An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 9. Originally published by W Miller, London, 1808.
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GREAT OR OLD WALSINGHAM, AND LITTLE, OR NEW WALSINGHAM.
Bynham Priory Manor.
Peter de Valoins was lord of a part of the town of Walsingham Magna, at the survey, by the gift of the Conqueror, of which Bund (a thane of King Edward) was deprived, and Humphrey held it of Peter, the capital lord.
It then consisted of a carucate and a half of land, 3 villains, 7 borderers, with 2 carucates, and 4 acres of meadow in demean, one carucate and a half among the tenants, 3 servi, 5 cows, &c. 180 sheep, 9 skeps of bees, and one socman held 4 acres of land, valued at 40s. before this at 30s.
It was delivered, or granted to Peter, to make up, or complete one of his lordships, but his men or tenants did not know what manor. (fn. 1)
The aforesaid Humphrey, whom I find to be styled one of this Lord Peter's knights, gave, according to the practice of those times, 2 parts of the tithes of this lordship to the priory of Bynham, (fn. 2) founded by his lord in the reign of Henry I. Roger Lord Valoins, his son, and Robert, his grandson, confirmed it with the moiety of St. Peter's church, the chantry that Robert Godchild held of the monks of St. Albans: also 2 carucates here, containing 190 acres of land, with the whole homage and demean of Humphrey, held of them, and the millmeadow. The prior aforesaid, in the 15th of Edward I. had the assise of bread and beer, of his tenants: in 1428 their temporalities were valued at 9l. 17s. 1d. and their spiritualities here, or portion of tithes, at 15s.
The King's Manor.
King William seized on this, which was one of King Herold's lordships, and a beruite belonging to the royal manor of Fakenham, containing 3 carucates of land, 13 villains, 7 borderers, with one carucate in demean, 2 carucates among the tenants, paunage for 10 swine, and acre and half of meadow, 2 mills, 2 horses, 5 cows, and 24 sheep; and there were 8 socmen, with one carucate of land; 2 borderers also belonged to it, half an acre of meadow, the moiety of a mill, and 3 carucates: all this was valued in Fakenham. (fn. 3)
How long it continued in the Crown does not appear; it seems in the reign of King John to be forfeited by William de Brencourt, or Favercourt, on his rebellion against that King, and was granted in his 6th year (as an eschaet, and land of the Normans) to Richard Earl of Clare, of whom and his family, see in the following lordship.
The Earl of Clares Lordships.
Rainald, son of Ivo, obtained two of the principal manors in these towns, on the Conquest: one in Great Walsingham, of which Ketel a freeman, was deprived, who had 19 borderers, with 3 carucates of land, 2 servi, 2 acres of meadow, and 2 carucates in demean, &c. 24 soemen belonged to it, with 70 acres of land, the moiety of a mill and 2 borderers, &c. valued at 6l. per ann.; it was half a leuca long and the same in breadth, and paid 18d. gelt.
The same Rainald had also the grant of a lordship in Walsingham Parva, on the deprivation of the aforesaid Ketel, containing 2 carucates of land, 4 villains, 21 borderers, 2 servi, 2 carucates in demean, 2 carucates among the tenants, &c. an acre of meadow, with a mill; and half a carucate, with 14 acres of land, belonged to 5 socmen, &c. valued in King Edward's reign at 4l. at the survey at 5l. it was one leuca long, and one broad, and paid 24d. gelt. (fn. 4)
Rainald was a Norman nobleman, and attended Duke William on his invasion; how long he possessed it does not appear; Walter Giffard Earl of Bucks, or his son, seems to have been the next lord, whose sister and coheir, Rohais, married Richard Fitz-Gilbert, alias de Clare, ancestor of the Earls of Hertford and Clare; whose descenants, the Earls of Clare, inherited it.
Richard de Clare, Earl, in the 32d of Henry III. gave these lordships to his brother, William de Clare, who had a grant of free warren in Walsingham Magna, and a weekly mercate on Friday, in the 35th of that King; also of a weekly mercate in Walsingham Parva, on Monday, and a fair, formerly granted to the prior of Walsingham, on whose death it came to the aforesaid Earl, and was held in capite by one fee and a half.
Gilbert de Clare Earl of Gloucester, was lord in the 14th of Edw I. had the assise of bread and beer, a gallows, and other royal privileges, and they were valued at 30l. per ann. after his death it came to Lionel Duke of Clarence, third son of King Edward III. by his marriage with Elizabeth, daughter and heir of William de Burgh Earl of Ulster, in Ireland, son and heir of John de Burgh Earl of Ulster, by the Lady Elizabeth his wife, third sister and coheir of Gilbert, Earl of Clare, Gloucester, &c.
The said Lionel dying in the 42d of Edward III. left Philippa, his only daughter and heir, and on her marriage with Edmund Mortimer Earl of March, he became lord in her right. On the death of Edmund, the last Earl of March, in the 3d of Henry VI. Anne, his sister and heir, being wife of Richard de Coninsby Earl of Cambridge, Richard their son, Duke of York, was lord, and his son King Edward IV. inherited it.
Elizabeth, Queen consort to King Henry VII. Anne, wife of Thomas Howard Earl of Surry, and Catharine, wife of William Courtney Earl of Devonshire, were daughters and coheirs of the said King. Anne and Catharine conveyed their right to King Henry VIII. and King Edward VI. in his 7th year, July 1, granted them to Thomas Gresham, Esq. and Queen Mary confirmed it April 9, in her first year, with the lordships of Collingham, Fennes, Marshes, Bottes, Hadshaw's Walsinghum Grange, and the demean lands in the tenure of Thomas Sydney, &c. with a fold course, watermill, market and a fair on the nativity of the Virgin Mary, and a close planted with saffron, for which the town was famous at this time.
Sir Thomas Gresham, in the 16th of Elizabeth, granted to Edward Flowerdew, Esq. in consideration of the faithful counsel given him, an annuity out of it payable for life, and sealed it with his crest, a grashopper: on his death his lady possessed it, and it came to her son, Sir William Read, lord in 16th of James I. and on his death, to his coheirs, George Lord Berkley, Sir William Withipole, the Earl and Countess of Desmond.
After this, in 1637, it was conveyed to Dr. John Warner Bishop of Rochester, a prelate famous for his noble acts of charity, on whose death it descended to his heir, John Lee Warner, D.D. archdeacon and prebendary of Rochester, son of Thomas Lee, of London, Gent. descended from the family of Lee of Lee-hall, in Shropshire, by Anne his wife, sister of the Bishop, whose eldest son, Henry Lee Warner, Esq. was lord in 1680, and his nephew, Henry Lee Warner, (son of - - - - - - - - -Warner, Esq. of Kensington, by - - - - - - - - - -, sister of Sir James How,) died lord on the 13th of December, 1760, and by - - - - -, daughter of John Mills, Esq. of Nackington in Kent, left Henry Lee Warner, Esq. the present lord.
The town gave name to the ancient family of De Walsingham. Sir Richard de Walsingham lived in the reign of King Henry III. and was father of Sir Richard, one of the justices of Trailbaston, in Suffolk and Norfolk, with Sir John Le Briton, in the 33d of Edward I. father by Christian his wife, of Thomas de Walsingham, who married Amy, daughter and coheir of Sir Robert Stafford, of Egginton in Derbyshire; this Thomas (as I take it) had considerable lands, with a foldcourse, here, late Romely's, granted to his father, and was living in the 13th of Edward II.; Thomas was father of Sir Richard, living in the reign of Edward III. and by Margaret, daughter and coheir of Adam Nortoft of Eggemere in Norfolk, had Richard, who married Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Thomas Dalingrey, and was father of Thomas Walsingham, Esq. who by Catharine his wife, sister of Sir William Belhouse of Essex, left Thomas, his son and heir, who removed into Kent, and died about 1456: this Thomas took to wife Margaret, daughter and heir of Adam Bam of Gillingham in Kent, from whom the great Sir Francis Walsingham, secretary of state in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, is descended.
The Church of All-Saints was a rectory, valued at 15 marks, Peter-pence 14d. ob. and was given, by deed sans date, to the church of St. Mary of Walsingham, and the canons there, for his soul's health, and those of his father, mother, &c. in pure alms, with the appertenances in ploughed lands, meadows, pastures, &c. by Philip de Terra Vasta, (Travers,) the seal is oval, and is a knight in complete armour, on horseback, in full career. The Register of Norwich says it was the gift of Roelen de Terra Vasta, and was granted, saving the right of Richard de Drayton, who held the church as rector, for life.
In the 52d of Henry III. Richard de Vilechen conveyed by fine a moiety of the church of All-Saints, to Alan the prior of Walsingham, and the lands which the prior held of the gift of Richard Ancestor, who was probably Philip abovementioned; and Alan de Romely, son of William, by deed sans date, released all his right in this church given by his ancestor, P. de Terra Vasta, and gave an alder-ground to the priory.
Vicars of All-Saints.
Thomas Sydney, Esq. of Walsingham Parva, had a grant of the rectories and churches of All-Saints, and St. Peter's, in Walsingham Magna, and of St. Mary's, in Walsingham Parva, lately belonging to the priory, by a patent, dated May 3, in the 7th year of King Edward VI. and Henry Lee Warner, Esq. is impropriator, and nominates the curates of the churches, as the Sydneys did.
Rectors of St. Peter's.
John Dyx, priest of Walsingham Magna, by will in 1524, gave lands with a messuage and cottage in Walsingham Magna, to the repair of both these parish churches, and to the use of a gild-hall, for the parishioners of both parishes, on condition that the church-wardens of them cause to be sung in each church, Placebo, and Dirige, on Tuesday in Easter week.
The Church of St. Mary in Walsingham Parva, was a rectory valued at 5l. and paid Peter-pence 14d. ob. it was granted, and appropriated to the priory about the year 1280, by Jeff. de Faverches, and so is a donative, or curacy. A pension of 2s. per ann. belonging to the see of Norwich, was released by Bishop Thirlby. The impropriation is in Henry Lee Warner, Esq.
A priest, called Jesus' priest, and the mass of Jesus, is mentioned in 1526. In the churchyard was the image of our Lady, in the wall.— The image of St. Anne, in the chapel, in the church.—St. Catharine's altar and gild, with that of the purification, annunciation, St. John Baptist's, St. Michael's, St. Ann's, St. George's, and the Holy Trinity.
In it hangs a brass branch for candles, the gift of John Portington, Gent. in 1679: the font is of stone, with imagery work, and a wooden cover carved on it, Ex dono Jane Dominœ Sidney, in piœ mentis indicium
On the south side of the church, against the wall, is a remembrance for one Robert Anguish, with an arrow or dart, and a snake twisted round it; on one side of it is E. R. on the other, xxxii, and under it 1590, setting forth the year of his death, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth.
This emblem here is set to view, For Robert Anguish' (fn. 5) sake, Hast with wisdom must insew A happy end to make.
Sepultus jacet Gulielmus Miles, medicinœ doctor, admodum peritus, apprime doctus, ignotœ virtutis vir, at non ignotus virtuti, nam prospectatissima probitate, fidelitate singulari, clementia admirabili, justitia et charitate prœstantissimâ memoratu dignus. Qui cum ad vicesimun octavum œtatis attigisset, inevitabili fato, suam passus est ecclipsim, sive biolychnij extinctionem; animamq; fide Christiana Deo Creatori exhalavit die duodecimo mensis Maij A.D. m.d.ccix. And this shield, ermine, a ferdemolin sable, and a chief.
Sileant Galeni (si qui sint superstites) nostrates posthac artem Ratcliffii despondeant, cohors erubescat medica, en arte lassus, en vita functus simul, hic jacet noster Esculapius, Edmundus Mott, medicinœ doctor, qui obt. 3 die Febr. A.D. 1699, œt. suœ 40.
His situs est Johs. Partingtonus pietate ac probitate Deo et homi dibus gratus, amicitia et comitate omnibus bene notus, stirpe antiqua et doctrinâ clarus, obiit quadraginta plus minus natus annos Mart. 9, 1677/8. In cujus memoriam charissima conjux Susanna Portingt. sine sobole relicta, non sine solatio, hunc titulum in œternum amoris et gratitudinis monumentum posuit.
Here lyes in hope and expectation of the joyfull and desyred day of resurrection, &c. Sir Henry Sidney, Kt. descended from the stemme of Viscount Lisle, baron of Penhurst in Kent, lord chamberleyn to the queen's majesty, and governor of Flushinge; his youth was seasoned with the fear of God, duty towards his parents, and love to learning, his following age yielded fruits of hospitality towards all men, of charity towards the poor, of faitfulness towards his friends, and of peaceableness towards his neighbours. He and his end was concluded with piety, with patience, and with a comfortable farewell at the term of 59 years, the 2d of November, A.D. 1612. Here joyned as well in the same hope of a joyfull resurrection, as in all piety and conjugall love to the said Sir Henry Sidney, rests the body of Dame Jane his wife, daughter of Frances Jermy of Brightwell in Suffolk, Esq. who after her peregrination of 73 years, injoying 28 thereof in the happy society of her said husband, and continuing his name and memory for 28 more in a most chast and retired widowhood, upon the 8 of August, 1638, departed this life, no lady more christianly, nor dyed more happily;—"Many daughters have done vertuously, but thou excellest them all." Prov. 3, 29.
Also the arms of Sidney, with his quarterings, viz. first, or, a phæon, argent, Sidney; 2d, argent, two barrulets, and in chief three leopards heads, sable; 3d, argent, three chevronels, gules, and a label of three points, azure, Barrington; 4th, argent, on a bend, gules, three lozenges, of the first, Mercye; 5th, quarterly, or, and gules, an escarbuncle, sable, Maundevile; 6th, azure, a chevron between three mullets, or, Chetwind; 7th, argent, three lions rampant, gules Belhouse; 8th, barry of ten, argent and gules, a chevron over all, or, Stokes; impaling, quarterly, argent, a lion rampant, guardant, gules, in the first and 4th, Jermy, and gules, a bend between six martlets, or, in the 2d and 3d.
In this church were these arms, or, three chevronels, gules, the Earl of Clare, and Gloucester, &c. impaling, or, a cross, gules, Burgh Earl of Ulster; quarterly, barry of six, or and azure, an escotheon, argent, on a chief of the first, a pale between two esquires, dexter and sinister of the 2d, Mortimer Earl of March, &c.
After Sir Thomas Gresham's death the manors of Collingham, Fenn's, &c. were sold to Thomas Sydney, Esq. and upon an inquisition post mortem, 28th of Elizabeth, it was found he died seized of the abbey of Walsingham, and the perpetual curacy of All-Saints, and St. Peters, in Great Walsingham, and All-Saints in Little Walsingham, and divers lands and mills, late Sir Thomas Gresham's, in Great and Little Walsingham, Houghton juxta Walsingham, Hinderingham, Wighton, and Egmere, the rectory of Houghton, and disposal of the vicarage of ditto; and that Henry Sydney (afterwards Sir Henry) is his son and heir, aged 30 years. Thomas also left him the manor of Ross in Houghton.
July 8, 1639, Robert Sydney Earl of Leicester, grants, on condition, the manor of Ross and divers lands, to Sir Ed. Leech, Henry English, and others; and, on July 20, 1650, in pursuance of a decree in Chancery, the said Earl sells the manor of Ross, the rectory and vicarage, and lands in Houghton, the abbey of Walsingham, with the perpetual curacies of the above three churches in Walsingham, with the rectorial and vicarial tithes, with all the lands, late Thomas Sydney's, Esq. to Henry Wynn, Edward English, and others. And on July 3, 1766, there was a bargain and sale of the abbey, the manor of Ross, and all the above lands and livings in Walsingham and Houghton, from Henry Wynn, and others, to Dr. John Lee, archdeacon of Rochester, for the use of Bishop Warner. The manors of Walsingham and Mills were separated from the abbey, and remained so till 1756, when they were purchased with divers lands, from Norbone Berkely, Lord Bottetourt, by Henry Lee Warner, Esq. who also purchased diverse other lands in Walsingham and Houghton, and the manors of Gaunts and Gurneys, in Houghton; and died, as before mentioned, in 1760, aged 72, and left the whole to his son, Henry Lee Warner, Esq. by will, who was also heir at law, and has built here an agreeable seat, on the site of the priory.
The present Henry Lee Warner, Esq. intends to erect a monument in Walsingham church to the memory of his father, who died as abovementioned, and to his mother, who died in July, 1770, aged 73, and was also buried in a vault in this church.
Mr. Warner's grandfather and grandmother, Lee, of Danejon near Canterbury, were buried here. She was daughter of Sir George Howe of Berwick St. Leonard's, in Wiltshire, and sister to Sir James Howe, who devised his whole estate to Mr. Warner's father, by his will, and who was also heir at law to him, in right of his mother, which estates also Mr. Warner now enjoys.
The widow lady of Ricoldie de Faverches, dwelling in Walsingham Parva, founded there, in or about 1061, a chapel in honour of the Virgin Mary, in all respects like to the Sancta Casa at Nazareth, where the Virgin was saluted by the angel Gabriel on a vision of the Virgin enjoining her thereto; (fn. 6) a pretence generally made use of in like foundations. Sir Geffrey de Faveraches, her son, soon after the conquest, endowed it, granting to Edwin, his clerk or chaplain, this chapel of St. Mary, with the church of All-Saints in the said town, with its appertenances in lands, tithes, rents, services, &c. which the said Edwin possessed the day he went to Jerusalem; viz. 20s. per ann. out of his demean, for two parts of the tithe of his land, the land at Snaring, which Hawis gave to God, and the said chapel, 8 acres in the field of the said town, with part of a meadow.
The said knight seems to be the first founder of the priory, built the priory church, and gave the chapel of our Lady all the ground within the site of the church, 8 acres of land, with 20s. rent per ann. out of his manor, if the yearly value of the offerings of our Lady did not exceed 5 marks.
In the first of Henry II. William de Hocton (Houghton) answered for 30l. for the lands, farm or manor of Wicton, (Wighton) belonging to the King, and 10 marks to marry the widow of Jeffrey de Favercourt, (fn. 7) (or Faveraches) with her lands, and to have the custody of her son till he was a knight, and then to hold the lands of him; by which it appears that this foundation and part of this town belonged to the King's manor.
Damietta de Flitcham, and Emma de Beaufoe, gave lands in Flitcham, which was a cell belonging to this priory; William Earl Warren Roger de Stradesete, and Nicholas his brother, with Symon, son of Hugh de Shouldham, lands, marsh, ground, and liberty of digging turfs in Marham.
In the 10th of Henry III. the prior had a grant of a mercate and a fair; and on the marriage of that King's sister with the Emperor, the prior paid 5 marks, and had a quietus; and in the 35th of that King, he had the grant (or confirmation) of the manor of Walsingham Parva, and a fair for 8 days,
Roger Earl of Clare confirmed the grant of All-Saints church, and gave the mill, out of which Sir Geffrey de Faveraches was to pay 20s. per ann. and Gilbert Earl of Clare gave 8 acres; &c. of land, and the ground without the west gate of the yard, called the Common-place.
William de Longespee Earl of Salisbury gave lands. Roger, son of Ralph de Salle, lands in Sall, Hubert de Brisworth the 3d part of the advowson of St. Andrew's church in Burnham, and 25 acres of land in demean, with meadow and pastures, also 12 acres which Hervey Pike held of him, and several homages and rents. John Marshall 60 acres in the wood of Folsham, and 2 marks rent, with the church of Thymelthorp, and Richard de Burgh 12 acres in his Assart of Folsham.
Reginald and Stephen de Wharfles (Quarles) lands there. Sir John de Nerford, Richard, son of Gilbert de Wichingham, lands at Egmere. —Godwin, son of Reynford de Holkham, lands and a foldcourse; and Ralph, son of Robert Hacon of Holkham, lands there.
Sir Roger Colvile several homages in Wells. Bartholomew de Wicton a foldcourse there, with lands. Nicholas Peche the manor of Swifford in Swanington. Walter de Grandcourt lands and common of pasture for 15 sheep, 4 beasts, a horse, &c. in Fulmodeston. Adelina, widow of Geffrey Baynard, lands and rents in Byntre. Hubert de Burgh Earl of Kent, the church of St. Andrew of Bedingham, and that of Oulton, with 40 nummatas terrœ. William le Veutre the church of St. Clement's of Burnham. Olivia le Marshal, all her rents, tenements, &c. that she purchased in Folsham and Byntre.
Randolf Earl of Chester, and Lincoln Hawis de Quincy, his sister, and John de Somery, lands in Lincolnshire. Sir Ralph de Hemenhale conveyed to them his manor in North Creke, with a moiety of the advowson of the church. Gilbert de Clare, Earl of Gloucester, gave lands to enlarge their court. Richard Earl of Gloucester and Maud his wife, lands also, as did Sir William de Clare, with liberty of common in both these towns; the prior granted to him all the stallage, toll and custom of the fairs, on their lands without the west gate, the prior having the 10th penny of the profits; also a grant of half the profits of the common place where the market on Saturday and Sunday was kept, on which Sir William released to the prior view of frankpledge, assise of bread and beer of their men, and a lete. The fair at this time began on the vigil of the nativity of the Virgin.
In the 21st of Edward I. the prior had temporalities and spiritualities to the value of 157l. 13s. 8d. per ann. And on June 6, in the 28th of that King, a grant of free warren in this town, Holkham, Burnham, &c.
A patent was granted to them in the 2d of Edward II. for acquiring lands and tenements to the value of 40l. per ann. and the said King, at the instance of his Queen, Isabel, granted license of mortmain to the value of 40 marks per ann and in part thereof, to appropriate the church of St Peter's in Walsingham Magna, the patronage of the priory being then and long before, in the Earls of Clare, &c.— A license to purchase Bedingham manor, in Norfolk, ao. 13 Edward II.
In the 30th of Edward III. July 23, license was granted to the prior of Anglesey in Cambridgeshire, to grant to this priory 3 messuages, 3 tofts, one mill, 57 acres of land, 3 of meadow, and 34s. rent in Walsingham Magna and Parva; and in the said year the priory had a patent to purchase tenements here; and in the 40th of that King, one for tenements in Hoghton, Egmere, and North Creak.
Sir Stephen de Hales, &c. aliened in the 8th of Richard II. the manors of Ryburgh Magna and Parva, the advowson of Ryburgh Magna church, a messuage and 7 acres here, with the manor of Pensthorp, and lands and tenements in Warham, Snoring, West Barsham, &c. to found a chantry for Sir Thomas de Felton, &c. Thomas his son, and Joan, wife of Sir Thomas.
License was granted in the 7th of Henry IV. to John Gourney and John Drew, parson of Harpley, to amortize 20 acres of land in Burnham, to celebrate the obit of Sir Edmund de Reynham and Christian his wife; and in the said year to Sir Thomas Erpingham, &c. to sell the manor of Swanton Nowers, held by Joan, late wife of Sir Stephen Hales, with that of Branches in Wiveton, to this priory, to celebrate their anniversaries; and about the said time the prior is said to hold the 5th part of a fee of the Earl of March.
In the 3d of Henry VI. the prior had a patent for the lordship of Egmere, and tenements in Walsingham, Wighion, Waterden, &c. and in the 28th of that King their temporalities in Norfolk were taxed at 78l. 18s. ob. q. and their spiritualities at 78l. 16s. 8d. ob. q.
Richard Duke of York, father of King Edward IV. and patron of the priory, gave 6 acres and a rood of meadow, 26 acres of land, liberty of a fold and messuages called the Lion, the Hoop, and the Star, and land in Walsingham Parva.
It appears that the prior had a mortuary of every parishioner in Walsingham, of the 2d best animal, and if there was but one, then of that. And in the 19th of Edward IV. in consideration that Henry Heydon, Esq. had granted to them his lands and fouldcourse in Walsingham Magna, and Hindringham, they granted to him their lands, tenements, rents, &c. in Melton Magna, Thirsford, Barney, Wodeton, and many other towns.
In the 30th of Henry III. a fine was levied between Thorald de Briton of Wichingham, and Aveline his wife, and the prior of Walsingham, who had a grant of 24 acres of land, the services of several tenants, and 3s. 8d. per ann.
Richard Vowell, prior of Lees in Essex (fn. 8) in 1519, being then prior of Walsingham, he was instituted October 4, rector of Egmere.
This Richard was the last prior, and surrendered it to the King: he, with Edmund Warham, the subprior, William Rose, and 19 other canons, subscribed to the King's supremacy, September 18, 1534; and on August 4, in the 30th of Henry VIII. he by deed inrolled in Chancery, surrendered this priory, with the cell of Flitcham, and all their possessions.
It appears that Sir Richard Southwell was one of the chief visitors at its dissolution, when John Lampley, William Mileham, Richard Garret, Robert Sall, John Clenchwarton, and John Watthy, canons, are said to have confessed themselves guilty of notorious incontinency, and that great superstition and much forgery was found in their feigned, pretended relicks and miracles. (fn. 9)
Vowell the prior, on the surrender, had a pension for life of 100l. per ann. and all the canons that signed the surrender with him, had certain pensions for life. In 1555, those who were then living, had the following pensions: John Harlow and Richard Garret, each, 5l. 6s 8d. per ann.—William Read, 6l.—Simon Brond, 4l. 6s. 8d.—William Watkyn, Humphrey Wilson, Thomas Paule, Martin Claxton, and John Clerke, each, 4l. per ann.—Laurence Kidwell and Thomas Keyme, each, 40s. per ann.
The priory church was a grand edifice. The length of the nave from the west door to the great tower, or belfry, in the church, was 70 paces; the breadth of the nave (excepting the two isles) was 16 paces; the great tower, or bell-tower, was a square of 16 paces; the length of the choir was 50 paces, and the breadth 17; besides this; there was a building, probably at the east end of the choir, of 16 yards long and 10 broad.
But the greatest beauty and glory of this priory was the chapel (fn. 10) of the blessed Virgin, which is said to have been about 8 yards long and 4 yards and 10 inches wide.
The remains of the building of the abbey, now standing, are a large portal at the west entrance, very entire; the east window of the chapel, a very fine and richly ornamented high arch, built in the reign of Henry VII. the old one being pulled down; the refectory very entire, 78 feet long, and 27 broad; the walls 26 feet and an half high, the measures taken withinside. A good west window, and stone pulpit in it; the whole building very entire, with an old very good roof upon it. Buck in his plate of it (published in 1738, and dedicated to Henry Lee Warner, Esq.) has taken the roof off.
Erasmus acquaints us that the chapel was a separate building from the priory church, and that it was not quite finished in his time: in this unfinished building there is (says he) a small chapel, all of wood, on each side of which is a little narrow door, where those were admitted who came with their offerings and paid their devotions, and had no light but from the wax candles, the odour of which was delightful, and glittered with jewels, gold and silver, insomuch, that it seemed to be the seat of the Gods." At the altar here was a canon resident, who received and took care of the offerings.
Hugh Blyford, priest, was keeper of this chapel, and buried therein in 1534. (fn. 11)
So great was the fame of this idol or image of the Lady of Walsingham, that foreigners of all nations came on a pilgrimage to her, insomuch that the number of her devotees and worshippers seemed to equal those of the Lady of Loretto in Italy, and the town of Walsingham Parva owed its chief support and maintenance thereto.
On March 24, in his 26th year, Henry III. appears to have paid his devotion to her; his precept enjoining all who held lands in capite, to meet him on the octaves of Easter, at Winchester, on an expedition into Gascoign, being dated here as above.
King Edward I. was here on January 8, in his 9th year; (fn. 12) and again in his 25th year, on the purification of the Virgin; and on October 6, in his 9th year, King Edward II.
In the 35th of Edward II. John de Montfort Duke of Britain in France came, and had the King's liberate to the treasurer and chamberlains of the Exchequer, to deliver 9l. for the expenses of his journey here, and back to London; and in the said year the Duke of Anjou had license to visit here, and the shrine of St. Thomas of Canterbury.
Isabel, Countess of Warwick, in 1439, bequeathed her tablet, with the image of our Lady, to the church of Walsingham, which had a glass over it; also to the Lady there, her gown of alyz cloth of gold, with wide sleeves, and a tabernacle of silver like in the timbre, to that of our Lady of Caversham.
King Henry VII. mentions in his will, that he had ordered an image of silver, and gilt, to be made and offered up, and set before the Lady of Walsingham; and orders a like image for St. Thomas of Canterbury.
King Henry VIII. in his second year, shortly after Christmas, between Twelfth-day, and the Queen's churching, rode here: and in the said year, May 14, as appears in a MS. of payments, by the keeper of the privy seal, 6s. 8d. were then paid to Mr. Garney's for the King's offering to her, and signed by the King's hand.
Sir Henry Spelman says, that when he was a youth, it was commonly reported that King Henry VIII. walked barefoot from the town of Barsham, to the chapel of the Lady, and presented her with a necklace of very great value.
Queen Catharine, in her will, desires that 500 masses should be said for her soul, and that a person should make a pilgrimage to our Lady at Walsingham, and distribute 200 nobles in charity upon the road. Smollet's Hist. vol. vi. p. 31.
So superstitious, so weak and credulous, were the commonalty, that they believed (as they were then imposed upon and taught) the Galaxias, or (what is called in the sky) Milky Way, was appointed by Providence to point out the particular place and residence of the Virgin, beyond all other places, and was, on that account, generally in that age, called Walsingham-Way; and I have heard old people of this country so to call and distinguish it some years past.
Among the many miracles, &c. that were ascribed to her, I cannot pass by one; on the north side at which you enter the close of this priory, was a very low and narrow wicket door, through which it was difficult for any one to pass on foot, being, as an old MS. says, "Not past an elne hye, and three quarters in bredth. And a certain Norfolk knight, Sir Raaf Boutetourt, armed cap a pee, and on horseback, being in days of old, 1314, persued by a cruel enemy, and in the utmost danger of being taken, made full speed for this gate, and invoking this Lady for his deliverance, he immediately found himself and his horse within the close and sanctuary of the priory, in a safe asylum, and so fooled his enemy."
A memorial of this miracle was engraven on a plate of copper, whereon was the effigies of the Knight, his horse, &c. and nailed on the gate of the priory, and was seen by Erasmus, who also observes that there was preserved one joint of a finger of St. Peter, as large as that of the Colossus at Rhodes, &c.
The site of the priory was sold by King Henry VIII. for 90l. to Thomas Sydney, Gent. of Walsingham Parva, and Agnes his wife; the grant is dated November 7, ao. 31, with the churchyard, orchards, gardens, &c. and he was found to die seized of it in 1544.
This Sydney, as Sir Henry Spelman relates, was governor of the Spittle in this town, (as was reported,) and employed by the townsmen to buy the site of the priory for the use of the town, but obtained and kept it to himself.
It appears by an inquisition, on his death, that he was styled Gentleman, and was 2d son of William Sydney, Esq. by Thomasine his wife, daughter and heir of John Barrington, Esq. widow of William Lunsford of Battle in Sussex, and brother to Nicholas Sydney ancestor to the Earls of Leicester.
Thomas Sidney, Esq. son and heir of Thomas aforesaid, possessed it on his father's death, was customer of Lynn, and left by Barbara his wife, sister of the great Sir Francis Walsingham, 2 sons; Thomas, the eldest, married Mary, daughter of Sir Robert Southwell, and dying without issue, Henry his brother succeeded, who was a knight, and married Jane, daughter of Francis Jermy, Esq. of Brightwell in Suffolk, and having no children, gave it to Robert Sidney Earl of Leicester.
In this town of Walsingham Parva was also an house or priory of Grey Friars or Friars Minors, founded by the Lady Elizabeth de Burgh Countess of Clare, who had a patent for it in the 21st of Edward III.
Thirdly, that the goods of the present priory and canons would not keep them half a year, much less if any other order should come into the town; and whereas this order proposes to give caution that they will not prejudice the present priory, no caution can be taken, for they are to have no lands, nor goods, by virtue of their rule, or can or ought to procure any new habitation without the Pope's leave, under pain of excommunication; and they have places enough already hereabouts, viz. at Burnham, 4 miles on one side, and at Sniterley on the other side, &c.
The site of this house was granted to John Eyer Esq. February 20, in the 36th of Henry VIII. then in the tenure of Roger Townsend and Thomas Sydney; valued at its dissolution at 3l. per ann. and in or near to it was a lady anchoress in 1526, &c.
Sir Henry Spelman says (fn. 13) that Mr. Jener was also possessed of it, and left it to his eldest son, Thomas, who settled it on his daughter, who married Bernard Utber, and was sold, as I take it, by Utber's daughter to Bond.
The bridewell was anciently a spittle-house: I find it mentioned in 1486; and in 1491, Robert Pigot, by his will dated September 13, gives his messuages, called the Spittle-houses, with the lands, freemen, and villains thereto belonging, in Walsingham and Houghton to Robert Godfrey, alias Butcher, of Walsingham, and others, on condition that they settle them on John Ederich, a leprous of Norwich, and Cecil his wife, for their lives, and after; their assigns to admit thereto (for ever to remain) two leprous men, or one, of good families; and when they died, two, or one other of the same sort.
Nicholas Well, citizen and mercer, covenanted with the Earl of March, lord of the town, 16th Richard II. Jan. 17, the prior, John and Thomas de Lexham, &c. of this town, to enclose an old way called Oldmil's Sty, and to lay out another more convenient. He also built a fountain of stone at Blethow.
In 1675, by an account then taken of those in this town, who were above 16 years, the number is said to have been 503. It is a market town, the market being on Friday, and has a fair on Whitsun-Monday.