A History of the County of Essex: Volume 4, Ongar Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1956.
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Two manors of NORTON were entered in Domesday Book. One of them had been held in 1066 by a woman named 'Godid', as ½ hide. After the Conquest she had given it to the Dean and Chapter of St. Paul's but the gift was irregular; at least the canons 'could not produce the king's writ or permission' for its alienation to the Domesday Commissioners. (fn. 1) There is little doubt that this was the manor which later became known as Foliots Hall alias Forest Hall in High Ongar (q.v.).
The other manor of Norton was held in 1086 by Wimund as tenant of Hamon dapifer. (fn. 2) It had been held in 1066 by 'Gotil' as a manor and as 1½ hide and 15 acres. It is probable that Gotil and the above Godid were identical and thus that in 1066 both manors of Norton were held by the same person.
Hamon dapifer was succeeded (probably before 1100) by his eldest son Hamon, also dapifer, and Sheriff of Kent. The younger Hamon was alive in 1129, but dead by Michaelmas 1130. He was succeeded by his brother Robert Fitz Hamon, whose daughter and heir married Robert, Earl of Gloucester, bastard son of Henry I. (fn. 3) The overlordship of Norton followed the same descent and ultimately passed with the earldom of Gloucester to the Clares. Gilbert de Clare, Earl of Gloucester (d. 1314), was lord in 1311. (fn. 4) The overlordship subsequently escheated to the Crown as part of the honor of Gloucester. In 1524 it was stated that Norton Mandeville was held of the king as of the honor of Mandeville. (fn. 5) No doubt the similarity of name had caused the manor to be treated as part of that honor. In fact, as shown below, the manor and parish took their name from a family of tenants holding of the honor of Gloucester.
By the end of the 12th century the tenancy of the manor had passed to the Dammartins. In 1181 Odo de Dammartin was acting as farmer of the manor of Forest Hall in High Ongar (q.v.). William de Dammartin (d. 1195) was a tenant in Norton. (fn. 6) He had succeeded his brother Bartholomew, who died before 1190; they were sons of Manasser de Dammartin. (fn. 7) A Manasser de Dammartin was benefactor to the abbey of Missenden (Bucks.) with which the Clares had connexions. (fn. 8)
The heir of William de Dammartin was his daughter Galiena. After William's death the king gave the wardship of Galiena to William Brewer, who married her to his brother John (d. 1210). (fn. 9) After John Brewer's death Galiena married Robert de Burgate. Robert died some time after Easter 1220, and by 1228 Galiena had married a third husband, Ernald de Mandeville, 'whose name suggests that he was a descendant of Ernald de Mandeville, the disinherited son of the 1st Earl of Essex'. (fn. 10) By her second marriage Galiena had a son, Peter de Burgate, and a daughter Anastasia de Burgate who married John le Merk. By her third marriage she had two sons, John and Hugh de Mandeville. Ernald de Mandeville was still alive in 1251, when he and Galiena conveyed 80 acres of land in Norton to William de Frith and Parnel his wife. (fn. 11) Ernald probably died soon after, for in 1254 Galiena conveyed the manor of Norton to her son John de Mandeville, retaining a life interest in it. (fn. 12) By another deed of about this time John granted back the manor to Galiena, receiving in return 60 acres in Norton. (fn. 13) In or before 1258 Galiena granted to John 76 acres of land and 1 acre of meadow in her vill of Norton. (fn. 14) This last grant is of great interest because of the detailed descriptions in it. Forty acres of the land granted lay in Westfield, next to the land of the Rector of High Ongar and that of Waleran de Monceux. (fn. 15) There were 8 acres in a field called la Mora, 15 acres in another field also called Westfield lying next to the land of St. Paul's, which Richard Foliot then held, 1 acre called Old Apeltun in the same field, 10 acres called Kelleveland and 3 acres in Westfield lying between Kelleveland and the land of Galiena which extended from the land of Richard Foliot to the king's highway. The acre of meadow lay next to the meadow of the Rector of High Ongar. The grant reserved to Galiena a path 1 perch in breadth in the north part next to the fence of one John which led from the king's highway called Westrete to the 'bank', for passage and cartage to her field called Longemad. John was to have free passage from the church of Norton by the road leading to Ongar, i.e. in the field called Chirchefeld near the long fence from the south. The location of many of the fields named in this charter can be identified from the map of the parish made in 1740. (fn. 16) Upper and Lower Westfield lay in the extreme south-west of the parish, Upper Westfield being the more easterly of the two. In 1740 their total acreage was 43. La Mora is probably Moors, a small field lying along the banks of the Roding, which in 1740 contained 4 acres. Kelleveland is probably the Kellums Field of 1740, on the north-west border of the parish adjoining Forest Hall, then containing 8 acres. Churchfield adjoined the church to the east. Longmead was in the centre of the parish on its southern boundary, ¼ mile from the church.
The above grant was probably the immediate preliminary to another, in 1258, by which John de Mandeville gave to the Dean and Chapter of St. Paul's 76 acres of land and 1 acre of meadow in Norton. (fn. 17) From this time onwards this part of the inheritance of Galiena de Dammartin presumably formed part of the manor of Forest Hall in High Ongar.
No evidence has been found to show that John de Mandeville had any further connexion with the manor. It was probably soon after 1258 that Galiena granted the manor of Norton to her daughter Anastasia. (fn. 18) Anastasia subsequently granted all her land in Westfield in Norton, with a way for carrying, &c., from Norton Heath by the causeway and with a windmill and rents outside the parish, to her daughter Galiena on the marriage of the latter to Gilbert de Theydon. (fn. 19) Anastasia was still living, in widowhood, in 1285, when she granted land in Norton to John son of Henry. (fn. 20) John son of John le Merk (the son or step-son of Anastasia) was a party to this transaction.
The next step in the descent of the manor is not quite clear. In 1296 John le Rous of Felsted granted the manor to John le Rous his father and Agnes, wife of the latter. (fn. 21) In 1297 Gilbert de Theydon, formerly husband of Galiena le Merk, granted to John le Rous and Agnes his wife for life a windmill and 18 acres of land in Norton Mandeville with 5s. rent from the lands that Emma la Brune had previously held of Anastasia le Merk, called 'Craneslond' in Stanford Rivers. (fn. 22) This property, which Gilbert was holding by the courtesy of England, was no doubt Galiena's marriage portion mentioned above. In 1300 Peter son of Robert de Burgate quitclaimed to John the elder son of John le Rous a messuage, 1 carucate of land and £4 13s. 4d. rent in Norton Mandeville. (fn. 23) This Peter may have been the son of Galiena de Dammartin, but if so he must have been a very old man. In any case the meaning of this transaction is probably that John le Rous was securing himself against a possible claimant to the manor. If Galiena de Dammartin had not granted Norton to her daughter Anastasia the manor would in the normal course of succession have passed to her son Peter de Burgate and his heirs.
John le Rous the father was dead before 2 May 1311. His elder son John had died before him and his heir was another son, also named John. In 1311 the wardship of John the last born (post natus) son and heir of John le Rous was granted by the Earl of Gloucester to Simon le Wylde and Joan his wife. (fn. 24) John le Rous was alive in 1328 but dead by 4 April 1332 when a release of land was executed by his widow Maud. (fn. 25) He left sons Robert, John, and Nicholas. (fn. 26) Maud le Rous retained some interest in Norton Mandeville and was still alive in 1345. (fn. 27) By 1350 the manor had passed to John le Rous, probably her second son. (fn. 28) This John le Rous was still alive in 1366 and probably also in 1374. (fn. 29) His son and heir was probably Thomas le Rous alias Caune, who held Norton Mandeville in 1412. (fn. 30) Thomas was dead by 18 November 1422 when his widow Elizabeth had seisin of the manor for life. He left sons John, Thomas, and Richard. (fn. 31) It was provided that the eldest son John Caune should have the reversion of the manor on condition that he paid £20 to each of his brothers and of his three sisters. If he failed to do so the second son Thomas was to have Norton. (fn. 32)
In 1440 the manor was held by Thomas Rous. (fn. 33) He was probably the second son mentioned above, and had assumed the original family name again. (fn. 34) He was apparently dead by 7 May 1451, leaving a widow Elizabeth and a son Thomas. (fn. 35) In 1473 Thomas Rous conveyed Norton Mandeville to his son Richard. (fn. 36) In 1490 Richard Rous sold Norton and Cawnes in North Weald (q.v.) to Merton College, Oxford, for £493. (fn. 37)
The college retained the property until 1864. From 1800 to 1832 Norton Hall farm, consisting of 264 acres was leased by the college to Capel Cure of Blake Hall, Bobbingworth (q.v.), who sub-let it to a tenant farmer, Robert Hadsley. (fn. 38) The farm contained 207 acres of arable and 57 acres of pasture.
In 1847 the college owned 265 acres in Norton Mandeville, most of which lay around Norton Hall in the centre and west of the parish. Norton Hall farm now contained only 164 acres, the rest of the property being separately leased. (fn. 39) In 1864 the whole property was sold by the college and became part of the Forest Hall estate, High Ongar, which was then in the process of being bought from J. B. Stane by J. L. Newall. Stane and his father had previously leased Norton Hall farm. (fn. 40) By 1919 the farm had increased to 421 acres. (fn. 41)
There appears to be no trace of an ancient manor house. The present Norton Hall farm-house dates from about 1870-the time when J. L. Newall was building up and improving the Forest Hall estate. It is of red brick.