An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 6. Originally published by W Miller, London, 1807.
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In King Edward the Confessor's time, Harold, who was afterwards King of England, was lord of this town; which on the Conquest was given by the Conqueror to one of his lords and followers, Ralph de Tony, and at the survey he held it, and had 32 villeins, 11 bordsmen, and 4 carucates of land in demean, and 10 amongst the men, pannage for 1000 hogs, 20 acres of meadow, a mill, and a saltpit, (fn. 1) when he entered on it, there were 4 beasts for work, and 19 young cattle, or stock, 100 hogs, 105 sheep, and 80 goats; one church, endowed with 36 acres, valued at 36d. and 5 socmen who held 5 carucates. It was in length one mile, and an half mile in breadth, and paid 9d. gelt, when the hundred was taxed at 20s. (fn. 2)
This Ralph de Tony was with the Conqueror at the battle of Hastings, and for his services had the grant of this lordship, and many others in this county, &c.: he was son of Robert de Tony, a great Norman baron, who was standard-bearer of Normandy.
In the reign of Henry III. we find it in the same family; Robert de Tony held it of the King, but by what services the jury know not; (fn. 3) and in the 48th of the said king, Roger de Tony died seized of it, and of Sparham, a member of it, Godwick, Steer-Hall, in CressinghamMagna, Cressingham-Parva, and Wortham, or Wretham.
In the 15th of Edward I. Ralph de Tony, lord, claimed before the itinerant judges at Norwich, Solomon de Rochester, Richard de Boyland, Robert Fulk, Mr. Thomas de Sadington, Walter de Stirchelegh, and Walter de Hopton, free warren, view of frankpledge, assise of bread and beer, gallows, weyf, &c. here; (fn. 4) and he occurs lord, in the 34th of the said King, Clarisia being his lady.
In the 3d of Edward II. Robert de Tony, who married Maud, daughter of Malisius, Count of Strathern, in Scotland, was lord; and the said lady, in the 9th of that king, then a widow, held the same; and by Alice, heir and sister of the said Robert, who married first, Thomas Leibourne, and after, Guy de Beauchamp Earl of Warwick, it became vested in the Warwick family; and accordingly, in the 34th of Edward III. Sir Guy de Beauchamp, eldest son of Thomas Earl of Warwick, died possessed of it, and Cressingham-Parva, with the advowsons of the abbeys of Shouldham and Westacre, and the church of Necton; (fn. 5) the Lady Philippa, his wife, a daughter Catherine, aged 7 years, and Elizabeth, aged 1 year, surviving him.
From this family it descended, in the reign of Henry VI. to the Neviles Earls of Warwick, and was in the 3d of Henry VII. released by Anne Countess of Warwick, to that King, and remained in the Crown (fn. 6) till it was granted on the 27th of June, in the 2d and 3d of Philip, and Mary, as is expressed in the patent, to her beloved and faithful counsellor, Sir Henry Bedingfeld of Oxburgh, being parcel of the possessions called Warwick Lands, with the wood called Necton Wood, and Park, the manor of Westacre, in Grimston, and Congham, the manor of Hillington, called the Abbot's manor, the manor of Uphall, alias Ashill, Collards and Games, with the advowson of the church of Ashill, in consideration of his surrendering a pension of 100l. per annum, granted him by the said Queen for life, for his services at Framlingham, in the late rebellion, and also in exchange for the manors of Wald Newton, and Baynton, in Yorkshire, granted as above: in this family it continued, till it was sold to Henry Eyre, Esq. of Bures-Hall in Hale, whose brother, Dr, Eyre, had it; but it now belongs to Daniel Collier of Wroxham, Esq.
Sparham-Hall, Cocket's, alias Corbet's, and Churchman's.
Sparham-Hall lordship was a part granted from the capital manor of Necton, by Roger de Tony, father of Ralph, to Roger de Clifford, who gave it to Henry de Burnhill or Burwell, and after the death of the said Henry, it returned to Roger aforesaid, who sold it to John Le Bretun, who held it in the 3d of Edward I.; (fn. 7) and in the last year of that King a fine was levied between Simon le Breton, querent, and the said John, who settled the same on Simon in tail, remainder to Edmund, brother of Simon, after to Nicholas, remainder to the right heir of John; and in the 9th of Edward II. the aforesaid Edmund was lord.
In the 20th of Edward III. Thomas Breton held Sparham by the 40th part of a knight's fee, of the heirs of Roger de Clifford, and Roger, of Guy de Beauchamp, and Guy, of the King. (fn. 8)
In the 5th of Richard II. (fn. 9) a fine was levied between Ralph Churchman (fn. 10) of Neketon, and Margaret his wife, and Elizabeth, daughter and heir of Thomas Breton, of Essex, Esq. who conveyed this manor, with 16s. 2d. rent in Shingham, Bodney, Holm Hale, &c. to Ralph; but in the 3d of Henry IV. it was held by Richard Thwyte.
After this, it was possessed by the Cockets, and in the 1st of Edward I. a fine was levied between George Cocket, Gent. querent, and Anthony Cocket, defendant, of this manor, 20 messuages, and lands, in Sparham, Necton, Fransham, Dunham, Hale, Shingham, and Bodney. (fn. 11) The Cockets held also another manor here, which took its name from them, and was probably a part of that of Sparham, as they both, from this time, were held by the same lord; the first mention I find of this family is in the 34th of Henry VIII. when John Conway, Esq. on the 5th of September, granted to Ann Cocket, widow of Edward Cocket, Esq. one close called Birds, 7 acres of land, the liberty of a faldcourse, with the appurtenances belonging. In 1571, George Cocket was lord of Sparham-Hall, and Cockets; on the 15th of December 1621, Osbert Prat, junior, Gent. held his first court as lord; but in the year 1633, Henry Beke purchased it of Prat, William Beke and Jeremy Beke were after lords: and Anne, widow of Jeremy, held them in 1657. In 1682, Roger West, Esq. of Mersworth in Bucks, enjoyed it as heir at law to the Bekes; and in 1700, Edmund Miller, serjeant at law, purchased it of West, who dying in 1730, left it to Richard Hassell, Esq. the present lord.
To this lordship belonged a free chapel called Sparham chapel, which was endowed with the tithes of the woods of the manors of Neketon and Sparham, and of the money made of the sale of them, the whole offerings of the manor of Sparham, two parts of all the tithes both real and prædial of the demeans of the manors of Necton, and Sparham, and of 552 acres, and one rood of other lands, two parts of all the small tithes of the aforesaid manors, and of all beasts, cattle, and living things whatsoever, belonging to the lords of those manors; which endowment was first made and settled by Sir Roger de Tony, who founded this chapel, which was after given by Ralf, his son, to his monastery at Westacre, (fn. 12) to which it was wholly appropriated, and they served it by one of their own monks, till the dissolution of that monastery, when the chapel was entirely demolished, and all its revenues granted by King Henry VIII. together with the patronage of the rectory of Necton, and advowson of the vicarage thereto belonging, (fn. 13) 1st December, 1546, to Robert Hogan, Esq. and his heirs, in which family they continued, till they were purchased by Sir Julius Cæsar, Knt. master of the rolls in 1618, and were after owned by his lady, Dame Anne-Adelmare CÆsar, who left them to Sir Henry Hungate, Knt. her son and heir; and he, in 1620, sold them to Philip Gerard of Grey's Inn, Esq. and William Gerard, and their heirs; and in 1630, Philip Gerard, Esq. and William Gerard, presented John Gerard to the rectory; who in 1635 had the advowson and impropriation conveyed by Philip and William, to him and his heirs; and he in 1639, conveyed them to Thomas Gerard, of Staple Inn, Esq. his brother, who in 1650, passed them to Thomas Thorowgood, clerk, rector of Great Cressingham, and his son Thomas sold them to John Thorowgood of Ditchingham, who in 1677 settled them on Mary, his intended wife; Thomas Knights, and William Wincop, being her trustees; in 1715, Mr. Thorowgood, the son, settled them on William Maggs, and William Reynolds, in trust for Phillippa his wife, with remainder to John Thorowgood; and in 1717, Mary Thorowgood, the mother, Mr. Thorowgood, the son, and Phillippa, his wife, and their trustees, conveyed them to
Mr. Benjamin Young, attorney at law in Swaffham; and at his death, Mrs. Mary Young, widow, the present owner, had them for life, they being settled on Mr. William Young of Caius college, her second son, and his heirs.
This impropriation being a lay fee, was, ever since the Dissolution, rented by the rectors, as it now is, there being paid 35l. per annum to the patron for it; and before the Reformation, the rectors rented it at 40s. per annum, paid to the Prior of Westacre.
Richard, janitor of the monks of Acre, gave by deed to the monks there; Gurvant, his villein, of Neketun, in the presence of Stephen, parson of Neketun, Roger le Strange, &c.; and Ralph, and Richard, sons of Humphrey de Neketon, (fn. 14) confirmed the said grant, in the presence of Master Alexander de Walpol, and others, by deed sans date.
Ricolda, daughter of Isabel de Neketon, with the consent of Richard, her son and heir, gave to the monks of Castleacre, 4 acres and one rood of land here, part of Marketsgate, and half an acre in Estcroft. (fn. 15)
Humphrey Necton, bred amongst the Carmes at Norwich, (fn. 16) flourished in 1259, a great writer, was born in this town, he was created D. D. in 1259, which faculty he openly professed, by reading lectures, &c. long after he resided among the friars of his own order at Cambridge, and as some say, was prior of that house, and chaplain to William de Luda Bishop of Ely; but in his latter days, he retired to his own convent at Norwich, in the church of which he was buried in 1303.
The church of Necton is dedicated to All-Saints, and is a beautiful and elegant structure; it consists of a nave, a north and a south isle of flint, &c. covered with lead; the roof of the nave is of oak, curiously wrought and embellished with painting; here are angels with their wings expanded, supporting the principals; and under them on pedestals stand the 12 Apostles, carved out in oak above 4 feet in length, painted and gilt with gold, with the instruments of their martyrdom in their hands: on the north side of the nave stand six, with the effigies of our Saviour, an orb and a cross in his hand, in the midst, St. Peter, standing next to him on his right hand; on the south side stand the other six, with the Virgin Mary in the midst, St. John the Evangelist standing next to her, on her right hand: and below these Apostles, on pedestals, are several bishops to complete the work: it may not be improper to observe on this station of St. John, that the Romish church maintain him to have been our Lady's confessor, on which account, no doubt, he is placed so near her, and at the same time assert that she was without all original sin, and also without sin actual or mortal; but this has bred such confusions between the Franciscans and Dominicans, that the Pope, with all his infallibility, dare not determine.
In the porch of this church, which is leaded, about 1504, was buried Sir Jeffery Norman, parson of Dunham; and in 1506, Robert Bird, of Sparham in Nekton by the holy water stopp; (fn. 17) he left gifts to the Holimass gild, St. John Baptist gild, and our Lady gild here.
At the west end of the church lie several gravestones; one, in memory of Thomas Handcock, Gent. who died December 9, 1719, aged 66. Another in memory of John Mason, of Necton, Gent. who died 19th November 1712, in the 65 year of his age. A third in memory of Frances, wife of John Mason of Necton, Gent. who died November 2, 1720, in the 67th year of her age. A fourth in memory of Elizabeth, daughter of John and Frances Mason, who died March 17, 1702, in the 8th year of her age.
At the lower end of the nave is a stone in memory of Mr. Nicholas Tinkler of Bittering, but late of Necton, who died 13th March, 1711, in the 45th year of his age. Adjoining, one in memory of Edward, son of Edward Rust, and Ann his wife, who died April 7, 1708, aged 9 weeks. Another in memory of Richard Mason, Esq. who died December 15, 1722, in the 37th year of his age. Near to this, one in memory of John Mason, son of Richard Mason, and Frances his wife, who died January 4, 1714. One with
The pulpit is of oak handsomely carved and ornamented, and the desk stands on a gravestone of gray marble, having a portraiture and a plate of brass inscribed, but so covered as not to be legible: in the cross passage, near the south isle, lies a gray marble, half covered with the adjoining seats; on this are the portraitures of a man and his wife in brass, and a plate thus inscribed,
At the upper end of the said isle, lies a gray marble with the portraiture of a woman in brass, in a very antique dress, with long sleeves hanging down, her hands erect, and conjoined; and on a plate,
At the end of this north isle is a neat screen which separates it from a chapel, that lies further on the north side of the chancel: here on the pavement lie several gravestones, with their brasses all reaved; near the east end, is one with the portraiture of a woman in brass, and on a plate,
Here under lieth Mary Rust Widow, Daughter of Robert Goodwyn, Gent. sometime the Wife of John Bacon, Gent and after the Wife of Robert Rust, which John, died in the Year of our Lord 1528, and the said Robert Rust, died 1558, and the said Mary died in the Year 1596. There has been a Shield, but that is gone. This was called Tony's, or St. Catharine's Chapel.
Before the rails of the communion table lies a very large gray marble, and thereon is a very curious portraiture of a lady in brass, in a supplicant posture, at her full length; at her feet are two dogs couchant, and over her head the arms of Beauchamp, with a label of three points arg. impaling gules, seven muscles or, Lord Ferrers of Groby: on the right side of this is a shield with Beauchamp, and on her left another of Ferrers, and on a rim of brass that runs round the stone, this French inscription,
Phelippe de Beauchampe qe fuit la lemme Mounst' Buy de Marrempke gist ici Dieu de S' Alme eit Mercy qe moroust le n Tohr D' just I' An de Grace Mcclrriii en fine creaunce et bone memorie manance en la glorie Amen.
This Lady Philippa was the daughter of Henry Lord Ferrers of Groby, (fn. 18) and married Guy de Beauchamp, eldest son to Thomas Earl of Warwick; he was a stout and valiant soldier, and received the honour of knighthood, 29th of Edward III. and died at Vendosme in France, 33d of Edward III. Dugdale observes, that he left two daughters, Catharine and Margaret, nuns at Shouldham in Norfolk, and appointed by his last will, dated 26th September, in the said year, that this church of Necton should be appropriated to the said monastery, for the maintenance of his two daughters during their lives, and from and after their decease, that the house of Shouldham should be obliged to find a priest to celebrate divine service daily, for the souls of his father and mother, his own and wife's, his said two daughters, and of all the faithful departed. (fn. 19)
It is certain this will never took effect, and that this church was never appropriated to the abbey; and at his death, as it is above observed, his eldest daughter was but 7 years, and his other aged but one year, so not capable of receiving the veil.
Here lieth the Body of Easter, late Wife of John Rolf Clerk, by whom she had 2 Daughters Mary and Ann-Phillis, which said Easter Rolf, exchang'd this Life for a better the 27th Day of March, in the Year of our Lord 1714, and of her Age the Twenty-second.
In the churchyard, south of the church, is an ancient tomb raised with freestone, and on that lies a thick cover of stone, in the form of a coffin, with the effigies of a lady in an antique dress carved thereon, without any shield or inscription: that this is in memory of some lady of quality is certain from her dress and habit; the inhabitants here have by tradition an account that a certain lady in ancient days going a pilgrimage to the Lady of Walsingham, died in this parish, and desired to be buried here; leaving them a considerable estate, which they enjoy at this day.
The Beauchamps Earls of Warwick being lords of the town, and patrons of the church, which, as I imagine, was built also by one of that family, and a lady of that family lying in the chancel; it is highly probable, that this tomb here was also erected to the memory of some lady of that family: Dugdale, in his View of Warwicksh. p. 330 acquaints us, that the Lady Isabell, Countess Dowager of Warwick, by her will, dated 1439, gave her tablet with the image of our lady, having a glass for it, to be offered to our Lady of Walsingham, as also her gown with wide sleeves, and a tabernacle of silver, like in the timbre to that of our lady of Caversham. I shall only add, that the dress and habit of the lady here much resembles this age, and this lady might have her jointure and die here, as the Lady Philippa aforementioned did.
In the reign of Edward I. Ralph de Thony was patron; (fn. 20) the rector held 28 acres of land without a manse, and the vicar had a manse without any land; the rectory was valued at 26 marks, and the vicarage was taxed at 5 marks, Peter-pence 10d. ob.
1371, John Semere de Carlton. (fn. 21) The Lady Philippa de Beauchamp.
1388, Thomas de Wroxham. Thomas Earl of Warwick. He was rector of Aleby in Norfolk, and exchanged with Eyr. By his will, dated on St. Alphage the Bishop, 1422, he desires to be buried in the monastery of Sybton in Suffolk, near to his parents.
1427, John Verney. John Throgmorton, Robert Andrews, and John Vaumpage, feoffees and attorneys general to Richard Earl of Warwick. He was rector of Coytyff, in Landaff diocese, and exchanged with Hatheway,
1718, Mr. John Rolf resigned the vicarage, which was then perpetually consolidated to the rectory, and then Mr. Hen. Wastell, A. M. his father-in-law, presented him, and he obtained a union to the rectory of Holme-Hale; he died January 6, 1748, and lies interred in the chancel. And in June,
1749, The Rev. Mr. Thomas Patrick Young, the present rector and vicar, was instituted at the presentation of Mrs. Mary Young, of Swaffham, widow, and now holds this consolidated rectory and vicarage, united to Holm-Hale.
To this vicarage belong a good glebe and house, adjoining to the east part of the churchyard; the rector paid no annual synodals nor procurations, but visitatorial procurations only, viz. 2s. 1d. the vicar answering the whole, viz. 1s. 9d. annual synodals, and 7s. 7d. ob. archdeacons procurations, and 2s. qr. visitatorial procurations.
1446, John Wright. Tho. Huggeford, Nich. Rody, and Wil. Berkswell, chaplain, feoffees of the manor of Necton, for Rich. Earl of Warwick. He was rector of Brinkley in Cambridgeshire, and exchanged with Bolton.
1461, Robert Gorham, on the death of Mayster. Tho. Huggeford, &c. William Wryght, vicar, by his will, in 1499, desires to be buried in the chancel, was a benefactor to St. Mary, All-Saints and St. John Baptist gilds.
1504; there were at that time in this church, the gilds of our Saviour, the Holy Trinity, All-Saints, St. John Baptist and St. Mary; also the altar of St. Mary, and that of the Holy Trinity, lights of St. Mary, the Youngmen's light, &c. (fn. 22)
1559, Thomas Briggs, res. (fn. 23) Mary Rust, hac vice, by grant of Anthony Hogan, rector.
On the north side of the chancel of this church, in 1326, a chapel was founded by the Lady Maud, relict of Sir Robert Tony, son of Sir Ralph de Tony, and dedicated to St. Mary and St. Catherine, for a chantry priest to officiate there, and to pray daily for the soul of her husband, herself, and of her father and mother; of Malisius Earl of Stratherne and Agnes his wife, and all their parents; and to this end, she gave her manor at Grimeston, which she purchased of William Sherman of Tilney, with its appurtenances, valued at 6 marks per annum, to the convent of Cokesford in Norfolk; she also gave to the said convent, a messuage, and 12 acres of land in Neketon, and the chantry priest, who was to be a secular, was to be presented by the prior and convent; he had a mansion-house assigned him in the said town, and was enjoined residence; he had a cup weighing 20s. to officiate with, and a missale then given him by John Prior of Cokesford. (fn. 24) This chantry, had also 7 acres and 3 roods of land belonging to it, lying in Swaffham: the aforesaid chantry, with its endowment, &c. was confirmed by King Edward III. and by Rob. de Reppes, lord of the fee, and the aforesaid convent covenanted to find a chaplain to officiate in the chapel of St. Mary and St. Catherine, in Necton, and to pay him a stipend of 6 marks per annum; this is the chapel at the east end of the north isle, which is still remaining.
1326, Nicholas de Bainham; he resigned to Ralph Nauthe in 1327. In 1331, Rich. de Saham. 1371, Will. Elstre. Will. Burwell, 1532. John Marshall, on the dismission of Burwell, collated by the Bishop by lapse, who dispensed with Marshall's residence three months in every year, on account of the poverty of the place.
I find one John Tudenham, chantry priest of the chantry of Curteys in the church of Necton, on its dissolution, to have a pension of 6l. per annum; but I question whether Necton there mentioned is not Nacton in Suffolk. This parish has an estate belonging to it, let at 65l. per annum, and one let for 5l. 10s. per annum, and several almhouses near the church, the profits of which are principally to repair and adorn the parish church, and what annually remains overplus, to be applied towards the maintenance of the poor, highways, and other common benefits of the parish.