This village lies on the east side of the hundred, near to that of
Weyland, and adjoining to North Pickenham, from which it is parted
by a rivulet, that arises at Bradenham; it is situated on a rising
ground, and takes its name from its site, Houghton or High-Town,
and is called Houghton on the Hill, to distinguish it from the other
Houghton in this county. At the Conquest it became the lordship of
Alan Earl of Richmond, and Ribald Lord of Midleham in Yorkshire,
brother to Alan, held it under him, and Ralph (fn. 1) son of Robert, grandson of Ribald, who was in ward of the Bishop of Canterbury, held
this town and the Pickenhams, in the reign of Richard I. it being then
valued at xxvl. per annum; this Ralph married Mary, daughter of
Roger Bigot Earl of Norfolk, and had a discharge by writ from half
a knight's fee 19th of King John, and held Houghton in capite.
Ralph Fitz Ralph, in the 50th of Henry III. would not permit the
sheriff to enter into his manors in this county, which implies that he
had return of writs therein, himself. This lord bore,
Or, on a chiefindented az. a lion passant of the 1st.
He died in the 54th of that King, and his heart was buried at Richmond, being founder of the Friars Minims there) where his wife
Anastasia was buried, but his body was buried at Coverham in
Yorkshire, in the monastery church there; and having no issue male,
his great estate was divided between his three daughters; and in the
55th of the said King, the sheriff of Norfolk gave an account of 11l.
15s. 8d. ob. of the issues of his lands in this town, &c. in Norfolk,
before he delivered the third part thereof to
Robert de Nevile, who married Mary the eldest daughter and
coheir, who had with her the honour and castle of Midleham in
Yorkshire, this manor, the Pickenhams, and other towns in Norfolk,
and a part to
Robert de Tateshale, who married Joan, (who died without
issue,) and the other part remained in the King's hands,
Anastasia, the third daughter and coheir, being under age, and
this part Edward the King's son seized into his hands, and gave it
to Gilbert Hansard.
This Robert de Nevile was son of Robert de Nevile Lord of
Raby, and lived about 10 years her husband; when he is said to be
inhumanly put to death for his criminal conversation with a Lady
at Craven in Yorkshire, and his lady lived about 40 years his widow,
and died in the 13th of Edward II. seized of this manor and the
Pickenhams, &c. and left them to her son Ralph, then aged 40
years; and Master Richard de Clare, escheator on this side Trent,
accounted for the issues of this manor, &c. belonging lately to the
said Mary de Nevill, held of the honour of Richmond, and she is said
to be buried at Coverham in Yorkshire, which monastery was founded
by Helewisia, daughter and heir of Ralph de Glanville, a Baron, and
lord chief justice of England, wife of Robert de Midleham, lord of
Midleham; she held in capite by half a knight's fee the manor and
advowson of Houton, of the Honour of Richmond, the manor of
South Pickenham and the advowson of North Pickenham, and a
moiety of the advowson of Berford. In the 14th of Edward III.
Ralph de Nevile, her grandson, had a Charter of free warren in this
town, &c.; and in the 41st of the said King, died seized of this
manor, and John de Nevile, by his second lady, was his son and heir
here, aged 16. He bare as his father, gul. a saltier arg.; and in the
49th year of Edward III. Sir John de Nevile Lord Raby, leased this
manor and that of North Pickenham, to Sir Robert Knolls the great
warriour, and Constantia his wife, for their lives, which said Sir Robert
had also a grant of free-warren here in the 2d of Richard II. The said
Sir Robert held this manor in the 3d of Henry IV. and in the 6th of that
King; two fines were levied between John Drew, clerk, John Seymor of
London, and the said Sir Robert, of this manor and advowson; by
the first they were settled on John Drew, trustee for Sir Robert, and
by the 2d on Sir Robert for life, remainder to Ralph Nevile Earl of
Westmorland, Sir Thomas Colvile, Knt. &c. in trust; and in the 12th
of the said reign, Ralph Nevile Earl of Westmorland granted to John
Bernard, clerk, for life, an annual pension of 50 marks issuing out of
this town and North and South Pickenham, and Sutton on Dervent
in Yorkshire. It may not be improper to observe, that the aforesaid
John Nevile Lord Raby, son of Ralph, was in the French wars, and
died in the 12th of Richard II. having married to his second wife,
Elizabeth, daughter and heir of William Lord Latimer of Danby, and
died seized, in her right, of the manor of Carbrook called Woodhall, (fn. 2)
the reversion to his son John Nevile, whom he had by her, which
John married Maud, daughter of Thomas Lord Clifford, and widow
of Richard Earl of Cambridge, and died 9th of Henry VI. without
issue, leaving Sir John Willoughby, Knt. son of Elizabeth his sister,
who was married to William Lord Willoughby of Eresby, his next
heir; but his great estate was entailed, for want of issue male, upon
Ralph Nevile, his son, (fn. 3) first Earl of Westmorland, who enjoyed them
some time, and afterwards settled them upon George, his third son by
his second wife Joan, daughter of John a Gaunt Duke of Lancaster,
who agreed with Maud Countess of Cambridge, widow of John Lord
Latimer, that in case Sir John Willoughby, Knt. commenced any
suit against them, or that they should grant him any lands, they
should bear their proportions, she two-thirds, and he one; she having
the greatest proportion: Sir George, 3d son of Ralph Earl of Westmorland, being called to parliament by the title of Lord Latimer,
married Elizabeth, daughter of Richard Beauchamp Earl of Warwick;
this lord in his latter days was an ideot, and his lands were granted in
custody to Richard Nevile, the great Earl of Warwick, and died in
the 9th of Edward IV. seized of this manor, both the Pickenhams,
Fouldon, and Carbrook, Woodhall, &c. all which descended to Sir
Richard Nevile, Knt. his grandson, and heir by Sir Henry Nevile
Lord Latimer, his only son, who was killed at Edgcote Field, in the
same year that his father died, and a little before his father, having married a daughter of the Lord Berners, by whom he had the said Sir
Richard, who had not livery of his lands till the 6th of Henry VII. though
he was in arms for that King at Stoke Battle: he married Anne, daughter of Humphrey Stafford of Grafton, Esq. and died 22d of Henry VIII.
leaving by her John Lord Latimer, his son, &c. who was in the rebellion called the Pilgrimage of Grace, in that King's reign; which
John married, for his second wife, Catherine, daughter of Sir Thomas
Parr, (his first wife being Dorothy, daughter of the Earl of Oxford,)
which said Catharine was afterwards married to King Henry VIII. by
whose interest, most likely, John his son had livery of this manor
and North Pickenham, in the 35th of Henry VIII. his father John died
about the said time, together with the manors of Danby, Thornton,
Snape, Welle, &c. in Yorkshire: Corby, Burton, Latimers, &c. in
Northamptonshire: Compton and Norris, in Berkshire: Wadburgh, in Worcestershire: Warcup in Westmorland, and as
heir to the Earl of Oxford, of Barton Bendish, Islington, Wetyng, (fn. 4)
Sandringham, Knapton, Middleton, Scales Hoo, Tittleshall, Babingley,
Wolverton, Fittons in Wygenhale, Toftrees, East-Winch, in Norfolk:
Holbrooke, Chellesworth, Walsham, and Preston, in Suffolk: Ken
sington in Middlesex: Bures Marks or Bevers Marks in London:
Oldhall in Wethersfield in Essex: Sawston, Haukeston, and Dullingham, in Cambridgeshire: Stony Stratford in Warwickshire:
Calverton in Bucks: Wygeston in Leicestershire, and Tredenneke, in Cornwall. This John lived till the 20th of Queen
Elizabeth, (fn. 5) but had no issue male by Lucy, daughter of Henry Earl of
Worcester, so that by the marriage of his 4 daughters and coheirs,
his estate was divided.
Katherine, the 1st daughter, was married to Henry Earl of
Dorothy, the second, to Thomas Earl of Exeter.
Lucy, the third, to Sir William Cornwallis, ancestour to the
present Lord Cornwallis.
Elizabeth, the fourth, to Sir John Danvers, Knt. from whom
is descended the present Duke of Leeds, Viscount Latimer.
Soon after the death of this last Lord Latimer, (fn. 6) this lordship came
into the family of the Bedingfelds of Oxburgh, and Edmund
Bedingfeld, Esq. as lord and patron, presented to this church in 1688.
And in this family it continued, till it was sold by Sir Henry Bedingfeld, Bart. to Henry Eyre, Esq of Bury's-Hall, about the year
1720, and John Eyre, Esq. his brother, sold it to
Mr. Penson of London, in whose family it now continues.
The Tenths of this town were 2l. 16s. 8d.
The temporalities of the Prioress of Carhow, 2s. The temporalities of the Prior of Westacre, 2s.
There are now only a farm or two, and a cottage or two in this
The Church is a single building of flint, &c. dedicated to St.
Mary the Virgin; in length about 27 feet, and about 18 in breadth,
and is covered with reed. At the west end stands a small four-square
tower of flint and brick, and on the top is a little cap of wood covered
with lead; in this tower hangs one bell: at the east end of this nave
is the chancel, separated by a gable or wall, near a yard thick, through
which is an arch about 12 feet in height, and 6 in breadth, which leads
into the chancel; which seems to be much more antique than the body
and tower; it is in length about 26 feet, and of equal breadth with
Robert de Neville, in the 34th Henry III.
Ralph de Nevile, rector.
1304, Hugh de Midleham, presented by the Lady Mary de Nevile;
this lady founded a chantry of two priests in this church of Houghton, and not of Sheriff Houghton in Yorkshire, as has been represented, (fn. 7) as appears by her own deed. (fn. 8)
The rector had at this time a manse, with 44 acres of land, and the
rectory was valued at 9 marks, Peter-pence 6d.
1312, Richard de Medilham. Ditto.
1315, Robert de Somerdeby. Lady Mary Nevill.
1321, John de Wendeslay.
1333, Thomas de Lemyng.
1335, Henry de Swale.
1361, Thomas de Ingleby; he, and the three before him, were presented by Ralph Lord Nevile.
1370, Richard de Whittons. John Lord Nevill of Raby. He
was vicar of Newton in Glendale, Durham diocese, and exchanged
1375, John de Sutton. Sir Robert Knolles. He was rector of
North Pickenham, and exchanged with Whitton.
1377, John Boys, Ditto.
1380, Gregory de Hetherset. John Lord Cobham, and John
Seymer, attorneys general to Sir Robert Knolles. He was rector of
Skulthorp, and exchanged with Boys.
1380, John Drew. John Lord Cobham, and John Seymer, &c.
He was vicar of Narford, rector of Bawsey, Harpley, and Northwold.
1388, John de Hockham. Robert Bishop of London, John Lord
Cobham, John Crew, rector of Pudding Norton, and John Seymour, citizen of London.
1415, Robert Kereby. Ralph Earl of Westmorland.
1420, Thomas Wirethorp. Ralph Nevill Earl of Westmorland,
who presented the two following rectors:
1423, Richard Blome.
1424, Robert Danson.
1469, John Ferthyng. Henry Nevile Lord Latimer.
1474, John (of the order of the Carmelites) collated by the Bishop
of Norwich by lapse. First-fruits then 9 marks. I take this to be
John Barber, who died rector in 1498; by his will dated 17th February 1497, and proved 15th May 1498, he gives a legacy to St.
Mary's gild here, and to that of the Trinity in South Pickenham.
1498, Robert Legge, ob. Richard Lord Latimer.
1503, George Rigton, ob. Rich. Lord Latimer.
1508, Peter Fulwode. Ditto.
1541, John Harridanse. Sir Christopher Jenny, by virtue of
a grant from John Lord Latimer.
1658, Roger Olley, res. (fn. 9) Ditto.
1559, Thomas Benson. (fn. 10) John Jenney, Esq. farmer of the lordship of Lord Latimer.
1585, Robert Fraunces, A. B. res. Thomas Bradbury of Ashill,
patron hac vice by grant from Edmund Bedingfeld, Esq.
1587, Henry Collison, ob. Thomas Frances. In his answers to
King James, he says there were 15 communicants here in 1603, and
that Henry Bedingfeld, Esq. was patron.
1611, Thomas Brown, A. M. licensed preacher, ob. Nicholas
Brown, assignee of Sir Henry Bedingfeld; rector also of Wissinget
1613, Simon Thompson, A. M. ob. William Prithero, assignee
of Sir Henry Bedingfeld.
1637, Thomas Booth, A. M. ob. Robet Booth of Wroxham.
1687, Henry Tinkler, ob. Robert Alpe, Gent.
1715, Henry Wastell, A. B. Sir Ralph Hare, Bart. buried in the
chancel here 26th April, 1719.
1719, Waters Rolf. Sir Ralph Hare, Bart. (fn. 11)
At the death of Rolf, the Rev. Mr. Say resigned the vicarage of
Swafpham, and holds this consolidated rectory, by union with
Beachamwell, he being both rector and patron in Septemper 1749.
This rectory is valued at 4l. 18s. 9d. in the King's Books, and
being sworn of the clear yearly value of 35l. it is discharged of firstfruits and tenths, and is capable of augmentation: visitatorial procurations are 2s. 10d. to the Bishop, synodals 18d. Archdeacon's
procurations 5s. and it is now consolidated to North Pickenham.