A History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely: Volume 4, City of Ely; Ely, N. and S. Witchford and Wisbech Hundreds. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 2002.
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OUTWELL AND UPWELL
These two villages lie astride the Well Stream. Each is therefore partly in Norfolk and partly in the Isle of Ely. (fn. 1) In the Middle Ages they were collectively known as 'Welle' or 'Welles', and today they are absolutely continuous, so that it is impossible for a stranger to tell where one ends and the other begins. Together they stretch about 4 miles along the old course of the Nene, and are locally considered, probably with truth, to be 'the longest village in England'. They also form a very large village community. In 1931 the population of the four constituent parishes was just under 5,000, though the area (some 20,000 acres) is also considerable.
In the Middle Ages the Nene dictated the lay-out of the villages, but the topography of the whole district has subsequently been much altered by several large drains which run through these and neighbouring parishes. Such are Popham's Eau, an early 17thcentury cut to guide the waters of the old Nene into the Ouse at Salter's Lode; the Old Bedford River (part of the south-east boundary of Upwell), the main drainage channel, with the New Bedford River, of the southern fens; and the Middle Level Main Drain, which takes the outflow from the Chatteris and Doddington areas diagonally across Upwell and Outwell to the Ouse at the Wiggenhalls. The bursting of the bank of the Middle Level Drain in May 1862 inundated one-sixth of the parish of Outwell, which had not fully recovered three years later. (fn. 2) With these waterways may also be numbered the Wisbech Canal, now disused, which followed the course of the Well Stream as far as Outwell church and then struck across in a southeasterly direction to join Popham's Eau at Nordelph (formerly a hamlet of Upwell but now a separate Norfolk parish), about 3 miles east of Upwell and Outwell.
As befits a former market-town, (fn. 3) Upwell is something of a road centre. There is the main road from Wisbech to Downham Market (A 1122) following the canal; the Wisbech-Ely road (A 1101), which leaves this at Outwell church; a second-class road to Chatteris (B 1098), which follows the Sixteen Foot Drain (a continuation of the Middle Level Main) from the south end of Upwell village; and another from Nordelph (B 1094), which takes a very circuitous course through Christchurch, the southern hamlet of Upwell, to Manea and Wimblington. The Upwell steam tramway from Wisbech, a light railway of 4 ft. 8½ in. gauge, was opened by the G.E.R. in 1884; (fn. 4) it conveyed passengers until 1928, and is still used for goods traffic. It forms an unusual feature in the landscape, and running for much of its course along the high road, is to some extent responsible for the very pronounced ribbon development which has made the road to Wisbech (via Emneth) a built-up area almost continuous for the 7 or 8 miles of its course.
Except for the two churches, Beaupré Hall (the former chief manor house), the Upwell Baptist chapel (1844), James Lee's Almshouses (1819), and the modern Secondary and Beaupré Primary schools, the buildings of the villages have individually no great architectural distinction. They form, however, pleasant groups fronting the water-courses, and Upwell has been illustrated at least twice in books on the English countryside. (fn. 5) William Watson's description, written over a hundred years ago with reference to Marshland villages in general, is still applicable to these two in particular. 'The pale brick and tile', he says, 'manufactured in these parts, give a very neat appearance to the houses... and though the country cannot boast of rural beauty, there is an air of neatness and of greater comfort than... in many other agricultural districts.' (fn. 6) It was unfortunate that soon after he wrote, Upwell was one of the places most severely attacked by the 1832 cholera epidemic, 67 persons dying here and in Nordelph in less than two months. (fn. 7) The district was already known for its market-gardens in the 1830's— some time before they became general in Marshland. (fn. 8) As elsewhere in the north of the Isle, inclosure mostly took place gradually as the land was reclaimed and drained, but Outwell was affected by the Act of 1841 (fn. 9) (see also Leverington and Tydd St. Giles), under which Cottons Common (98 acres) and 15 acres of waste land were inclosed. By this inclosure 2 acres were set aside for a recreation ground, the Bishop of Ely as lord of the manor was allotted 1¼ acre, 17 acres were sold to defray costs, and the remaining 93 were divided amongst 26 proprietors, of whom James Lee (14 acres) was the only one to receive a holding of any size.
A public hall was erected at Upwell by a limited liability company in 1868 and is still in use. (fn. 10) The Outwell Working Men's Institute at Outwell dates from 1891, though the building is not now used for its original purpose. A Gas Company was formed in 1867. (fn. 11) Outwell was probably the birthplace of Robert Wells or Steward (d. 1557), the last Prior and first Dean of Ely. (fn. 12)
Welney, about 6 miles south of Upwell on the road to Ely, was an inhabited site in Roman times, but in its present form is mainly a modern settlement. Its population increased from 265 in 1801 to 1,019 in 1921, a very large increase even for a fen village; there was a slight decrease in 1931. It is well known for the many distinguished skaters whom it has reared, and for the skating championships which have occasionally been held there. It was formerly a hamlet of Upwell, but was wholly transferred to Norfolk in 1895. (fn. 13) The distinction between the Cambridgeshire and Norfolk portions was preserved until 1935 in the division between West Welney (Cambs.) and Welney (Norf.) parishes. The important bridge over the New Bedford River was originally a suspension bridge. It was erected in 1824–6 by the Revd. W. G. Townley, Rector of Upwell and Welney, at a cost of £3,000. The engineer was a Captain Brown. (fn. 14) The road over the bridge was turnpiked in 1827. (fn. 15)
Beaupré Hall is a large 16th-century house mainly of brick, which was built by the Beauprés and enlarged by their successors the Bells. The oldest parts date from about 1500 and include much of the central block running south-west to north-east, with a long wing running north-west at an angle. The gatehouse was placed in front of the main block and probably dates from about 1525. Fifty years later, after Sir Robert Bell succeeded to the property in virtue of his marriage with the heiress of Edmund Beaupré, the north-east section was rebuilt from the screen of the hall, a porch with an upper story was added on both sides, and a bay added at the daïs on the front; about the same time a large wing was constructed at right angles to the south-east, and connected with a wall to the gatehouse to form a court. This wing and part of the main block were destroyed a century ago, though part of the south-east end wall still remains. Before the end of the 16th century another court was formed to the south-west by a wing projecting from the main block and abutting upon the south-west side of the gatehouse. Considerable alterations, mainly internal, were made about 1750.
The gatehouse is of brick with stone dressings, the upper part being mainly of ashlar. The arches of the passage are four-centred. Above is a room lighted back and front by a square-headed window with stone mullions and transom. There are embattled angleturrets rising well above the parapet. The room contains a late-16th-century fireplace. The spacious chapel occupied the extreme end of the north-west wing. It is now roofless and the walls have partly collapsed. It is not correctly orientated and the altar was at the northwest end. Here there is a six-light window with uncusped heads; the mullions are missing. There is a similar window, now blocked, in the wall on the left. There are some good 16th-century chimney-stacks. The main door of the house has 16th-century linenfold panelling. Several rooms on the first floor retain late-16th-century panelling; another room has early 18th-century panelling and yet another Georgian wainscoting. The drawing-room, formerly part of the hall, has an early 17th-century chimney-piece and a deep wooden cornice, the sole remnant of panelling now no longer in existence. The back of the house was somewhat altered in the 19th century and suffered greatly in the process. Of late years a number of windows which had been modernized in the main block have been restored to their original form with stone mullions and transoms. The building at the southwest angle retains its characteristic flanking finials, which were also formerly found on the porch and other parts. The roofs are covered with stone tiles except some portions which have been repaired with blue slates. To the south are some fine contemporary farm buildings with stepped gables, moulded brick stringcourses, and massive timbers. The two windows of the present entrance hall are filled with fine heraldic glass dating from 1570–80. The heraldry displays the matrimonial alliances of the various owners before 1580; the mantling is particularly fine. The following coats occur: (1) Beaupré impaling Meeres, (2) Beaupré impaling Fodryngaye, (3) Beaupré impaling Mountford, (4) Beaupré quartering Fodryngaye, (5) Beaupré impaling Fodryngaye, (6) Thomas Fodryngaye, (7) Coggeshall, (8) Fodryngaye, (9) Bell, (10) Sir Robert Bell, (11) Bell impaling Harrington, (12) Beaupré quartering Fodryngaye, (13) Bell quartering Beaupré, (14) Beaupré impaling Fodryngaye. The Beaupré panels are larger than the Bell panels and slightly earlier in date.
A house adjoining the school, 180 yards south-west of Upwell church and on the east side of the street, dates from the early 18th century but has been much altered. It is of two stories with attics. The roof is partly thatched. A stone-walled house on the west side of the street, just north of Lloyds Bank, has a blocked doorway with a four-centred head and semi-octagonal columns with chamfered bases. This feature is probably late 15th-century and may have been reset. Farther south-west on the same side of the street is a three-story house with a late 18th-century front of some merit; the doorway is recessed and has Ionic columns. There are also some diamond-shaped chimney-stacks, which suggest that the building has an earlier date.
King Edgar in 974 confirmed the gift of Aylwin his foster-brother of 60,000 eels yearly from 20 fishermen at WELLES for the support of his newly founded monastery at Ramsey (Hunts.). (fn. 16) Domesday Book records 16 bordars with lands worth 5s. as belonging to this abbey. (fn. 17) The later 12th century seems to have been a period of extensive reclamation here, as at Elm; in 1202 the abbot was granted by charter view of frankpledge and a market at 'Welles', (fn. 18) and free warren in 1251. (fn. 19) The market (on Wednesdays) and a yearly fair on the feast of St. Peter and St. Paul were renewed to the Abbot and the Bishop of Ely as joint lords in 1486. (fn. 20) The market had become 'trivial' by 1845 and had disappeared altogether by 1864, when the fair, on 29 and 30 June, was merely a pleasure mart. (fn. 21)
Two extents of the manor, made about the time that the market was first granted, are preserved. The earlier, made by order of Abbot Eudo (1200–2), (fn. 22) records a small demesne, consisting of land, formerly held by Seman, whereon the new hall of the abbot had been built. The annual tribute of eels had risen slightly above the 60,000 ordained by Aylwin, and many tenants of land and messuages, as well as of fisheries, paid their rent in this form. A few years later (1206–7) a new scale of rents was drawn up, sticks of eels were reckoned by the old and the new count, and many fish-rents had been commuted for money. (fn. 23) On this occasion 28 free tenancies are recorded and the number was increasing. New purprestures were charged at 1d. an acre. In 1291 the total value of the Ramsey property in Outwell and Upwell from rents and fisheries was £1913s. 4d. (fn. 24) Three years later the abbot made an agreement with the Bishop of Ely to avoid such incidents as that which occurred in 1200–2, when Ailbrith son of Walter, a nief of the abbot, claimed to be a bishop's man. (fn. 25) The court leet of Welles was to be held by the abbot's steward, the bishop's bailiff being entitled to attend if he liked. The bishop was to hold a separate court for his own tenants. (fn. 26) The boundary between the two blocks of property in this neighbourhood was defined as being in the centre of the (Well) stream, the bishop having the land north and west thereof, the abbot that south and east. (fn. 27) The latter was thus in Norfolk in the hundred of Clackclose, of which the abbot was lord. (fn. 28) The value of the Ramsey Abbey possessions in 1538–9 was stated as only £13 9s. 9d. (fn. 29) This, however, may be an underestimate, as eight years later Edmund Beaupré, to whom the manor with all appurtenances was granted in fee, paid £282 15s. for it. (fn. 30) Edmund Beaupré was the last of his family in the male line, his daughter bringing the manor by marriage to Sir Robert Bell, Speaker of the House of Commons in 1572 and later a judge, who died at the Black Assize at Oxford (1577). (fn. 31) The marriage seems to have taken place shortly before 1561, when Beaupré settled the manor on his heirs male with remainder to Bell as his son-in-law. It was held of the queen in chief by 1/20 knight's fee. (fn. 32) The Bell family continued to hold the manor for nearly 200 years. Beaupré Bell senior, the last but one of the male line, was 'one of the strangest of mortals, letting his wild colts and cattle of 20 or 30 years old come into the very house, which was quite uncovered and every other way suitable, in a very ruinous condition'. (fn. 33) He seems in his youth to have run away from school or been kidnapped, £100 reward being offered for his return by his mother and guardian Dorothy Bell. (fn. 34) His son Beaupré was an antiquary, making a collection of coins and medals which he pre sented to Trinity College, Cambridge. (fn. 35) The younger Beaupré Bell's sister and heir Elizabeth, to whom he bequeathed the manor, married William Greaves of Fulbourn. (fn. 36) Their daughter Jane brought it by marriage to the Townley family, in which it has since continued, Mr. Charles E. Townley being lord in 1937, though the ownership of land is much divided. (fn. 37)
In 970 King Edgar confirmed the grant by Aethelwold, Bishop of Winchester, of 10,000 eels annually from 'Wyllan' to the monastery of Ely. (fn. 38) Neither Outwell nor Upwell is individually mentioned in the Cambridgeshire section of Domesday Book, but it is reasonable to suppose that some of the 15,500 eels due to the monastery from Wisbech actually came from this neighbourhood. (fn. 39) The Ely property here mostly came to the bishop on the foundation of the see, but never compared in importance with the episcopal property in other vills in the Isle. There were no tenants by military service, and only 4 free tenants in 1210–12 (fn. 40) and again in 1221, the most important being Adam (succeeded by Henry) de Sancto Edmundo, who held 200 acres in the marsh for 20s. At the latter date the fisheries were worth £14 6s. (fn. 41) Bishop Northwold's survey (1251) shows a very small demesne of 8 acres called 'Hallecroft', rent from land and messuages of £2 13s. 7d., and from 7 fisheries of £15 10s. 4d. The bishop was entitled to a wind- or a horse-mill, though his tenants were not obliged to grind at it; he also had faldage once a year of beasts pasturing in the marsh, worth £14s. 6d. more or less, and the right of wrecks, royal fish (4d. payable to finder) and other manorial perquisites. (fn. 42) The responsibility of the bishop's tenants in Outwell and Upwell for the upkeep of 44 perches of Aldreth causeway, which was disputed by them, was in 1453 transferred to John Candeler, one of the bishop's tenants in Haddenham. (fn. 43) As late as 1490 many of the bishop's tenants earned their living on water rather than land. Richard Purviaunce of Outwell 'husbandman alias waterman' received exemption from fair and market tolls in that year. (fn. 44) On the eve of the Dissolution (1536) 200 acres of marsh, specified as being in 'Beryallfield', were held by Antony Cotton in socage. There was also a military tenure, Thomas Fincham holding 240 acres known as 'Warnamy' formerly of Everard de Vernun, by service of 1/6 fee. The total rents were lower than in the 13th century, viz. £2 3s. 2d. (fn. 45) A long series of bailiff's accounts, mainly of the reign of Edward IV, shows rents of assize usually of £3 6s. 8d. and perquisites of court ranging between 10s. and £1 a year. The total net receipts were as much as £7 14s. 2d. in 1465. They tended, however, to decrease, for they were only £5 19s. 10d. in 1481, £4 16s. 4d. in 1492, and £3 19s. 1d. in 1521. Arrears of rent were exceptionally high in the earlier rolls, amounting in several years to more than £10. (fn. 46) In 1548–9 the receipts had risen to £6 6s. 7d. owing partly to an increase in court perquisites to £4. (fn. 47) At the end of the 16th century the receipts averaged £4, with a tendency to rise. (fn. 48) This manor was not one of those alienated to the Crown by Bishops Cox and Heton, (fn. 49) and in the late 18th century the bishops were still granting leases in Euximoor and Laddas Fens. (fn. 50) By the mid-19th century, however, the bishops of Ely were no longer 'principal landowners' in either Outwell or Upwell.
The cathedral priory retained certain rights in the vills after 1109. Rakenold of Well was responsible for providing 2,000 turves yearly for heating the guest house. (fn. 51) At the Dissolution these turves were still due each year to the hosteller of the monastery. (fn. 52) One of the fisheries, 'Livermere' on the borders of Elm, Upwell, and March, was retained by the monks; it was worth £1 2s. in 1291. (fn. 53) At the Dissolution the priory estates in Upwell were valued at £2 16s. 9d.; (fn. 54) they were formally made over to the dean and chapter in 1541. (fn. 55)
A ploughland in 'Wella' held in 1086 by Rainald son of Ivo has been ascribed to Upwell, but is more likely to refer to Beechamwell in Norfolk. (fn. 56)
In the reign of Edward I, John son of Gilbert de Beaupré held a manor in 'Welles'. (fn. 57) His wife was Christian, heiress of the St. Omer family, which had held common of pasture in Upwell marsh at the end of the reign of Henry III and numbered several public officials among its members. (fn. 58) The Beauprés continued in possession for more than 200 years. Edmund, the ninth of this line, was dealing with the manor of BEAUPRÉ HALL in 1541 (fn. 59) and received the Ramsey abbey manor shortly afterwards.
Another lay tenant in Upwell in 1086 was Hermer de Ferrers. His Saxon predecessor Wihenoc had seized (occupavit) all the six subtenants, i.e. had made them customary instead of free tenants, although only three were rightly of that status. There were also 9 bordars. The extent of Hermer's tenement was 2 ploughlands and 15 acres, with 2 ploughs, worth £1 6s. 8d. (fn. 60) Hermer's chief seat was at Wormegay, his descendant William de Wormegay holding a number of fees in Norfolk. (fn. 61) William's daughter Alice married Reynold de Warenne, and their granddaughter Beatrice married Doun Bardolf, (fn. 62) in whose family these possessions descended. Upwell first figures individually in the Honour of Wormegay at the death of Hugh Bardolf in 1304, when with Stow Bardolph it was extended at a capital messuage, 265 acres of land, 5 of them woodland, a marsh, a windmill, 2 fisheries producing 57 sticks of eels, 2s. rents and pleas of court. (fn. 63) This was held in chief by commuted service to Norwich castle guard and to 'waytefe'. Stow Bardolph, perhaps including Upwell, is mentioned in other inquisitions on the holders of the barony, (fn. 64) but before the end of the 13th century at least some of the Upwell property had been granted to William de Cryketot. He died in 1299 holding 4 cottages, 4 acres of land, and 27 of marsh of Sir Hugh Bardolf, the abbot of Ramsey and others, mainly by money rents. (fn. 65) The last male Cryketot proved his age in 1368 (fn. 66) but died childless, and the estate passed to his sister Joan. She with her husband Richard de Pakenham made a settlement of the manors of Outwell and Upwell in 1373. (fn. 67) Four years later they passed these manors, and the fourth part of a fishery, to Nicholas Goddard of Terrington. (fn. 68) The next recorded owner was Gilbert Haultoft, baron of the Exchequer, who was buried in Outwell church (1458). From him it passed twice through female lines to the Finchams, of whom John (d. 1528) (fn. 69) was the first possessor. This family still held the lordship when Blomefield was writing (c. 1730–40); the manor was then known as LORD BARDOLPH'S alias CRIKTOTS. (fn. 70) About 1800 it was in the possession of Heaton Wilkes, youngest brother of the politician, who being financially embarrassed sold it to James Lee of Upwell, and to Messrs. Boyce and Allenby, the last of whom soon afterwards resold his portion in small lots. (fn. 71)
William de Warenne had also six bordars in Outwell in 1086. (fn. 72) Nearly 200 years later William de Goldinham, the steward of his descendant, aided by Hugh de Blicwic the under-bailiff, was reported to be holding a court at Outwell by unknown authority, compelling attendance from outside (forincecos) tenants and levying, to the king's prejudice, fines amounting to about £40. (fn. 73) Soon afterwards the Warenne holding disappears. It was probably granted to Lewes or to Castle Acre priories, each of which had had a free tenant in 'Welles' in 1210–12, (fn. 74) and whose possessions there in rents were respectively valued at £3 1s. and 8s. in 1291. (fn. 75)
The Prior of Lewes, as lord of West Walton, had rights in the common pasture of Upwell marsh, which brought him into conflict with other commoners in that village towards the end of the reign of Henry III. (fn. 76) These two priories (Lewes and Castle Acre) seem to have disposed of their estates in Upwell before the Dissolution, as they are not mentioned in the fines conveying the possessions of these monasteries to the Crown. (fn. 77)
A great part of Outwell and Upwell passed at various times into monastic ownership; in 1291 no fewer than 16 religious houses together held lands, rents, and fisheries there valued at £64. (fn. 78) There were two small priories in the locality itself. In 1291 Molycourt, on the Norfolk side, where the Well Stream is now crossed by the Middle Level Main Drain, held in Welles lands valued at £5—a sum representing rather more than half the total value of its estates. (fn. 79) In 1306 John son of Gilbert leased 3 acres in Outwell called 'Milleresland' to the priory for 12d. a year for 2,000 years. This is interesting as an early example of a term so long as to amount almost to a perpetuity. (fn. 80) Molycourt Priory suffered much from floods in the next hundred years, (fn. 81) and was amalgamated with Ely cathedral priory in 1446, when the endowment included 7 houses and some land in Outwell and Upwell. (fn. 82) At the Dissolution it yielded a net return (including the actual site of the priory) of £6 19s. 2d. (fn. 83)
The estates of this cell spread over Marshland, in Downham, the Wiggenhalls, Elm, Emneth, Wisbech, Walsoken, and Leverington as well as Outwell and Upwell. They were kept together after the Reformation and let out on twenty-one-year beneficial leases by the Dean and Chapter of Ely for £20 5s. 11d., as the manor of MULLICOURT HOUSE. The first recorded tenant (1638) was Oliver Cromwell. After the Restoration this 'manor' was leased to successive generations of the Legg, Gibson, and Burton families, all non-resident, until 1803 when a twenty-one-year lease was granted at the customary rent to John Miller and William Stevens, both of London, trustees of the executor of Philip Burton. Their successors were (1827) 'the representatives of the late amiable Bishop Home, of Norwich'. (fn. 84) After this date the estate was divided into three parts and tenancies were sometimes acquired by local persons, e.g. William Lee (1839) and Hanslip Palmer (1847), both of Upwell.
In a survey of 1649 quit-rents were valued at £1 12s. 4d. and perquisites of court at 3s. 4d. The total property then comprised 259 acres of an annual value of £187 12s. 8d. Of this area 88 acres—or rather more than one-third—was in Outwell and Upwell; it was valued at £85 2s. 8d. The following year the manor was sold for £1,296 10s. 11d. to Blunt and Edward Sadleir, merchants of London, who resold in 1651 at the same price to Samuel Calverley of Outwell. Calverley was allowed to remain as tenant when the dean and chapter returned as lords in 1660, but his twenty-one-year lease made that year was not renewed beyond 1668. (fn. 85) Fines for the renewal of the lease were £110 in 1704, £300 in 1717, and £185 in 1724. (fn. 86)
In 1251 the priory of Marmont, (fn. 87) now represented by Marmont Priory Farm on the Cambridgeshire side of Upwell village, held 100 acres as a free tenant of the bishop at 2s. yearly. (fn. 88) In 1291 the priory drew £11 0s. 8d. from rents and fisheries in Upwell. (fn. 89) In 1535 it derived £7 9s. 10d. from Upwell—9s. 9d. from rents on the Norfolk side and £7 0s. 1d. from a 'manor' on the Cambridgeshire side. (fn. 90) The site was granted in 1568 to Percival Bowes and John Mosyer; (fn. 91) it retained its identity as a reputed manor for another hundred years, (fn. 92) and early in the 19th century belonged to a Mr. Bacon, who had purchased it from Mr. Thomas Audley of Lynn. (fn. 93)
Besides Ramsey other monasteries not locally situated in the district held property in Upwell and Outwell. Of these the abbey of West Dereham (Norf.) was the most extensively endowed. During the 13th century several local persons made grants to it. The most important of these benefactors was William le Curteis, who gave 23 acres, 7s. 4d. in rents and the homage of five tenants in 'Welle', (fn. 94) and Thomas de Burch, who gave a messuage and 50 acres in Upwell. (fn. 95) In 1291 the West Dereham estates were reckoned as a manor, worth £10 13s. 4d. (fn. 96) At the Dissolution the value had increased to £15 13s. 3d. net. (fn. 97) In 1554 the manor was granted to Edmund Beaupré, (fn. 98) and thenceforth became merged in the main Ramsey abbey manor. (fn. 99)
The priory of Walsingham (Norf.) also received grants from the de Burghs and other local families; (fn. 100) its lands were valued at £1 10s. in 1291 but at only 16s. in 1535. (fn. 101) A 'great close' in Outwell called 'Wadingstowe', named in the cartulary of this monastery, was in the tenure of Thomas Calleye in 1544, when it was granted to John Eyer. At the same time Eyer received a messuage and croft in Upwell, formerly the property of Bury abbey, which had been leased to him the previous year. (fn. 102) This messuage and croft had been appropriated to the cellarer of the abbey in 1291, and were then worth 12s. (fn. 103)
Ixworth Priory (Suff.) held a fair amount of property in Upwell, of which unusually full documentary evidence survives. It lay in the west and south of the Cambridgeshire side of the parish. The estate was generally known as Thirling, and can be identified with Thurland's Drove on the western boundary of Upwell near Laddus Bank. Appurtenances of the manor, as the property was called after the Reformation, lay in Welney. Thirling itself seems to have been merely a farmhouse or grange. (fn. 104) After the Dissolution a church with a rectory and an advowson is mentioned at intervals in connexion with the manor. (fn. 105) The words may recall a chapel or oratory once attached to Thirling grange; on the other hand they may have been inserted into conveyances pro majori cautela.
The canons of Thirling held 80 acres in frank almoin in 'Well' in 1221, (fn. 106) and seventy years later the priory drew £2 8s. from rents and fisheries there. (fn. 107) In 1535 the value of the Ixworth property in Upwell had risen to £5 9s. 10d. (fn. 108) Some of it lay next the West Dereham lands, and was in 1355 leased in succession for three lives to Adam Borewyne, Maud his wife, and Henry his son. (fn. 109) After the Dissolution the Ixworth property was granted in fee to Thomas Megges. (fn. 110) Nicholas Megges, who succeeded Thomas in 1542, (fn. 111) and Joan his wife passed it to (Sir) Thomas Gresham and his wife Anne in 1551. (fn. 112) The manor of THIRLING was valued at £9 yearly at Sir Thomas's death in 1579, (fn. 113) and was held in chief as 1/10 fee in 1596. (fn. 114) Gresham's son Richard died unmarried before his parents, and the manor passed at Lady Gresham's death (1596), in consequence of a former marriage of hers, to the Reade family. (fn. 115) Sir William Reade made a marriage settlement in 1606, (fn. 116) and at his death in 1621 the manor passed to his three granddaughters, Jane Viscountess Fitzwalter, Elizabeth wife of Sir George Berkeley, and Bridget Stanhope. (fn. 117) The last named was a minor at this date, and her third share was united with that of the Berkeleys in family settlements made in 1640 and 1653. (fn. 118) Bridget married George Fielding 17th Earl of Desmond (fn. 119) and as Countess of Desmond is recorded in 1649 as holding 200 acres in 'Thurlands', worth £15 a year. (fn. 120) Jane and her second husband Sir William Withypoll were dealing with their third in 1629, and their daughter Elizabeth with her husband Leicester Devereux in 1647. (fn. 121) The latter, as Viscount Hereford, conveyed his share in 1666 to John Berridge, (fn. 122) whose family had by 1681 obtained the other two-thirds. Berridges were still in possession in 1705. (fn. 123)
A manor of BUDBECK originated in a messuage and 12 acres of that name, of which Reynold son of Thomas son of William Andrewe made a settlement in 1442. (fn. 124) This family also held the manor of Vernons in Elm (q.v.), with which Budbeck descended. In 1649, when Thomas Fincham was lord, the quitrents were £2 5s. 1d. (fn. 125)
The manor of COURTEYS FEE presumably originated in the lands of the Curteis family, tenants under Ramsey Abbey, and benefactors of that foundation and West Dereham Abbey (fn. 126) (see above). In 1592 Richard Buckeworth died seised of it, and it is recorded for nearly a century afterwards. (fn. 127)
The Norwich Valuation of 1254 assessed the churches of Outwell and Upwell at £13 6s. 8d. and £6 13s. 4d. respectively. (fn. 128) Contrary to expectation, the Taxatio of 1291 put these churches at lower values, namely £6 13s. 4d. for Outwell and £4 for Upwell. (fn. 129) They were never appropriated, but in 1291 £2, and in 1535 £1 6s. 8d. were payable from Upwell rectory as portions to Ramsey abbey, and at the latter date 6s. 8d. was diverted from Outwell rectory to the church (fn. 130) of Elm. (fn. 131) The total values in 1535 were £16 18s. 3d. (Outwell) and £17 17s. 3d. (Upwell). (fn. 132) With the drainage of the fens, the value of Upwell rectory increased very greatly. In 1851 it was stated to be worth £6,000 a year. (fn. 133) This is probably an exaggeration, but an authoritative return eight years later put the value at £3,855. (fn. 134) The parish, which at that time included Welney, Christchurch, and Nordelph, comprised some 25,000 acres of the most fertile soil in the country.
The chapel of Welney, which is not mentioned in the Valor, was in existence probably before the middle of the 17th century and certainly by 1763. (fn. 135) In 1862 it became parochial, under the Upwell-cum-Welney Division Act of sixteen years earlier. (fn. 136) The ecclesiastical districts of Christchurch and Nordelph were formed out of Upwell in 1866 (fn. 137) and 1909 (fn. 138) respectively. The latter is entirely in Norfolk and comprises portions of Downham Market and Stow Bardolph as well as Upwell.
The advowsons of the churches of Outwell and Upwell have followed the descent of the Ely and Ramsey manors respectively (q.v.). That of Welney rectory was originally held by the Townley family, patrons of the mother church, but since 1938 presentations have been made by the Bishop of Ely. Those of Christchurch rectory and Nordelph vicarage have been retained by the Townley family. (fn. 139)
A chapel or hermitage of St. Christopher was established in the high street of Outwell in 1348. (fn. 140) No trace remains. In 1571 its site, then occupied by Edward Jenkyns, was granted to Richard Hill and Robert Don. (fn. 141) According to Blomefield there was also a chapel in Upwell in the Middle Ages, dedicated to St. Botolph, (fn. 142) which was also granted to Hill and Don in 1571, when its ½-acre site was occupied by William Christen. (fn. 143) The following year it was regranted to Hill and William James. (fn. 144) Watson mentions an old house near the bridge, the last in the village on the road to Outwell, which had the appearance of formerly having been a chapel, and a roadway nearby called Pious Drove (now Pious Lane). (fn. 145) This may be the chapel which, with two cottages, all in the tenure of the churchwardens, was in 1549 granted to William Warde. (fn. 146)
A guild of St. John in Upwell was dissolved in 1547; its hall was sold to Richard Hill and Robert Don in 1571 and regranted to Hill and William James the following year. (fn. 147) This guildhall was the meeting-place of the courts leet of the Bishop of Ely in 1648. (fn. 148) Hill also received a close of pasture which had belonged to the chantry of Marmons in Upwell. (fn. 149) A 'Guyldehall' in Welney was in 1550 sold to William Place and Nicholas Spakeman, (fn. 150) and in 1568 to Hugh Counsaille and his heirs. (fn. 151)
The church of ST. CLEMENT, OUTWELL, consists of chancel, north and south chapels, clerestoried nave, aisles, north chapel in the form of a transept, south porch, and west tower. There was a church on the site in the 13th century, of which the only visible remains are the first three stages of the tower. In the 14th century the present arcades were built and the aisles assumed their existing form. In the second half of the 15th century there was an extensive scheme of rebuilding and enlargement which was not completed until about 1520, the north chancel chapel being approximately of this date. In 1863 the church was severely restored, the east end of the chancel being practically rebuilt, largely with the old materials, and new roofs provided for the chancel and north aisle. The walls were replastered, and this must have involved the destruction of at least one mural painting which was noted by Blomefield in the middle of the 18th century. The materials are Barnack and rag stone plastered, except the north nave chapel which is of brick with stone dressings. The roofs of the chancel, nave, south aisle, north nave chapel, and porch are slated, and the rest leaded. There are embattled parapets throughout, except to the north aisle.
The chancel has a fine five-light east window with embattled transom, with cinquefoiled heads above and below the transom and cinquefoiled tracery. There are angle buttresses with three set-offs. The plinth has a band of quatrefoils enclosing blank shields. The chancel extends beyond the chapels and has a north and south window of three lights with rectilinear tracery; the latter has a transom in the main lights and also in the tracery. There are crocketed angle pinnacles which have been renewed. The south window has a lowered sill to serve as sedilia. There is a four-centred arch opening to each chapel, the south with continuous mouldings and the north with demi-angels as caps. The lofty chancel arch is two-centred and of two orders with moulded caps. The chancel roof is modern, of hammerbeam construction; the 15th-century stone corbels remain and consist of demi-angels bearing shields.
The north chapel, which from the evidence of the heraldry of its roof corbels must have been erected in the first quarter of the 16th century, has an east window of six lights with an embattled transom and a fourcentred head with hood-mould, on either side of which are much-worn figures under canopies. There is a diagonal buttress with three set-offs at the north-east angle, and in the north wall are two three-light windows with embattled transoms and four-centred heads. The chapel opens to the aisle by a truncated fourcentred arch with a moulded cap having a shield on the north, but no respond. Near this arch on the south side are remains of the stairs which formerly led to the rood loft. There is a four-centred doorway leading to the north nave chapel with square hood-mould terminating in carved heads; it is set at an angle in the north-west corner. There is a piscina with cinquefoiled head in the south wall. The roof is of cambered beam construction with moulded principals and purlins, and demi-angels bearing shields. The stone roof corbels have shields charged with the arms of Fincham, Haultoft, and Derham, which indicates that the chapel was built by John Fincham, who married Elizabeth daughter and heiress of Thomas Derham, and Alice his wife, who was daughter and coheiress of Gilbert Haultoft. John Fincham died in 1527.
The south chapel has a five-light east window with embattled transom and cinquefoiled main lights and three rows of tracery lights. There are angle buttresses with three set-offs having quatrefoils enclosing blank shields on the faces. The south window has six lights with an embattled transom and four-centred head. There is a tomb recess of the 14th century in the south wall with elaborate cusping to the arch and angle shafts. The roof is of hammerbeam construction with full-length angels as hammers on the south and demiangels on the south wall-plate; the hammers on the north are moulded and formerly terminated in shields. The wall-plate on this side has an elaborate carved trail. There are unusually short wall-posts.
The nave has arcades of five bays with two-centred arches of two orders and octagonal piers with moulded caps and bases; it belongs to the first half of the 14th century. There are five clerestory windows on each side, of three lights with cinquefoiled heads and hoodmoulds terminating in human heads. There are gargoyles on either side. Over the chancel arch is a three-light window with cinquefoiled heads. The clerestory is a 15th-century addition. The lofty tower arch is of two orders, the outer with continuous mouldings and the inner with demi-angels as caps. The roof is a fine example of the Marshland type with alternate hammerbeams and tiebeams having queen-posts, the spandrels have pierced tracery, and there are demi-angels on the tiebeams, hammerbeams, and wall-plates. The wall-posts have full-length figures under canopies and there are carved stone corbels.
The north aisle has two lateral windows of three lights with cinquefoiled heads, of the 15th century, and a similar window at the west end. There is a fourcentred arch from the aisle to the north nave chapel, with moulded caps and bases. The north doorway has a continuous chamfer and is of the 15th century. There are two buttresses with two set-offs, of the same period. The roof is modern.
The north chapel is set at right angles to the aisle. It has two diagonal buttresses with four set-offs. The east window is of three lights, the centre light trefoilheaded and the others uncusped. The north window has four uncusped lights under a depressed head, and the west window is of three lights with cinquefoiled heads. The roof is of hammerbeam construction with shield-bearing angels on the hammers and wallposts.
The south aisle opens to the chapel by a late-15thcentury arch of two orders. To the east of the porch is a seven-light window with embattled transom and depressed head, probably early 16th century. West of the porch is a three-light 14th-century window, cinquefoiled with a quatrefoil above. The west window is of the 15th century and has four cinquefoiled main lights with rectilinear tracery in the head. The plinth has a band of quatrefoils enclosing blank shields, and the buttresses have three set-offs. The roof is similar to that of the chapel, but it retains the shields on the north hammerbeams, and only the western portion of the wall-plate has a carved trail.
The porch, which belongs to the 15th-century reconstruction, is of two bays with two-light windows on each side in the inner bay, and with a parvise. It has an octopartite vault with brick web and carved bosses. The outer arch is four-centred with moulded caps and chamfered bases to the responds. The inner doorway has a continuous chamfer. The parvise is approached by a newel stair at the north-west angle with a doorway in the aisle having a four-centred head. The parvise is lighted by windows on the east, west, and south, of two lights.
The tower is of four stages, the first three being of the second half of the 13th century and the belfry stage a century later. The west doorway and window are 15th-century insertions, the former having a fourcentred arch and continuous mouldings, and the latter being of four lights cinquefoiled with rectilinear tracery in the head. There are two blocked lancets on the north and south in the second stage. The third stage has windows of two lights with foliated circles in the head and shafts with moulded caps and bases as mullions and at the angles. The top stage is a 14thcentury addition having two-light windows with trefoiled heads. There is a plain parapet and crocketed pinnacles at the angles, and the tower is crowned by a leaded pyramidal cap, which replaces a lofty spire removed in 1753. There are angle buttresses with four set-offs. At the south-east corner is an octagonal stair turret reaching to the third stage; this is a 15thcentury addition and was formerly reached by a doorway in the south aisle, now blocked, with four-centred head and shields in the spandrels; the modern entrance is from the churchyard.
The fittings are important. The 15th-century font has a hexagonal bowl with two shallow cinquefoiled niches on each face and one on each face of the shaft. There is a fine eagle lectern of latten, also of the 15th century, and a massive iron-bound chest with seven locks. In the south aisle is a remarkable wooden alms box standing on a tall shaft, which dates from the beginning of the 17th century. Of the same period is the communion table now in the south chapel. There is a brass with inscription to Richard Quadryng, 1511, now on the wall of the north aisle; he is in armour of the period. In the same aisle is a mid-15th-century brass inscription to Margaret Haultoft, and in the south aisle is the matrix of a knight and lady. In the southeast corner of the south chapel is a Purbeck marble altar tomb with back-piece and small projecting canopy; on the north and west sides are quatrefoils containing shields, and on the back-piece is an alabaster tablet of later date commemorating Nicholas Beaupre and Margaret his wife, 1512. There is a shield with the arms of Beaupre impaling Fodryngaye. The tomb is apparently of this date, but the tablet is fifty years later and was probably inserted by his son Edmund, who is himself commemorated by an alabaster mural monument supported on the canopy of the altar tomb with his shield of arms. The south chapel is paved with black and white marble and in the west arch is an iron screen on a stone base, all 18th-century work. There is a considerable amount of early-16th-century painted glass. In the tracery of the east window of the chancel are portions of canopies, heads, and inscriptions. In the tracery of the east window of the south chapel are the following subjects: top row—(1) chalice and Host, (2) Deity seated and holding orb, (3) St. Faith, (4) Five Wounds; middle row—(1) fragments of canopies, (2) St. Olaf, (3) St. Edward the Martyr, (4) St. Walstan, (5) St. Martin, (6) St. Lawrence, (7) St. Stephen, (8) fragments; bottom row—(1) scroll, (2) hand holding cup, (3) shield of Ely, (4) Virgin and Child and two other figures, (5) St. Edward the Confessor, (6) fragments, (7) fragments, including shield of St. George, (8) part of female saint, (9) St. Ursula, (10) scroll. In the north-west window of the north chancel chapel is a large figure holding a covered cup, part of the Adoration of the Magi, which was almost complete when Blomefield visited the church in the middle of the 18th century; above is an angel holding a shield with Fincham quartering Haultoft.
The plate includes (i) a communion cup and cover paten without assay marks, but the former is inscribed 'the perishe of Outwell anno domini 1593'; (ii) a paten of silver without assay marks inscribed 'Outwell St. Clement'; (iii) a flagon of silver, 1652, inscribed 'This flagon belongs to the Parish of Outwell', and above these arms: per chevron argent and azure a crescent counterchanged, and for a crest an arm embowed mailed, the hand holding a tilting spear broken enfiled with a chaplet.
The church of ST. PETER, UPWELL, consists of chancel, north vestry, clerestoried nave, aisles, north porch, and north-west tower. The material is Barnack stone and rag. The earliest portions of the present fabric are the west wall of the nave and the two lower stages of the tower, which are of the middle of the 13th century. The fact that the east arch of the tower is contemporary proves that there was a north aisle to the nave at that time. A third stage, octagonal in plan, was added to the tower in the 14th century. In the second half of the 15th century the church was almost entirely rebuilt on an enlarged plan. In the 19th century, but rather earlier than usual, there was an extensive restoration and refitting, which greatly altered the appearance of the interior. There are large galleries in the north aisle and at the west end of the nave. The vestry, which is of brick covered with stucco, is probably of this period, though it is likely that it is on the site of an earlier structure. There is an embattled parapet on all parts of the building, but it is modern or at any rate greatly renewed.
The chancel has a four-light east window with renewed tracery of 15th-century type. There are angle buttresses with three set-offs, and this type is found in all parts of the church except at the west end, where a 13th-century example remains. There is a continuous string-course carried round the buttresses. The lateral windows of the chancel are of three lights with cinquefoiled heads and rectilinear tracery. The east window on the north is curtailed to accommodate the vestry, a proof that a vestry was contemplated from the first. The middle window on the south is similarly curtailed to accommodate a doorway with continuous chamfer and a hood-moulding terminating in masks; this doorway has been renewed with the exception of the hood. The doorway to the vestry has a four-centred head and continuous chamfer, of 15th-century character, but it has been so daubed with modern paint that it is difficult to decide how far it is old work. The wide chancel arch is four-centred with moulded caps and bases to the responds. There is a piscina with trefoiled head and ogee hood-moulding, and good canopied sedilia with panelled back and soffit but no divisions. The roof is of hammerbeam type with angels having outspread wings at the end of the beams and demi-angels on the wall-plates. The vestry has a three-light window on the north with cinquefoils under a square head, and a flat plastered ceiling.
The nave arcades consist of six arches on the south and five on the north; they are two-centred and of two orders; the outer order has continuous mouldings while the inner has moulded caps and bases. The composite piers are oblong in plan. Rounded shafts rise to the stone roof corbels. The clerestory consists of two-light windows with cinquefoiled heads under a square label. In the south-east angle of the nave is the rood stair turret, which rises above the roof and is crowned by a sanctus bell-cote of ashlar, the upper part of the turret being of brick with stone dressings; the plain lower doorway with four-centred head remains but is partially blocked; it opens into the chancel. The west wall of the nave is of the 13th century with a contemporary buttress at the south-west. The doorway, also contemporary, has a two-centred arch of two orders with a continuous chamfer and a hood-mould. The window above is of four lights with intersecting cusped tracery, all modern. The roof is of Marshland type with alternate tiebeams and hammerbeams, the former having queen-posts while the latter are formed of angels with outspread wings; there are demi-angels with outspread wings on the wall-plate and the spandrels have pierced tracery.
The aisles have windows of uniform type with three cinquefoiled lights and trefoiled rectilinear tracery. There is a good south doorway with continuous mouldings and a hood terminating in grotesque heads. The roofs are of the lean-to type with hammerbeams at the outer ends and demi-angels with outspread wings on the wall-plates. The porch has an outer arch of two orders with moulded caps and bases and a hood-mould terminating in masks. There is a two-light window on the east and west with trefoiled heads under a square label. The inner doorway has a four-centred arch with continuous mouldings and a hood-mould terminating in masks. The 15th-century door remains, with swans carved on the frame. There is a lierne vault, which is almost flat. Above is a parvise with a three-light window on the north with cinquefoiled main lights and cinquefoiled tracery, all contained under a square label with a male and female head as stops; on either side is an empty canopied niche. There is a plain lowpitched beam roof. The embattled parapet is of yellow brick and probably dates from the first half of the 19th century.
The tower is of three stages, the two lower of which are 13th century and the top stage 14th century. The west window in the lowest stage is of three trefoiled lights and two sexfoils above, and is a 14th-century insertion. The middle stage has a window of two lights on the east, north, and west with a shaft having a moulded cap and base in lieu of a mullion and a trefoil above, the whole contained within a chamfered arch with angle shafts having moulded caps and bases and a hood-mould. The top stage is octagonal with twolight windows on alternate sides with cinquefoiled heads and trefoils above, and a hood-mould terminating in carved stops. The embattled parapet is of brick and probably dates from the end of the 15th century; there are gargoyles at the angles. The base of the tower has arches on the south and east, now blocked. The former is of the 15th century and the latter of the 13th; both are of two orders, and two-centred with moulded caps and bases.
The 15th-century font has an octagonal bowl with demi-angels holding blank shields on the sides, and the shaft has crocketed canopies with flanking pinnacles and plain shields beneath. In the chancel is a fine brass with triple canopy and the figure of a priest in alb, stole, and cope; the inscription is missing, but it probably commemorates William Mowbray, rector, 1428. There is another brass of a priest similarly vested, but without a canopy; the inscription is now missing, but it is known to commemorate Henry Martyn, Rector of Yaxham (Norf.), 1435. There is a brass plate engraved with a man and woman kneeling at a desk, with seven sons and four daughters, commemorating Jane, wife of Sinolphus Bell, who died in 1621. There is an eagle lectern of latten of early-15th-century date with a round moulded base supported on three lions.
The plate includes a communion cup and paten of silver, 1629, an alms dish of silver, 1770, inscribed 'Cristo Crucifixo D.D.D. Thomas Audley', a flagon of silver, 1639, inscribed 'This flagon belongs to the Parish of Upwell', and another alms dish of 1766, inscribed 'the gift of Francis Dixon, 1767'.
The tower contains six bells, 1st and 2nd by Joseph Mallows of East Dereham, 1760; 3rd and 4th by John Draper of Thetford, 1613 and 1627; 5th by Thomas Norris of Stamford, 1634; 6th by C. and J. Mears of London, 1856.
The churchyard gates were erected when the churchyard was enlarged about 1840. They came from Peterborough Cathedral and the vases on top of the stone piers from Wanstead House (Essex). (fn. 152)
CHRISTCHURCH, at the hamlet of the same name, formerly called Brimstone Hill, (fn. 153) is a red brick structure with stone facings and tiled roofs. It dates from 1862, and is in the style of the mid-13th century with some foreign modifications. It consists of apsidal chancel, north and south chapels used respectively as vestry and organ chamber, transepts, nave, south porch, and boiler-room in the angle between the nave and the north transept. There is a wooden turret at the east end of the nave containing one bell; the original design included a tower on the north side, but this was demolished shortly before 1883 owing to the insecurity of its foundations. (fn. 154) There are oil paintings in the nave representing Christ crowned with thorns, and the Descent from the Cross. The former is a copy of a painting by Holman Hunt. The latter is a copy of a painting by Giuseppe Ribera (Spagnoletto) and was presented by Lt.-Col. E. R. Pratt of Ryston Hall (Norfolk); it was originally brought from Italy by Sir Roger Pratt the architect, a member of this family. (fn. 155)
The church of ST. MARY THE VIRGIN, WELNEY, is a stone building with a slate roof. It dates from 1848 and replaces an earlier building, the costs of reconstruction being met from 'the overplus of the charities of the township'. (fn. 156) The present church is in the 'Geometrical' style and consists of chancel with north vestry, nave, and bell-cote over the chancel arch. There is a chalice dated 1848, and a paten probably of the same date. There are two bells. The registers date from 1642 (baptisms), 1650 (marriages), and 1653 (burials).
The church of the HOLYTRINITY, NORDELPH, was erected in 1865 with money bequeathed by the Revd. W. G. Townley. It is of brick with slate roof, in the early 'Gothic' style, and consists of chancel, nave, vestry, south porch, and turret containing one bell. (fn. 157)
The Rectory of Upwell (fn. 158) is a late-15th-century brick structure, considerably altered at the end of the 17th century, with a large wing added to the east in the 19th century. The house is a notable example of East Anglian brick construction, with some interesting and unusual features. It is situated to the south-west of the church and was originally approached through a forecourt of which the only remains are two small octagonal towers with newel staircases, which formed the outer angles of the court. The front of the house has three stepped gables, that on the right being over the porch, and there are two rows of blind arcading in brick. There are four stone-framed windows on the first floor on this side with hood-mouldings, which have lost their mullions and have had late-17th-century casements inserted. Below are three more windows, formerly of a similar nature, which have been mutilated for the insertion of late-17th-century leaded casements. The porch has an outer doorway with a two-centred arch of stone with moulded caps to the responds. The inner doorway has a moulded square head and the door itself is panelled with applied tracery. In the angles of the porch are stone roof corbels carved with the Evangelistic symbols. The roof itself is modern. The porch now opens into the modern wing, and on the opposite side of the hall there is another door, which is not in situ, with applied tracery and very similar to that on the north. The fact that the porch is now at the extreme east end of the ancient portion of the front suggests that the house originally extended farther in that direction on ground now occupied by the 19thcentury addition. This supposition is further supported by the position of the right angle tower of the forecourt. At the back of the house there is a semioctagonal turret for the stairs, and farther west a blocked doorway and a small window above. There are two ancient gables on this side. Two original windows remain on the west side, a two-light above and a singlelight below. There is also on this side the lower part of a turret, which probably contained a newel stair. The chimney-stacks are modern as regards their upper portions. The roofs are slated except that at the west end, which is stone tiled. The interior has been greatly altered and the original plan obscured by later partitions and rearrangement of the rooms. Part of a fine late-15th-century fireplace with four-centred arch is visible on the first floor. The dining-room has early18th-century panelling.
Nonconformity was very strongly established in Outwell and Upwell by the middle of the 19th century. The congregations at the parish churches represented only about one-third (at Outwell) and one-quarter (at Upwell) of the total number of church-goers. The proportion of Anglican to Nonconformist Sunday school children in Upwell was even lower. (fn. 159) None of the dissenting congregations was of especially early foundation, though the Wesleyan Methodists in Upwell dated from 1814 and the Methodist Reformers at Nordelph worshipped in a building that was erected before 1800. The present Wesleyan churches at Upwell and Nordelph date from 1888 and 1861 respectively. Primitive Methodism obtained a very large following. The chapels of this denomination, with the dates of their foundation, were as follows: Outwell (1844), Upwell (two chapels, 1829 and 1835), Euximoor (1838), Three Holes (1839), Lakes End (originally Wesleyan, ante 1800), Welney (1832), and Suspension Bridge (1843). The chapel at Welney was built in 1839 and rebuilt in 1890. The Chapels at Lakes End and Suspension Bridge were rebuilt in 1914 and 1872 respectively. The United Methodists had chapels at Outwell (Bethel, 1851) and Christchurch; the latter congregation dates from 1833, but the present chapel was built in 1872. There are Baptist chapels at Upwell and Tips End. The former congregation began to meet in 1840; its church was built in 1844. The latter chapel (Zion) dates from 1878. (fn. 160) The Tips End chapel and the Methodist chapel at Christchurch were built by the same architect and builder (J. Kerridge and E. Everson), and are respectively of 'Gothic' and Classic design. The Upwell Salvation Army hall dates from 1883, but is not now used for its original purpose.
The division of the villages between two counties has produced some anomalies; for example, the Outwell National School had its infants' department in the Isle and its boys' and girls' departments in Norfolk, and its successor the Beaupré School, though erected and controlled by the Isle of Ely County Council, is about ¼ mile over the county boundary in Norfolk.
In 1798 the sole educational provision in the two villages was a Sunday school in Upwell. In consequence of this the villages were described as a 'dark corner'. (fn. 161) In Outwell an attempt to establish a day school supported from the parish charity estates was made in the 1830's. (fn. 162) This failed, and in 1846 Outwell had still no school except a Sunday school, attended by 10 boys and 20 girls. (fn. 163)
The Revd. W. G. Townley, Rector of Upwell, who as brother of the lord of the manor and occupier of Beaupré Hall was almost as powerful in Outwell as in his own parish, was instrumental in establishing the Outwell National School in 1848. The school buildings were erected in 1854 for £779 including a teacher's house, towards which the National Society made a grant of £110. (fn. 164) After enlargement in 1873 the school could accommodate 199 children, a figure which was scaled down to 156 at the reassessment of 1910. The school was closed in 1878 owing to a controversy over the organization of the Outwell charities. It was reopened in 1881 when by a scheme made by the Charity Commissioners in that year about half of the £69 arising annually from the consolidated charities was assigned to education. As elsewhere in Marshland, the development of market-gardens and small-holdings led to an increase in population and great pressure on the schools. The situation at Outwell was only relieved when after the First World War an army hut, accommodating 77, was acquired. The school was closed on the opening of the Beaupré School in 1939. (fn. 165)
A National School for infants was built in Outwell in 1865. The site was given by C. W. Townley, lord of the manor, and the National Society made a grant of £14. (fn. 166) The accommodation was for 80. (fn. 167)
The Beaupré School, named after the former lords of the manor, was opened in 1939. It takes (1951) all the infants and junior children who formerly attended the two voluntary schools in Outwell. The accommodation is for 250. (fn. 168)
Some time after 1831 (fn. 169) the Revd. W. G. Townley opened a school in Upwell, associated with the National Society. This school was attended by 217 children in 1846 (fn. 170) and 250 in 1864. (fn. 171) Too much reliance seems to have been placed on the patronage of the founder, and though some attempt was made to provide for the out-parish by the erection of voluntary schools at Christchurch and Nordelph. (see below), conditions deteriorated in Upwell after Townley's death in 1862. It was necessary to set up a School Board for the combined parishes of Upwell Isle and Upwell Norfolk in 1874. (fn. 172) The Board considered Townley's building unsatisfactory and in 1877–8 built a large new school for 304 children, at a cost, including two teachers' houses, of about £4,000. (fn. 173) The old building was left with the Church authorities, who established an Institute and Literary Association in it; it is now the parish hall. (fn. 174) In 1909 the Upwell St. Peter's Board School was enlarged by the Norfolk County Council, at a cost of about £1,500, to take 400 children. (fn. 175) In the 1930's this school was practically full; there were 154 boys on the roll in 1935, in a department with 156 places. The situation, however, was eased when the secondary school was completed, and from 1939 St. Peter's School has been reorganized for 120 'junior mixed' and 120 infants.
A proposal for a secondary school at Upwell, to be provided by both County Councils, was made in 1931. Owing to the economic crisis of that year the Norfolk County Council withdrew, leaving the Isle to provide for its older children in the building planned for the Christchurch school (q.v.). The scheme of 1931 was revived in 1934, but in a form that placed responsibility for provision solely upon Norfolk. A site was obtained in the following year. The school was planned for 140 senior children of each sex, and was opened in 1939. It cost nearly £23,000, including equipment. (fn. 176) This school now (1951) takes the older children from Emneth, Welney, and Nordelph as well as from Outwell and Upwell, and since the Second World War has had over 350 on the books. Additional accommodation in the shape of a Horsa hut, for 80 children, was provided in 1948. (fn. 177)
In 1865 a school, towards which the National Society granted £110, was built at Christchurch. (fn. 178) From 1875 it was leased to the newly formed Upwell School Board. (fn. 179) In 1884 additional accommodation was provided for 37 infants, raising the total capacity to 150. Though the school was situated in a wellpopulated area it was on the edge of the district which it served. In 1893 the School Board decided by a narrow majority to replace the school by one more centrally situated on the Sixteen Foot Bank. This scheme, though it was revived by the County Council in 1914 and 1925, came to nothing, and the school was not moved until 1932, when a new site in the village, about ½ mile from the former one, was found. Here a new school called the Townley School was built and opened. (fn. 180) Owing to the fact that the plan for building a secondary school at Upwell in 1931 was not achieved, the County Council of the Isle found it necessary to use the hall of the new Townley School as classrooms, and to retain the old school building for the infants. By this means 180 places in all were provided. There were 125 children in attendance in 1949.
From about 1908 there was much local agitation on account of the hardships faced by small children in their long muddy walk from the end of Euximoor Drove to Christchurch. The persistent demand for a school on the Sixteen Foot Bank was mainly for the benefit of children living in Euximoor and other fens on the opposite side of the river to Christchurch. In 1910 the County Council opened a school for 30 children in a temporary building about half-way along Euximoor Drove. This building, which is said to have been originally used as a gymnasium at March Grammar School, was at first recognized for ten years only. It was in use, however, until the opening of the Townley School in 1932. (fn. 181)
The school at Lakes End was built by the School Board in 1876 for £2,000 and provided for the southeast side of the parish. Enlargements in 1893 and 1910 brought the accommodation up to 145–91 mixed and 54 infants. The isolated position of the school led to difficulties in staffing, especially in 1913–15. The numbers attending have gradually decreased. They were 91 in 1928 and 71 in 1939 after 18 senior pupils had been transferred to the new Upwell Secondary School. (fn. 182)
The date of erection and affiliations of the original school at Nordelph are uncertain. (fn. 183) The Upwell School Board did not consider its buildings suitable. The buildings, however, remained in use until the completion of a Board school in 1879. This school, which cost £2,053 and provided 95 places in the first instance, was enlarged in 1893 to take 119 children. After its transfer to the County Council it became overcrowded, the average attendance in 1908 being 118. A new classroom was provided in 1909–10 at a cost of £543. The accommodation was thereafter reckoned at 154 (106 mixed, 48 infants). Numbers remained fairly high for some time; they were 120 in 1930 and 121 in 1935. In 1939, however, when 12 senior children were removed to Upwell Secondary School, only 71 pupils were left behind in Nordelph. The remaining seniors were transferred to Upwell in 1946, and three years later the attendance was only 33. (fn. 184)
In 1661 William Marshall left nine pieces of land, amounting to about 470 acres, in Welney, Upwell, and Littleport. The rents were to be devoted in equal amounts to (i) the repair of Welney chapel and the bridge leading to it; (ii) the poor widows of the hamlet, and the apprenticing of poor children therein; and (iii) the repair of the highways. In 1819 a new scheme for the disposal of the charity moneys was introduced. A third of the rents were to go to the widows. The remaining two-thirds were to be devoted to the other original objects of the charity, and also to the establishment of a free elementary school on Church principles.
The greater part of the rental of about £650 was spent on the testamentary objects of the relief of widows (£130), (fn. 185) repairs to highways, bridges, and the chapel (£185), and drainage taxes, and it was not possible to appoint a schoolmaster until 1827. Even then he received only £20 a year instead of the £60 proposed in 1819, but by 1835 his salary had been increased to £28. (fn. 186) By 1847 sufficient funds had been accumulated to build the school, and also some almshouses, and to rebuild the Anglican chapel. (fn. 187)
In 1866 the school received £77 a year from Marshall's charity, and there were 135 children, taught by an uncertificated master and mistress. The school was not subject to government inspection. (fn. 188) By 1893 £100 a year was being devoted to the school, but complaints were made that this was inadequate, and that the school was entitled to a full third of the charity. The buildings accommodated 163 children before and 130 after 1910. The school was 'decapitated' in 1939, when the older children were moved to the new school at Upwell (q.v.). (fn. 189)
Another school, which served also as a mission room, was opened in 1874. It stood near the suspension bridge, and was intended for the children living on the far side of the Bedford Rivers. (fn. 190) It was closed in 1927, when its 43 pupils were transferred to Marshall's School in the village. This arrangement proved unsatisfactory owing to the almost annual flooding of the Washes between the Bedford Rivers, and shortly before 1938 the children were again transferred, but this time to Hilgay (Norf.). (fn. 191)
CHARITIES (fn. 192)
In 1628 a rent of 10s. derived from the Outwell Town Lands, then first mentioned, was being paid annually to the poor of each 'side' of the village, i.e. Norfolk and the Isle. Subsequently the Town Lands must have increased greatly in area, for in 1795–6 the rental was £68 10s. This was applied in roughly equal proportions to the following objects: to the clerk and the sexton for salaries; to the churchwardens, and the overseers of each side (£10 each) to be spent at their discretion; to the poor in bread; to the poor in a general dole. In 1835 the property amounted to a messuage and 33 acres in Outwell, Upwell, and Emneth, and produced £117 10s. The parochial officials still received their £30, and £18 1s. was devoted to a school supported by voluntary subscriptions, which seems to have been short lived. The remainder of the proceeds were spent on incidentals and on indiscriminate gifts of bread and money to the poor, and the trustees were advised by the Commissioners to mend their ways. In 1864 £50 were devoted to the national school. (fn. 193)
A 10-acre piece known as the Town Ten Lands brought in £24 in 1835, and £36 in 1864, when its area was estimated at 12 a. 35 p. (fn. 194) This was applied by the overseers on the Norfolk side to the poor rate, and to the repair of a bridge in the Norfolk portion of the parish.
The churchwardens of Outwell had a house and 10 acres of land in the fen, which were let in 1835 for £19 10s. The money was applied to the church rate. By 1864 the rent was £29 5s. (fn. 195) Accounts existing in 1835 showed that the house had been in possession of the churchwardens since 1617 and the land since 1670. (fn. 196)
In 1616 William Lynne bequeathed 9 acres in Elm for the benefit of the poor of Outwell. In 1835 the rent arising was £20. This was distributed on Christmas Eve in sums varying from 2s. to 13s. according to the size of the recipient's family. The intended recipients were designated beforehand at a public meeting. The rent of this charity had in 1864 decreased to £17 7s. (fn. 197)
Several charities were to some extent consolidated in this fund. At an unknown date unknown donors gave in charity a house, at one time the blacksmith's forge, and 3 acres in Adcock's Hill, High Fen. In 1837 the rents arising from these two properties amounted to £1215s. At an unknown date Matthew Bateman gave a rent charge of £5 to provide clothing for the poor at Christmas. By 1837 these three charities, with a portion of Foxe's charity (see below), had been merged by the parish officials into a general fund, amounting to about £120 a year. The interest on this sum was given to about 200 poor persons on the Isle side in sums of 2s. 6d. to £1 according to the size of the recipient's family, with a preference to those not on the rates. The Charity Commissioners did not approve of the absorption of Bateman's clothing charity into this general fund.
In 1626 John Foxe bequeathed 3 houses to charitable purposes. The rents of two of the houses were to go respectively to the poor of the two sides of the parish of Upwell, and the rent of the third to the repair of the church. As a result of drainage and inclosure in the fens, 15 acres in Neatmoor were allotted to the 'church' house. (fn. 198) This allotment had been increased in 1837 to 17 acres and then brought in £50. The land had formerly been let for £45 10s. The house itself was divided into two tenements and brought in £5. An attempt was being made in 1837 to divert some of the income to church rates, but the rector was against this, as the church itself was then (1837) in bad repair. By 1864 the rental had decreased to £40, all applied to the upkeep of the church. (fn. 199) The 'Isle' house was in 1665 awarded 16½ acres in Euximoor and Shrewsness Green. In 1837 the house itself was let to the overseers at £5 5s. as a workhouse. The land was let at £31 10s.— a sum which was carried into the general fund. The letting of the various lands appertaining to Foxe's charity was in 1837 carried out by public auction.
In 1562 Thomas Lamb bequeathed two small estates: a messuage and 3 acres in Plaw Field, and another house, the rent of which was to be applied for the benefit of the poor of the Norfolk side. In 1837 the former house was used as a workhouse for the-Norfolk side and the land was let for £10. In 1665 14 acres in Neatmoor were awarded to this house under the inclosure of drained fen land. In 1837 this allotment produced £36 a year. In 1837 the rent of the second house and of another 14 acres obtained under the 1665 award was £49 10s. All this was applied to the Norfolk poor except for one-third of the rent of the house then used as the 'Norfolk' workhouse and its 3 acres in Plaw Field, although the Isle poor were also entitled to onethird of the £36 derived from the 14 acres in Neatmoor.
In 1864 the Norfolk share in the Foxe and Lamb charities consisted of two of the various houses and about 30 acres of land, producing £100 a year. (fn. 200)
The two small charities of John Boss and Thomas Dixon were in 1837 worth £10 and £20 respectively. The interest on the former was devoted to bread and on the latter to general purposes. The Isle poor received 6s. 8d. of the £1 interest of Dixon's charity, but all the rest went to Norfolk. These charities were formerly reserved for non-paupers, but in 1835 were distributed indiscriminately. By 1864 they were merged with the Foxe and Lamb charities and were distributed at Christmas. (fn. 201)
The balance of population in Upwell has always been slightly in favour of Norfolk, but the main reason for the apparently unfair treatment of the Isle poor in the above charities was probably the existence of one important charity entirely devoted to the Isle side of Upwell and Welney. In 1765 Bishop Mawson of Ely demised 35 acres of land in Welney Runns, known as the Bishop's Lands, (fn. 202) on a perpetually renewable lease to the rector and churchwardens of Upwell for the poor of the main village and the hamlet. Up to 1837 this land was let at £39 10s., after that date at £68 10s.; two-thirds of the income was given to the poor of Upwell Isle, and one-third to Welney Isle. The moneys were distributed annually, with a preference to non-paupers.