The ancient Castrum, or one of the chief camps of defence when
the Romans possessed this country. I take it, that after Claudius
Cæsar entered this land, which was about the 46th year after Christ,
and Ostorius, his Proprætor, or lieutenant, had vanquished the Iceni,
the old inhabitants of these parts, who openly opposed them, and defended their country to the very utmost of their power, that then they
first settled here, raised camps, appointed colonies, and fixed stations,
in order to keep the new conquered country in subjection, and to
fortify themselves against any future attempts of the natives; that in
case of any turn of adverse fortune, they might not be destitute of
strong camps, and large fortifications to retire to, till they could either
turn the scale themselves, or gain time to send to their allies to come
to their assistance; and that in case of necessity, such help might
not be hindered (like a wise and warlike people) they always took care
so to fix their camps and stations, in all places where the situation and
course of rivers would permit, that they might have a free passage by
them to the ocean, either to have assistance by men or provisions,
whenever they wanted them; or if they could not keep their ground,
a safe retreat at least, for their persons and effects; thus landing at
the Garienis Ostium, or mouth of the Yare, where Yare-mouth now
is, they fixed a strong castle on the south side, placed a garrison
of the Stablesian horse there, named it Gariononum (from its situation
on the Garienis, or Yare) (fn. 2) and so made it a guard as well as an entry,
into that part of the country which is now called Suffolk, the remains
of which still are very perfect; the town that belonged to it assuming
the Saxon name burgh from this fortification, at this day called Burgh
Castle; where abundance of coins, fibulas, and other Roman antiquities are now found: opposite to this, on the northern side of the
water, as an inlet into, and guard of, that country which is now
called Norfolk, they made another camp, and called it Castrum, and
the village in which it was, is now called Castor or Castre. And following the river up into the country till the course of it divided into
two streams, they turned with that on the southern side, and at the
first streight where it was easy to command the passage over, fixed
this Camp, which for its dimensions and strength was named Castrum, or the camp, by way of eminence; and is still called Castor;
it was certainly their most considerable fortification in these parts, as
appears from its dimensions, which remain very conspicuous to this
day: it is a square single vallum and rampart, and hath been enclosed with a strong wall of flints and Roman bricks, still evident in
many places; the grand entrance was in the middle of the east part,
at each corner of which, there were mounts, or watch-towers; and
below on the west part, which was washed by the Taüs, or Tese, was
a water-gate with a round tower by it, where the vessels used to unload: the whole site contains about 30 acres, at the south-east corner
within the rampart, stands the parish church, placed there, on account of the convenience for the materials of which it is built; for
the whole is of flints, and pieces of Roman bricks, taken from the old
walls of the camp; (fn. 3) and indeed, most of the houses in the parish, are
built of the like materials; at the south-east end of the chancel, in
the bottom of the trench, is a small spring or well of water, about five
feet deep, which is always full and very cold. I never heard of any
urns found, which makes me think, there was no burial-place appointed here, but at the Venta Icenorum; which, though Mr.
Cambden and others have thought fit to fix here, I can by no means
join with them, for reasons already given in my 2d volume, at the
2d and 3d pages; [see vol. iii. p. 2, 3;] but imagine that place to
have been at what we now call North-Elmham, where there is by far
a greater number of urns found, than at any place in the counties of
Norfolk or Suffolk; (fn. 4) all the several known Roman burial-places, being
far less than that: the country people now call it Castor-castle, (fn. 5) and
the part of the tower by the water, when it stood higher than it does
now, might give rise to its being so called. I take it, when the Romans in general quitted this land, which was about the year 418 after
Christ, that this camp, being deserted in a good measure, the remaining Romans and natives joining together, became one people,
and the situation where Norwich now is, being much better than
that at Castor, as standing on rising and high ground, and on a far
better stream, this at Castor declining, as the sand at Yare's-mouth
increased, most of them left this place and settled there, as well for
the better convenience of fishing, as for carrying their goods higher
up into the inland parts of the country, even to Venta, which though
then in the decline, yet remained a place of more note than this; till
by the fixing of the sand on which Yarmouth now stands, the water
so far retired, as to cut off all commerce to it by that element, and
then Venta wasted very speedily as Castor had done; out of the
ruins of which, the new-founded city of Norwich suddenly sprang
up to great maturity; but yet, Castor was a place still regarded, as
as fit for defence, and as such always belonged to, and was in the
hands of the Saxon, English, and Danish kings, both before, in, and
after the Heptarchy; till King Edward the Confessor gave it to the
monastery of St. Edmund his kinsman, (fn. 6) with Mildenhale, and the
eight hundreds and an half, in Suffolk; and Thurketel, a noble
Dane, who had obtained the keeping of this place, with a grant of
part of it, gave his part with Thorp, in common, to the monasteries
of St. Edmund and St. Bennet at the Holm, (fn. 7) and upon the Abbot of
Bury's releasing Thorp wholly to St. Bennet, the Abbot of St Bennet
released their part in Castor to St. Edmund and so the whole became vested in Bury abbey, and continued so till the Conquest.
The great number of Roman coins daily found here, (fn. 8) convince us
of its having been a place of great repute during the most part of the
time, when that great people were concerned in Britain; I have seen
above an hundred, found by Mrs. Susanna Long of Dunston, who
hath many more found by other people; I have a great number myself, besides several which I gave to the cabinet of coins in the publick
library of the city of Norwich, among which, the following inscriptions may be read on the several obverses and reverses.
DIVA. FAVSTINA. Reverse, AVGVSTA. Silver, a Venus holding
DIVVS ANTONINVS. Reverse, an altar with a sacrifice burning
thereon. DIVO PIO. Silver
IMP. CAES. DOMIT. AVG. GERM. COS. XIII. CENSOR. The
Reverse is Fortune holding a cornucopia, standing on the rostrum of
a ship. S. C. FORTVNAE. AVGVSTI.
NERO. CLAVD. CAESAR. AVGG. CENSOR. Reverse, GENIO.
POP. ROM. S. C.
sept. avg. caes pont. Silver.
d. n. constant. - - - Reverse, a Roman receiving a British youth.
fel temp. reparatio.
imp. c. allectvs. p. avg. Reverse, a ship under sail. laetitiae.
imp. sept. geta. caesar. pont. Reverse, nobilitas.
imp. constantivs. nob. caes. Reverse, gloria. exercitvs.
galienvs avg. Rev. virtvs avg.
d. n. gratianvs. p. e. avg.
Antoninvs pivs avg. Rev. the Emperour represented as Jupiter,
with a spear in one hand, and a globe in the other. rector
imp. licinivs avg. Rev genio pop. rom.
imp. c. victorinvs. p. f. avg.
imp. avg. antoninvs. f. Rev. p. m. t. r. p. IIII. cos. imp. A
imp. comsta - - pont. max A woman giving suck to a man. pietas
constantinvs. avg. Rev. beata. tranquilitas. On an altar,
vot. xx. s. t. r.
All these in Mrs. Long's collection, besides several others of Commodus, Julia, Claudius, Constantine the Great, Tetricus, Carausius,
Faustina, junior, Constantine, junior, &c.
These that follow, are some of my own collection, and others in the
cabinet of the publick library.
severvs. pivs. avg. Rev. a Minerva. vict. part. max.
imp. licinivs. p. f. avg. Rev. genio. pop. rom. At bottom
p. t. r.
constantinvs. p. f. avg. Rev. an Apollo. soli invicto
imp. m. iul. phillippvs. avg. Rev. fides. militvm. s. c.
m. ivl. phillipvs. caesar. Rev principi. ivvent.
constantinvs. avg. Rev. gloria exercitvs.
imp. c. mavr. sev. alexand. avg. Rev. p. m. tr. pot. vi. cos.
ii. p. p.
maximianvs. nob. caes. Rev. sacra. monet, avgg. et. caess.
nostr. s. t.
t. caes. imp avg. i. tr. pot. cos. vi. censor. s.c.
ivlia. maesa. - - - -
diva. favstina pia. Rev. an altar, consecratio. s. c. the
m. d. c. victorinvs. Rev. providentia. avg.
- - - - esv. tetricvs. avg. - - - -
There are great numbers of the denarij, with Romulus and Remus
sucking the wolf; and those, with Constantinopolis and the
Genius of that city on the reverse; the most common are Constantine's, with the reverses of Gloria Exercitvs, and Militum Reparatio,
with a Roman taking a Briton captive; made probably when Constantine appeased the British insurrection, and his soldiers had recovered the credit they had before lost in a battle with them.
Belonged to the Abbot of Bury, (fn. 9) was worth 40s. a year at the Confessor's survey, and 5l. at the Conqueror's, when this town was three
quarters of a mile long, and half a mile broad, and paid 16d. to the
geld. (fn. 10) The church had eleven acres of glebe, and its advowson belonged to this manor; the abbots always presented to it till the Dissolution, and had lete and free-warren allowed them in Eire; the
manor and a carucate of land belonging to it, was appropriated to the
chamberlains, to find shoes and clothes for the Bury monks; and the
chamberlain was taxed for his temporals at 11l. 4s. 9d. q. At the Dissolution it vested in the Crown, and continued there till 1553, and then
Queen Mary, in the first year of her reign, granted it to Sir John
Godsalve, Knt. for life, and then to her son Thomas Godsalve, Esq.
and his heirs male; with the advowson of the church, and court
baron, lete, and all other liberties, in Castor, Howe, Poringland,
and Ameringhall: this Sir John was second son and heir of Thomas
Godsalve, Esq. (fn. 11) register of the consistory court at Norwich, who was
the first raiser of the family, and died in 1542, leaving Sir John his
eldest son and heir, (fn. 12) who was one of the clerks of the privy seal to
King Henry VIII. and was succeeded by Thomas Godsalve, Esq.
aforesaid, his son and heir, (fn. 13) who died seized of this manor and advowson in 1587, when he held it by the 40th part of a knight's fee;
leaving Roger Godsalve, Esq. his son and heir, then 20 years old; (fn. 14)
who in 1606, sold the manor, advowson, and state, to
John Pettus of Rachithe and Norwich, Esq. and his heirs; and it
hath continued ever since in that family, an account of which will occur under Rackhithe; Sir Horace Pettus, Bart. is now lord and patron.
Was a part of this and the adjacent village of Merkeshall, (for which
see p. 46,) which was given by the Conqueror to Ralf de Beaufo, (fn. 15) as
was the Merkeshall part, which belonged to Godwin, and soon after
to the Bigods Earls of Norfolk, in which family they continued; and
when the settlement was made by Roger Bigod on King Edward I.
this manor, with the lete and assise of bread and ale, of all the tenants
was excepted, and in 1303, was sold by Roger le Bigod and Alice his
wife, with Merkeshall advowson, to Walter de Langton Bishop of
Coventry and Litchfield, and his heirs; and in 1306, the Bishop sold
it to Giles de Munpynzon, and lady Christian his wife, with the advowson of Merskeshall, which belonged to it, and joined it to Merkeshall manor, as you may see at p. 47, and continued with it till it was
purchased by Tho. Pettus, and was joined to Castor-Over-hall, with
which it still remains. This town is now in the liberty of the Duke of
Norfolk. (See vol. i. p. 237.)
The Chorography of Norfolk says, that the lord of Over-hall hath
court baron and lete, weyf, stray, &c. and that the fine is 4s. an acre.
The lord of Nether-hall holdeth court, and the fine is 4s. an acre,
but anciently the fine of both these manors was but 2s. an acre.
This church is in Brook deanery and Norfolk archdeaconry; it
was valued in the first taxation at 15, and in the second at 19 marks,
and pays 2s. 3d. Bishop's procurations, 2s. synodals, and 6s. 8d. archdeacon's procurations; it is laid at 9l. in the King's Books, pays
first-fruits, and 18s. yearly tenths, and so is incapable of augmentation;
it paid 18d. Peter-pence, and 8d. carvage; and the chamberer of St.
Edmund's monastery received ten marks temporals every year, from
this town, which paid clear to every tenth 2l. The arms of Bury
abbey are in the windows, and the arms of England and France in a
bordure bottoné az. and or. The rector hath a house and above 20
acres of glebe.
presented by the abbots of Bury.
1305, John de Elmham.
1334, Robert Arthur.
1349, Edmund de Brundish, buried at Brundish in Suffolk.
Thomas Dampusday; he resigned in
1383, to William Fesaunt, who changed for Heveningham in
1384, with John Leef, who in 1393, changed for Sterston with
John Gelle, who was succeeded by
Alexander de Westwalton, who changed in 1426 for Southwyk
in Chichester diocese, with
John de Wilton, who in 1428, changed for Shelton mediety
John Cummerton, who in 1450, was succeeded by
John Smith, who resigned in
1454, to Master Thomas Fuller, who changed for Ivenho in Lincoln
1458, with John Maundevyle.
1465, John Usburne, resigned.
1466, John Crosby, resigned.
1466, Brother Thomas Hervy, he died rector.
1477, Thomas Weston, whose successour,
John Lawnd, resigned in
1531, to Edward Spirling, who died in
1537, and Nic. Lincoln was the last presented by the Abbot.
He resigned in 1557, and Thomas Godsalve, Gent. presented
Thomas Palmer, at whose death in 1559, he gave it to
Nic. Parker, who was buried in 1568, being succeeded by
George King, on the presentation of Thomas Godsalve,
Esq.; he was buried in 1592, and one
Richard Tolwyn, Gent. presented
Timothy Careon; but the grant of that turn being voided,
Thomas Greenwood was instituted at the presentation of
Roger Godsalve, Esq. as was
John Weld, A. M. in 1600; he married Anne Toft in 1603,
and was buried in 1636. And Thomas Pettus of Rackhithe, Esq.
gave it to
Henry Nerford (vol. i. p. 524, 32,) at whose resignation in
1639, he gave it to George Lockwood who was buried in 1655, and
Lady Anne Pettus, widow, presented
John Goddard, who was buried in 1695, and Sir John Pettus,
Bart. gave it to
Robert Fawcet, at whose institution, the church of Merkeshall (long since in ruins) was consolidated to Castor, as at p. 48; he
was buried here, being succeeded by
Thomas Manlove, (see vol. iv. p. 150, 190,) and he by the
The Rev. Mr. John Freeman, who was presented by Lady Pettus,
mother to Sir Horace Pettus, Bart. the present patron; and holds it
united to the consolidated rectory of Rackhith-Magna and Parva, in
The church is dedicated to St. Edmund the King and Martyr;
its north porch and chancel are tiled; there is a square steeple and
three belis; the nave is 28 yards long and 7 broad. In the chancel
there are inscriptions for William Brereton of Norwich. Gent. Apr.
25, 1691, 83.
E. H. D. (fn. 16) Petrus Brereton de Trowse, Gulielmi, de Caston, F.
Gen. xi. 1° Die Nov. A. D. M. D. C. L. X V.
Crest, a nag's head Brereton impales Clerk, gul. two bars
vert, on the uppermost two plates, on the lowermost one
William Brereton late of Caster St. Edmund's Ge nt. Dec. 17
1657, Eliz. his Wife, one of the Daughters of Andrew Clerk late
of Wroxham, Gent deceased, she died Sept. 2, 1660.
William Brereton Gent. April 6, 1708, 52, He was a Person
of Piety, Justice, Charity, and Sincerity, which made him deservedly esteemed by all that knew him; His loving and sorrowfull Widow have placed this Stone to his Memory. Catherine
his Wife died Aug. 8, 1708, 63.
Brereton impales an inescutcheon in an orle of mullets.
Memoriæ Johannis Brereton de Catton, Gulielmi quondam
de Caster Gen. Filij, qui obijt iii° Die Dec. A. D. M DCLXXXVI°
nec non Rosæ Uxoris Johannis Lynes de Caster Gen. Filiæ, quæ
obijt, - - - - - - - - et Johannis eorum Filij, qui obijt - - - - - - -
Frances Wife of Robert Fawcet Rector, eldest Daughter of Sir
John Pettus of Rackheath, Bart. died in Childbed Aug. 17, 1700,
29°. Mary their Daughter died Aug. 14, 1700.
Susan Wife of John Inman, Dr. of Peter Brereton late of
Trowse, Gent. 1686, 22.
Thomas Fawcet LL. B. eldest son of Robert Fawcet Rector,
Aug. 23, 1726, 28.
Hic sepelitur Jacobus Ravenscroft, Filius primogenitus Thomæ
Ravenscroft Armigeri, et Magdalenæ Uxoris ejus, qui natus 17
Feb. ob. 27, 1660.
Dormitorium Johannis Lynes qui ob. 1mo Aug. 1650. Superstitem relinquens unicam prolem Rosam Uxorem Johannis
Ursula Daughter of Thomas Marshall Gent. 1644.
John Finch 1705. Dorothy his Wife 1700. Thomas their
In the nave lies a stone, now spoiled of its arms and inscription,
Here layeth Elizabeth late the Wife at John Paston, on whose
Soule Jesu have Mercy.
On an altar tomb in the churchyard at the east end,
Debemus Morti, nos, nostraque:
S. H. M. (fn. 17)
Reconduntur exuviæ Roberti Ward
Generosi, qui placide obdormivit in Domino,
Jan. 16, Ao æt. lixo. Æræ Xianæ m. dccxxo.
On a table at the upper end of the north isle,
Benefactors to the town of Caister St. Edmund's.
Thomas Neale of this town, by will dated Sept. 21, 1597, and
proved in the Archdeacon's Office at Norwich, gave 3s. 4d. a year to
the poor, to be distributed every Christmas day; and tied two pieces
of land in this town, called Shortlands, of about an acre, for payment
Thomas Pettus, Esq. (fn. 18) by will dated Oct. 14, 1618, proved in the
prerogative court of the Archbishop of Canterbury at London, gave
5l. 10s. a year, for ever, to be distributed by the overseers for the time
being, in this church, every Sunday, as equally as may be, to six poor
people inhabiting in this town, (fn. 19) and tied all his lands in Shimpling in
this county, being about 30l. per annum for payment thereof.
William Middilton of this town, blacksmith, by will dated
Jan. 20, 1647, proved in the Archdeacon's Office, gave to the poor
3s. 4d. a year, to be distributed every Christmas day; and tied all his
house and ground in this town for payment thereof, which are now
in the possession of Benjamin Cogman.
This Table was erected by Thomas Blondel, who at his own expense,
recovered the said donations, after they had been buried in oblivion
for a time; and do here set them in publick view, to prevent the like
for the future.
The font here seems to be made by that good man, Richard de
Castor, (fn. 20) whose life you may see at vol. iv. p. 147. On it is carved
in stone, the emblems of the Holy Trinity, the four Evangelists, with
the instruments of the Passion; the arms of the East-Angles, WestSaxons, and Bury abbey; and round it at bottom is,
Orate pro animab his ici de Castre
From the Register:
1588, The 19th of Nov. was a day of thanksgiving to God, for the
great and wonderfull overthrow of the Spanish navy, which came to
fight the Pope's battle against this island, for their gospel; at which
overthrow, the very enemies were so astonished, that some of them
said, Christ was become a Lutheran; and all that saw it did say,
that it was the Lord's work: so this day was appointed by our
church, to be spente throughout the realme, in preaching, praying,
singing of psalms, and giving thanks, for a thankfull memorial of the
Lord's mercifull mercies yerelie.
1585, Agnes Wells brought the plague to Ryx his house, and was
buried 25 Sept.
1613, Mr. John Smith and Mrs. Jane Herne, married Apr. 14.
And the same day Mr. Rob. Davies and Mrs. Anne Fountain. 1666,
Rob. son of Rob. Bendish, alderman of Norwich, and Sarah, daughter
of Mr. Tho. Johnson, late alderman, married 22 July. 1667, Rob. Connold, clerk, minister of Washbrook in Suffolk, married Mrs. Alice,
daughter of Mr. Samuel Stead of Berghapeton, 3 Febr. 1682, Sam.
Hancock clerk, of Framlingham-Picot, married Mrs. Anne Berney of
Swerdeston, Aug. 15. 1690, Mr. Thomas Havers of FramlinghamEarl, widower, and Mrs. Honour Hammond of Keswick, married 22
Apr. 1692, Charles Kett of Diss, Gent. and Eliz. Beaumont, married
Oct. 24. 1626, Anne wife of Mr. John Aldrich buried.