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:
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.
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.
1449, Mr. Robert Popy in Dec. Bac. (fn. 6) resigned Bernham-Broom for this, in exchange with
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,
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.
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.
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.
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,