Smethdon Hundred: Holm by the Sea

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

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'Smethdon Hundred: Holm by the Sea', in An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 10, (London, 1809) pp. 328-334. British History Online [accessed 12 April 2024]

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So called from its site by the water, and to distinguish it from Holme, in South Greenhow hundred, &c. Holm bespeaks a watery vale.

Part of this town was possessed by a freeman, in the days of the Confessor, who being expelled by the Conqueror, it was farmed of him, or took care of by Godric at the survey, consisting of 40 acres, 3 borderers, and one carucate, valued at 10s. and St. Bennet (that is the abbot of Ramsey) had the soc. (fn. 1)

This came after to Alan, son of Flaald, and so the Stranges, as in Hunstanton manor, by the gift of the King; and William de Albiny's (ancestor to the Earls of Arundel) lordship in Hunstanton extending here, came also into the same family.

In the 3d of Henry III. John Le Strange held here and in Hunstanton one fee and a quarter, of the barony of Mileham; and in the 3d of Edward I. John Le Strange was presented to hold in this town, Hunstanton, &c. 5 fees of the castle of Rising; and Hamon Le Strange held the same in the 20th of Edward III. and in this family the lordship of Holm continues, Sir Henry L'Strange, Bart. being the late lord.

Holkham's and Berry's Manors.

Bigot's manor of Ringsted, of which see there, extended into this town. William Bardolf, in the 20th of Edward III. held half a fee here, and in Ringsted, of William Calthorp, he of Hamon Le Strange, and he of Isabel Queen of England, as of the castle of Rising, which William Battail formerly held.

After this John Battail and Sibill his wife conveyed in the 40th of Edward III. to William de Rugham, and John de Holkham, lands and rents here, in Ringsted, and Hunstanton, from the heirs of Sibill; and William de Kelsey and Elizabeth his wife, convey their parts from the heirs of Elizabeth, to John de Holkhum.

This John made his will on the feast of St. Stephen, 1384, lord of the manor of Holkham, in this town, leaving by Elizabeth his wife, Gregory his son, and Margaret his wife, and a son, John. (fn. 2)

After this, Richard Cause died (as it seems) seized of it in the 19th of Edward IV. and in the 35th of Henry VIII. Richard Everard, and Lucia his wife, conveyed it to Thomas Stone, with 140 acres of land, and 4 of pasture, 5 of salt-marsh, liberty of foldage, and 4s. rent in this town, Ringsted and Hunstanton.

Walter Aslake of Creke, gives by his will, dated February 1, and proved March 7, in 1503, his manor in Holm to his nephew, William Aslake, and to Thomas his nephew, Bardolph's manor here and in Ringsted; and Elizabeth Aslack, widow, daughter and heir of Thomas Bardolf, Esq. and Alice his wife, daughter and heir of Sir Edmund Berry, Knt. by deed, sans date, grants to Robert Clere, Robert Drury, and Edmund Jenny, Knights, John Yaxley, serjeant at law, &c. the manor of Willingham, in Suffolk, &c. to hold for the use of the said Elizabeth, for life, after to William Aslake her son, and his heirs; remainder to Thomas her son; and by an inquisition taken April 8, in the 23d of Henry VIII. William Aslack was found to die June 17, 1531, seized of the aforesaid manor; and Thomas, son and heir of Christopher Playters, and Elizabeth his wife, sister of the said William, was his heir.

In the 7th of Edward VI. Richard Aslack appears by the escheat rolls, to die seized of several messuages and lands in this town, Ringsted and Hunstanton, held by knight's service, of Elizabeth, widow of Sir Henry Parker, heir to Sir Philip Calthorp, and William was his son and heir.

Aslack bore sable, a chevron, between three Catherine wheels, argent.

The Bardolfs and Berrys, lords of this manor, had an interest in the patronage of the same.

By an inquisition, taken on October 20, in the 26th of Elizabeth, William Playters of Sotterly in Suffolk, Esq. was found to die seized of the lordships of Berries and Holkham, in Holm, held of — Le Strange, as of his manor of Hunstanton, in soccage, by fealty, valued at 3l. per ann. with the manors and advowsons of Sotterley, Uggeshale, and Elloughe, and the reversion of the lordship of Breseworth, or Brusyerd, in Suffolk: he died June 6, in the aforesaid year, and Thomas was found to be his son and heir, aged 18 years.

From the Playters (as I take it) it came to the Spilmans, and Sir John Spilman, son of Sir Henry, and Roger, son of Sir John, and Charles Spilman of Congham, were lords; which last sold it to — Basset of Lynn.

After this it came to Thomas Rogers, Esq. of Dersingham; and Mr. Case of Mildenhale is the present lord, who purchased it of Mr. Reneaut.

The Lord Bardolf had also a manor here and in Ringsted; of which see there.

William de Scohies had also a lordship in this town which 2 free men held in King Edward's time, with 40 acres, and 3 borderers; there was always belonging to it a carucate and an half, which was valued in his manor of Bircham; also another freeman, with half a carucate of land, &c. valued at 5s. (fn. 3) was ejected, who held it before the conquest.

This lordship came from Scohies to Walter Giffard, Earl of Bucks, and from that family to the Earls of Clare, as may be seen in Bircham Magna and Ringstead Parva.

Gilbert de Clare, Earl of Gloucester and Hereford, held here, in Bircham and Ringstead Parva, one fee in capite, which Nicholas de Bircham formerly held of the honour of Clare.

In the 8th of Edward II. the heirs of William Bemond were found to hold here, &c. the fourth part of a fee of the said honour, as did Matthew Cachevache. The Lady Elizabeth de Burgh, held it in capite in the 29th of Edward III. as did Roger Mortimer, Earl of March, in the 22d of Richard II. and Edmund Mortimer, Earl of March, in the 3d of Henry VI.

It came afterwards to the Stranges, and Hamon Le Strange of Hunstanton, held it in the 22d of Elizabeth, of the King, as heir to the Earl of March, and part of the honour of Clare.

In that family it remained; Sir Henry Le Strange, Bart. died seised of it.

Baynard's Manor.

This town gave name to a family who held lands by knight's service. Godfrey de Holme, in the 16th of Edward I. was acquitted of performing suit to the court of James, son of Jeffrey Banard, of Holme, for lands granted by Cassandra, wife of Geffrey, to Nicholas de Holm, on paying 2d. per ann. for all services; and in the 18th of the said King, George, son of Laurence de Holm, impleaded the abbot of Lilleshall in Shropshire, for the advowson of the church of St. Mary de Hulmo, by the Sea, of which his ancestor was possessed in the time of King Richard I. but George not appearing, judgment was given that the abbot and his successors, should quietly enjoy it.

Thomas Holm aliened lands in the 9th of Edward II. to the abbey of Ramsey, whose manor of Ringsted extended into this town.

In the 14th of that reign, Laurence de Repps and Joan his wife, settled on Henry, son of John de Holm by the Sea, lands here, in Ringsted and Hunstanton.

The lords of this manor had an interest in the patronage.

In the 37th of Henry VIII. Sir Thomas L'Estrange was found to die possessed of the manor of Baynard's in this town and Ringsted, held, as then found, of the Duke of Norfolk.

On the death of Sir Nicholas, in the 34th of Elizabeth, it was found to be held of the manor of Mileham.

The honour of Richmond also extended here. Bartholomew Benneyt, one of the heirs of James Bainard, held in the reign of Henry III. the 20th part of a fee of John de Britannia.

Alan de Swaffham held half a fee of the said honour.

The tenths were 13l. 10s. Deducted 2l.

The temporalities of Ramsey abbey were valued at 5l. per ann. In 1428, their manor of Ringstead Magna, &c. extending into this town. On the dissolution, this came to the L'Estronges; and continued in that family until Hamon L'Estrange, Esq. of Bury, gave it with the patronage of the vicarage, to Counsellor Johnson of Norwich, on his marriage with one of his daughters and coheirs.

John Myller of Thornham Bishops, by his will, in 1488, gives to the men being, and inhabiting in Holm, his marsh on the west side of the said town, to the use and profit of the community of the said village for ever. (fn. 4)

Sir John Banys of Holme by the Sea, here buried, leaves by his will in 1503,—"20 marks to bye a sute of vestments of whight damask for his soul, and to our Lady gild, 18 acres of freelonde on this condition that the sayd gild shall kepe my certain in the pulpitte every Sunday for John Banys, Roger Banys my fader, Margaret my mother, and Sir John Lee perpetually, and ons in the yer—dirige, &c. and in defalt thereof, the Corpus Christi gild to have the sayd 18 acres, &c." (fn. 5)

The church is dedicated to the Virgin Mary, and is a regular pile, containing a nave, a north and south isle, with a chancel covered with lead, and a four-square tower at the west end of the south isle, with 5 bells, and was built by Henry de Nottingham, who was one of the council of the duchy of Lancaster, in the 5th and 6th, &c. of Henry IV.

In the 15th of Richard II. he sold lands here and in Ringsted, to Sir John White; is said to have been an itinerant judge in that reign, and lies buried in a chapel at the east end of the south isle, under a marble gravestone, with the effigies or portraiture of himself and wife in brass, and this epitaph;

Herry Notyngham and hys wyyff lyne here, Yat maden this chirche, stepull and quere.

Two vestments and bells they made also, Christ hem save therefore ffro wo.

Ande to bring ther saulls to bliss of heven Sayth Pater and Ave withe mylde Steven.

On a brass plate here

Orate p. a'i' ab; Willi. Stele et Margcrie ux's sue, cuj. a'i'e &c.

In the said isle was buried John Grey, who died about the year 1490, and gave to the guilds of our Lady, Trinity, St. John Baptist, and St. Thomas, a quarter of barley to each; to the light of the dame of the west end, 12d. and to that of the southgate, 12d. to the kiestern light, 8d. and that of the place 8d.

On a window here the effigies of a man, a woman, and 4 daughters, and - - - - - Willi. Stone et Margerie uxoris - - - - - - - - - - - - fenestram Ano. Dni. Mill'imo - - - - -.

In the nave, a gravestone with a brass plate,

In memory of Barbara Strickland, wife of William Strickland of London, grocer, daughter of Richard Stone of Holme, and Clemence his wife, who died December 15, 1582.

Against the east pillar of the nave, a mural monument, the effigies of a man and his wife, behind him 7 sons, and behind her 6 daughters, kneeling, with the arms of Stone, argent, three cinquefoils, sable, and a chief, azure impaling barry of six, argent and sable, a bend over all, azure,—Martindale.

Hic jacet inclusus Ricardus Stonus in urna, Et conjux Clemens, ex Martindalibus orta.

Quœ pueros septem genuerunt, sexq. puella, Ex his prognatos, pronepotes atq; nepotes Septuaginta duos longœvus uterq; videbat, Conjugio stabili vixere fideliter ambo.

Tres menses, decies sex plene et quatuor annos, Semen ut e terra, sua sic jungenda resurget Corpora tandem animis Christo mansura per œvum.

Here under lyeth Richard Stone and Clemens his wife, who lyved in wedlock joyfully together 64 years and three months, of them proceeded 7 sons and 6 daughters, and from these and theirs issued 72 children, which the sayde Richard and Clemens to their great comfort did beholde. Richard Stone died October 5, 1607, in the year of his age 87.

On a stone,

Orate p. a'i'a. Johs. Lowe et Hellene ux'is.—Orate p. a'i'a. Roberti Lowe.

In the chancel,

Here lyeth Barbara, the 2d wife of Hamon L'estrange, Esq. of Pakenham in Suffolk, daughter of Edward Bullock, Esq. of Essex, who died Feb. 15, 1704.

Arms of L'Estrange impaling Bullock, gules, a chevron between three bulls heads, caboshed, argent, armed or.

A gravestone

In memory of Mr. Francis Chaloner, customhouse officer, buried Feb. 26, 1713.

Also one for

Mr. Cremer, vicar of Ingaldesthorp.

The Church was anciently a rectory, valued at 60 marks, with the then vicarage, and the right of presentation appears to be in several hands.

In the 34th of Henry II. John, abbot of Ramsey, resigned all his right herein, by fine, to John Strange, before John Bishop of Norwich, Ralph de Glanville, the King's justiciary, Godfrey de Lucey, and Richard, Archdeacon of Hereford; (fn. 6) and John L'Estrange, son of John L'Estrange, and Lucy his wife, gave to the abbot of Littleshall in Shropshire, their right of patronage of this church; wit nesses, Sir Henry, Sir Roger, and Sir Robert, brother to the said John, (whom I take to be the second Lord Strange of Knockyn) Sir John de Hodewell, and Sir William de Hugfort (the deed being sans date.)

John Le Strange, and the Lady Joan de Somery (his wife) confirmed the donation of this church, made by their ancestors, to Littleshale abbey; witnesses, Roger Spurgehose, then sheriff of Shropshire, Sir Hugh Burnel, Sir Reginald de Lee, and Sir Adam de Chetwynde, dated at Knokyn 4 cal. Febr. 1280.

William, son of Alan de la Sale de Swaffham, conveyed his right to Ralph, abbot of Littleshale, in the 14th of Edward I.

On August 19, 1398, the rectory was appropriated to the aforesaid abbey, by Henry Spencer Bishop of Norwich, and a vicarage settled and endowed.

On the dissolution of religious houses, the impropriate rectory came to the Crown; and on the 8th of March, in the 8th of Elizabeth, was granted to Roland Hayward, and Thomas Dyxon, and was afterwards possessed by Richard Stubbs, Esq. who, by deed, dated May 21, in the 15th of King James I. settled it on Hamon Le Strange, younger son of Sir Hamon Le Strange of Hunstanton, and of Alice his wife, with 96 acres of land here, in Hunstanton, Ringsted, Magna and Parva, late Thomas Bygg's, Gent. remainder to Roger L'Strange, another son of the aforesaid Hamon, held (as said) of the honour of Clare, and paying 6s. 8d. per ann.

The abbot of Ramsey had a portion of tithe valued at one mark, in this church, in 1428, and the cellarer of Norwich, a pension of 4s. per ann. The portion of Ralph Berry at 2 marks, that of the prior of Sporle at 3 marks. Peter-pence, 2s.

The vicarage is now valued at 6l. 13s. 4d.

In the 19th of Edward I. the abbot of Littleshale gave half a mark for license of agreement with William de Sale of Swaff ham, in a plea concerning the patronage of this church.

The patronage of the rectory was in the Lord Strange.


William de Tregos was rector in the time of William de Ralegh Bishop of Norwich.

In 1299, Richard de Roulesham, instituted rector, presented by the abbot and convent of Littleshale.

1301, William de Morton, by ditto.

In 1308, William Godram, instituted into a portion of tithe issuing out of the demeans of Henry de Berry, presented by the said Henry.

1317, Paul de Sudbury instituted to a portion belonging to the demeans of the late James Banyard, presented by John le Curzoun, and Richmaya his wife.

1324, Thomas Stywerd, of the portion of Henry Berry, presented by Henry Berry.

1330, Adam Popey, to Curzon's portion, by John Curzoun, Knt. and Richolda his wife.

1331, John Thrillow, to Berry's portion, by Henry Berry.

1369, William Ellerton, by the Bishop, a lapse.

John Scarle.

1379, Alexander de Massingham, by the abbot and convent.


In 1398, Henry Bishop of Norwich appropriated this rectory to the aforesaid abbey, and in November, the said year, Robert de Pychford was presented to the vicarage, by the said abbot and convent.

1410, John Grey. Ditto.

1417, John Hachard, ditto; the vicarage then valued at 10 marks.

1451, Roger Burney. Ditto.

1483, John Lye. Ditto.

1493, John Banys. (fn. 7) Ditto.

1504, Edward Lye. Ditto.

1507, William Brook. Ditto.

1511, William Hempton. Ditto.

1539, Lanc. Southeke. Ditto.

1573, Richard Todd, collated by the Bishop, a lapse.

1601, Thomas Wilson, by the Queen; he returned 140 communicants.

1604, William Read, by the King.

1609, James Pilkington, by Sir Hamon Le Strange.

1611, James Smith, by the King.

1633, John Parvish, by the King.

Christopher Fisher, vicar, 1662.

1670, John May, by the King.

1675, John Hodson, by the King.

1704, William Cremer, by the King.

1736, Archibald Kerr, presented by Hamon Le Strange, Esq. of Bury.

1761, Edward Castleton, by James Johnson, Esq.

Here were the guilds of St. Mary, St. John Baptist, St. Thomas the Martyr, and the Holy Trinity; the plough-light, the star-light; Westgate-daunce, and Southgate daunce.

John de Happesburgh was collated vicar by Thomas Blundevile Bishop of Norwich; and William de Ralegh, bishop, collated Thomas de Norwich, but William de Tregoz, rector, and his patron, the Lord John Le Strange, appealing against it, and requiring the vicarage to be consolidated to his rectory, it was agreed that Thomas, the vicar, should enjoy his vicarage for life, and should after be consolidated to the rectory; dated at Gaywod, 4 kal. Augi Pontific. ao. 4.

In December, 1626, a great whale was cast on the shore here, the wind blowing strong at north-west, 57 feet long, the breadth of the nose end 8 feet, from nose end to the eye, 15 feet and a half, the eyes about the same bigness as those of an ox, the lower chap closed, and shut about 4 feet short of that of the upper; this lower chap narrow towards the end, and therein were 46 teeth, like the tusks of an elephant, the upper one had no teeth, but sockets of bones to receive the teeth: 2 small fins only, one on each side, and a short small fin on the back: it was a male, had a pizzle about 6 feet long, and about a foot in diameter near its body; the breadth of the tail from one outward tip to the other, was 13 feet and an half.—The profit made of it was 217l. 6s. 7d. and the charge in cutting it up and managing it came to 100l. or more.


  • 1. H. de Smetheduno Terra R. qua' Godric. servat. Holm ten. T. R. E. i lib. ho. xl. ac. iii bor. et i car. et val. x sol. et S'ca. Ben. soca.
  • 2. Regist. Haydon Norw.
  • 3. H. de Smetheduna.—Terr. W. de Scohies—Et in Holm ii lib. ho'es. xl. ac. et iii bor. sep. i car. dim. et s't. in p'tio de Brecham.—In ead. tenet ide' i lib. ho. dim. car. t're. tc. i car. p. dim. mo. ii bov. semp. val. v sol.
  • 4. Regist. Wolman Norw. p. 43.
  • 5. Regist. Popye Norw. p. 470.
  • 6. Regist. Abbat. de Littleshale, penes Dom. - - - Leveson, olim.
  • 7. Wills in 1504, to be buried in the chancel, at Westead, where we rede the legend: he gave to our Lady's gild 18 acres of free land, for his obit, &c.