An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 6. Originally published by W Miller, London, 1807.
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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
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.
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
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 the body.
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)
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.
1658, Roger Olley, res. (fn. 9) Ditto.
1559, Thomas Benson. (fn. 10) John Jenney, Esq. farmer of the lordship of Lord Latimer.
1719, Waters Rolf. Sir Ralph Hare, Bart. (fn. 11)
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.