Hundred of Shropham: Kilverstone

Pages 541-550

An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 1. Originally published by W Miller, London, 1805.

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Culverstetuna, Culvertestuna, Culvercestuna, Kynardiston, Kilverdeston, and now Kilverstone is a small village adjoining to Thetford, now wholly owned by Thomas Wright, Esq. the present lord, to whom I acknowledge myself much obliged for the following account of it, which I extracted from the evidences he was pleased to lend me for that purpose. At this time there are no tenants belonging to the manors, the whole being purchased in.

Monk's Hall Manor

Was held in the Confessor's time, by a freeman, under Stigand, and contained a carucate and half in demean; it had a mill, free fishery, &c. The whole being of 40s. value. The town was then two leagues long and two broad, and paid 7d. Danegeld. (fn. 1) It belonged to the Conqueror afterwards, and continued in the Crown till King Henry I. gave it to

William de Albany, who married Maud, daughter of Roger Bygot, who, upon her account, gave this manor to

The Prior of the monks of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Thetford, which house was of Roger's own foundation; and accordingly I find it returned to the Exchequer, in Edward the First's time, that the Prior of Thetford holds a carucate of land in Kilverstone, of the alms of the Earl of Arundel, as of his barony of Bukenham. The monks had divers lands here, of other people's gift; in Henry the Second's time, Eustace the priest held land of them as a tenant, which the King confirmed among other things to the priory: and thus it continued till the Dissolution, and then was given, with the monastery, to Thomas Duke of Norfolk and his heirs. In 1568, Thomas Duke of Norfolk settled on Sir Thomas Cornwaleis, Knt. Sir Nicholas L'Strange, Knt. Chamberlain of the Duke's Household, Thomas Tymperley, Esq. Comptroller of the Household, William Barker and Robert Hickford, Secretaries to the said Duke, and Edward Peacock, Clerk Comptroller of the Household, the manor of Kenninghall and hundred of Giltcross, the manors of Lopham, Winfarthing, and Heywood, the site of the dissolved monastery of Thetford and all its appurtenances, the manors of Halwick, Norwick, Bryes, or Brayes, Santon, Lynford, Croxton, Munk's Hall in Kilverston, Rothenhall in Bretenham, and Westwick, with the appurtenances in Norfolk and Suffolk, to the use of him the said Duke for life, remainder to Philip Earl of Surrey, son and heir of the said Duke, begotten of the body of the Lady Mary late Dutchess of Norfolk, one of the daughters and heirs of the Right Honourable Henry Earl of Arundell, for life, remainder to the Lord Thomas Howard, and the Lord Will. Howard, younger sons of the said Duke, begotten of the body of the Lady Margaret late Dutchess of Norfolk, sole daughter and heir of the Right Honourable Thomas Awdeley, Knt. late Lord Awdeley of Walden, deceased, for their lives, to the intent that the feoffees shall appoint proper persons of the Duke's choosing, who shall pay the debts of the said Duke, with the profits of all the premises, which they are to receive, during the lives aforesaid, till they are all contented and paid, and then the premises to return to such persons as shall be then living, and entitled to them by the intail, with remainder to the right heirs of the said Duke; and soon after the feoffees, jointly with the Duke, by deed confirmed, John Bleverhasset, William Dix, William Canterell, and Laurence Bannister, his trusty and well-beloved servants, and the survivor or survivors of them, to take and receive the profits and pay the debts and legacies of the said Duke, and fulfil his will. The Duke was beheaded in the 14th of Queen Elizabeth; and in the 26th year of her reign, the Earl of Surrey, Lord Thomas, Lord William Howard, the feoffees and trustees, all joined, and sold it to Thomas Lovell of East-Herling, together with Rothenhall in Bretenham, who, in 1585, sold it to

Sir Charles Cornwaleis, and Dame Anne, his wife, and their heirs, who, in 1587, sold it to

Thomas Wright, Gent. of Weeting, and his heirs.

In the year 1285, the Customs allowed to the manor belonging to the Prior of Thetford in Kilverstone were these, sac, soc, toll, them, infangenethef, view of frankpledge, and assize of bread and ale; and, till lately, the leet belonging to it used to be kept. There is a foldcourse for 400 ewes, and 100 for the shepherd, and 250, which formerly belonged to the church, before the Prior of Butley aliened it; it was fine certain, viz. double the quitrent at every tenant's entry. The eldest son is heir, and they could not waste their copyhold. The lord of the hundred hath the superiour leet, which is held at the stone cross every Wednesday after Michaelmas day, to which all the residents do suit and service, and pay their leet-fee of 10d. yearly; and to it belong all weyfs, strays, felons goods, forfeitures, &c. There were above 200 acres of common and heath, on which the inhabitants commoned, but now every thing belongs to the lord. The Master of Magdelen hospital in Thetford held above 26 acres near their house, which laid in the bounds of this town, and the canons of Thetford had lands here; it used to pay 5s. 8d. per annum pro fine et feodo homagij.

Coxford Manor,

In the Confessor's days, belonged to Edric, and at the Conquest to Robert Malet, lord of the honour of Eye, and contained 2 carucates of land, a free fishery, a mill, &c. but one part of it was then held of the said Robert by Walter de Cadomo, (fn. 2) and continued divided till they united in the Prior. The first part went to Ralf de Querceto, Caineto, or Cheney, who came in with the Conqueror; he gave it with Sibil, his daughter, in marriage, to Robert Fitz-Walter, founder of St. Faith's at Horsham, to which monastery they gave two parts of the tithes of their lands in this town, which were afterwards conveyed to Cokesford priory after they had the manor; they were succeeded by William de Cheney, their son, who left three daughters, two died without issue, but Margaret married Hugh de Crescy, a Norman, and left Roger his son and heir, who married Isabell de Rye, all whose sons died issueless, and the inheritance came to Robert Fitz-Roger, who married Margaret, relict of Hugh de Crescy, and held this manor at a quarter of a fee, and granted it for life to Vitalis Engayne, Jordan de Sankevile, and Clemence his wife, who, in 1217, released their right to Margery de Caiseneto, or Cressy, and her heirs; and she, with the said Vitalis, settled them on Coxford priory in the same year, the Prior of which house was always returned to hold them of the manor of Horsford, and further of the manor of Hockering. The other part or moiety was always held of the honour of Eye, at a quarter of a fee; it belonged to the same Robert Fitz-Walter, after that to Guy de Ferrarijs, or Ferrers, who infeoffed the Brooms; and in 1249, Roger de Broom settled it on John Prior of Coxford, and his successours, for ever; and in 1302, William, son of Roger de Broom, for 200 marks of silver, confirmed to the Prior and Canons of Coxford, his whole manor in Kilverstone, with the mill, freefold, &c. to be held in free alms of him and his heirs by 10s. a year rent, and the service of a quarter of a knight's fee; and afterwards Robert de Broom, son of the said William, released the rent, all knight's service and homage whatever, paying to Thetford priory 10s. a year out of the mill, according to the gift of William de Broom, his father; in 1293, the Prior of Cokesford granted a rent of 12d. a year to the Prior of Thetford, for leave to dig flag on Snareshill side, to mend his mill bank at Kilverstone. And in 1428, the Prior was taxed at 11l. 11s. 11d. for his temporalities here. In 1230, there was a dispute between Richard Prior of Thetford, and William Prior of Cokesford, concerning their separate fisheries belonging to their manors here; "Concerning the use and propriety of all the fishing lying between the territory of Snareshill, and the territory of Kilverstone, the Prior of Thetford claiming the whole of the water or river from his mill called Melford Mill, to the extent of his town of Snareshill," viz. the whole of Snareshill side, as belonging to his free fishery there, and this side, as belonging to his manor here; but the Prior of Coxford having a free fishery to his manor here, claimed an equal share on this side; and it being proved to be so, the Prior of Coxford let his right for ever, to the Prior of Thetford, for 8s. a year. But the Prior of Coxford reserved to himself his swan mark, belonging to his manor, throughout the whole river, with liberty to gather reed and grass at all times in the said river, with the consent of Richard Bishop of Norwich. John Mathewe Prior of the monastery of our Blessed Lady in Coxford, and the convent there, by indenture inrolled in Chancery, dated the last day of Apr. 1528, sold their manor of Coxford in Kilverstone to Thomas Duke of Norfolk, and his heirs, for 400 marks, which the said Duke paid to King Henry VIII. in full of a debt due from the Prior to the King, the Prior being collector of the King's subsidy in the archdeaconry of Norwich, and not having repaid the money he had collected; and in 1529, Thomas Prior of Coxford, successour to the said John, settled it by fine on the said Duke, Sir Roger Townsend, Knt. and other feoffees, and immediately after sold it to Sir John Cornwaleis, who leased it to William Prior of the monastery of our Blessed Lady at Thetford, for 99 years, at the yearly rent of a red rose, which monastery being dissolved, it came to the King's hands, who granted the monastery and all that belonged to it to Thomas Duke of Norfolk, after whose attainder it came to the King again, and continued in the Crown till King Edward VI. sold the lease to Sir John Cornwaleis; in the fourth year of his reign, Sir John dies, and it descended to Sir Thomas Cornwaleis, his son and heir, who settled it on feoffees, with power of revocation, to the use of himself for life, and then to William, his eldest son, and Lucy his wife, and the longest liver of them, with remainder to divers uses; but after this, in 1576, he settled it on Charles his son, and Anne his wife, and their heirs male, having revoked the former settlement; and in 1587, Sir Thomas the father, his two sons, and their two wives, sold it to

Thomas Wright of Weeting, Gent. and his heirs.

There is a separate right of fishing belonging to this manor, with liberty to hunt, hawk, fish and fowl, in the town and manors of Kilverstone, notwithstanding the superiour liberty of the hundred.

The fines were 2s. an acre, and the eldest son was heir.

The site contained 6 acres, and joined to the river south, and TunneyLane west, which leads down from the street, by the west end of the church, to the river. The two fold-courses belonging to this manor carried 600 ewes and 400 hog-sheep, besides the shepherd's 200: there is also a swan mark now belonging to it.

The advowson was given by Margaret de Caineto, (Cheyney, or Cressy,) daughter and heiress of William de Caineto, together with a fold-course and free common of pasture, in the said town for the sheep, in free alms to the Prior of Butly in Suffolk, who appropriated it to his house, and got it confirmed by John of Oxford Bishop of Norwich, and the Archbishop of Canterbury, reserving a vicarage to be presented to by the Prior, with a pension of 26s. 8d. payable out of the great tithes, together with the rectory-house and an acre of land adjoining to it. And thus the great tithes, the sheeps' walk, and 24 acres glebe, came to the priory; and after this the Prior, desirous to get the whole into his own hands, came to a perpetual composition with the Prior of Cokesford, for the moiety of the tithes of his manor, one moiety of which belonged to Coxford Prior, and the other to Butley, and also for the 10s. a year, which the Prior of Coxford paid to the Prior of Thetford, from his watermill in Kilverstone; and in 1428, the Prior of Butley was taxed for his whole spirituals here, 8 marks; and thus it remained till 1497, and then William Disse, vicar here, had an augmentation to his vicarage; but upon complaint that it was not yet endowed according to the statute, it was disappropriated in his successour's time, and so became an absolute rectory again, as it was before its appropriation, and hath remained such ever since; in 1554, William Fisher, then rector, pulled down and destroyed the rectory-house, the site of which joined to the west side of the churchyard, and from that time there hath been no parsonagehouse; there are about 24 acres glebe, but the sheep-walk of 250 sheep which belonged to the rectory, was granted off during the impropriation, for an annual pension of 26s. 8d. a year.

The rectory is in Norfolk archdeaconry and Rockland deanery, was valued in the King's Books at 7l. 14s. 9d. 0b. and being sworn of the clear yearly value of 33l. 7s. 8d. it is discharged of first fruits and tenths, though it pays 12d. synodals, besides the archdeacon's procurations; in 1603, here were 60 communicants, and now [1737] there are 8 houses, and about 50 inhabitants; it paid 43s. 4d. to the tenths, and is now assessed at 202l. to the land tax. The Prior of Butley, in 1383, purchased of Thomas de Pakenham, chaplain, Adam de Foxhale of Thefford, chaplain, and John Barbour of the same, a messuage in Kilverstone, held of himself as of his church of Kilverstone, at 6d. a year, by virtue of a license in mortmain granted by King Edward III. to that monastery; and it seems the Prior assigned this house and half an acre of land to the town; it is the old house now [1737] standing in decay over against the church.

John Howse gave an acre and half in two pieces to the inhabitants.

John Kideman gave 5 roods in two pieces.

In 1524, "James Baldewyn of Kilverstone (buried in the chancel) gave to the Black Friars of Thetford iii.s. iiii.d. Also I give and bequethe to the said church halowynge of Kylverstone, as much of my goods as the church halowyng wyll drawe with the three bells in the stepul. Item, I give ten pounds to be disposed by the discretion of my executors in the said church, as I may have a dirige and messe perpetually, if it may be performed." (fn. 3)

Rectors And Vicars.

Eustace, rector, in Henry the Second's time.

1316, 4 non. Marc. Thomas, son of Peter de Stantone, priest, vicar. William Prior of Buttle.

1317, 4 kal. Dec. Edmund de Debenham, deacon.

1357, 18 June, John de Acre de Thefford, priest.

1359, 3 April, John de Wetyng, priest.

1359, 29 July, John de Acre, priest, by changing with Wetyng, who took Fineberg vicarage.

1361, 23 Sept. Richard Masoun of Drenkeston, priest.

1378, 3 Decem. William Wylde, junior, of Mildenhale, priest.

1420, 29 Jan. William Caunceler, priest.

1432, 10 April, Richard Wyston, priest. The vicarage was taxed at 8 marks.

1436, 12 Oct. William Brigham, priest, at Wyston's resignation, united to Carleton-Rode till 1442, and then Brigham resigned it.

1464, 27 July, John Ingman, at Brigham's death.

1468, 20 March, Thomas Bryan.

1497, William Disse, vicar. In his time there was a composition made, with the consent of Sir Robert Beckles, Prior of Butley, his patron, and of the Prior of Coxford, concerning the tithes of the gardens and orchards in the town, all which were allotted to increase the stipend of the vicar.

1506, 17 March, John Browne. In his time it was disappropriated, and so became a rectory again.

1507, 12 Oct. John Goddard, chaplain.

1542, 20 Sept. William Fisher, chaplain. Alice Cotton, widow, for this turn, which was granted her by Thomas Manning, Suffragan Bishop of Ipswich, and the convent of Butley, of which he was prior.

1559, 20 July, John Abadam, priest, The Queen.

1587, 31 March, John Poynton, or Poynter. The Queen. Buried here 18th June, 1641.

1641, Arthur Needham, he was ejected for his loyalty, in 1556, and one John Flanner, subscribes as rector; but Needham was restored in 1660, and died rector, and was buried here Aug. 12, 1661.

1661, 30 Oct. John Burrell, priest, on Needham's death. The King.

1692, 10 Sep. The Rev. Mr. Thomas Loane, the present [1737] rector, holds it united to Bretenham. The King.

The Church hath a low round tower and three bells; the nave and north porch are tiled, the chancel thatched, and north isle leaded; the following inscriptions are on marbles in the chancel:

Requiescunt Sub hoc Marmore Reliquiæ ThomÆ Wright Armigeri, qui plenior Virtutum quam Dierum Mundum vidit et reliquit, 12 Aprilis 1667.

Thomas Wright Jun. 10 Annos natus, obijt Septimo Die Junij 1674.

Senilis Infans et Puelle. Cato.

Memoriæ Sacrum.

Here lyeth the Body of Katherine Daughter of Charles Wright Esq; Here also lyeth the Body of Frances Daughter of Charles Wright Esq; both by Anne his Wife, the Eldest Daughter of George Vilett of Pinkny in the County of Norfolk Esq; Katherine departed this Life June the 8 Aged 3 Years 8 Months, Frances departed this Life December the 7 aged 6 months, Anno Dom: 1696.

On a grave-stone,

Here lieth interred Charles Wright Esq; a Man remarkable for many excellent Qualities a most affet. Husband, an indulgt. Parent, a sincere Friend, his Charity was unconfined, his Liberality was universale, his Afflictions were great, his Patience greater, he was a conscientious Observer of all religious Duties, & remarkable zealous for the Honour of God, & Religion, he departed this Life in the true Faith and Fear of God, in the 64 Year of his Age, on the 14th. Day of Nov. A.D. 1729.

Here lyeth the Body Of Katherine Cropley, youngest Daughter of Sir Charles Harbord Knt. Surveyor to King Charles the first, & second Reliquid of Tho. Wright Esq. late Wife of William Cropley Gent. one of the Best of Women, Wifes, & Mothers, dyed July the 6 1684. aged 40 Yeares 11 Months.

Here lyeth interr'd Anne the Eldest Daug. of George Vilett of Pinckney in the County of Norff. Esq. who was married to Charles Wright of Kilverstone in the said County Esq; the Twenty ninth Day of May Anno Dom: 1691. Which Happy Pair, were so equally Blest in each other, that their Sublime and shining Pattern, of true and undissembled Affection, is scarcely to be paralell'd, but never out-done. She had by her beloved Husband, four Sons, and eight Daughters, and then departed this Life, the Twenty ninth Day of September, and was buried the first of October, Anno Domini: 1709, aged 41 Years.

A Mother who with every Grace was Blest, With all the Ornaments of Vertue Drest, With whatso'ere Religion recommends, The best of Wifes, of Mothers, and of Friends, And tho' by Death, her Body's turn'd to Dust, 'Tis fitt we still Commemorate the just.

'Twas here, she did adore the highest Lord, Who to her Soul great Comfort did afford, 'Twas here she did with great Joy and Content, Receive Gods Holy Word and Sacrament, Since then she loved, this Sacred Place so well, 'Tis very meet, that here her Name should Dwell.

On a grave-stone in the church,
Here lyeth buried the Body of Mary Pearson, Wid. Relict of the Rev. Will. Pearson LL. D. late Chancellour of the Diocess of York, whose undissembl'd Goodness made her whilst living beloved, when dead, lamented by all that knew her. She died Apr. 9th. 1736. Æt. 72.

By the bounds of this parish, is Ringmere Pit, which I find Mr. Salmon, in his Roman Stations in Britain, (pag. 9,) takes notice of in these words:

"On the side of this way from Hockham, in East-Wrettam parish, is a remarkable cavity called Ringmere Pit, it is in form of an amphitheatre, to the bigness of six or seven acres, with an uniform descent on every side to the arena. So exact is its figure, even yet, one cannot help believing it was contrived for show. There was not in the latter end of October, a drop of water in it, which the wet summer must have filled, if it ever had been a pond. More of this kind, I have heard of hereabouts but not seen."

I must own, a stranger, who saw it in 1724, or 1725, (as I suppose he did,) when it was entirely dry, might have been of the same opinion with him. But there is nothing uncommon to those that have been acquainted with it; it is a large cavity indeed, generally full of water, and the ground being a sand, the water occasioned that uniform descent; it is supplied with land springs from the adjacent hills, which in the extreme dry year ceased running, and so the water shrank into the sand; it is a very old mere or large water, as the Saxon name which it still bears tells us, Ring-mere being no more than, the round mere or water. I have angled fine perch out of it when I was a schoolboy at Thetford; and am apt to think there are good fish in it now, it being stored, as I am informed, since it was last dry. But this pit is not to compare with that, which lies nearer Croxton; and though it is three times as big, was then also dry; this is called Foulmere Pit; the greater part of its fishery belongs to the estate in Croxton, settled on the school and hospital of Thetford, as I am informed, and that of Ringmere, to the lord of East-Wrotham; there are other large pits on these heaths, (though not so big as either of the former,) that have water in them in winter, but being mostly dried up in summer time, they look very regular to the beholder's eye.


  • 1. Terra Regis in manu Regis. (f. 33.) Serpeham Hund. Culvertestuna, tenuit lib. ham. T.R.E. sub Stigando i. car. et dim. terre. semper v. vill. et i. ser. et v. acr. prati. tunc in dnio. ii. car. post et modo i. bos tunc i. car. homin. post nihil. modo dim. semper i. mol. et i. pisc. semperval. xl. sol. Totum habet ii. leug. in longo, et in lat. quicunque ibi teneat et vii.d. de Gelto. totum hund. reddit xl. et pertinet ad misterium Godrici.
  • 2. Terre Roberti Malet, fo. 76. Scerpham H. Culverstetuna tenuit Edricus T.R.E. ii. car. terre semper iiii. vill. et i. bord. et iiii. ser. v. acr. prati et ii. car. in dnio. tunc et post iiii. car. modo dim. semper i. mol. et i. piscatio. hic. jacet i. soc. Regis lx. acr. terre unde suus antecess. habuit commend. tantum, et terra clamat de dono Regis tunc et post i. car. modo ii. bov. et ii. acr. prati semper ii. runc. et iiii. anim. tunc ccc. oves modo cccxii. minus tunc. xviii. porc. modo iii. tunc et post. val. lx. sol. modo lxxx. et i. car. posset esse. Galt. de Cadomo tenet de R. (Fol. 299.) Scerepham Hund. In Calvercestuna i. lib. ho. commend. tantum xi. acr. val. viii.d. hoc. tenet. Galt. de Cadomo de Roberto. (sc. Malet.)
  • 3. Regr. Briggs. fo. 186.