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, as well as Castle-acre and West-acre, in the Book of Domesday, are wrote singly Acra, but is now called South-acre: it contains that parish of Acre, which lies on the southern side of the river, which divides it from Castle-acre: it was in the Confessor's time held by a freeman, and at the survey was the land of the Earl Warren, held of him by Wimer; here were always 6 villeins, one borderer, one carucate in domain, and three amongst the villeins, &c. and pannage for 15 swine; it was first valued at 20s. at the survey at 25s. (fn. 1)
Sir Eudo de Arsik held this lordship of the Earl Warren about the reign of Hen. I. by the service of being castellan or keeper of his castle at Acre or Castle-acre, in which office, (fn. 2)
Sir Eudo, who was a considerable benefactor to the abbey of Castleacre, and with Alice his wife, gave them lands to repair their mill here, called Witemill, and the pool, with that of Newmill; which Alice was daughter and heir of Watshall: this last Sir Eudo, Alice his wife, and their son and heir Sir Alexander Harsick, were living in 1239, as appears by a fine then levied between them, and Ralph Prior of Castleacre; and the said Sir Eudo died 17th September, 1241, (the said Alice surviving him,) being lord also of Dunham-Magna and East Lexham; he gave lands in those towns to the hospital of St. Mary Magdalen by Lynn, with a fold course for 250 sheep at Dunham Magna, and his lady also gave land and a fold course for 250 sheep at East Lexham, which the said hospital enjoys at this day.
In the 20th of the said King, Sir John de Harsick was lord, and a suit was commenced against him, Alan de Suthacre and Reginald, parson of Suthacre, by William L'Estrange, for disseizing him of his common of pasture, belonging to his tenement in this town and Pagrave.
In the 2d of Edward II. a charter of free-warren here, and in Dunham Magna, was granted to John de Harsyck, and Christian his wife, (fn. 3) and in the 17th of that King, Hugh Driby, son of Sir Ralph de Driby, released to
John, son of Sir John Harsyke, and to Margery his wife, all his right in the manor of Driby in Lincolnshire, and license was granted to this John, to found in the church of St. George in his manor of South-acre, a chantery, with lands and tenements thereto, to the value of 10 marks per annum; in the 13th of Edward III. he was high-sheriff of Norfolk; and in the 30th of the said King, being then a knight, Sir John de Camoys, by deed, granted to him and his heirs, license to bear his crest, a plume of turky feathers, so that the said Sir John Harsyk, &c. bears it in a hoop, or; to which deed, the Lords Scales and Bardolph were witnesses: by his will dated in his manor of Southacre, 14th November, 1381, he orders his burial to be in the chapel of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin, in the church of Southacre. (fn. 4)
Sir John de Harsyck, Knt. succeeded him; in his will, dated on Wednesday after the decollation of St. John Baptist in 1384, he styles himself Sir John Harsyke, senior, Knt. bequeaths several legacies to the Lady Catharine his wife. (fn. 5) his eldest son John, and to his son Eudo, the manor of Stanhow in Norfolk for life, remainder to his son Brian.
In the 3d of Henry IV. John de Harsike, the eldest son, and fourth of that name, was found to hold a moiety of a fee of the Earl of Arundel, and the 4th part of a fee here of the said Earl, as part of the honour of Mileham, and paid scutage on the marriage of Blanch, the King's daughter: he married Agnes, daughter and coheir of Sir William Caley of Oby, in Norfolk.
In the 2d year of Henry V. an indenture was made between Roger Harsike, Esq. son and heir of Sir John Harsike, and one of the heirs of Sir William Caley, Knt. of Oby, John Clipsby, Esq. another of the heirs of Sir William, and Alice his wife, whereby the lordships of Hempsted, Hitcham, the market of Holt, and the lordship of Oby were to be enjoyed by them, and leases of them were made: in the 7th of the said King, Roger, then a Knt. was one of those 20 lances, gentlemen of ancient coat-armour, who were returned to serve the King in the wars of France; the said Roger married Alice, daughter of Nicholas Wichingham of Fishley in Norfolk, Esq. and by his will, dated at South-acre, on Sunday after the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, 1453, (fn. 6) and proved 8th of April, 1454; he desires to be buried in the chancel of South-acre; bequeaths to the fraternity of St. Mary at Dunham 6s. 8d. to the churches of Wickmere and Calthorp, 13s. 4d. to Edmund his brother 5 marks, and to the Lady Margaret Harsyk his sister a legacy. His Lady Alice survived him, and by her will, dated 3d October, 1458, bequeaths her body to be buried in the church of the friars-preachers at Norwich. (fn. 7) Sir Roger left by this lady two daughters and coheirs. (fn. 8)
Margaret, married to William Dorward, Esq. of DorwardHall, in Bocking in Essex, second son of John Dorward, Esq. serjeant at law, and speaker of the House of Commons in the reign of King Henry VI. which Margaret had this lordship, as part of her inheritance, and
Elizabeth, their sole heir, married to Thomas Fotheringay of Brockley in Suffolk, Esq. son and heir of Gerard, by Sibill his wife, which Gerard was son and heir of Thomas Fotheringay, (fn. 9) and Agnes, his wife, daughter and heir of Mr. Stewling of Suffolk. The aforesaid Thomas, by Elizabeth his wife, left three daughters and coheirs. (fn. 10)
Margaret, the eldest, married Nicholas Beaupre, Esq. of Beaupre-Hall in Outwell, and in her right, was lord of this manor; Dorward-Hall in Bocking, and of Ashford in Essex; by the said Margaret he had
The site of the old-hall, the seat of the Harsicks, may be observed at this day, in a close north-east of the church; it stands near the river, and was moated round; it is now covered with wood and bushes, but the foundations are to be seen; opposite to this manorhouse stood a free chapel, now also demolished, founded by the Harsicks, for their private use, and the chaplains were presented by them. In 1387, Richard de Stone, then perpetual chaplain, changed it with James de Norton, priest, for Burnham Sutton St. Albert.
Besides the aforesaid manor, belonging to the Earl Warren, part of the King's manor of Sporle, extended itself into this town, and was held or farmed of the King by Godric at the survey, to which there belonged 6 villeins, and 2 carucates of land; the town was then one mile in length, and half a one in breadth, and paid 6d. gelt, when the hundred was taxed at 20s. Godric also held two oxgangs of land, held by Oswart, a freeman in the Confessor's time, valued at xvd. (fn. 11) By virtue of this manor, the King's bailiff, as I have observed, in the 3d of Edward I. granted leave to Sir Roger Harsick to have view of frank-pledge, and assize of bread and beer, and was held by Herbert de Suthacre, and Alan de Pagrave in the time of Henry II. and afterwards by William L'Estrange in the 20th of the said King. It was afterwards held by the family of Narburgh, and in the 17th of Edward IV. was the inheritance of Cecily, wife of John Bocking, daughter and coheir of William de Narburgh, and held then, as was found on an inquisition on the death of the said John, in right of his wife; (fn. 12) and in the north isle of the church is to be seen the shield of Narburgh at this day. The said Cecily dying sans issue, the manor descended to Henry Spelman of Narburgh, who married Elizabeth, her sister and coheir; and in the 3d of Richard III. Henry Spelman was lord; after this I find it united to the other lordship; and in the 25th of Elizabeth, in the possession of the Bells, as appears by a precept, wherein it is said, that there was liberty in the manors of South-acre, and Narburgh, or Bockyng's, for two sheep-folds, consisting of 2500 sheep; and it continues united at this time.
The Prior of Castleacre was taxed in 1428, for his temporalities, 11s. 7d. ob. (fn. 13) King Henry I. confirmed to the said Prior, the tithes of two carucates of land here. Simon Wanton Bishop of Norwich confirmed also to that Prior, the tithe of the land of the cementarij, or mason.
The church of Southacre is dedicated to St. George; it has a nave, a north isle, and a chancel, with a tower at the end of the nave, all built of flint stones, and boulder, and covered with lead; the nave is about 44 feet in length, and with the north isle about 30 in breadth, has a good roof of oak covered with lead: at the west end stands a large Gothick stone font, with a cover of oak raised and carved; round this cover is this inscription cut in the wood:
On the pavement of the nave, lies a stone in memory of Robert Barkham, Gent. who died 14th March, 1629, aged 75; and at the upper end, as you enter the chancel, lies an old gravestone having a staff carved on it, and on the head or summit a cross pattee; this stone was lately removed out of the chancel, and was most likely in memory of Reginald de Harsick, rector here.
In the uppermost window, on the south side, are the arms painted in the glass of Dorward, ermine on a chevron sable, three crescents or, and of Naunton, sable, three martlets arg. In a window on the north side, over the arch that joins to the chancel, have been the effigies of three saints now defaced, the feet of them only remaining; in one pannel was St. Roche; here was a shield under him, now broke, but his name is still legible, Scus Rochus; the shield was gules, a cross flory arg. In the middle pannel was St. Antony, at his feet is Scus Antonius, and this sheld, azure a cross tau or. In the 3d pannel was Sci' Georgius, and this shield, arg. a cross gules.
In a south window of the nave, Harsick, or, a chief indented sab. in a mantle, and the crest a plume of turkey feathers in a hoop, or; also Dorward, impaling arg. a cross between 4 escollops sab. Coggeshall; and in the north windows, the arms of Spelman, Narburgh, St. George, also Dorward and Naunton, and Dorward and Harsicke impaled: in the north isle, in the lowest window, gul. a chief ermine, Nargurgh, impaling gul. three buckles lozengy or, Watshall.
At the upper end of this isle is a chapel, parted by a woodenscreen painted, on the east side of which, in the chapel, adjoining to the north wall, is a tombstone, raised about a foot and an half from the ground, and thereon lies the effigies of a Knight Templar in his military vest, cross-legg'd, his hands conjoined at his breast, with a great broad belt and sword, and a lion couchant at his feet, all of stone; there is no inscription or arms, but it is most likely in memory of Sir Eudo Harsicke, the first of that name, for the monument bespeaks great antiquity.
The Templars were habited in while, and their uppermost garment was of red cloth, with a cross pattee on their left shoulder; and to show that they were not ashamed of the doctrine of the cross, they are pourtrayed and carved, with their legs forming a saltire-cross, in armour, with the habit abovementioned over it; and their sword hanging from a broad belt buckled over their vest or inward habit, as in this monument; sometimes they are represented in armour, with their hands forming the same cross, having something like a torce or rope, close twisted about their limbs, with swords in their hands, and sometimes a plain long staff, with a cross pattee on the head.
This is called the chapel of the Assumption of our Blessed Lady, and some years past, here was in a window the effigies of Sir John Harsyke; the founder, in complete armour, on his knees, and hands conjoined, and at his right hand the arms of Harsike, impaling gul. a fess between three leopards heads jessant flowers de-lis, or, the arms of Dryby; near him also, was the effigies of his lady on her knees, and at her left hand, her arms in a single shield; there were also the arms of Calthorpe impaling Walcote.
As you enter, on the pavement on the left hand lies a marble gravestone near the wall, on which are the portraitures in brass of a man and woman, with their right hands joined, the woman on the right hand, the man on the left, the man in complete armour, and on his breast the arms of Harsike, and near his head the crest of turkey feathers in an hoop, as abovementioned, and at his feet, a lion couchant. The woman in an antique dress of that age; on her vest are her own arms, on the right side, ermine, a maunch gules, Calthorp, and on her left side, the arms of her husband, and at her feet is a dog couchant; on a rim of brass that goes round the stone, is this inscription,
This Sir John married Catharine, daughter and sole heir of Sir Bartholomew Calthorpe, Knt. of Gestingthorpe, whose father, Sir Bartholomew, married Elizabeth, daughter and heir of Sir John de Gestingthorp of Essex, and by reason of her inheritance assumed the arms of Gestingthorpe, ermine, a maunch gules; and in a window adjoining is the same shield, still remaining.
Hic jacet Penelope, filia Domini Edwardi Barkham Baronetti, et Franciscæ Uxoris sue, qui quidem Penelope, Ætate Puellula, sed Prudentiâ, Pietate, Virtute Matrona omnibus satis, Parentibus nimis, et Deo maxime chara, terras reliquit, ad Nuptias Agni vocata Julij 11, 1678, Annoq; Ætatis suæ, Octavo.
At the east end of this chapel, against the north wall, is a very rich and stately altar monument, of marble and alabaster, ornamented with several deaths heads, bones, &c. in basso-relievo, on this rests a large black marble slab, supported at each corner by a column of black marble of the Dorick order; on this slab lies a mat or bass of alabaster, curiously carved; and on that lie the statues of Sir Edward Barkham and his lady, on their backs, in their full length and proportions in alabaster, Sir Edward in armour, and (what is somewhat incompatible) witn his scarlet gown and golden chain about his neck, as Lord Mayor of London, over his armour; so that the statuary was of the same opinion with the Roman orator, Cedant arma togœ; he has also a book in his right hand, and rests his head on a cushion: his lady is in a dress agreeable to the age she lived in, her hands across, and rests her head on a cushion; at the head and foot of this monument are the effigies of two sons and three daughters, all kneeling on cushions. To this monument is a wall-peice of the same materials, on the summit of which is this shield, arg. three pallets gul. over all a chevron or, Barkham; and under it this motto, diligentia, fortunæmater; on each side of this, is a figure; that on the right hand representing Victory, with a laurel crown in her right hand, and on the pedestal that supports her, Barkham impaling quarterly in the first and fourth, arg. on a pale sable three crosses pattee, or, in a bordure engrailed of the 2d, Crouch; in the second and third arg. on a chevron sab. three helmets closed, or, Scot: the figure on the left hand is, a skeleton representing death, and on the pedestal the arms of Crouch and Scott quarterly, and by these figures are two hour-glasses with wings. About this monument hang several banners and streamers with the aforesaid arms, but here is no epitaph or inscription on it. This Sir Edward Barkham was Lord Mayor of London in the 19th of King James I.; he was son of Edward Barkham of this town, Esq. and was created Baronet of this town, June 28, 1623, being a native of this village; he married Jane, daughter to John Crouch, Esq. of Cornybery in Hertfordshire, by Joan, daughter and heir of John Scott of London. The crest of Barkham, on the iron work that encloses the tomb, is two arms embraced, or, hands proper, supporting a sheaf of arrows arg. in a rye band gul.
Over the west door of this tower are three shields carved in stone, viz. Harsick impaling Calthop alias Gestingthorp, Harsick alone, and the third shield is now obscure; by these arms it appears that this tower was erected by that Sir John Harsick, who married Catherine Calthorp, about the reign of King Edward III. In the west window of the tower is a shield of Watshall, Sir Eudo Arsic, the third, married Alice, daughter and heir of Watshall. Also in the same window the arms of Calthorp or Gestingthorp as above, and a broken shield of Dorward.
The chancel is separated from the nave of the church by a wooden screen, ornamented with pillars of the Dorick order, erected at the charge of Sir Edward Barkham aforesaid, as appears from his arms, &c. This chancel is in length about 30, and about 18 feet in breadth; on the middle of the area lies a marble stone, on the upper part of it, on a brass plate, is the portraiture of the Virgin Mary with the child Jesus in her arms; here was also on it the portraiture of a priest on his knees in his robes, and this inscription on a brass plate:
Near to the arch that leads into the chapel, (on the north side of the chancel,) is an old gray marble gravestone, which was ornamented with several shields, and plates of brass, now all reaved, some of these are preserved in the chest; on one plate was
By the inscription here it is plain that this gravestone is in memory of Sir Roger Harsyke and his lady Alice, daughter of Nicholas Wichingham. Within an arch made in the south wall of the chancel, lies the effigies of a person in complete armour, carved out of oak, but without any shield or inscription: Weever, who wrote a treatise of Funeral Monuments, gives us an account of this. (fn. 14) In the chancel under the south wall lieth entombed Sir Roger Harsick, Knt. the son and heir of John, who lived in the reign of King Henry V. and in the 29th of Henry VI. in whom the issue male ended, leaving his inheritance to his two daughters. That Weever is here mistaken is certain, the said Roger and his lady lying under the gravestone abovementioned: this wooden effigies, now all worm-eaten and crumbling to dust, has (together with the arch that it lies under) the face of greater antiquity, and as I believe, was rather in memory of Sir Roger Harsick, son of Sir Alexander. Weever wrote his treatise in the beginning of the last century, when no doubt there were here, as well as in other churches, many more valuable remains of antiquity than can be now expected, after the many fatal outrages that were committed in the civil war, yet he gives us only an account of this inarched monument, and passes by the many monuments then here and entire; which is a proof to me, that his collection was not made by him on his own view, but taken on trust; and as it was ignorantly communicated to him. At the west end of this inarched monument is a freestone fixed in the wall, thus inscribed. Aug. 1725, The Rev. Mr. William Broclebank, rector, new paved this chancel with stone, at his own charge, had the gravestones cleaned and laid even, removed none that had any inscription, but gave three plain ones to be laid in the body of the church.
The communion table is enclosed with rails and balisters, and has an ascent of one step to it of free-stone; against the east wall are the commandments in letters of gold, and the portraitures of Moses and Aaron, the gift of Mrs. Fountain, mother of Sir Andrew. In the east window is the shield of Harsike painted on the glass. To this church there belongs a large silver cup, and two silver patines or salvers; on the cup is this inscription;
About this time Norwich Domesday Book was wrote, wherein it is said that the rector had then an house and 30 acres of glebe, and Sir Roger Harsike was patron, the Prior of Sporle had a portion of tithe valued at one mark, the rectory was valued at 5l. Peterpence 6d.
1412, John Dey of Dunham. Sir John Arsyck. In this rector's time, in the 15th of Henry VI. Joan Queen Dowager of Henry IV. died seized of a pension of 13s. 4d. issuing out of this rectory, and formerly belonging to the priory of Sporle.
1452, John Aungier. Ditto. Aungier had been a chantry priest in the chapel here, as I take it, was instituted by proxy in 1445 for Hecham, and by his will dated the 4th of March, 1485, desires to be buried in the churchyard here.
1556, Thomas Frettwell, A. M. (fn. 15) resigned. Ditto. Rector also of Wimbotsham.
1695, Robert Purland. Sir William Barkham. Vicar also of East-Walton in Norfolk, and buried in the chancel at East Walton, 24th May 1723, where lies a marble stone with this shield, sab. five wings in saltier or, and this inscription:
Hic jacet Robertus Purland, A. M. Coll. Gon. et Caij Cantab. olim Alumnus, mox Vicarius de Est-Walton, tandem Rector de Southacre, Vir pietate pariter ac probitate, et Prudentia insignis, Pastor vigilantissimus, Amicus fidissimus, Maritus amantissimus, Pater mitissimus. Qui postquam Gregi huic per L. Annos et quod excurrit invigilaverat, tandem Obdormivit in Domino, Maij xxi, 1723.
This rectory is valued in the King's Books at 10l. 18s. 1d. ob. q.; tenths are 1l. 1s. 9d. ob. q. and being undischarged is incapable of augmentation, visitatorial synodals 2s. 6d.; annual synodals 18d. Archdeacon's procurations 6s. 8d.
Herbert de Sudacre, or Southacre, with the consent of William his heir, gave to the priory of Castleacre, the land late Anschetill de Wentling, and 20 acres in the fields of Pagrave and Sudacre, and the land at Racheness, where the church of St. Bartholomew is founded, with three roods about the church, and 2 acres of land at Bursthall, for his soul's health and Hugoline's his wife, and for the use of the lepers there remaining, and half the fold-course and common of pasture where his and his brother Alan de Pagrave's beasts went: the deed is sans date, and but about the time of Henry II. (fn. 16)
The place where this church and house of lepers stood, is now known by the name of Bartholomew Hill in Southacre, which lies on the road from Swaffham to Castleacre, where some remains of a little peddling Fair is still kept on St. Bartholomew's Day, and here some people digging lately for stone, found several human bones, sculls, &c.
Alan de Pagrave confirmed the same, and gave them an acre at Stanhall. William de Pagrave, son of Robert de Norton, gave to the monks of Acre, all the land from the said hospital to Weleswesgate. Hamon Cook of Acre, by will sans date, but in the time of Henry II. gave 8s. to the brethren of Rachanesse.
In 1413, Brother William Harsyke, a Carmelite or white friar of Burnham convent, flourished under Henry IV.; he was born here, educated at Cambridge, where he took a doctor's degree in divinity, and published many things, some of which are observed in Pitts's English Writers, page 594.
The house called Southacre-Hall, a seat of the Barkhams and Lord Richardson, was sold lately by William Jenny, Esq. and Elizabeth, only sister and heir to William Lord Richardson, his wife, to Sir Andrew Fountain, Knt. (See vol. ii. p. 449, 50.)