An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 6. Originally published by W Miller, London, 1807.
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Or Bilhagh, signifies the dwelling-place at the water, (fn. 1) and it stands accordingly close by the river Bure; the church itself being not above 80 yards from it, but notwithstanding that, placed on such a hill, that it commands the adjacent flats, which by the shelves and eminences on both sides, plainly show, that the whole was formerly covered with water; the parsonage-house stands between the river and churchyard, directly under it, the bottom of the steeple being higher than the top of the house, the hill on which the church stands is so steep towards the river or west part, that the human bones (of which I saw great numbers) lie uncovered, by the earth's falling from them; occasioned by decay of the stone wall round the churchyard, which was made to keep the hill from slipping away.
This village is in the jurisdiction of the dutchy of Lancaster, and belonged in the Confessor's time to Ralf Stulra, who gave all that he had here to the Abbot of St. Bennet at Holm, (fn. 2) who by that gift had the whole advowson, which passed with the monastery till its dissolution, and then went to the see of Norwich, which now hath it, and all the revenues of the said abbey, one part of it then, as now, belonged to Hoveton or Hofton manor, another to Aylesham, and another part or manor belonged to Herold in the Confessor's time, and to Ralf de Beaufoe at the Conquest, over which Hofton manor had the soc or chief juridiction; Robert Aguillon, in 1235, had a part or manor, (fn. 3) and confirmed all gifts made to the Abbot of St. Bennet's, and after him William Bertram, a Norman, owned it; and in 1285 Thomas Bardolf held it; in 1315 the Abbot of St. Bennet was chief lord, and a manor was held of him by Robert Baniard and by Roger du Bois in 1401.
In 1538, Robert Paynel of Belagh, Gent. (fn. 4) had a lease from the Bishop of Norwich of the site and demeans of the manor of Hoveton St. John's, to which the manor and jurisdiction of this town belonged; and it continued in that family till 1689, and then John Paynel, Gent. sold it to Giles Cutting, attorney at law; and it is now held by Thomas Bell, Esq. who was high sheriff of Norfolk in 1738.
The church is ddeicated to St. Peter, and there was a gild kept here, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, before her image in the chancel, and there was a chapel in the north part of the church dedicated to St. Helen; it stands thus in the King's Books:
6l. Belehaw alias Bilough rectory 34l. clear yearly value,
And being discharged of first fruits and tenths, it is capable of augmentation; it pays 18d. procurations, to the Bishop at the visitation, and 8d. yearly synodals, and a pension of 2s. a year, which used to be paid to the sacrist of St. Bennet's monastery; (fn. 5) and 6s. 8d. procurations to the archdeacon; the village paid 2l. 10s. clear to every tenth, besides 8s. paid by the Abbot of St. Bennet's, and the Prior of Butley in Suffolk, for their revenues here, the Prior was laid at 10s. and so consequently paid 1s. to each tenth. The Abbot of Caen in Normandy was taxed for rents here belonging to Colteshall, at 3s. ob. qr. and the Abbot paid the rest.
The town is laid at 266l. 10s. to the land-tax, and pays 6s. to every 300l. levy of the county rate.
There was a family very ancient, which took their name from the town, John son of Ybri de Belhagh had an estate here in Henry the Second's time, whose family continued a long time here. Belagh was 9 furlongs long and 3 and an half broad, and paid 6d. geld.
The old value of the rectory was 15 marks. In
1330, Robert de Hardeshull resigned the mediety of Holveston in exchange for Belagh, with
Sir John de Catfield, priest, and in 1349 the Abbot of Holm presented
John de Ludham to it, who exchanged it in
1364, with William Potyn, for the custody or rectory of Penshirst chapel in Rochester diocese, and in 1370 Potyn resigned, to
William de Swukbrok in exchange for the perpetual chantry, for the soul of Thomas Legge, late citizen of London, founded in the parish church of St. Christopher in that city. In
1449, Mr. Robert Popy in Dec. Bac. (fn. 6) resigned Bernham-Broom for this, in exchange with
Robert Ryngman. In
1459, John Jppeswell, official to the archdeacon of Norwich, was rector (see vol. iii. p. 659.) In the altar on the south side, is a stone with the cup and wafer on it, and this on a brass plate,
Orate pro anima Johannis Feelde, nuper Rectoris istius Eccle sie de Bylaugh, qut obiit rrodie Julii anno Domini MoUoviii cuius anime propicietur Deus Amen.
He was a native of this town.
A brass in the chancel hath this,
Orate pro anima : Willi Feelde, cuius anime propicfetur Deus Amen.
About 1628 Roger Fookes was rector, who was succeeded by Thomas Jenny. At the death of Bainbridge Dean, the Bishop of Norwich, in full right patron, (fn. 7) gave it to the present rector,
The Rev. Mr. William Hay, A. M. who was collated September 16, 1741, and had it united to Barton Tuft vicarage.
The tower is square, and hath three bells in it; the nave and chancel are thatched, the north isle leaded, and the south porch are tiled.
In the isle there are stones for Henry Paynell, Gent, 17 July, 1579. Thomasin his Wife, Daughter of John Barney of Langley, Esq; by whom he had 5 Sons and 5 Daughters. John, eldest Son of Henry Paynell, Esq; and Winefred his Wife. Thomas third Son of Robert Paynell, Esq; 1678.
On a mural monument,
M. S. S. Heic juxta sita est Catherina uxor Johannis Paynel, de hujus Vico Bylaugh Armigeri, unica soboles Gulielmi Gasselyn, de Burnham Thorpe in eodem Agro Norfolciensi Generosi; marito peperit quatuor Filios, totidemque Filias, et Puerpera Roberti (ipsius Gnati Genethlijs) expiravit, xxii. Julij MDCLXXXVII. Conjux ejus dilectissimus, ex Amore suo hoc posuit Monumentum.
Paynel, gul. two chevrons arg. impaling
Gasselyn or Gastelyn, or, billettè az.
Leman, az. a fess between three dolphins embowed arg. a crescent er. for difference.
Crest, in an oak, a pelican on her nest, vulning herself, with her young ones under her, the whole coloured proper.
Depositum Thomæ Leman Generosi, Legi, Regi, Religioni, Devoti, qui Anno post Restaurationem Caroli Secundi 2do Incarnationis Christi 1661, lætus occubuit Novemb' 6. Æt. Suæ 75. Subterque hoc marmore unà cum uxore Emma, requiescit in Spem Gloriæ futuræ.
There are memorials in the nave for, Henry Utting, 1715. 40. Margaret Daughter of Robert Blake, Gent. and Mary his Wife 1718, Æt. 16 Months.
Crest, a plume of feathers, and arms of Blake as at p 48, Vol. i.
In the chancel,
Depositum Mariæ Dean, ob. nono die Novemb' 1704. Æt 33.
On the wainscot at the altar, crest, a buck's head erazed az. armed or, and Green's arms as at p. 411, vol. i. and this date, 1679.
Thomas Husbands, Esq; 1660. Willoughby his Relict 1681. Their Children, Thomas, 1674. Judith, 1678. Elizabeth, 1678.
Husbands of Essex, arg. on a chevron, and sometimes on a fess ingrailed gul. between three martlets sab. three mullets or; the Norfolk family generally bare the chevron, and the Essex family the fess ingrailed.
In a north chancel window St. Michael holds a sceptre and sword, and a pair of scales, a man in one scale, and the Bible in the other, and under him a great number of men, women, and children, and over them,
MICHAEL ARCHANGELE CELI, UENI IN AUXILIUM POPULI