 Nov. Will. Rushbrook, on Birch's resignation. Ditto.
1723, 12 Oct. Samuel Birch, A. M. on Rushbrook's resignation.
1733, The Rev. Mr. John Hull, the present  rector, holds
it united to Quidenham. Ditto.
The south isle of the church seems a later building than the nave,
and was formerly appropriated to the Bishop's palace, but now belongs to the parish; the altar in it, in all probability, was dedicated
to St. Nicholas the Bishop, his effigies being formerly painted on
the walls. In the north chancel window was a picture of St. German,
another of St. Anthony, and another of St. Bennet, and this under
Beate Antoni, ora pro nobis.
Sancte Benevicte, ora Pro nobis,
And the arms of Edward the Confessor, and Clifton and Tateshale,
in the first half of the escutcheon, impaling Howard, but most of
them are now lost.
On the north side of the chancel is a mural monument of white
marble, exact in all things as that at p. 110, except the arms and
crest of Birch, and this inscription:
SAMUEL BIRCH, A. M. Harborniæ in Agro Staffordiensi natus, Oxoniæ, in Collegio
Pembr: Educatus, Hujus Ecclesiæ per Novem fere Annos, Pastor
dignissimus, Vir vere Reverendus, et doctus, et pius, et admodum Justus, hic beatam expectans Resurrectionem, placide in
Domino obdormit, obijt duodecimo die Decembris, Anno Redemptionis humanæ, 1732° Ætatis suæ 32°.
Posuit, Maria, Uxor Gulielmi Green Armigeri, Soror amantissima.
William Green, Esq. eldest son and heir of William Green, Esq.
deceased, (who is buried in the chancel,) hath a seat here,  and
is lord and patron, after the decease of Mrs. Mary Green his mother,
who holds it in jointure: his arms are, per pale, gul. and az. a chevron
between three bucks passant or.
From the old Register, which begins 20 Jan. 30 Hen. VIII. 1538.
1543, Agnes, daughter of Mr. George Briggs of Saul, died. 154—,
Edward Nobs and Richard Pollard died at Norwich in the time of
the insurrection. (They were killed in Kett's rebellion.) 1580, Dorothy, daughter of Paul Gooch, and Rose his wife, was baptized.
1593, Tho. Wade of New-Bukenham, and Fortuna Chambers were
married. 1600, Jan. 27, Math. Baron, Gent, buried. 1601, Paul
Gooch, Gent, buried. 1606, George Rogers, rector of Bridgham,
and Elizabeth, relict of James Leaver of Snitterton, clerk, were married April 23, 1612, Isaac Bentley, clerk, curate of Old-Bukenham,
and Elizabeth Barker of the same, were married 23 Aug. 1626,
Michael Robinson of Norwich, Gent, and Dorothy Colby of Banham