An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 5. Originally published by W Miller, London, 1806.
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Called anciently Rockland-Abbots, to distinguish it from Rockland in Shropham hundred, (fn. 1) from the Abbot of Langley having the manor here, (fn. 2) which consisted of several parts: belonging to Alnoth, Godric, Ulketel, Ulf, and Will. de Noers, at the Confessor's survey; and the King, Roger Bigot, and William Bishop of Thetford, at the Conqueror's. In 1235, Roger Picot held it; and in 1238, the Abbot of Langley held it of Picot's fee, which extended into Surlingham, Bramerton, &c. In 1249, Will. Sumersweyne and Eda his wife, gave many lands to the abbey, which Simon, abbot there, added to this manor; and Robert Bryan and Alexander his son gave part of a fee here, and the lesser part of the advowson of St. Mary's, which they had of the Bigots, to this house.
At the Dissolution it was granted by king Henry VIII. with Porland manor, to John Corbet, Esq. who in 1543, sold off the barley rents in Rockland and Bramerton, (fn. 3) and the manors of Rockland and Poringland, to Roger and John Gostlin, and their heirs, both the manors having continued together as they now do, ever since, I shall refer you to Porland, at p. 438, 44.
Belonged to Edwin and Haslec, one of the Confessor's thanes; (fn. 4) and at the Conquest to Godric the sewer, and after to Thurston, whose son Walter, in 1202, sold it to William de Badient, to be held at the 4th part of a fee: in 1249, William Summersweyn and Eda his wife sold it to Herbert de Helgeton or Hillington; and it seems Eda was heiress to Badient, for she warranted it to Herbert and John de Helgeton. In 1285, Sir Thomas de Helgeton had the lete or view of frankpledge over all his tenants here: he joined it to Earlham's manor in Surlingham, (fn. 5) with which it now remains.
Great part of this town belonged to Roger Bigod's manor of Surlingham, (fn. 6) and was held of him by Aitard de Vaux, and hath passed with the capital manor of Surlingham ever since, which see at p. 467.
Another part belonged then and now to Framlingham Picot. (fn. 7) See p. 432.
Another to Bixley. See p. 448. (fn. 8)
In this churchyard there were two churches; the church of St. Margaret is in ruins, and stands a few yards east of St. Mary's; it never had a steeple, but consisted of a chancel and nave only, and was much of the same bigness with St. Mary's; it was given early to the nuns of St. Margaret of Bromehale in Berkskire, and the advowson belonged to Little Breche manor, and was called Rockland Major; it was appropriated to that house, and had a vicarage endowed, the nomination of which belonged to the Bishop of Norwich, and the presentation to Bromhale prioress; but afterwards, the whole was consolidated to Rockland Major, as in vol. iv. p. 534.
The church of St. Mary is now in use, a moiety of it, called the pars major, or greater part, was always a rectory belonging to Roger Bigod's part of the town, which belonged to Surlingham, and had ten acres of glebe, for though he infeoffed Aitard de Vaux in the manor, yet the advowson was excepted, and attended the manor of Forncet, till it was lately sold by the Duke of Norfolk, along with the rectory of St. Laurence at South Walsham, to Queen's college in Cambridge, the master and fellows of which, are now patrons. Here was a gild of St. John. In 1239, Ric. de Nugun, rector of the greater part, purchased a messuage here, and settled it for a parsonage-house for ever, of Nic. de Surlingham, and Nicholas his son. (fn. 9)
The other moiety, called pars minor, or the lesser part, was given to Langley abbey, by Robert Bryen, the patron, and confirmed by Alexander his son, and was soon after appropriated to that monastery, and it was confirmed by the pope and diocesan, and for this, the abbot paid 12s. 6d. spiritualities, and he paid 12d. synodals, and 20d. procurations, for his part; this was afterwards consolidated to the other moiety, and in 1360, Sr. Walter de Manney, patron of the mediety of Rockland St. Mary, and of the mediety of Holveston, got them consolidated by a perpetual union, as they now remain, by Tho. Percy Bishop of Norwich, so that now it is an entire rectory, incapable of augmentation, for it stands thus in the King's Books:
Norwich Domesday saith thus: Rockland Minor. The Earl-Marshal is patron of one mediety, (pars major) the Abbot of Langley hath the other (pars minor) appropriated. The rector hath a house and 8 acres of land untaxed, and paid 2s. synodals and 6s. procurations. The Chorography of Norfolk saith, It hath a convenient mansionhouse, and necessary out-houses, with 40 acres of glebe, it pays no first-fruits, synodals for Rockland Utraque 5s. for Holveston mediety, 9d. The Revision of the Archdeaconry of Norfolk made in 1630, saith, that the synodals were 4s. 4d. the archdeacon's procurations, 13s. 4d. including the 2s. 6d. procurations for Holveston mediety. The whole town paid clear to each tenth, 3l. 10s. and the religious for their revenues 1l. 14s.
William Peper of Rockland gave to Simon, prior of Norwich, his 10 acres of salt marsh here, which shows that the tide came up hither at that time, for which and his other revenues here, he was taxed at 21s. 4d. In 1435, the honour of Richmond extended hither, for John Duke of Bedford died seized of the third part of a fee here, and in Bawburgh, held by the Prior of Norwich, as belonging to the manor of Swaffham, parcel of Richmond honour. The Prioress of Carrow had temporals here taxed at 38s. 9d. ob.
The church is 13 paces long and 6 yards broad, the chancel is 7 yards long and 5 broad, the steeple is square, about 50 feet high, and hath 3 bells, the nave is thatched, the chancel and south porch are tiled. There are stones in the chancel for Rob. Cocke, jun. Gent. 1638. 22, and John his son, 1638. Roger Gidding, rector of Moulton by Acle. 1737. Ao Æt. 32. John Smith, A. M. rector here, 1676. 59. Edw. Grensmith, rector here, 1684. 32.
D. M. S. Henrici Mazey Cantabrigiensis Collegii Caio-Gonviliensis A. M. et quondamé Sociis, Scholæ Norvicensis Moderatoris, et hujus Ecclesiæ Rectoris, qui Annos 36 plus minus natus. ob. Maij 17, 1677. Exuviis hic depositis.
Rectors of the major pars, or mediety of Rockland Minor.
Vicars Of the minor pars
Rectors of Rockland Major, Minor, and Holveston mediety.
The Rev. Mr. Crownfield, the present rector, who holds it united to Walsham Saint Lawrence, being presented to both, by the Master and Fellows of Queen's College in Cambridge, where he was then a fellow.