Joins to the west side of Stanford; [Toft] signifies an house or cottage,
and to express the poverty of any person, this proverb was used, that
he had not [Toft] or [Croft], that is, house or land, the adjunct West
is to distinguish it from other villages of the same name.
In Domesday it is wrote Stoffta, and was at that time the lordship
of William Bishop of Tedford, and Bishop Ailmar held it in the
Confessor's time, when there were six carucates of land, and eight
acres of meadow, valued formerly at 40s. at the survey, at 60s. and
was held of the Bishop by Richard and Elias. The whole town was
a league long and half a league broad, and paid 17d. to the gelt. (fn. 1)
Caston Hall manor.
At the survey there were only two lordships, one held by Richard,
the other by Elias, of the see then of Thetford, but soon after removed to Norwich; in the reign of Richard I. Adam de Breileston
held a moitey, (fn. 2) and after him the Katestuns or Castons, which family
had a lordship here before 3d Henry III. when a fine was levied
between Martin de Bodekesham, and Agatha his wife, Roger de Rude,
and Margaret his wife, and Rob. de Katestun, of 6s. rent in Kateston,
and 3s. rent in this town, given them by John de Kateston, father of
Robert, who held a moiety of the town, by the service of a knight's
fee, of the Bishop of Norwich. (fn. 3) But soon after we find this moiety
to be divided, 3d Edward I. between Sir Robert de Caston, and John
de Caston, rector of this church, which Robert had the assize of bread
and beer. (fn. 4) In the year 1300, William de Caston was lord; and in
1313, Isabell, relict of Sir Rob. de Caston, enjoyed it; and 20th Edward III. Sir John de Caston, held half a knight's fee of the Bishop
of Norwich, and the Bishop of the King. This Sir John had two
daughters and coheirs; Elizabeth, married to Rob. Carbonel, and
Alice to William Fastolf; and in 1393, Sir John Fastolf, and in
1400, William Fastolf presented as lord to this church; but soon
after 3d Henry IV. Sir John Carbonel was lord, and held it at half a
fee of the Bishop of Norwich; (fn. 5) and in the same year settled the
manor on himself and his wife Margery for life, remainder to Tho.
Peck, clerk, and other feoffees, to be sold, and the money to be laid
out in acts of piety, for the souls of himself, and his wife, and of Sir
Rich. Carbonel and Margaret his wife; and in 3d Henry VI. the said
Thomas Peck conveyed it to Sir Robert Brews, Knt. John Fitz-Ralf,
Oliver Gross, William Paston, John Manning, Henry Pakenham,
Robert Mortimer, and others; but this settlement did not take effect,
for in 1433, John Berney of Reedham died seized of this manor of
Caston-Hall, and John was his son and heir; (fn. 6) and in the family of
the Berneys it continued, till the reign of King Charles I. when it
was conveyed to the Jermyns, lords of the other part of the town;
and in 1682, Henry Jermyn Earl of St. Alban's was lord; soon after
this, it was sold to Mr. Vincent of Little-Bukenham; from him it
passed to Robert Partridge, Esq. and on his death descended to his
brother, Henry Partridge, Esq. whose son,
Henry Partridge, Esq. is the present  lord.
This lordship was held in the reign of King Richard I. by Adam de
Breideston, and after by the family of the Castons; but in the reign
of Edward I. it divided into two manors, one of which was held by
Sir Robert de Caston, and this by John de Caston, 3d Edward I.
who held a fourth part of the town; and in the 28th of the said King,
a fine was levied between John de Toft, querent, and John de Caston,
defendant, (rector of this church,) of 12 messuages, 300 acres of land,
15 of meadow, 20 of pasture, 60 of heath, and 18s. rent, settled on
John de Tofts; (fn. 7) and in 33d of the said reign, another fine was levied
between Richard de Tofts, querent, and Roger de Tofts, defendant,
by which the manor was conveyed to Richard; and by the inquisitions taken 20th Edward III. (fn. 8) it appears that John de Tofts held half
a fee of the Bishop of Norwich, and the Bishop of the King, but
3d Henry IV. Richard Gegge was found to hold it, and in this family
it continued till, by the marriage of Margaret, one of the daughters
and coheirs of Richard Gegge, Esq. it came to John Austeyn, Esq.
about the reign of Edward IV.; and 10th Henry VII. a fine was levied
between Thomas Jermy, Esq. and John Austeyn, and Margaret his
wife; (fn. 9) and a fine was levied of the same manor, between the said Tho.
Jermy, and Hugh Coo, and Ann his wife, daughter, as I imagine, of
Austeyn, by which it was conveyed to Thomas Jermyn, and being thus
united to his other manor, it continued in that family till it was sold
to Mr. Vincent, as is above observed.
Bigot's, or Dorward's Manor.
This manor contained a moiety of the town, and was probably that
part which was held by Elias, of the Bishop of Thetford at the survey,
and after by Jeffrey de Melton, father of Peter Le-Constable, (fn. 10) and by
his son Reginald's dying without issue, it fell to his three sisters and
coheirs, Alice married to Cockfield, Isabell to Birston, and Edith,
first married to Sir Stephen de Asteley, and after to Holewell; but
John de Cockfield, son of the eldest sister, Alice, seems to have, on
a division of the estate, this manor assigned to him, and William
Bigot, or Belet, was in the beginning of Henry III. (fn. 11) found to hold a
knight's fee here, of John de Cockfield, and he of the Bishop of Novwich. (fn. 12) In 3d Edward I. Sir William Belet held it; and in the 6th of
the said King, was found to hold the manor of Alfreton-Hall in Dunmow-Magna in Essex for life, of Ralph Bigot his brother, son of
Ralph, son of Bartholomew; Sir William was valet to Henry III. and
married Margaret, daughter and heir of Sir Walter de Marham of
Marham, son of Mark de Marham, (fn. 13) by Ermelina his wife, daughter
of Hugh de Montfort. This Sir William, and Margaret his wife,
conveyed lands there in trust to Ingelram Belet, 14th Edward I.
which Ingelram was no doubt of the family, and was knighted in the
24th of the said King, at Westminster, with Edward of Caernarvon,
the King's son, by bathing, having married Avice, daughter and heir
of Robert Bardolph and of Avice his wife, daughter of John de Lound,
and sister and heir of Anselm de Lound, lord of Elmswell, Wyrham,
Crimplesham, &c. and Ralph, son and heir of Sir William, was found,
9th Edward II. to die seized of a capital messuage, lands, watermill, &c. held by the service (as it is said) of paying 10s. to the
manor of Melton, (fn. 14) and Walter, his son and heir, was 23 years old, and
Sir Walter Bigot, Knt. his son, died lord of this manor, and that of
Alfreton in Dunmow, 49th Edward III. and Walter, his son and heir,
was then aged twelve years, and William Bigot, his son, 23d Hen. IV.
released to John Doreward and Isabell his wife, (mother of the said
William,) all his right in the manor. (fn. 15)
This Isabell died 5th Henry VI. when her three daughters were
found to be sisters and coheirs to their brother, William Bygot, who
died without issue, viz. Catherine, wife of Robert Hunt, Margaret, of
William Galyon, and Elizabeth, of Richard Fox; this Robert Hunt,
and Catherine his wife, settled their part, 20th Henry VI. on themselves for life, remainder on Thomas Dayrell, and Isabell his wife,
daughter of Robert Hunt and his wife, in tail; and 5th Henry VII.
Thomas Dayrell was found to die seized of this manor, and Thomas
was his son and heir, who died lord in the 21st of the said King, leaving his two sisters, Anastasia and Beatrix, his coheirs; (fn. 16) and on the
marriage of the said Anastasia to Thomas Jermyn, Esq. he became
lord of this part: 16th July, 15th Elizabeth, by an inquisition taken
at Norwich, Edm. Jermyn, Esq. who who died 1st February last, without issue, was found to be possessed of it, being eldest son of Sir
Thomas Jermyn, and Sir Ambrose Jermyn was his brother and heir,
who, on 9th August in 19th Elizabeth, was found to die seized of it
on the 7th April before, and Robert was his son and heir, aged 30.
In 14th Elizabeth, Edm. Jermyn, Esq. fourth son of Sir Ambrose, died
possessed, and left it to his son and heir, William, who dying on
12th December in 3d King James, it came to his brother and heir,
John; and in 1684, we find it in the same family, when Henry Jermyn
Earl of St. Alban's presented to the church; but soon after this, it
was sold to Mr. Vincent of Bukenham-Parva, and by him to Robert
Partridge, Esq. on whose death it descended to Henry Partridge,
Esq. his brother, whose son
Henry Partridge, Esq. is the present  lord.
How the other two parts of the manor that came to Galyon and
Fox, by the marriage of the coheirs of Bygot, descended, I cannot
say; but in the reign of Henry VIII. one Oliver had some right or
share in it, and paid 3s. per annum due for Norwich castle-guard;
and on an inquisition taken at Norwich, 22d May, 1st Elizabeth,
John Oliver of West-Tofts died 23d November 1557, seized of it, and
William was his son and heir, aged 21; and in 1572, Edm. Wright,
Esq. held it; soon after this it came to the Jermyns, and so united to
the other parts.
15th Richard II. John Methwold and others aliened lands here,
and in Langford and Shropham, to the chantry in the church of
Thompston; and the next year, John Davy and others aliened lands
in this town, Wyrham, Wirmegey, and Forham, to the Prior of
Wirmegey. (fn. 17)
The Prior of Thetford had lands here given him with the manor
of Santon, by Thomas Bodney; and on 7th August 27th Elizabeth,
the Queen, on the humble petition of Henry Lord Wentworth, grants
to Theophilus Adams, and Thomas Butler of London, Gent. all the
lands here belonging to the late priory of Thetford, which were 100
acres of land, meadow, and pasture; and 41st Eliz. they were possessed by Edmund Jermyn. (fn. 18)
The Abbot of Conches was taxed in 1428, for his temporalities here,
viz. a mill, &c. at 6s. and the Prior of Canterbury, for his spiritualties,
at 4s. 6d.
The tenths of this town were 3l. 8s. 7d. 1q.
On Monday the 2d of January, 1720, an oaken coffin was found
in a moist, springy place, in this town, by some workmen belonging
to Mr. Partridge, who were making a ditch to drain the ground;
near the place where it was found, is a piece of ground (a little east
of the church) moated about, where formerly was the seat or hall of
the Castons, and perhaps here might have been some neighbouring
chapel; it lay SE and NW and was full of water; in it were the
bones of the person interred, and a representation of a face, cut either
in jet, or Lancashire coal, with an hole through the upper part of it,
and also a blue cipher, which seemed to have been set in a ring, and
several blue irregular beads, with a broken golden ferrule, which the
workmen said slipt off a small piece of wood like a knitting-sheath;
it was broken and bent outright by them; it probably belonged to
some small crucifix: they are now  in the hands of Mr.
The Church is dedicated to St. Mary, (fn. 19) and is a very ancient
building of flint stone, &c.; the nave is in length about 54 feet, and
in breadth, together with the north isle, about 27 feet, and is covered
On the pavement, near the reading-desk, lies a marble grave-stone
with the arms of
Partridge, gul. on a fess cotised between three partridges rising
or, as many torteaux. Crest, a partridge rising or.
In the Vault under this Stone lyeth the Body of ROBERT
PARTRIDGE Esq. of Buckenham-House, Eldest Son of Mr.
HENRY PARTRIDGE of Lowbrook, in the Parish of Bray
in Berkshire; he departed this Life 26 Decemb. 1710.
Proh Dolor! jam Virtus sola superstes.
In the wall on the south side is a place for the holy water, where
formerly was an altar. The north isle is tiled, and not so antique as
the nave, and has an ascent at the east end, where was another altar.
At the west end of the nave stands a large square tower of flint, coped
and embattled with quoins of freestone, in which hang four bells, the
great bell is thus inscribed,
Uirgo Coronata, Duc Nos ad Began Beata.
This tower was begun about the end of Henry the Sixth's reign, or
in the beginning of Edward the Fourth's; (fn. 20) round the water-table is an
account of the benefactors, cut in stone, in old characters, in this
|Alle the||Begdners of the Werh.||Andro Mewre.||Tohn Rolff.||Johe oliber, and Amg bgs wife.|
|Mylgam Olyber.||Mgliam Rolff.||John Rolff. John memke.||Robert Rolff.||Sir John Uyse Parson.|
The chancel is of equal height with the nave, and has no arch to
separate it, which shews the antiquity of the whole pile, being parted
only by a screen; it is covered with thatch, and is in length about
33 feet, and 18 in breadth; here has been a vestry, as appears from
the door (which led into it) on the north side.
Here lies a marble grave-stone, with this shield,
Barwick, arg. three bears heads erased sab. muzzled or. Crest,
a bear's head erazed sab. muzzled or.
Hic jacet BENJAMINUS BARWICK istius per 46 Annos
Ecclesiæ Rector (una cum JUDITHA. Uxore sua præmortuâ)
Qui damnas Voti, hujus foret, ut et Consors Thori, idem persolvit,
die Martij unde-vigesimo, Anno Salutis partæ 1669, posuit N.
BARWICK. Nepos ejus Charissimus, præsensq; Ecclesiæ Rector, sequentis Dec. lmo. ejusdem loci gratum præstolans contubernium.
Adjoining lies another marble grave-stone with the arms of
Jermyn, sab. a crescent between two mullets in pale arg. Crest,
a talbot passant, gorged with a coronet,
Here under lyeth the Bodies of JOHN JERMYN, late of
West-Tafts Esq. and also of THOMAS JERMYN, Esq. his
Brother, a Pentioner of the Bodyes of the late King JAMES,
and allso of King CHARLES, both of Blessed Memorie.
Another marble stone is thus inscribed,
Here lyeth the Body of JOHN HENMAN, late Curate of
this Parish, and Rector of Great-Cressingham, son of Mr. WILLIAM HENMAN of Charing in Kent, he departed this Life
the 26 of March, 1730, in the 35 Year of his Age.
Pius filius, fidus Amicus, Vir eximiæ Eruditionis, Ecclesiæ Decus.
In the upper window of the chancel, on the south side, is Caston's
And there were anciently the arms of Wright, Spring, Heigham,
Francis, Berney, and Reedham.
3d Edward I. John de Caston, rector.
1300, 3 Nov. Richard de Hemesby. William de Caston.
1313, 18 Sept. Reginald de Denham. Isabell, relict of Sir Rob.
1349, 11 Aug. William de Letton. Sir John de Caston. He
was also rector of Bukenham-Parva, and vicar of Upton.
1361, 23 Sep. John Kok, on the resignation of Letton. The Lady
Catherine, relict of Sir John de Caston.
1393, 16 Feb. Adam Smith. Sir John Fastolff, Mr. Tho.
Burgate, and Rob. de Marham.
1400, 4 March, William Usher. William Fastolff.
1408, 10 May, Thomas Peck. John Carbonell; on an exchange
with Usher, for the mediety of Sydestrond.
1421, 31 May, Henry Flecke, on the resignation of Peck. Sir
1433, 24 Jan. John Pryour, vel Powre, on the death of Flecke.
John Berney, Esq. by virtue of the manor of Caston-Hall.
1451, 14 Jan. John Vyce, on the resignation of Powre. Osbert
Mundeford, senior, attorney to Osb. Mundeford, junior, Esq. then
in the King's service at Calais.
1486, 30 May, Rich. Palgrave, on the death of Vyce. Elizabeth
Mundeford, of Hockwold.
1498, 11 Oct. John Kechyn, bachelor of the canon-law, on the
death of Palgrave. John Berney, Esq.
1518, 8 Sep, John Galyon, on the death of Kitchen. Ditto.
1521, 3 July, Tho. Ward, on the death of Galyon. Ditto.
1546, 6 Aug. John Bowgeon, (fn. 21) on the death of the last rector.
John Harwarde, Gent. in right of his wife Margaret, widow of
John Berney, Esq.
35th Eliz. Richard Brown; this rector said that there were (in 1603)
80 communicants in this parish.
1616, 8 January, Robert Brown, on the death of the last rector.
Sir Tho. Berney.
1628, 24 October, Benjamin Berwick, A. M. James Berwick of
Norwich, Gent. by virtue of a presentation of this turn from the
King, on account of lapse and simony.
1670, 22 August, Nicholas Berwick, A. M. on the death of Benj.
Berwick. Richard Godbold, Gent.
1682, 21 April, Benj. Berwick, A. B. on the resignation of Nich.
Berwick. Henry Earl of St. Alban's.
1732, 13 October, the Rev. Mr. Henry Harrison, A. M. on the
death of Berwick. Henry Partridge, Esq. of Magdalen College,
Cambridge. He is rector also of Munford.
This rectory is valued in the King's Books at 8l. 6s. 1d. ob. and by
the late Act of Queen Anne is discharged of first fruits and tenths,
being valued at 49l. per annum real value.
Andrew Hook, or Hewke, willed, in 1484, to be buried in this
church, before the image of the Holy-Trinity, and gave to the building of the steeple 30l. and John Olyver, by his will in 1482, gave to
the steeple 4 marks; both their names are on the steeple as before.