Smethdon Hundred: Hitcham

An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 10. Originally published by W Miller, London, 1809.

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Francis Blomefield, 'Smethdon Hundred: Hitcham', in An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 10, (London, 1809) pp. 307-312. British History Online [accessed 25 May 2024].

Francis Blomefield. "Smethdon Hundred: Hitcham", in An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 10, (London, 1809) 307-312. British History Online, accessed May 25, 2024,

Blomefield, Francis. "Smethdon Hundred: Hitcham", An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 10, (London, 1809). 307-312. British History Online. Web. 25 May 2024,

In this section


Takes its name from a river that here runs into the sea; Itche, Isse, being a common name for rivers among the Iceni: thus Hitcham in Suffolk, Hitching in Hertfordshire, and Itching in Hampshire, &c.

In the time of Oswald Archbishop of York, about 980, one Godwin, was lord, or had considerable possessions in this town, and gave to Ramsey abbey all that he held herein, except the tenures of Ethelbald, his butler, Lefrick his goldsmith, and of Wlfgar, who were to hold their estates during life, after which, to go to the church of Ramsey. (fn. 1)

In Domesday it is wrote Hecham, a Ham by the water.

At the survey it is placed in Smethden hundred, and was at that time the lordship of William Earl Warren; Toche, a Saxon thane, was owner of it in King Edward's time, and afterwards Fredric held it in fee; there were 7 carucates in demean, held by 70 borderers, and 6 servi, with 12 acres of meadow, and 7 carucates of the tenants, paunage for 100 swine, 3 mills, and the moiety of a fourth, a fishery, &c. 600 sheep, and 35 socmen had a carucate and a half of land, and there were 6 carucates and 4 acres of meadow, then valued at 12l. at the survey at 15l. per ann.

The Earl Warren had also 2 carucates of land, which Alnod a freeman possessed in King Edward's reign, to which there belonged 26 borderers, 2 servi, and 6 acres of meadow; there were 2 carucates in demean, and one and a half amongst the men, the moiety of a mill, a saltpit, and a fishery, and 4 socmen with 2 acres, &c.; this was valued at 3l. per ann. (fn. 2)

The whole was one leuca long, and half a leuca broad, and paid 4s. to a 20s. gelt.

Lewes Priory Manor.

William, the Second Earl Warren and Surrey, gave to this priory the principal manor of this town, that was held by Toche and Fredric, as his father had requested him, in the presence of all his barons, to give them one of his best lordships in this county, (the said priory being founded by his father,) also the lands which William de Cayley held of him here. (fn. 3)

Robert de Mortimer, by deed, sans date, conferred on the monks of Lewes, his demean lands, services and homages by way of exchange, for lands held by them in Thomeston and Cateston in Norfolk; witnesses, Hamelin Earl Warren, &c. (he died 1202) witnesses, William de Warren, Ralph de Plaiz, Robert de Perepoint, Reginald de St. Martin, Ralph de Castello, Jeffrey de Hagebech, &c.

In the 3d of Edward I. the prior was found to have the assise of bread and beer, of his tenants.

In the 35th of that King, William Tristram of Hecham, released to the prior all his right in a fen lying behind the hall, between a way called Redegate on one side, and the Prior's Manor on the other; and in the said year he had confirmation of a lete, view of frank pledge, weyf and stray, infangtheof, &c. paying half a mark per ann. to the lord of the hundred, as he had done to Roger Lord Montalt.

Their temporalities in 1428, were valued in rent, land, a mill, &c. at 75l. 9s. ob. per ann.

At the Dissolution, Robert, prior of Lewes, and the convent, on December 22, in the 29th of Henry VIII. granted this manor, the appropriated rectory, and patronage of the vicarage, with a cell here, belonging to the said priory, to the King, who, in the said year, gave it to Thomas Duke of Norfolk.

It was afterwards in Philip Earl of Arundel, who being attainted, Thomas Howard Earl of Suffolk had a grant of it from the Crown, November 22, in the 6th of King James I.

In the following year, November 3, the said Earl conveyed all the aforesaid premises, to Sir Hamon L'Estrange, of Hunstanton, Knt. whose immediate descendant and heir, the Honourable Sir Henry Lestrange, Bart. died lord in 1760, and on a division of his estate, this came to his sister, Mrs. Airmine Stileman, widow, relict of Nicholas Styleman, Esq. of Snetesham, and Nicholas Styleman, Esq. her eldest son and heir, the present lord.

Caley's Hall.

Another lordship in this town was in the Caleys. This was probably that which Alnod held in the Confessor's time: it appears that William de Caley held lands of the Earl Warren in this town in the reign of Henry I. and in the time of Henry III. Roger de Cailli of Hecham, and Beatrix his wife, gave to the monks of Castleacre, 16d. rent per ann, for land held by Ralph his brother, of him, with the homage of the said Ralph. (fn. 4)

Jeffrey de Hecham conveyed by fine to Hugh de Caley, in the 33d of that King, a messuage, with a carucate of land, which Roger de Caly his brother held for life only; and covenants to build a chapel here, to the honour of the Virgin Mary, and to find a chaplain therein, to pray for ever for the soul of Geffrey and his ancestors.

In the 3d of Edward I. Hugh de Caly was found to have, as lord, the assise of bread and beer, and other privileges, paying with the prior of Lewes, half a mark per ann. to the Earl of Arundel.

The said prior kept his mercate in the King's highway, in this town, made distrains at will, to the injury of the whole country, as the jury found.

William de Cailly surrendered to Nicholas, son of Thomas Fastolf, 24 messuages, a mill, 244 acres of land, 6 of meadow, 20 of pasture, 20 of marsh, 4l. 8s. 8d. rent per ann. in this town, in trust, by fine, in the 11th of Edward II. and Sir William Kaly, Knt. was lord in the 50th year of Edward III.

The Caleys lived at Obey in Flegg hundred, and by the marriage of Agnes, daughter and coheir of Sir William Caley, this manor came to Sir John Harsike of Southacre, whose son and heir, Sir Roger, by his will, dated in 1453, gives it to his right heir, after the decease of his wife, Alice.

Sir Roger left 2 daughters and coheirs; Joan, the 2d, brought it to her husband, Richard Dorward, Esq. and his daughter and heir Margaret, to John Wingfeld, Esq. of Dunham Magna, whose son and heir, Thomas Wingfeld, and Elizabeth his wife, passed it by fine to Sir Thomas Lestrange, of Hunstanton, Knt. in Trinity term, ao 21st Henry VIII. by the name of Caley's-Hall, in Hecham juxta Mare.

In this family it remained; Sir Henry Lestrange dying lord, and so came to the Stylemans.

The tenths of the town were 16l. 10s. Deducted 2l.

The temporalities of Sporle priory were 2s. and of Norwich priory 10d. per ann. Castleacre temporalities, 2s.

The monastery of St. Ibreyo in France, had a portion of tithe valued at two marks, and John de Ingoldesthorp one, valued at 5 marks.

The spiritualities of Lewes priory, being the rectory, were valued at 34 marks; the patronage of it was granted by Hamlin Plantaginet Earl Warren and Surrey; it was appropriated, and the prior had the rectory-house, 2 carucates of glebe land, and was patron of the vicarage, and had then no house or land, valued at 8 marks. Peter-pence 2s. 6d.

The present valor of the vicarage is 6l. 13s. 4d.

The Church is dedicated to St. Mary, and built in a cathedral or conventual manner, has a nave, a north and south isle, with a north and south transept, or cross isles, and a chancel covered with lead, a square tower, and one bell.

On a mural monument against the wall of the north isle,

Hic positæ sunt mortales exuviæ venerab. viri Robti Redmayne L.L.D. cujus dignitatem et præstantiam testantur copiose ager Lancastrens. academia Cantabrig. civitas Norvic. comitatis Norfolc. totusq; fere hic alter orbis Anglia quinq; episcopor. Nordovic. p. 37 annos et ultra cum summa nominis sui amplitudine cancellarius stetit dignissimus, nulli sui ordinis fuit secundus, omnium ornamentum, quâ prudentiam quâ pietatem eruditionis omnimodæ varietatem, memoriæ felicitatem, judicii maturitatem, morum suavitatem, vitæ integritatem, et in omni re gerandâ mirandam dexteritatem præstitit, vir fuit spectantissimus, Sed mortalis erat, tumulus mortalia condit, Spiritus in Christi vivit agitq; sinu.

Excessit vitâ; 5 Aug. 1625, ætat. suæ ao. 74, obt. in itinere viator, vivit in cælo comprehensor.

Dorothea eIVs V Xor pIetatIs gratIâ hoC eI ponebat Mærens; (fn. 5) and these arms,

Quarterly, gules, three cushions, ermin, tasselled or, in the first and 4th quarter, Redmayne; in the 2d, - - - -, lion rampant, or; in the 3d, azure, a fess, between three martlets, argent.

On a gravestone by it,

Here lyeth the body of Dorothy Redmayn, widow, sometime wife of John Rolf of Hecham, gent. afterwards wife of Dr. Redmayne, chancellor of Norwich, after whose death she lived a widow 20 years, and dyed October, 1645, in the 80th year of her age, and is buried at the feet of her 2 husbands.

In their lives they were lovely, and in their deaths they were not divided.— 2d Sam. 1. 23,

On gravestones in the chancel,

Hoc sub marmore, placidè, secure in thalamo, et in tumulo dormiunt Tho. Dusgate de Hecham, generosus, filius secundus Gulielmi Dusgate de Cockley Cley, generosi, qui obt. sexto die Decemb. Ao. Dni. 1662, œt. 54, et Anna uxor ejus, filia Bartholomei Johnson de Anmer, generosi, quœ peperit quatuor filios, Franc. Tho. Hamon. Gulielm. et octo filias, Annam, Francis. Thomasin. Mariam, Eliz. Ciciliam Susan. Susan. et obt. 11 die Sept. Ao. Dni. 1659.

Qui placide in thalamo quondam dormire solebant, Uno jam tumulo, fœmina, virq; jacent.

Sacrum memoriæ - - - - - Presbiteri Gulielmi March, in art. magi. Cant. hujus eccles. parochial. nuper vicarij fidelissimi, cum literator. luctu parochianor. dispendio defuncti, nec sine lacrymarum obsequio, &c. obt. 9 Apr. Ao. 1634, œtat. 47.

Joan Fenys, wife of Sir Robert Fenys, Knt. requires by her will, dated 1466, to be buried in this church, by Richard Witherton, her late husband.

The priory of Lewes had a free chapel and a chantry in their house or cell here, which in 1269 they granted for life, to William de London.

Walter, son of Reginald de Etton, released to the prior all his right in the advowson of this church; witnesses, Sir Hugh de Caly, &c.

John Martyn was prior of this cell, in 1514, and in 1553, an annuity of 18s. 4d. was paid by the Crown to the late prior.


Adam de Walsoken was vicar before 1288. (fn. 6)

1305, Matthew de Shipden was instituted vicar, presented by the Bishop, hac vice.

1307, William de Abeford, by the prior and convent of Lewes.

1317, John de Ketilburgh. Ditto.

Thomas de Smalbergh.

1333 John Ballard. Ditto.

1338, Hugh de Foxley, by John Earl Warren, patron of the priory of Lewes.

Thomas Baret.

1385, William Catteworth, by the prior, &c.

1393, Michael Ruddock. Ditto.

1420, John Attemore. Ditto.

1443, Adam Stanburn. Ditto.

William Kynnesay.

1472, John Morren. Ditto.

1473, Mr. William Lamyn, Ditto.

1479, Mr. John Talwyn. Ditto.

William Sharp.

1493, William Snayth. Ditto.

1501, Alexander Foster, buried in the chancel 1540. Ditto.

1541, Ralph Rishton. by Thomas Duke of Norfolk.

1550, William Lyon, by the Bishop, a lapse.

William Rushton.

1555, William Potkin. Ditto.

1582, Christopher Cratch, by Thomas Earl of Arundel; he certified in 1603, that there were 200 communicants.

1615, William March, by Sir Hamon Le Strange.

1634, Thomas Hudson. Ditto.

1639, Oliver Calvert. Ditto.

1661, Robert Brown, by Nicholas Le Strange, Bart.

1671, William Constable, by John Coke, Esq.

1674, Thomas Wolnall, by Sir Nicholas Le Strange, Bart.

1681, Thomas Burgess. Ditto.

1694, John Thorn. Ditto.

1699, William Houghton. Ditto.

1704, Robert Harmer. Ditto.

Thomas Weatherhead, the present vicar.

John Whetel, by will, 1504, gave his place in the moor, to find a light afore the Trinitie, and 3 acres of land to find his obit.

In this church were the guilds of Jesu, Trinity, our Lady, St. Margaret, Corpus Christi, St. Thomas, and St. Leodegarius.

This town gave name to the deanery of Hitcham, and was taxed at 12 marks, and contained 22 parishes.


1314, Mr. Adam de Fakenham was collated to it by the Bishop of Norwich.

1330, Robert de Brunham. Ditto.

1335, Peter de Belgrave. Ditto.

1342, Thomas Gernoun. Ditto.

1349, John de Norwich. Ditto.


  • 1. Gale's Hist. Rames. cap. 51.
  • 2. T're. Willi. de Warrenna—Hund. Smetheduna.—Hecham ten. Toche lib. ho. T.R.E. semp. vii car in dominio et lxx bord. et vi serv. et xii ac. p'ti. et vii car. hom. silva c porc. et iii molin. et dim. i piscar. semp. i runc. xxx an. lx porc. DC ovs. hic jacent xxxv soc. i car. et dim. t're. semp. vi car. iiii ac. p'ti. tc. val. xii lib. mo. xv.—In ead. ten. W. ii car. terre. quas tenuit Alnodlib. ho. T.R.E. semp. xxvi bord. et ii serv. et vi ac. p'ti. et ii car. in dominio, et i car et dim. hom. et dim. molin. et i salina, et i piscaria et iiii soc. ii ac. tc. xii animal. mo. xvi tc. xxx porc. mo. xl tc. lxxx ovs. mo. lx et val. lx sol. Totu' ht. i lg. in long. et dim in lato. et redd. iiii sol. de xx sol. de gelto.
  • 3. Mon. Angl. vol. ii. p. 909.
  • 4. Regist. Castleac. p. 53.
  • 5. The capital letters here are to shew the date of the year, M.D.CXXV.
  • 6. Regist. Prior. de Lewes.