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 is a depopulated village, and consists only of a manor-house, a farm-house adjoining, and a poor rectory-house like a cottage, at the east end of the churchyard; it lies on the east side of a little rivulet that runs by Cressingham-Magna, and thence southwards to this place.
In Domesday Book, it is wrote Bredeneia, (fn. 1) and so takes its name from its site, a dwelling or abode on the water.
From the general survey of the Conqueror we learn that Bond (a Saxon) held it in the time of the Confessor, but Hugh Montfort was at that time lord; there were then in demesne three carucates of land, and three amongst the freemen, pannage for 100 hogs, one mill belonging to this lordship, and the fourth part of another. It was one leuca wanting two furlongs long, and four furlongs broad; and was valued then at 5l. at the survey at 3l. per annum, and paid 8d. to the gelt.
William Earl Warren held at the same time by exchange one carucate, which three freemen held in the time of the Confessor, then and now valued at 20s. per annum, (fn. 2)
Ralph de Toenio, or Tony, had also four socmen who held one carucate of land, but the soc and sac was in the King. (fn. 3)
By this it appears that the chief lordship in this town was in the Conqueror's time held by one of the Norman chiefs and barons, Hugh de Montefort, and was enjoyed some considerable time after by his descendants, for in the year 1179 Hugh de Montefort gave the tithe of his mansion-house here to the abbey of Bermondsey in Surrey; (fn. 4) but soon after, about 1190, Peter de Pelevile was lord. In the 24th year of King Henry III. Thomas de Belhouse held this lordship by the fourth part of a knight's fee, of Henry de Pelevile, the capital lord, who held this town and Bilney in Norfolk, of the honour (as it is then said) of Haughley; (fn. 5) and in the 38th of the said King, Peter de Pelevile was found to have died seized of the same, held by the service of half a fee, and 5s. per annum ward to Dover castle, and that William de Gyney and Sir William de Wichenston, alias Wiston, were his next heirs; (fn. 6) but in a roll of the Pipe-Office it is said that the aforesaid Peter died in the 56th of the said King Henry, and that then William de Gysney (son and heir of Joan, sister of Peter,) one of his heirs, paid 50s. for the moiety of a fee here and in Bilney, and that William de Wiston (son of Emme, the other sister of Peter) paid as much for the other moiety. (fn. 7)
After this, in the 3d of Edward I. Richard Belhouse was found to hold the lordship of Sir William de Gyney, and to have the assise of bread and beer here: (fn. 8) and in the 18th of that King was sheriff of Norfolk and Suffolk, and died in the 13th of Edward II. Thomas, his son and heir, and Sarah, his widow, then paying relief for his lands.
Upon an inquisition taken in the 31st of Edward III. the jury find that Sir Richard de Belhouse died seized of this manor, and lands in Bilney, held of the castle of Dover by one knight's fee, and paying 10s. per annum castle-guard, and doing suit to the King's court or manor of Haughley, that his father purchased it, that his widow was endowed with the 3d part of this manor, and that Richard, his son and heir, was aged 9 years; (fn. 9) but by the escheat-rolls in the 10th of Henry VI. Sir Richard is said to have died in the 36th of Edward III. and to have left two daughters and coheirs; Emme, married to — Oldhall, by whom she had Sir Edmund Oldhall, father of Sir William Oldhall, aged 30, in the 10th of Henry VI. and lord of this manor; and Maud married to William Bozun of Wissingset in Norfolk, (fn. 10) father of Richard, aged 30; this Sir William seems to have given this lordship to the prior and convent of St. Mary at Thetford, (fn. 11) on certain terms and conditions; for in the 27th of Henry VI. on the 13th of March, license was granted to the said prior, to purchase lands, tenements, &c. to the value of 20l. per annum; and on the 12th of May, in the 31st of the said King, the prior, by virtue of the said license purchased of Richard Waller, Esq. Robert Boorle, Esq. John Bertram, Gent. and William Norwych, junior, this manor; and the King, on the 23d of June, in the said year, confirmed the said purchase, with 100 acres of land here, late Sir William Oldhall's, which they had some time past purchased, and gave license to the said Richard Waller, Esq. &c. feoffees of the said manor, to assign and convey it.
On the general dissolution of abbies, it came to the Crown, and was given to the Duke of Norfolk, who was lord in the 37th of Henry VIII. and in that year the said Duke had license to alienate it, with the appurtenances in Langford, Hilburgh, Cressingham-Magna and Parva, to Robert Hogan and his heirs; and in the 1st year of King Edward VI. Thomas, son and heir of Robert Hogan, (who died the 4th of March in the said year,) had livery of it. (fn. 12) In the 1st of Queen Mary license was granted to this Thomas to alienate it to James and Robert Downes, at which time Thomas Duke of Norfolk had a yearly pension out of it of 2l. 1s. 4d. which is paid by the present lord to the Dukes of Norfolk; and accordingly, in the 1st of Queen Elizabeth, James Downes was lord, and Robert his son and heir, in 1571, held this manor with the appurtenances, 4 tofts, 1000 acres of land, 60 of meadow, 100 of pasture, held of the Queen in capite, and died about the 37th of the said Queen. In the 12th of James I. Thomas Downes, Esq. was lord; and by Elizabeth, daughter and heir of Downes, it came (by marriage) to Sir Edward Mostyn of Flintshire, and was sold from that family to Cressy Tasburgh, Esq. second son of Sir John Tasburgh of Flixton-Hall in Suffolk, by his wife Lettice, daughter and sole heir of Sir James Cressy; the said Cressy Tasburgh married the Lady — Philips, widow to Sir — Philips; (fn. 13) and dying sans issue, left this manor to his brother, John Tasburgh, Esq. fourth son of the aforesaid Sir John, which John married Mary, 4th daughter of Sir John Braumont of Gracedieu in Leicester's, and relict of Sir Edmund Williams, and had by her, JohnBeaumont-Tasburgh, who marrying Elizabeth, daughter of Sir George Blount of Sodington in Worcestershire, Baronet, had by her Francis Tasburgh, Esq. the present lord, who married Mary, daughter of Sir Simon Dewes, Bart. of Stow Langtoft in Suffolk.
That part of this township held by William Earl Warren at the survey, continued under the said fee for several ages, and was held about the reign of Richard II. and Henry IV. (fn. 14) of Thomas Holdich, Esq. and his parceners.
The other part held by Ralph de Toenio or Tony, was land belonging to his lordship of Cressingham-Parva, extending into this town; but both these were united (by purchase or otherwise) to the capital lordship about the reign of Henry V.
In the reign of Queen Elizabeth, the tenths of this village were 4l. 11s. 1d. clear of all deductions, there being 16s. 11d. deducted on account of the revenues of the religious here, they being taxed by themselves.
In the reign of Henry VI. the Prior of Wirmegay was taxed for his temporalities in this town at 16s. 6d. The Abbot of Wendlyng 5s. The Prior of Shouldham 6s. 8d. The priory of Westacre of a portion of tithes 1 mark. (fn. 15) These coming to the Crown at the Dissolution, were granted to the Duke of Norfolk, (as I conceive,) and from hence proceeds the pension paid to him as I have mentioned.
The church is dedicated to St. Mary, (fn. 16) it is a single pile of flint, pebble stones, &c. standing on a rising ground near the hall, in length about 31 feet and 18 in breadth; at the east end is the chancel, of equal elevation and breadth, and about 20 feet in length, and separated only from the body by an arch of stone. On the summit of the west gable is a small stone-arch, wherein hangs the bell, the rope coming through the roof into the church, which bespeaks the antiquity of the church, being built (as is most likely) in the Saxon age, and the whole is covered with thatch. In the windows there were formerly these arms: Arg. three pales wavy gules—Downs.
Quarterly arg. six mullets gul. pierced sable in a bordure of the same, in the 1st and 4th, and sab. two bars and three annulets in chief arg. in the 2d and 3d quarters, Tilles and Curson. And in the great window of the hall of the manor-house, are the said arms of Downs quartering Tilles and Curson as above. Crest, a fox's head.
Motto, parle bien ou parle rien. (fn. 17)
In the year 1279, Hugh de Montefort gave (as I have observed) the tithes of his mansion-house to the abbey of Bermondsey, and Peter de Pelevile, lord, in the reign of King Richard I. gave to the prior and convent of Westacre in Norfolk the patronage of this church; for in the 3d of King Edward III. that prior was impleaded on account that this advowson was given without the King's license, and the prior's plea was, that at that time it was lawful for any one to alienate without his license, it being before the statute of mortmain; and in the beginning of Edward the First's reign we find the prior of Westacre to be patron, and the rector to have a mansion-house endowed, with 30 acres of land, the rectory being valued at 12 marks, and paid Peter-pence 5d. ob. (fn. 18)
1474, John Wulterton; by his will dated the 3d April 1499, (fn. 19) he gives legacies to Trinity gild in this church, to the torches and the Sepulchre light.
Rectors presented by the Crown.
1554, William Rixe, on the death of the last rector, presented by King Philip and Queen Mary (fn. 20) ob.
Samuel Hill, S. T. B. occurs rector in 1604; ob. (fn. 21)
1656, Simon Canon, A. M.; he was presented by Oliver the Protector, (fn. 22) and admitted by the commissioners at Whitehall, appointed for the approbation of publick preachers during the Rebellion. He was also rector of Cressingham-Parva.
This rectory is valued in the King's Books at 6l. 7s. 3d. ob. and being in clear value 45l. per annum, is discharged of first-fruits and tenths, but pays 18d. synodals and 6s. 8d. procurations, and is capable of augmentation.