An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 7. Originally published by W Miller, London, 1807.
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William Earl Warren was lord of this village, at the survey, which was possessed by four freemen in King Edward's reign, who were ejected; half a carucate of land belonged to them, and they had 4 bordarers, who had a carucate; here was also a church endowed with one acre; the whole was valued then at 5s. per ann. at the survey at 3s.; it was 2 furlongs long and broad, and paid 4½d. gelt. (fn. 1)
The Britons called many rivers by the name on Anton, or Avon, and it is probable that the river, by which this town stands, was also so called; and the Saxons, retaining many of the said names, called them by corruption, or contraction, An and Han; thus Hampshire, in Domesday Book, is wrote Hantshire, and thus South Hampton, &c.
The ancient family of St. Martin were enfeoffed of it by the Earl Warren: Reginald de St. Martin, son of Richard de St. Martin, held here and in Tofts, a quarter of a fee of the Earl, in the 3d of Henry III.; Roger de St. Martin, son of Reginald, was lord in the 3d of Edward I.; of this family was Juliana, daughter of Richard de St. Martin, who married Richard, son of Eborard de Geist; and Richard de St. Martin occurs lord in the reign of Edward II.
In the 3d of Edward III. Sir John Bardolf and his parceners were found to hold one fee in this town, Waterden, Barsham, &c. In the said reign, Thomas de Mileham is said to have bought a little manor here, which by the marriage of his daughter and heir came to William Durant, Esq.
John de Wolterton of Barsham, &c. aliened in the first of Richard II. the manor of Hempton, with lands in Waterden, to the prior of Damsend, that is Hempton, so called, lying near to Fakenham river, or mill-dam, to the value of 10 marks, with the King's license; and the prior of Hempton was found in the 5th of Henry VI. to hold it, formerly Sir John Bardolf's.
On the 9th of September, in the 37th of Henry VIII. that King granted the prior's manor, with lands in Toftres, Sculthorpe, Fakenham, Pudding Norton, &c. to Sir William Farmer and the Lady Catherine, his wife, Thomas Farmer, Esq. his nephew, held it in the 6th of Edward VI. in capite, and sold it to Mr. Richard Benson, together with the priory, as may be there seen, &c.
A Church, dedicated to St. Andrew, was standing in the 12th of Henry VII. and was a rectory appropriated to the priory, and granted with the manor; it was valued at 5 marks, and paid Peter-pence 5d. ob.
Was at first an hospital, and afterwards a priory, founded by Roger de St. Martin, in the reign of King Henry I. for black canons of the order of St. Austin, and dedicated to St. Stephen. In the 2d year of King John, the archdeacon of Worcester (probably John de Brancaster) gave a palfrey to the King, for a fair to be held yearly on Tuesday in Whitsunday week, for the profit and use of the brethren of the hospital of St. Stephen, (as then called,) by the causey of Fakenham; which fair is held at this time on Hempton Green, and is a considerable one.
1339, Nicholas de Kettleston. Sir John Bardolfe of Maple Durham was patron of the priory in the reign of Edward III. and held (as it is said) the gross, or great manor of Hempton, late Richard de St. Martin's.
John occurs prior, about the 15th, and Richard occurs prior in the 17th and the 28th of Henry VI. when, on the feast-day of the conception of the blessed Virgin, he, with the convent, granted lands in Toftrys, under the common seal of the priory, in the chapter-house; which was of an oblong form, (of red wax,) as most religious seals, and the image of St. Stephen, standing in an arch, between 2 tapers, with this legend round it; Sigillum Commune Sancti Stephani de Hempton: and under this, the prior in an arch, kneeling.
By an indenture, made on Tuesday next after the feast of St. Peter ad Vincula, in 1461, between Nicholas, prior of Castleacre, &c. on one part, and Stephen, prior of the church of St. Stephen de Dammysende of Fakenham, on the other part.—Whereas the prior of Dammysende and his predecessors were seized of a water-mill, in Fakenham, called Briggemill, in demean, as of fee and right, &c. for which they paid to the prior of Castleacre, the yearly rent of 42s. it was agreed that the prior of Dammysende and his successours, should only pay the yearly rent of 20s.
At the Dissolution it is said to be valued at 39l. 0s. 8d.; but in 1428, it appears that their spiritualities were valued at 68s. 8d. and their temporalities, at 29l. 2s. ob. per ann.—As Dugdale, valued at 32l. 14s. 8d. per ann.—As Speed, 39l. 0s. 9d.
Besides the fair abovementioned, another, on the vigil and feast of St. Martin, belonged to them, still kept, and remarkable for the sale of cattle,) and held in the 14th of Edward I. when the prior also claimed a mercate on Tuesday, at Hempton.
The site of this priory, with the rectory appropriated, and the manor, was granted (as abovementioned) by King Henry VIII. to Sir William Farmer, and the Lady Catherine his wife, and Thomas Farmer, his nephew, conveyed them to Richard Benson, Gent. in the 14th of Elizabeth, and Benson, to Matthew Gosnald, Gent. and he left it in jointure to his wife. Henry Gosnald, his son, sold the reversion to Sir Thomas Holland, of whom Nicholas Timperly, Gent. bought it.