South Elmham, St James

The History and Antiquities of the County of Suffolk: Volume 1. Originally published by WS Crowell, Ipswich, 1846.

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'South Elmham, St James', in The History and Antiquities of the County of Suffolk: Volume 1, (Ipswich, 1846) pp. 217-221. British History Online [accessed 18 April 2024]

In this section

St. James South Elmham.

As a member of the lordship of South Elmham, the manorial history of this parish has been already detailed. It lies at the south-west angle of the demesne, and comprises 1301 acres of land, of which nine are glebe. The tithes have been commuted for a rent-charge of £384. 10s.; and the population in 1841 amounted to 289.

There is a small estate in this parish, containing about 15 acres, and let for an annual rent of £20, given by Catharine Skarffe, widow of Andrew Skarffe, formerly of St. James's, who by her last will and testament, bearing date December 21st, 1479, gave all her messuage, tenement, and lands belonging, for certain pious and charitable uses, and for repairing the parish church, &c. vested in the hands of feoffees for the fulfilling the intent and uses of her will; but as part of the uses were abolished with the change of religion in this realm, by an inquisition taken of all charitable and other donations, in the reign of James I., it was settled and decreed that the rents and profits arising from the premises should be applied towards the reparation of the parish church, and the overplus expended in aid of the parish rates. There were also £10 given by William Grudgfield, Gent., to be vested in the churchwarden's hands for the time being, for him to render 10s. per annum, as interest; to be given away yearly, at the discretion of the churchwarden, to the poor of the said parish for ever. (fn. 11)

The farm in this parish called St. James's Park was anciently a paled enclosure, with a mansion in the centre, and was, most probably, emparked by royal license. It was formerly the property of Robert Palmer, Esq., from whom it passed to Wolfran Lewis, Esq. (fn. 12) It now belongs to his son, the Rev. John Lewis, Rector of Gillingham, in Norfolk.

The Church

is a spacious edifice, lofty and well proportioned, though it has not altogether escaped neglect and inappropriate reparations. It comprises a nave, opening by a fine arch into a square tower, in which hang four bells; a chancel, and a south aisle; the east end of which was formerly appropriated as a chapel, and dedicated to St. John. Andrew Taylor, who died Rector of this parish in 1474, and whose will was proved on the 9th of January, 1475, desires his body to be buried in this church, before the altar of St. John Baptist; "coram alt: S. Jo'is Bapt:" (fn. 13) Three octangular pillars, with plain moulded capitals, support the like number of arches, and to the west of these is a fourth arch, of like character, but of greater height and span. There are the remains of three sedilia, but the piscina is closed, and the canopies of all have been destroyed.

Considerable care and expense must have been bestowed on this fabric in olden times, as is apparent in every part of it. The chancel door is of very fine workmanship, and the stone employed of superior quality. Though full six hundred years old, the edges of the mouldings remain sharp and uncorroded. The north door of the nave requires also a particular notice. It is pointed, but the architraves are wrought with the Norman billet moulding. Fragments of stained glass in the windows attest the presence of this enrichment in earlier days, when almost all our parish churches were beautified with its tinted, solemn gloom.

The west end of the aisle formed the ancient vestry, and is enclosed by a screen of oak of early English character, which, though simply cut in boards, produces considerable effect. Like every thing in the interior of our churches, it is covered with a wash of lime. At the foot of the western arcade stands a large and very ancient font of Norman construction, sustaining a canopy of oak, richly carved, but of much inferior date. Like the old screen, it is incrusted with whitewash, while the font itself is coloured yellow— a barbarism the more to be regretted as it is carved out of Purbeck marble, a stone which bears the highest polish.

Tombs.—On the floor of the nave lies a small brass plate, about five inches long and two wide, bearing the following laconic inscription:

There are two brass effigies, of ordinary character, lying in the nave, about a foot long.

Hannah Greene, widow of John Greene, and daughter of William Aldrich, of Rumburgh, Gent., buried 6 May, 1712, æt. 65. John Greene, Gent., died 4 March, 1688, æt. 67. Thomas Greene died x day of May, 1615: he married Agnes Warde, and had 3 sons and 3 daughters.

On a brass plate is the following record:

Here lyethe buried the body of William Grudgfield, who had to wife Elizabeth Battely. He deceased ye 2 of June, anno 1601, which Willia' gave x pounde to be payed by his executors to ye church-wardens wthin 2 yeeres after his decease, for ye byinge of 5 milsh kyne to be let out to ye use of the poore of this parish for ever.

In the church-yard, against the west end of the aisle, is a tomb to the memory of George Norman Cracknell, who lost his life while bathing in the river Orwell, 11th of Aug., 1834, aged 16 years.

Rectors of St. James South Elmham.

Rectors. Date. Patrons.
Robert de Stratton 1334 The Bishop.
Joēs de Hoo 1335 Id.
Roger de Stow 1337 Id.
Joēs Waynflet 1337 Id.
Robert de Foston 1345 Id.
Simon Gyzoun de Linford 1349 Id.
Joēs de Wynston 1349 Id.
Thomas Walton 1349 Id.
William Sillecok 1357 Id.
Robert Day
Joēs Spendlove 1370 Id.
Joēs Bredford 1390 Id.
Richard Elyngton 1394 Id.
Joēs de Norton 1397 Id.
Henry Yokflete
Robert Somerby 1402 Id.
Thomas Audemer
Joēs Covyn 1414 Id.
Henry Edward 1419 Id.
Thomas Robyn 1431 The Bishop.
Andrew Taylor 1436 Id.
Thomas Ocley 1474 Id.
Robert Mawnus 1475 Id.
Nicholas Kyrshawe 1511 Id.
Robert Betts 1523 Id.
Joes Radwiche 1557 Edward, Lord North.
William Riccarde 1566 Id.
John Guthrie 1617 Sir John Tasburgh.
Samuel Knapp 1622 Thomas Knapp, p. h. v.
Richard Sadler 1665 John Gooch, Esq.
Francis Booty 1684 Thomas Baxter, Gent.
John Birch 1705 John Tasburgh, Esq.
Samuel Birch 1706 Baldwin Conyers, Esq.
Thomas Fuller 1737 Anthony Ellys, D. D., p. h. v.
Francis Turner 1743 Bishop, by lapse.
Thomas Barne 1790 Alexander Adair, Esq.
Archibald Brice 1795 Id.
Courtenay Boyle Bruce 1828 Id.

Estimatur ad xii marc.


  • 11. MSS. Norman.
  • 12. Id.
  • 13. Will Book, Norwich.