This village takes its name from the ford or passage over the river
Nar, on the south side of which it stands. In the grand survey it is
called Nereforda. Phanceon was then the lord of it, being part of the
honour, and held of Alan Earl of Richmond: in the Confessor's time
Alfach a Saxon was the owner of it; there were then 3 carucates in
domain, and the same at the survey, and 6 carucates held by the
tenants, and 4 freemen held 1 carucate of land; there was one mill
and the moiety of another, and a fishery, &c.; it was a mile in length,
and as much in breadth, and paid 18d. gelt, being first valued at 4l. and
at the last survey at 5l. per annum. (fn. 1)
The Manor of Narford, alias Oldhall.
Phanceon, who was lord at the survey, was most probably the ancestour of the noble family of Narford; he or his immediate descendant might take up that surname from this his lordship, as was the
common and general practice of that age, derived from the Normans;
that the family of Narford had lands here, and in Norfolk, nigh to
the time of the great survey, appears from ancient records.
William de Narford was witness to a charter of the abbey of
St. Bennet at Holm in Norfolk. In the reign of Henry II. Geldewine
de Nereford owed King Richard I. 20s. for his lands in Norfolk; (fn. 2) Sir
Peter de Narford was lord in 1218, and then gave the rectory of Stanfield in Suffolk to the priory of Haveringland, alias Mountjoy, in
Norfolk; of this family, was Robert de Narford, who married Alice,
daughter of John Pouchard, and was principal governour or warden
of Dover castle in the reign of King John, under Hubert de Burgh,
lord chief justice of England, who with his wife founded the priory of
de Prato or Pree, (that is in the meadow,) between North-Creke and
In 1219 Margaret de Ponte (or Brigge,) and John her son, were
summoned to answer to John de Narford, to show why, contrary to
the King's prohibition, they impleaded him in the Court Christian for
a lay-fee in Nereford, which they acknowledged, and for which they
were fined; (fn. 3) and in 1227, a fine was levied between Maud de Pagrave
and John de Narford, whereby Maud released a messuage and lands
here; and in the same year, there was another fine, between William
son of John de Narford, petent, and Peter de Narford, tenent, of the
moiety of a knight's fee here, who acknowledged it to be the right of
Peter, who gave the mill called Well-Mill to William; and in 1239,
Thomas de Nerford held half a knight's-fee of the Earl Warren, as of
the manor of Lyng, and the Earl of the honour of Richmond, and
at the same time Petronilla de Nerford, (mother of the aforesaid
Thomas,) and Edmund her son, held here half a knight's-fee of
Robert Fitz Roger, and he of the Earl of Richmond, and that Earl of
the King in capite, and paid to the scutage then granted on the marriage of Isabell the King's sister to the Roman Emperor.
By an inquisition in 1274, (fn. 4) William de Narford was found to be
lord, and to have free-warren, not only in his domain lands, but in
those of other men in this town, which were held of the honour of
Richmond, and the bailiffs of the Earl of Richmond kept the lete;
and in 1277, the aforesaid William, then a knight, and Joldewin or
Geldewin, son of Eudo de Narford, held one knight's fee here, and
paid to the ward of Richmond castle 10s. per annum. This Sir William married Petronilla, one of the daughters and coheirs of Sir John
de Vallibus, or Vaux, who brought a very considerable estate to this
family; (fn. 5) and on a division of it, in the 16th of the aforesaid King, between her and her sister Maud, married to William de Roos, Petronilla (fn. 6) had assigned to her the lordships of Thirston and Shotesham,
and a moiety of those of Holt, Cley juxta Mare, and Houghton by
Walsingham in Norfolk; with many knights fees in Norfolk and Suffolk. Sir William was one of those great men, who were summoned
to attend King Edward I. at Portsmouth, in an expedition to Gascoigne in his 22d year, to recover that province, and was in that year,
and in the 25th of the said King, called to parliament as a baron; by
a deed of his, sans date (reciting that he had granted to Sir John de
Aspall and Sir Roger his brother, the manor of Stonham Antegayn in
Suffolk, with the advowson, to be held of him and his heirs,) he revokes the said grant, and regrants it to Roger le Bigot Earl of Norfolk, and his heirs; the witnesses were Sir Thomas de Wayland, John
Lovetot, Roger Loveday, Peter de Bedingfeld, William de Eiresy,
William le Fleming, Robert de Boys, &c. He died in the 29th year
of the aforesaid King, and was found to hold 32 knights fees and a
quarter. His arms were, Gules a lion rampant ermine. Petronilla
survived him, and was lady of this manor in 1315, and died in 1326,
and was buried in the neighbouring priory of Pentney, founded by
her ancestour, Sir Robert de Vaux: in 1321 she gave to the
canons of Langley in Norfolk, her lands in Thirston, for the health
of the souls of her father, and husband deceased. She had by Sir
William three sons, Sir John de Narford, (who married Agnes,
daughter of William, and sister and heir of Edmund de Berford, and
died in 1320, without issue, by Narford, and was buried at Pentney;)
the said Agnes was relict of Sir John Argentein, by whom she had
issue; and lastly, wife to Sir John Matrevers, by whom she had also
issue;) her 2d son by Sir William, was Sir Thomas, heir to his brother
Sir John; and her 3d son was Edmund, who died in 1330, sans issue,
and left his brother Sir Thomas his heir, to whom the King, in 1334,
granted a mercate and two fairs at Narford; this knight resided
chiefly at Panworth-hall. (fn. 7) In 1342, he licensed the prior of
Mountjey to take lands in Heverland of his fee in mortmain. (fn. 8) This
Sir Thomas had two wives; Alice, who was alive in 1343, and
Elizabeth, daughter and coheir of John Perers of Holt, son of
Perers, by Gunnora, daughter and coheir of Thomas de Ormesby,
Esq. as appears from an inquisition taken in 1374, on the death of
Julian, sister to the said Elizabeth, wife of John Falconer, who died
without issue. The will of Sir Thomas is dated at Holt, and was
proved in November 1375, whereby he ordered to be buried at Holt.
Sir John de Nerford was his son and heir by his first wife:
Dugdale says that he was slain in the wars of France in the 38th of
Edward III.; (fn. 9) but it appears that he survived his father, and died the
year following, seized of several lordships in Norfolk, and 12 knights
fees and an half in Suffolk, and that Margery his daughter and heir,
was then 18 years old. Le Neve says, that in 1396, she was then wife
of John Brews; others say, that she vowed chastity, but they seem to
be mistaken; for it is evident from her will, (fn. 10) that she died in a single
state and unmarried, about 1417. This Margery, conveyed by fine in
1382 to Sir John de Cobham of Couling castle in Kent, the manors of
Panworth-hall and Narford, the moieties of those of Holt and Cley,
with the advowson of Holt, which Alice de Nevile held for life; which
Alice was, as I take it, her mother, and married to Sir John Nevile of
Essex; and in 1385, it was certified, that this village being part of the
honour of Richmond was Toll-free.
In the 3d of Hen. IV. Edmund Oldhall held here, half a fee of
the honour of Richmond; and in the 14th of Henry VI. the jury
present Sir William Oldhallto hold half a knight's fee of the said
honour; (fn. 11) this family gave name to this manor, though their interest
herein was short; for in the 2d of Edward IV. John Cocket was lord
of the manor of Oldhall; and in 1494, he was found to hold the
same of the manor of Lyng.
Between the terms of St. Michael, (fn. 12) in the 9th and 10th of Elizabeth,
and those of St. Michael in the 14th and 15th of the said Queen,
Richard Beckham had livery of the manors of Narford called Cockets,
and that called John Crofts, and John Beckham, Esq. died about 1658,
lord of the same, and left Richard his son and heir, (fn. 13) which said John
had license on the 7th of April, in the 7th of Charles I. to alienate
the manors of Narford and Sawtrey, 4 messuages, 6 tofts, a watermill, dove-house, 2 gardens, 600 acres of land, 30 of meadow, 100 of
pasture, 500 acres of heath and furze, and 60s. rent, with liberty of
two foldages in Narford, Custhorpe, and East-Walton, to Martin Southouse, Gent.
About the end of King Henry III. Edmund le Leche and his parceners held a moiety of a fee here, of the Earl of Richmond, and the
Earl in capite; (fn. 14) and in the 8th of Edward I. the heirs of Roger de
Cressey held lands, who were probably the parceners abovementioned.
In the 33d of the said King, Edmund le Leche of Beeston had a charter for free-warren here; and in the 15th of Edward II. Edmund and
Margaret his wife, conveyed them to John de Horsted and his heirs.
Soon after this, it was in the priory of Westacre, and the prior,
in 1345, paid 20s. for the aid then assessed, and in 1401, he paid to
the aid on the marriage of Blanch, the King's eldest daughter. On
Wednesday after the feast of St. Dunstan in 1503, Thomas Clerk, S.T.B.
prior of Westacre, held his first court at Narford, on Thursday after
the Epiphany; in 1522, Thomas Brygett, S.T.B. prior held a court;
and in 1524, William Wingfeld, prior, held his first court. On
the dissolution of the priory it came to the Crown, and was granted
on the 6th of January, in the 2d and 3d of Philip and Mary, to Sir
Thomas Gresham, founder of the Royal Exchange at London, to
be held by knight's service in capite, about the 26th of Elizabeth, Sir
Henry Nevile, couzin and heir, in right of his wife, to the aforesaid
knight, had livery of it.
The whole village now belongs to Sir Andrew Fountaine,
Knt. of whose family I shall take occasion to speak here; (fn. 15) that learned
and worthy knight having his residence in a seat of his own erecting,
at this place, called Narford-hall, which for elegance is truly
curious; the valuable library of books, (fn. 16) excellent collection of pictures, coins, and many other rare pieces of antiquity, (fn. 17) the whole furniture and ornaments herein, are sufficient to excite the curiosity of
the learned, and preserve the memory of their judicious owner.
The family of Fountaine, was originally of Salle in Norfolk,
and assumed the sirname of De Fonte, or Fontibus, from the springs
or fountains that they dwelled by. (See vol. ii. p. 215.)
The first that I meet with, who assumed this name, was,
John de Fonte, called also often, De Fontibus De Salle, who
lived in the latter end of Henry the Third's time, was much in favour
with Roger Bigot Earl of Norfolk, of whose gift he had divers lands
at Briston in Norfolk; he died in the beginning of Edward I. from
him descended a numerous family, which in a few generations, settled
in many of the adjacent villages; but
Robert de Fontibus de Salle, his eldest son, flourished there,
and increased his fortunes in the times of Edward I. and II. whose
John Ffunteyn of Salle was returned as one of the chief gentlemen of the county in 1430, he was a principal benefactor, if not the
sole founder of the north isle and north transept of the present church
of Salle, in the latter of which he was buried in 1453, together with
his three wives: his stone, with his own effigies, and that of his wives
and three children, is now in the said transept, and is here exhibited to
your view, at the expense of the aforesaid worthy knight, to whom I
am much obliged, for this and many other favours. His eldest son
by his first wife Alice, was
Mathew de Fonte, or FFunteyn of Salle, who added to his
fortunes by marrying with Elizabeth, daughter and heiress of William Walshe of Colby, by Margaret, daughter and heiress of Simon
Damme, Gent. of Susted, in whose right this family have ever since
quartered the arms of Walshe, (fn. 18) Harsick, and Damme, they had many
children; William their son lies buried by them, in the nave of Salle
church, with this inscription on a brass plate;
Grate pro animabus Millielmi Founteyn, et Magarete Lroris
sue, qui quidem Dillielmus obiit Anno Domini MoUoU0. ruius
anime propicietur Deus.
Ralf their son was alive in 1535, but their eldest son and heir was,
Arthur Fountaine, Esq. who married Frances, daughter of
Clement Palgrave, Esq. by whom he had 4 sons and 4 daughters;
1, Palgrave; 2, Mary, married to Thomas Parkington; 3, Dorothy,
to John Hobard; 4, Beatrice, to Robert Cubit. His 4th son was
Martin Fountain, his 2d Thomas, and his 3d was Arthur, who married
Anne Stanhowe, by whom he had three sons, Martin the youngest,
Arthur his second, and John his eldest: in the north isle of Salle
church is a mural monument with the arms and crest of Fountaine,
with a crescent for difference and this inscription.
JOHANNES FOUNTAINE, Serviens ad legem, filius primogenitus Arthuri Fountaine de Dalling in hoc Comitatû, unius
Filiorum Arthuri Fountaine de Salle, obijt decimo quarto Die
Junij, Ano Dni' 1671, Ætatis 70. Et in hâc Insulâ jacet
John, eldest son and heir of Arthur Fountaine of Salle, married Mary, daughter and heiress of James Brigge of Salle, (as in
Brigge's pedigree, vol. ii. p. 223,) in whose right this family have ever
since quartered the arms of Brigge, Beaupre, (fn. 19) and St. Omer.
They had 5 daughters and 2 sons; 1, Beatrix; 2, Margaret;. 3,
Palgrave; 4, Frances, married to Erasmus Earle of Salle; 5,
Mary, to John Daye, John was the second son, and
Brigg Fountaine, Esq. of Salle, was the eldest son and heir; he
died in 1661, and by Joanna, eldest sister of Robert Henley, (fn. 20)
Esq. he had
Andrew Fountaine, Esq. who married Sarah, eldest daughter
of Sir Thomas Chicheley, who lies interred in a vault, at the east
end of the south isle of Narford church, and a mural monument
against the south wall there, is thus inscribed;
In the Vault adjoining lies the Body of ANDREW FOUNTAINE of Sall, (in this County) Esq; who died the 7th of
October 1661, and of JOANNA HENLY, eldest Sister of
Robert Henly, Esq; who succeeded the Duke of Buckingham, in the Mastership of the King's Bench Office; the said
Andrew served in three several Sessions of Parliament, in the
Reign of King Charles 2, He married Sarah Chichely,
youngest Daughter of Sir Thomas Chichely Master of the Ordinance, Chancellour of the Dutchye of Lancaster, and privy
Councellour to King Charles and James II. by whom he had several Children, and left surviving, Sir Andrew, Brig, and
Elizabeth, ob. lmo Februarij 1706, Æt. LXXIV.
At the east end of this isle, is an altar monument of white, on which
is placed a sarcophagus of Egyptian, and on that a pyramid of gray
marble; on which, are the crest, arms, and supporters of Fountaine, with this motto;
VIX. EA. NOSTRA. VOCO.
And on the top is a white marble urn:
MATRI PIISIMAE, SARAE FOUNTAINE, ET
SORORI DILECTAE, ELISABETHAE CLENT,
ANDREAS FOVNTAINE EQ. AVR. P.
Fountaine impales Chichely, or, a chevron between three
Clent, arg. a fess wavy between three bears paws erased and
erected sab. impaling Fountaine.
On the outside, in the churchyard, is a very neat altar tomb, placed
like an altar; against the east wall of this isle, at the south end, is a
shield of Fountaine, with a crescent for difference on the fess; it is
of Portland stone covered with a black marble, and on the east side
H. S. E.
BRIG FOVNTAINE ARM.
OB. VI. AVG. AET. LXIV.
Elizabeth, sister to Sir Andrew, married Colonel Edward
Clent of Knightwick in Worcestershire, afterwards of Norfolk, by
whom he left one only daughter,
Elizabeth, married to Captain William Price: she is dead,
and interred in the vault here, and left one only son,
Brig Price, who is now a minor.
January 14, 1725, John Anstis, Garter King at Arms, by order
of King George I. granted by patent to Sir Andrew Fountaine,
Knt. (fn. 21) then vice-chamberlain to the Princess of Wales, and tutor to
his highness Prince William, for whom he was installed (as proxy)
knight of the honourable Order of the Bath, supporters to his
arms, viz. on either side a lion gul. with wings erected or, with the old
family motto of, Vix. Ea. Nostra Voco, and the ancient arms of
Fountaine, or, a fess gul. between three elephants heads erased sab. (fn. 22)
The Romans appear to have had a station at this place, many
Roman bricks being found by the workmen about the hall; and Sir
Andrew Fountaine shewed me a Roman vase of brass, dug up in the
There was a chapel also here formerly; for many human bones,
and a stone coffin were dug up; this was the cell and chapel of some
hermit, for they generally chose their station near some frequented
road or passage over a river, as this was.
This village now consists of but two or three houses, besides the
Hall; but that it was considerable in the reign of Edward III. appears from his grant of a mercate and two fairs here, to Sir Thomas
de Nerford, and the court-rolls of the manor in the reign of Henry
VI. show that there were then above an hundred dwelling-houses, besides an hamlet called Custhorpe, or Cowsthorpe, situated in
the meadows, near the river towards Westacre: and mention of it is
made in the 7th of Charles I.
The old tenths were 3l. The religious concerned here, besides the
prior of West-Acre, were the prior of Pentney, who in 1428 was
charged at 2l. 16s. 6d. ob. tenths for his temporalties; this was possessed by Robert Hogan after the dissolution of that house, and in
the 7th of James I. by Robert Angel and John Walker.
Conan Duke of Britain and Earl of Richmond, (fn. 23) by deed sans
date, in the reign of Henry II. gave to the church of Norwich, land
here, and 10s. rent per ann. (fn. 24)
William, Prior of St. Pancrase of Lewes in Sussex, gave to the
monks of Castleacre, a mill in Nerford and 5 perches of land, near
the church of St. Mary Magdalen of Wigenhall in Norfolk, for an
anniversary to be kept for him, by deed sans date.
Richolda, daughter of Isabell de Neketon, with the consent of
Richard her son and heir, gave to the monks of Castleacre, 4
acres and 1 rood of land lying in Nerford, 5 perches of it laying at
Markete Gate, sans date.
Gelduin, son of William de Nerford, gave to the said monks a toft,
and 2 acres of land, with all his right in the mill and pool, called
Bonde de Nerford, with the consent of Richard his son and heir,
gave them the homage of Gervase the miller, son of Goodwin, and his
Robert, Prior of Westacre, by deed, acknowledged to have
received to farm of the prior of Castleacre, all the tithes, which Gregory son of Adam held of them, with the appurtenances in Nerford,
two parts of the domain given them by Conan, for the soul of Alan
Earl of Richmond, paying one mark per annum.
Robert, Prior of Westacre, released to the monks of Castleacre, the tithe of a mill in Nerford, called Fordmille, and the tithe
of a meadow, which they have on the south part of the mill-pool, &c.
The Church of Narford is a small regular building dedicated to
the Virgin Mary, consisting of a nave, a north and south isle, with
a chancel, all covered with lead; and at the west end of the nave
stands a foursquare tower, with three bells, on which Sir Andrew
Fountaine, a few years past, erected a spire of wood, and painted, with
a weather-cock and ball gilt.
The south porch is tiled. At the west end of the nave lies a gravestone, having a cross pattée carved on the summit of a staff, the insignia of some knight templar. In the chancel, under the north wall,
with an arch raised over it, lies a marble stone, with a large cross floral
carved on it, in memory of the founder, no doubt some religious, probably some rector or vicar of the church. In the north isle are stones
Thomas Metcalfe, March 15, 1736.
John, 1729 25. Thomas, 1719. 12. Sons of Thomas and
Jeffrey Browne, October 2, 1740. 60.
A good Companion and an honest Friend
Rare Vertues in this Age, and here they End,
In Hopes of a Joyfull Resurrection.
In the nave, a stone lies over Mrs. Merriam Parker, daughter of
Thomas Billingsly, Gent. 28 July, 1721. 23.
She was a very virtuous sober woman, and a faithful servant in Mr.
Fountaine's family 7 years, and her death was much lamented by
In the beginning of King Edward the First's reign, we find that
the prior of Westacre, (fn. 25) had the rectory here appropriated to him,
which was endowed with a manse, and a carucate of land, and was
valued with the vicarage at x. marks, Peter-pence were 13d. and the
patronage of the vicarage was in that priory.
In 1265, Simon Bishop of Norwich confirmed to the priory of
Castleacre, two parts of all the tithes of the domain, formerly of
Godwin, Jeffrey, and Brundon son of Saul, in Nerford, which were
let to the prior of Westacre at 1 mark per annum.
Edmund, rector of Nerford in the reign of King John.
PRESENTED BY THE PRIORS AND CONVENT OF WESTACRE.
1306, Jeffrey de Marham.
1321, William de Bonewyke. Henry, prior, &c.
1349, Thomas Mazoune, res.
1379, John Swynstede, in exchange for the rectory of Kyrkstede.
1380, John Deen, res.
1385, Richard Mason, in exchange for the rectory of Bawsey, res.
1398, John Peyntour, in exchange for Kerbroke.
1398, Robert Thirne.
1412, Thomas Borell.
1436, Thomas Kelsey.
1444, James Dennee.
1449, Richard Salysbury, afterwards vicar of Castleacre.
1450, Robert Hecock, rector of Langford.
1461, William Potkyn, ob.
1490, John Cosen.
1504, Richard Gottis, L.L. B. res.
1518, William Stertwayht, was the last presented by the convent.
1540, Richard Best. The King.
1544, John Hardye. Ditto. Deprived in 1553 by Queen Mary,
being a married priest.
1554, Richard Maken, ob. John Calybutt, Esq.
1557, Richard Harrison, vicar also of Narburgh. Ditto.
1558, John Hardye, restored on the accession of Queen Elizabeth. (fn. 26)
1569, George Ryvelie, rector of South-Pickenham, res.
1570, William Harpham, ob. Philip Awdley, Gent. and Margaret his wife.
1574, Simon Syllet. John Wingfeld, and Ann his wife.
1592, Ralph Same, A. M. res. Philip Awdley and Margaret
his wife, George Townsend, Gent. and Catherine his wife.
1602, Philip Weyks, A. B. res. George Townsend. In his reply
to King James's Queries in 1603, he observes that there were then 40
communicants in the parish.
1617, Henry Neve, A. M. ob. Thomas Reymes, Gent. for this
1647, Thomas Blake, ob. Thomas Goodrich of North-Creak.
1666, Edward Carlton, vicar also of Narburgh, ob. Mundeford
When the lease of the great tithes of this town (which were granted
to the see of Ely in Queen Elizabeth's time) was renewed by Dr.
Lany Bishop of Ely, an augmentationof 10l. per annum was reserved
to this vicar and his successours, to be paid by the lessee, who is
patron of the vicarage. Before this it appears from the accounts of
the receiver-general of the court of augmentation in the reign of Henry
VIII. that a yearly pension was paid and accounted for by him, of 1l.
13s. 4d. as an augmentation to the vicar of Narford for ever, out of
the lands late belonging to Westacre priory, and the same pension
I find to be continued and paid by the receiver-general in the 13th of
1692, John Craske, A. M. ob. vicar also of Newton. Mundeford
1713, Benjamin Ingram, vicar also of Narburgh, ob. John Spelman, Esq. He was succeeded in
1735, by the Rev. Mr. Mundeford Spelman, the present vicar, who
was presented by John Spelman, Esq. the present patron, and
holds it with Narburgh.
It appears from the will of Richard Rand, in 1417, that there was
then standing in the churchyard a chapel dedicated (as the church
was) to St. Mary; and in 1465, John Broshard by will gave legacies
to the gild of St. Mary, to that of the Holy-Trinity, and to that
of St. Mary's chapel in the churchyard, (fn. 27) the foundations of which
may still be seen in the north part of the churchyard, at some distance
from the church.
This vicarage is valued in the King's Books at 6l. 13s. 4d. and
being sworn of the value of 31l. per annum is discharged from firstfruits and tenths, and is capable of augmentation.
Visitatorial procurations 20d. synodals 2s. 2d. archdeacon's procurations 4s.
In that part of the parish of Westacre, which lies on the south
side of the river Nar, and is consequently in this hundred; on a hill
about half a furlong from the river, between Southacre and Narford,
are the ruins of a chapel, commonly called Becket's Chapel. It
being dedicated to St. Thomas Becket Archbishop of Canterbury, on
the day of whose Translation, viz. July 7th, there is an annual fair
held here, which in 1478, was granted by King Edward IV. to the
prior of Westacre, (fn. 28) to which monastery this was a cell: the custos
or master, and 2 or 3 monks, his brethren, dwelt in a house joined to
the north-east part of the chapel, and performed divine service daily,
it standing by the pass over the river, where the Pilgrims and other
travellers passed by Castleacre, to our Lady at Walsingham; the chapel
was 60 feet long and 30 broad, and its cemetery or burial-place was
walled in, and was as many yards in breadth and length.
The eastern part of this hundred is a very good soil, and chiefly enclosed, and hath its share of wood; the western part is champaign,
and a very poor barren sandy soil, though now so much improved by
marling and claying, that it often produces very good crops of corn.