An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 1. Originally published by W Miller, London, 1805.
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EAST, or GREAT WROTHAM,
Is so called because it lies most east of the three Wrothams, of all which Herold was lord in King Edward's time, and Ralph de Tony in the Conqueror's; (fn. 1)Wretham (or Wrotham Thorp) had then two carucates, Wertham, (or West Wrotham,) (fn. 2) had three, and Weretham (or East Wrotham) (fn. 3) had four, and all of them were berewites to Neketun, (or Necton,) and contained together four miles in length, and four miles in breadth, and paid xxd. geld.
This manor was given to Bec abbey in Normandy, (fn. 4) by that Ralph de Toni, who held it at the survey, from which time it enjoyed all the privileges belonging to that monastery. In the register of the abbey (fol. 58, b) the customs of the manor are entered, among which it appears, that the tenants were to pay scot and lot, by way of aid to the abbots, when they came into England, or to their proctors, if the necessities of the abbey were very urgent; they could not sell a horsecolt, nor an ox of their own bringing up, without their lord's leave, nor marry their daughters, nor go to live out of the manor, nor remove their chattels out of it, without license; they paid at every death the best beast for a heriot, or 32d. instead of it, and if any one died intestate, all their chattels were at the lord's disposition. When the harvest work was finished by the tenants, they were to have half an acre of barley, and a ram let loose in the midst of them; and if they catched him, he was their own to make merry with, but if he escaped from them, he was the lord's, which custom is still kept at Eton college, there being a ram every year let loose among the scholars, on a certain day, to be run down by them, the original of which might come from the custom of this manor; at this time William de Hockam held 60 acres of land of the old feoffment, by 5s. per annum rent, and also 16s. rent at Rokeland, and all that belonged to the church of Bec, and was part of this manor, as you may see at Hocham-Parva. William Francolanus, or Frankleyn, held a carucate of land at Serepham, or Shropham, and paid scot and lot, gifts and aids, and did suit to this court, and Henry de Bradekere held a tenement there by the same service. Emma de Kerbrook, or Carbrook, Adam de Ockeham, or Hockham, Walter Bainard, and the heirs of William Crongethorp, held a bruery, called Sandwadescot, by suit of court, and the service of going to London, or elsewhere at their own charge, on the lord's errand, and by doing the lord's and the town's service, in attending the sheriff's turns, and hundred courts, to hear the King's orders; and William de Wrotham then held 60 acres of land and a messuage, which, in 1240, was given by Reginald, son of Eustace de Wrotham, to Bec abbey. In 1285, the abbot held it in free alms, as parcel of Tony's barony, and had view of frankpledge, assize of bread and ale, a pillory, gallows, and weyf, and thus it continued in the abbey, (unless when it was in the King's hands by reason of the French wars,) till 1414, the second of King Henry V. when the Parliament at Leicester dissolved the Prior's aliens, and then it continued in the Crown till King Henry VI. settled it on his college of Eton, at the foundation, and confirmed it by his charter in 1444; and in 1460 it was reconfirmed by King Edward IV. it being parcel of the possessions of Okeburne priory, which was an alien depending on Bec abbey; and at this time the provost, fellows, and scholars of Eton are lords. The leet belongs to the manor, and liberty of keeping petit-sessions along with it, by grant of Hugh Earl of Sussex, who released it to the church of Bec, on condition that they should treat his bailiffs and suiters to the hundred court, every other year, in their manor of East Wrotham; (fn. 5) and afterwards, in 1237, the said Hugh, for 12 marks paid him by Brother William de Gynevill, their general proctor in England, released to them the said treat, on condition they paid to the bailiff of the hundred, yearly, 14d. every Michaelmas day, and the ancient leet fee of 3s. so that the lord of the hundred, though he is paramount here, yet hath no leet. (fn. 6) This manor hath liberty of a coroner, whose jurisdiction extends over the Wrothams, by grant of King Henry VI. when he founded his colleges of King's and Eton.
The Church is dedicated to St. Ethelbert, and the rector paid a pension of 20s. (fn. 7) a year out of it to the Abbot of Bec, and 12d. for synodals the Abbot of Counches's temporalites belonging to his manor of West Wrotham, in this town, were taxed at 9l. In the year 1603, there were 80 communicants, which number is much decreased; it paid 2l. 15s. to the tenths, and is now  assessed at 340l. to the land tax, there being, as I am informed, about 150 inhabitants.
1321, 7 id. July, William de Dorso usto, [or Burnt-Arse] accolite, was presented by Brother William de Ponte, monk of the monastery of Bec-Herlewyne, who was general proctor for the Abbot of Bec in England.
Upon the west end of the steeple was an old inscription, beginning, [Orate pro &c.] but so battered, that it is illegible; a very large stone coffin was ploughed up in a close in this town about 1715. There are divers saints painted on the screens, as St. Augustine, St. Ambrose, &c. In 1615, John Dowffyld, Gent. gave 10l. by will to the minister and church-wardens, to be employed for ever as town stock, to set the poor on work.