Joins to the east side of Breccles, and is commonly called StowBreccles, to distinguish it from other towns of the same name; it was
formerly called Stow-Bydon, from its ancient lords; [stou] signifies a
house, or place of habitation, and often, by way of eminence, a
church, that being esteemed by the ancients the most eminent of all
habitations. In the Confessor's days the whole village belonged to
Alfere, a Saxon, who had 5 carucates in demean, and it was worth
10l. per annum. It afterwards came to Earl Ralph, upon whose forfeiture the King seized it, and let it to Godric at 12l. 13s. 4d. a year,
and as long as the soke belonged to it, Godric let it for 13l. 13s. 4d. and
20s. income; but when the soke was taken away, it fell to 7l. for then
the King had the parts of several manors, as Caston, Griston, Thompson, &c. which belonged to this, laid to their own manors, and so
reduced the value of this. Stow was then two leagues long and half
a one broad, and paid 10d. ob. 1q. gelt. (fn. 1)
Bydon, or Bedon Manor,
Continued some time in the Crown, but how long I cannot say; in
Henry the third's time it was in the Bydon family; and in 1345, was
held in dower by Maud de Bydon, daughter of Thomas Fitz-Berward,
and widow of John de Bydon, junior, afterwards married to John de
Bokesford, the manor being then valued at 11l. 12s. and Eugenin,
mother of Thomas Fitz-Bernard, had the custody of it, after the death
of John de Bydon, junior, it being held of the King at half a fee, and
was part of the honour granted to the Bydons, which Humphry de
Bydoun, lord of Kirby-Bidoun, formerly held. In 1254, the aforesaid
Maud died seized. In 1256, Thomas, son of Robert, was lord and
patron of this church, he sold the manor this year to Walter de Hide,
reserving the advowson and divers lands, and thus the manor and
advowson were separated, the former of which, in 1273, was settled
on the said Walter, and Joan his wife, by fine levied between them,
and Jeffry de Suthorp, and Margery his wife, who reserved to themselves the advowson, which they had purchased, with the lands that
Thomas, son of Robert, reserved upon his sale of the manor, all
which lands they settled on Walter, and Joan their daughter, on her
marriage with Walter; and in 1281, the said Jeffry, sold the advowson to Eleanor, Queen consort to Edward I. who gave it to Marham abbey; (fn. 2) but the manor, at the death of Walter de Hide and
Joan his wife, returned to Thomas Fitz-Robert aforesaid, who held it
of Sir Baldwin Wake, and it had a leet belonging to it, free-warren,
and the assize of bread and beer. In 1285, Robert le Veel or Vele,
and Hawise his wife, had it, it being the inheritance of Hawise, who
brought an action against Fulk Baynard, for 60 acres of land and
Sandwade-Mere, and recovered; in 1286, Henry de Gildeford held
it for life of the said Hawise at half a fee, of whom Robert de Aula (or
Hall) of Thompson held a 6th part, which he had assigned to Robert
Crowe and Agnes his mother, who held it of him; the Veles held the
whole of the heirs of Wake; in 1303, the said Hawise, then widow of
Robert le Vele, settled it on William Paynell, and Margaret his wife,
and her heirs. In 1337, Thomas Lord Wake of Lydel, and Blanck
his wife, conveyed it to the Prior of Hautamprize in Yorkshire, and
his church of St. Mary and the Holy-Cross for ever, and the prior regranted it to him and his wife for life, paying a rent of 10l. per annum.
In 1345, the said Thomas held it at half a fee, and Baldwin Buturt,
Ric. de Alva, and his tenants in Thompson, held a 6th part of it; in
1348, (fn. 3) John Delves held it of the Lady Wake, (her husband, before
his death, having obtained the fee of it of the Prior) by the rent of a
pair of gilt spurs a year, but the manor was charged with an annuity
of 26l. 6s. 8d. paid to Tho. de Budenhall, Henry de Cotton, Alexander de Bayton, John Wisham, and their heirs. Henry Delves was
brother and heir of John, but the inheritance was in the Earl of Kent,
for Edmund of Woodstock, third son to King Edward I. married Margaret, sister and heiress to Thomas Lord Wake, and left issue two sons,
Edmund and John, who dying without issue, Joan their sister inherited, who married Sir Tho. Holland, Knt. created in her right Earl
of Kent, and Lord Wake of Lydell, which Earl became possessed of
this manor; it came from the Kent family to Ralph Lord Cromwell,
and in 1514, a moiety of it belonged to William Fitz-Williams of
Sprotsburgh in Yorkshire, as descended from one of the heiresses of
Ralph Lord Cromwell, and the other moiety to Will. Knevet of Bukenham-Castle; (fn. 4) and in 1521, John Spelman purchased of Sir Edm.
Knevet, Knt. and Anne his wife, the moiety of the manor, and joined
it to the other moiety that he had before, and it hath continued in
that family ever since, John Spelman of Narburgh, Esq. being the
present  lord. The large water called Sandwade, now StowMere, belongs to this manor.
Is that part of the town which lies next the Bek or river, and is
sometimes called Bekerton-Hamlet, and Bekerton, alias Water-House
manor. The most ancient lord that I meet with after the Conquest,
was John de Rudham; in 1253, Ralf de Camois, senior had a charter,
for free-warren here; in 1315, Ralf de Camois, his son, was lord,
who settled it on Elizabeth his wife the year following; in 1379, Sir
Thomas Camois, Knt. lord of Camoys, settled it on Robert Braybrook
Bishop of London, and other trustees; in 1401, Sir Thomas Camois,
was lord of this, and trustee of Stow-Bidon manor; in 1423, it was
in the King's hands by the death of Sir Thomas, who granted it with
the custody of Hugh Camois, his cousin and heir, to Sir Gilbert and
Sir John de Ryghley, Knts. and Ric. Iskelay; in 1425, Sir John
Ryghley, Knt. released to Gilbert Ryghley, Knt. Rob. Ryghley, Esq.
and Ric. Iskelay, chaplain, all his right in this manor, which he had
with several others, of the gift of Katherine Golding, formerly wife of
Richard de Golding, and daughter and heir of William Cranewell.
Soon after this, it came to the Spelmans, which family had been concerned here for some time, for in 1369, John Spelman had lands here;
in 1385, a fine was levied between John de Wolterton, clerk, and John
Spelman of Bekerton; in 1432, Henry Spelman of Bekerton was lord,
he it was that first built Bekerton-Hall, part of which is now standing, and is a good old building, called the Water-House, Bekerton
Hall, or Spelman's Place. In the parlour window I saw these shields,
viz. Spelman, quartering gul. a chief erm. impaling quaterly, a
chevron between three crescents, and a chevron between three
leopards faces. Spelman, impaling Manning, and Brotherton's arms. This Henry died this year, and was buried in the
churchyard, leaving John and Robert his sons; Isabell his wife was
to have her dwelling in his principal mansion, for life: she died in
1444, and was buried by him; in 1460, John Spelman, Esq. was
buried in the church, Robert, John, and William were his younger
sons, and Katherine and Agnes his daughters; he left this manor to
Henry, his eldest son, and his manor of Crow's Hall to Marion his
wife for life; in 1470, Henry Spelman held it of Roger Grimston, Esq.
as of his manor of Elingham-Parva by fealty, and 13s. 4d. per annum;
in 1471, he was dead, and William Spelman, Esq. was lord in the
latter end of Henry VII. and in the beginning of Henry VIII; in
1541, John Spelman purchased Bedon manor, and so was lord of the
whole town, and Thomas was his son and heir; in 1561, Francis Spelman, Esq. settled Bekerton manor, two fold-courses, &c. on Sampson
Hoopes, in trust; in 1570, John Spelman was lord of Crow's Hall and
Bekerton; and in 1601, Robert Rolf, Esq.; in 1622, Bridget his
widow; in 1626, Brampton Gurdon of Easton was lord, in whose family it hath continued ever since, Thornhaugh Gurdon of Letton, Esq.
being now  lord.
Crow's Hall Manor
Was part of Bedon manor, granted to Hawise Le-Vele and Henry
Le-Gildeford, to Robert de Aula, or Hall, who sold it to Robert
Crowe and Agnes his mother, who held it at the twelfth part of a
fee of Bedon manor; in 1287, Jeffry Crowe had it, and so many
parts were bought in, that it is said to contain a fifth part of Bedon
manor. In 1405, Richard Berney, Knt. was lord; in 1460, it was
united to Bekerton manor, and hath continued so ever since; the
manor of Cursons, of which I find the name only mentioned, being
united also at the same time.
The Church hath a square tower, and three bells; it consists of
a nave and chancel covered with thatch; there are no memorials,
though there have been several of the Spelmans interred in it.
Weaver, p. 821, tells us that William Spelman, Esq. who died in the
reign of Henry VII. (it should be Henry VIII.) is buried under a fair
tomb, which was taken down to rail in the altar the more conveniently.
The register informs me that Grace, wife of John Spelman, was buried
here in 1548.
It is dedicated to St. Butolph, and was appropriated to the Abbess
of Marham, before the Council of Lateran, the appropriation was
valued at 16 marks, and the vicarage, of which the Abbess was
patroness, at 5 marks and an half, but was not taxed; it paid 21d.
Peter-pence, and there was an annual pension of x.s. paid by the vicar
to the abbey. It was valued in the King's Books at 4l. 19s. 4d. ob.
and was sworn of the real value of 19l. 18s. before the augmentation.
1303, 7 kal. Oct. Walter de Banham, priest.
1310, 14 kal. May, John de Marham.
1322, 6 kal. May, Robert de Wys of Ingham.
1335, 9 kal. May, John de Bokenham-Ferry.
1349, 19 June, Henry de Branton.
1349, 18 Aug. William Ernald of Palgrave.
1399, 25 Oct. John Kemp of Hengham.
1413, 17 Oct. Will. Orlyons, on Hengham's resignation.
1433, 14 Aug. Richard Whitbred, on Orlyon's resignation.
1436, 23 May, William Patrington.
1440, 16 Dec. Thomas Payn.
1473, 27 Aug. John Taylor, on Dawys's death.
1511, 1 April, Robert Bullman.
The above were presented by the Abbess and Nuns of Marham.
1542, 17 April, John Disse. The King.
1546, 10 March, Thomas Cheveler. Tho. Hare, citizen and
mercer of London.
1548, 30 July, Thomas Grene, on Cheveler's resignation.
1554, 5 June, Edward Shord, on Grene's death.
1556, 12 February, William Harrison.
1581, 18 April, Leonard James, Nich. Hare, Esq. He had
Rockland St. Peter. (See p. 477.)
1608, 13 Jan. John Lewthwait, A. M. Sarah James, widow.
Robert Pooley, senior, resigned.
1663, 24 Oct. Robert Pooley, junior. Rob. Pooley, senior.
1690, 31, Jan. John Wightman, at Pooley's death. James Smith.
1693, 12 Oct. James Smith, on Wightman's resignation. John
1719, 30 Sept. Henry Goodrich, on Smith's resignation. James
1720, 13 June, The Rev. Mr. James Smith, the present incumbent,
on Goodrich's cession. He is now patron.
The impropriation with the advowson of the vicarage was first
granted to Nich. Hare, citizen and mercer of London, by Henry VIII.
who left it to Nich. Hare, Esq. who sold it to Humphry Marshall
and Walter Averell, and they to Rob. James of Little-Ellingham,
who, in 1587, settled it on Leonard James, his son, and Sarah his
wife; after this, a license of alienation was granted by King James I.
on which it was sold to Anthony Style, who conveyed it to Edward
Bulwer in 1622, and he in 1655, sold it to Rob. Pooley of GreatFraunsham, clerk, who left it to Christ. Pooley, and he to his son,
Robert Pooley of Beetly, clerk, who in 1665, left it to Christopher
Pooley, of St. Michael's Coslany in Norwich, who sold it to John
Smith of Reymerston, clerk, who gave it to his son, Mr. James Smith,
vicar here, and he, in 1719, settled the impropriation on the church,
and procured the Queen's bounty, by which means the whole is
joined, and it is become a rectory, with the addition of an estate of
10l. per annum, purchased with the bounty-money; the said Mr. Smith
left it to his son, the present  patron. While the convent held
the impropriation, the vicar was endowed with a sixth part of the
The Abbess of Marham was taxed for her spiritualities at 16
The Prior of Bukenham for his temporals at 25s. 8d.
The Prior of West-Acre for his, at 6s. 8d.
It paid 3l. 8d. to the tenths.
Here was a gild dedicated to the Virgin Mary.
It is valued to the tax at 379l. 6s. 8d.