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

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'Belton', in The History and Antiquities of the County of Suffolk: Volume 1, (Ipswich, 1846) pp. 301-307. British History Online [accessed 13 April 2024]

In this section


is also written Bolton in the records of the Bishop of Norwich, though I do not find it so spelt in any other ancient deeds. There is no distinct manor of Belton: in the court books the lordship is styled the manor of Gapton Hall with Belton, though of late it has generally been called Gapton Hall only, and seems to have extended over two other villages, not merely as a manor, but almost as another parish. (fn. 1) In a settlement of the year 1668, made by Thomas Garneys, Esq., of sundry estates, late of Sir John Wentworth, the manor is named Gapton in Bradwell, Belton, &c. (fn. 2) Beletun and Gabbetun are returned in Domesday amongst the King's possessions in Lothing land, which Roger Bigot took charge of. Gabbetun appears to have been the most important of the two places, and comprised two small manors, held by Ulf and Achestan, who possessed large flocks of sheep. Sprottulf had also an estate here. Beletun is called a beruite only: it was depreciated in value, though still rated at 10 shillings, and it fed a flock of 160 sheep. (fn. 3) Balderic de Bosco held this domain in the reign of Henry II., whose heirs exchanged it with Robert de Gladeson for lands in Normandy.

"Antiq: Rex Henr: dedit Balderic de Bosco maniūm de Mutford cum Gapeton et Beleton in aūmtacone baron' sue de Baldemund propter £ xl. terre quas sibi p'misit p: servicio suo scilicet, Mutford p: £xxx. et Gapeton et Belton p. £x. Heredes vero p'd'c'i Baldrici dederunt Gapeton et Beleton in excambiam p: una villa in Normann: que vocat: Gyl, quas villas Robertus de Gladefen et Rad: Gernum tenent, set nescitr p: qd: servicium." (fn. 4)

Certain lands, and apparently the manor of Gapton in Belton, &c., were granted by Osbert de Gladeson to the priory of Leigh, in Essex, during the reign of Henry III., which priory was founded in the year 1230 by the above-mentioned Ralph Gernun. It was returned as the lordship of the priory in the ninth of Edward I., (fn. 5) and continued parcel of its possessions till the reign of Henry VIII., when it was granted to R. Cavendish, Esq., and was conveyed, in the reign of Elizabeth, with other estates, to John Wentworth, Esq. On the 14th of April, in the thirty-third of Elizabeth, by indenture tripartite between Thomas Cavendish, of Trimley St. Martin's, in the county of Suffolk, Esq., of the one part, and Humphrey Seckford, of Ipswich, in the said county, Esq., and John Wentworth, of Somerleyton, in the said county of Suffolk, Gent., of the other part, Thomas Cavendish, for £2000, conveyed to Humphrey Seckford, and John Wentworth, the lordships and manors of Wenham combusta, alias Burnt Wenham; West Burfield, alias West Bergholt; Derneford, alias Dirneforde Hall, in Sweffling; Gapton, alias Gapton Hall, in Bradwell, in the said county of Suffolk; which sometime did belong and appertain to the late priory of St. John the Evangelist of Leighes, in the county of Essex, suppressed and dissolved; and all and singular messuages, lands, tenements, mills and knights'-fees, advowsons, gifts, and patronage of churches, rectories, vicarages, chantries, and chapels, tithes, oblations, pensions, portions, court-leets, view of frank-pledge, franchises, &c., thereunto belonging; and all letters-patent, deeds, evidences, court-rolls, &c., to hold to Humphrey Seckford and John Wentworth, their heirs and assigns for ever.

Sir John Wentworth, son and heir of the above-said John Wentworth, Esq., died in possession of the manor of Gapton Hall with Belton, in 1652, and his widow, Lady Ann Wentworth, held it at her death in 1664. It was then inherited by Thomas Garneys, Esq., and was purchased in 1672 by Sir Thomas Allin. From him it descended to the family of Anguish, and fell, by heirship, to Lord Osborne, who sold it with his other estates in the Hundred to Samuel Morton Peto, Esq.

The Hamlet of Browston
belongs to the parish of Belton, and was called Brockestuna in Domesday Book. It was held as a manor by Ulketel, a free-man: he had 40 acres of land here, with half a plough, wood for 10 pigs, 1 draught horse, 2 geese, and 7 pigs, 30 sheep, and 3 goats, valued at 5 shillings. Under him a free-man held 30 acres of land, valued at 2 shillings. In the same hamlet, Broder, a free-man, who probably gave his name to the hamlet of Brotherton in the neighbouring parish of Hopton, held 60 acres for a manor, with two bordars, one plough in demesne, and half an one among the tenants; 1 draught horse, 2 geese, 7 pigs, and 40 sheep: the whole valued at 5 shillings. In the same place, Godwin continued under the Normans to hold 30 acres of land, and half a plough, valued at 3 shillings; and two free-men here possessed 80 acres of land, and one bordar, with one plough and a half, always valued at 6 shillings. From the quantity of land which is thus recorded as lying in this now small hamlet, it is not improbable that the domain in Hopton, known as Brotherton, was then included in the survey of Browston. The ownership of Broder leads to this conclusion. The entire property was in the hands of the Crown, under the stewardship of Roger Bigot.

Browston Hall, which is sometimes called Browston White House, was the seat of the family of Le Grys, some of whom are buried in the parish church of Belton. The front rooms were built by Mr. Le Grys, but the wrought ceilings of the hall and principal apartments were executed under the direction of the grandfather of the Rev. Edward Missenden Love, who then resided here. It is a good old-fashioned mansion, standing low and sheltered, but commanding no view of the adjacent water called Browston Broad, nor of the expansive bosom of Fritton Lake. It is now the property of Mrs. Sophia Harper. This lady is also the owner of an ancient house, not two hundred yards from the hall, which retains considerable marks of age. On its front is a stone thus inscribed: W. R. S. 1689. It was, therefore, probably built by one of the family of Symonds, who were possessors of Browston Hall before it passed to that of Le Grys.

The gross amount of acres in the parish of Belton is 2055, 3 roods, 19 perches; of which 76 acres, 3 roods, 16 perches, consist of roads, drains, and water. The glebe lands amount to 19 acres, 2 roods, 19 perches, including the church-yard and homestall. The commutation in lieu of tithes was £440, and the population in 1841 consisted of 465 souls.

The Church.

There does not appear to have been a church at Belton when Domesday was compiled: that record is silent, at least, concerning it. The 'Testa de Nevill,' however, which contains inquests taken as early as the reign of Henry III., informs us that the church at Belton then belonged to the canons of St. Bartholomew at Smithfield.

"Eccliā de pua Gernem et de Gorleston et de Lowystoft et de Beleton sunt de dono D'ni Reg: et Magr: Alan de Stokes tenet illas p: canonicos de Scō Bartholomew de Smethefeld, quibus D'ns Rex H: avus illas dedit, ut dict." (fn. 6)

The church must therefore have been built as early as the reign of Henry I., who died in a.d. 1135; because the preceding record tells us he gave it to the monastery at Smithfield. The master Alan de Stokes,—a pluralist of no ordinary stamp, holding four preferments,—seems to have leased the temporalities of Belton for the annual payment of a pound of incense.

"Rad: de Beleton tenet eccliam de Beleton reddendo inde p: ann: Magrō de Stok unam libram incensi." (fn. 7)

If the assertion of the Testa de Nevill, that the canons of St. Bartholomew were patrons of this benefice, be correct, they could not very long have retained it, for we find the patronage in the hands of the bishop of the diocese as early as the reign of Edward III.

The present edifice bears no marks of very early architecture, and may be referred to the middle of the fourteenth century. It comprises a nave and chancel only; a circular tower at the west end having been long ruinated. It is a fine, well-proportioned building, constructed of cut flints, and in good condition. The interior is lofty and light, and produces a pleasing effect, which even the flat ceiling of the chancel, and the want of an east window, cannot altogether destroy. A neat screen across the fine chancel arch, and an octangular font of hard stone, sculptured with pointed arches, and raised on a shaft of two divisions, complete the ancient decorations of this sacred edifice, if we except a small piscina having a cusped arch, open to sedilia, unfinished with canopies. The little painting inserted in the north wall of the chancel within the communion-rails, is, as we are informed by a note on the fly-leaf of the last register book, a painting on glass, and was placed there by the Rev. John Schomberg, the last rector. The inscription in front of the organ, which states that it was erected by the same incumbent, and presented after his death to the parish by his surviving brothers, is decidedly an error, as it was bought, and placed in the church, by subscription, to which Mrs. Fowler, and the late Mr. Anguish, were liberal contributors. It was removed to its position at the west end of the nave by the present incumbent, who built the gallery in which it stands. The church possesses but one bell, which hangs over the porch.

The oldest register book commences January 9th, 1560. The series is complete and unbroken from the above date, and in excellent preservation. From the entries we learn that the plague raged here in the spring of 1665. This disease must have spread itself from Yarmouth, where, in the previous year, two thousand five hundred persons fell victims to its fury, amongst whom, it is recorded, were both the ministers of Yarmouth church.

Monuments.—There are several inscriptions to the family of Ives, who bore for arms, arg. a chev. between 3 blackamoors' heads erased sab. John Ives, of Gt. Yarmouth, merchant, died Oct. 1, 1758, æt. 74. John Ives, Esq., died March 19th, 1793, aged 74. Mary, his second wife, died March 19, 1790, aged 72.

There is also a memorial to John Ives, Esq., Fellow of the Royal and Antiquarian Societies, and Suffolk Herald Extraordinary. He was son of John Ives, Esq., who died in 1793, and was extensively known as the author of a work on the Roman Antiquities in the adjoining village of Burgh, entitled 'Remarks upon the Garianonum of the Romans: the site and remains fixed and described.' He also published three numbers of 'Select Papers relating to English Antiquities.'

Mr. Ives possessed a quick and lively fancy, but seems to have been deficient in sound antiquarian learning. He died in 1776, at the early age of 25 years. I give his monument at full length, as a fellow labourer in antiquarian pursuits.

Viri lectissimi
Johannis Ives, Armigeri,
Regiæ et Antiquariæ London: SS.
Nec non provinciæ Suffolciensis
Inter primos eruditi, bonarum artium
Qui in priscorum temporum monumentis
Illustrandis, multum, nec infeliciter,

Nono mensis Jan: A. D. MDCCLXXVI. Ætat: xxv.
Maximo cum desiderio omnium,
Mœrentium præcipue parentum,
Johannis et Mariæ Ives,
Immaturè, eheu!

Rev. Robert Cayley, late Rector, died Oct. 29, 1784, æt. 69. Mary, his wife, died Jan. 26, 1785, æt. 55. Ann, their daughter, died Oct. 20th, 1787, æt. 14. William, their son, died June 16, 1762, æt. 10 months. Frank Plumtree Howes, died March 23, 1840, æt. 4 months. David Urquhart, late of Hobland Hall, obt. 27 June, 1774, æt. 57.

Arms: Urquhart; quarterly 1st and 4th: or, 3 boars' heads erased, within a bordure gules: 2nd and 3rd, party per fess indented, ermine and azure.

Mrs. Margaret Le Grys, of Browston Hall, in this parish, died 19 June, 1788, æt. 59. Arms: Le Grys; quarterly or and az. on a bend arg. 3 boars pass. sable. The arms of Le Grys are so borne on the above monument, but the usual coat of this ancient family is quarterly azure and gules, with the same bend, surtout.

Ann Taylor, sister of Wm. Taylor, of Gt. Yarmouth, Esq., obt. 25 Dec., 1790, æt. 44.

William Mallett, brewer, of Gt. Yarmouth, died Aug. 10, 1777, æt. 63 years. William Langham Mallett, his son, died May 26, 1779, æt. 28 years. Joshua Mallett, his son, died Sept. 25, 1781, æt. 28. Marian Mallett, wife of Joshua Mallett, died Aug. 29, 1783, æt. 24 years. Mary, wife of William Mallett, sen., died Feb. 28, 1785, aged 72 years. Mary and Harriet, daughters of Joshua and Marian Mallett, died—the former Feb. 22, 1797, aged 18; the latter, May 18, 1804, aged 22 years. Francis Morse, Esq., and Margaret, his wife, are buried under a large stone, on which are their arms. Morse; party per pale, a chev. between 3 mullets pierced.

Margaret Carter, died 21 March, 1759, æt. 67. Mary Mallett Cowlam, daughter of Simon and Mary Smith, died Aug. 20, 1807, æt. 27 years. Gabriel Carter, of Gt. Yarmouth, died 15 Oct. 1810. Nathaniel Symonds, Esq., of Gt. Yarmouth, died May 3, 1754, æt. 66. Elizabeth, his wife, died Jan. 23, 1764, æt. 76. Arms: Symonds; sab. a dolphin embowed arg. gorging a small fish of the second.

Mary, wife of John Peele, and daughter of James Symonds, of Belton, died Feb. 15th, 1757, æt. 74. John Peele, Esq., late collector of His Majesty's customs in Yarmouth, died in 1747, æt. 67.

Rectors of Belton.

Rectors. Date. Patrons.
Richard de Pulham 1344 The Bishop.
Stephen Nally, of Cressingham 1349 Id.
William Malebys 1376 Id.
Henry Sturdy 1393 Id.
Nicholas Derman 1422 Id.
Nicholas Stanton 1456 Id.
Thomas, Epūs Dromorensis 1461 Id.
John Manyngham 1478 Id.
Peter Willington 1518 Id.
John Watlinge Id.
George Beaumont 1560 Id.
Jerningham Jenney 1610 Id.
William Wardell 1624 Id.
Samuel Fleete 1660 Id.
Thomas Clarges 1694 The King.
John Ellis 1714
John Pitcairne 1728 The Bishop.
Robert Cayley 1753 Id.
Thomas Hay 1784 Id.
Thomas Hay, second time 1790 Id.
John Bathurst Schomberg 1830 Id.
Thomas George Francis Howes 1837 Id.

Estimatio illius xxvi marc.

Charities.—The church lands comprise about seven acres, of which the parish clerk has one acre and a half, rent free. The proceeds of the remainder are applied to the ordinary expenses of the church. On the enclosure, in 1810, of certain waste lands, nine acres were awarded to the poor; the rent of which is laid out in the purchase of coals, which are distributed in winter.


  • 1. Jermyn MSS.
  • 2. Id.
  • 3. Domesday Book. Terra Regis.
  • 4. Testa de Nevill.
  • 5. Mag. Brit.
  • 6. Testa de Nevill, 285.
  • 7. Id. 300.