Tunstede Hundred: Horning

An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 11. Originally published by W Miller, London, 1810.

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Francis Blomefield, 'Tunstede Hundred: Horning', in An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 11, (London, 1810) pp. 51-57. British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/topographical-hist-norfolk/vol11/pp51-57 [accessed 21 May 2024].

Francis Blomefield. "Tunstede Hundred: Horning", in An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 11, (London, 1810) 51-57. British History Online, accessed May 21, 2024, https://www.british-history.ac.uk/topographical-hist-norfolk/vol11/pp51-57.

Blomefield, Francis. "Tunstede Hundred: Horning", An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 11, (London, 1810). 51-57. British History Online. Web. 21 May 2024, https://www.british-history.ac.uk/topographical-hist-norfolk/vol11/pp51-57.

In this section


At the survey this town was found to be part of the possessions of the abbot of Holm, who had 3 carucales of land, 18 villains, 11 borderers, and 2 servi in the Confessor's time, &c. also 2 carucates in demean, and 6 among the tenants, 100 acres of meadow, paunage for 100 swine, one mill, a runcus, 4 cows, with 160 sheep, valued at 4l. was one leuca and an half long, and one broad, and paid 6d. gelt. (fn. 1)

The abbot and convent had also at the said time lordships in the following towns;—In Walsham hundred, Fishley, Walsham, Bastwick, Reedham, Upton;—In Fourhou hundred, Carleton;—In North Erpingham hundred, Thurgarton, Scripeden, Repes, Atting;—Fleg West hundred, Winterton, Rolleshy, Asseby, Thurn, Oby, Burgh, Billockby, Martham, Repps, Clipsby, Thordwesby;—In Henstede hundred, Shotesham, Grensvill, Saxlingham;—In Lothing hundred, Hardale;—In Eynford hundred, Wichingham;—In Taverhum hundred, Roxham, Rackey;—In South Erpingham hundred, Scothow, Eston, Swanton, Calthorp, Thwait, Hobois, Tutington, Baningham, Welterton, Belega, Wickmere;—In Tunstede hundred, Horning, Netished, Hoveton, Walsham, Felmingham, Paston, Widituna, Worsted, Beseton, Riston, Dilham, Saley, Smalburgh, Barton, Honing;—In Happing hundred, Ludham, Waxham, Wimpwell, Stalham, Hincham, Eccles;— In East Flegg hundred, Filby, Scroteby, Castor;—In Humble Yard hundred, Hecham;—In Deepwade hundred, Tibenham.

The family of De Glanvile were early enfeoffed of considerable lands in this town, &c. held of the abbot. Burtholomew de Glanvile, eldest son of William, founder of Bromholm priory, (fn. 2) had 3 parts of a fee here, and in Holm, (a part of this town,) of the old feofment in the reign of Henry II.

Holm was a solitary place in the marshes, called Cowholm, &c. and given (according to tradition of the monks) by Horus, a little prince, to a society of religious hermits, under the government of one Suneman, about the year 800, who (with the chapel of St. Benedict by them, here built) were all destroyed in the general devastation of this country by the Danes, under Inquar and Hubba, in 870.

In the next century, Wolfric, a holy man, gathered seven companions here, and rebuilt the chapel and houses; they had resided here some years, when King Canute, the Dane, founded and endowed at Holm an abbey of Benedictine monks before 1020.

This abbey was fortified by the monks with strong walls, &c. that it resembled more a castle than a cloister, and as tradition says, held out some time against King William I. till betrayed by the treachery of one of the monks, on condition of his being made abbot, and on his promotion, was ordered to be hanged directly.

From an old manuscript in the college of Corpus Christi, Cambridge, wrote by William Botoner, alias Worceter, gentleman, who lived in the reign of Edward IV. and in the family of Sir John Falstolf at Castre in Norfolk, and was one of his executors; many curious accounts relating to this monastery, I have transcribed.

The abbey church, from the east window, to the west door, together with the choir, was (as he expresses it) De gradibus meis, Anglice Steppys, 148.—The breadth of the choir and presbytery 17 gradus. The breadth of the south isle of this church, which was built by Sir John Fastolf, (fn. 3) 11 gradus, and the length of it from east to west, 58 gradus; this last appears to have been a beautiful pile, built of, and vaulted with, free-stone, and had 7 large windows to the south The length of the north isle was 68 gradus, the breadth 12 gradus. The length of the choir and stalls, 24 gradus. The length of the high altar was 17 of Botoner's spans, and that of the south isle, 5; the space of the bell tower that stood in the midst of the church was 22 feet.

The Frayter (fn. 4) was 40 virgæ long to the pantry door, and 7 broad.

Master Thomas Newton built Trinity chapel in the abbey church.

The following nobility were admitted to be brethren here.

1304, Sir Thomas Fastolf, on the 3d of the calends of March. 1306, John, Duke of Lancaster, Ralph Stafford. Nicholas Pelham, William Bayley. 1354, the lady Eve de Audeley with her two daughters. 1344, the lady Maud, wife of Sir John de Kayly. Lady Mary, Countess Marshal. 1347, Sir Ralph Bigot, rector of Trunch. 1348, Lady Joan de Hastyns Countess of Huntingdon. Sir Miles Stapleton, Sir Ralph de Benhales, Sir Richard de Ilney. 1354, Sir Ralph de Benhale, Sir Richard de Ilney. 1354, Sir John de Ufford. 1362, Sir James de Audeley, and Lady Eva de Audeley. 1339, Sir John de Bardolf. 1344, Sir Hugh le Peverel, and Lady Maud his wife.

Buried in the abbey church: Grynolf, a Dane, and alderman, who died October 1; and Duke Edward. 1075, Ralph Bygot, Earl of Norfolk, to whom the Conqueror gave it, and married the daughter of William Fitz-Osbert, and died December 3. (Botener is here much mistaken, the Bygots were not Earls of Norfolk till a considerable time after, the Ralph abovementioned was Ralph Guader, who rebelled against the Conqueror, and was an outlaw.)

Margaret, a blessed saint, killed in Littlewood, in the township of Hofton St. John's in Norfolk, in 1170, on the 11th of the calends of June, and buried under the high or principal altar of the monastery, amongst the relics. Sir John Vaux, lord of Caster. Sir John Bacon, died January 3. Thomas de Bresyngham, died January 16. William de Ring feud. Lady Joan de Brews, died the 3d of the ides of May. William de Ormesby, chief justice of England. Sir William Fastolf, son of Sir John Fastolf. Sir Richard Newton. 1444, Oliver Holcomb died April 3, he was one of the abbot's esquires for 50 years. 1451, Robert de Clypesby, died February 24.

The obits of several benefactors, abbots, &c. as they were severally kept.

King Canute, November 12. St. Wolfey, the first hermit at Holme, December 3. Ralph Earl of Norfolk, December 3. (of this Ralph see above.) Elsin, abbot, October 23. Thurston, abbot, October 7. Edelwold, November 14. Anselm, December 9. Daniel, November 9. Nicholas, November 15, and Henry, December 14, and Sir Henry de Hastyngs, May 13.

The general commemoration for all their benefactors, abbots, &c. was on October 2.

Abbots of St. Bennet, at Holm.

Elsin in 1046.

Thurstan de Ludham, buried in the abbey church, with this epitaph on his tomb,
Abbas Mausoleo Thurstanus jacet in isto, Qui fuit egregius pastor gregis ipse secundus, Hujus cœnobej decus, sibi gaudia cœli Det, cujus exequias celebramus œque dolentes, Nonas Octobris cui Christus misereatur. 1604.

Edlwold; King Harold is said to have granted to him the custody of this county, and on the Conquest he fled into Denmark, and never returned.

Richer, or Richard, a Norman, occurs abbot as is said in 1125, his obit on January 19.

Conrade in 1127, a monk and sacrist of the Holy Trinity in Canterbury, and Confessor of King Henry I. died February 17.

William Basset in 1138.

It seems to me that Richer and Conrade the abbots lived before the time abovementioned; this William gave to his relation Richard Basset, the manor of Heyham by Norwich, by deed sans date, to which deed William the archdeacon, &c. were witnesses, this was William Fitz Humphrey, who was made archdeacon of Norwich in 1124; and I find William Basset, (fn. 5) to be abbot in the 28th of Henry I Ao. 1127.

Anselm, abbot in 1140, he was prior of Dover.

Daniel, (fn. 6) abbot in 1153, he was a layman, and a glass-maker, (vitriarius) or glazier; King Stephen declared, that if he had known how to sing mass he would have made him Archbishop of Canterbury: was a married man, and had a son, Henry Daniel, a great companion of Archbishop Becket, and, as Botoner says, became abbot of Ramsey, &c.

Hugh, nephew of King Stephen, and a noble knight, succeeded Daniel.

William, the 2d, in 1168.

Thomas the Good in 1186, a monk, and prior of Tofts in Norfolk.

Ralph occurs abbot Ao. 1 Richard I. 1190, omitted by Botoner.

John, abbot, died as Botener in 1213, called John le Chauncel, or Chamont, was a monk of Bury, and died December 31; this John I find to be abbot in the 7th Richard I. 1196.

Botener names Ralph the 2d, to be abbot in 1210, though he mentions no Ralph the first, was a great builder, and lived at the Interdict.

Reginald, (fn. 7) 1225.

Sampson, died 1237, May 27, living in 1234.

Robert de Thirkeby, died 1251, August 12.

William de Ringfeud died 1256.

Adam de Neteshead, died 1268, August 19.

Richard de Bukenham, died 1275, June 8.

Nicholas de Walesham, occurs in 1286, died in 1302, November 15.

Henry de Brook, died in 1325.

John de Aylesham in 1346, February 7.

Robert de Aylesham in 1349.

William de Hadesco, in 1394.

William de Methelwold in 1395.

Robert de Sancta Fide, in 1396.

Simon de Brygham in 1411, July 19.

In the Duke's Palace Yard at Norwich, at the entrance of a house near the river, lies a large grave-stone with an abbot in his robes cut thereon, brought from the ruins of this abbey and thus inscribed,

Frater Ricardus de South-Walsham, Abbas Monasterij Sancti Benedicti de Hulmo, qui obiit Anno Dominj Quadringentesimo, vicesimo nono, with the arms of the monastery.

Richard de South Walsham, in 1439, on July 11.

John Martyn in 1459, July 18.

John Keving, (fn. 8) he resigned.

Thomas Pakefield on June 11. 1469, and occurs in 1487.

Robert Cubit.

William Forest.

John Reading.

John Salcot, alias Capon; Goodwin says he was doctor of laws of Cambridge, but it appears in 1514, he was admitted S. T. P. of that University, and was preferred to the see of Salisbury in 1539.

Wiliam Rugg, alias Repps, S.T.D. installed abbot April 26, 1530, on February 4, 1535, the see of Norwich being void, (fn. 9) an act of parliament was passed (though never printed) whereby the ancient barony of the see, and its revenues were separated from it, and the priory of Hickling, with the barony and revenues of this abbey, were annexed to the see of Norwich instead thereof; and in right of this barony, the Bishop of Norwich now sits in the House of Lords, the barony of the see being in the Crown: so that this abbey was never dissolved, only transferred by the statute, before the Dissolution.

Holm was a mitred abbey, and its abbots always sate in the House of Lords.

After this Rugg was elected by the monks of Norwich, May 31, 1536, Bishop of Norwich;—Leland calls him—Vir profecto candidissimus, et mihi familiariter cognitus, tum prœterea, theologus ad unguem doctus.

The revenues of this abbey were great: in the 26th of Henry VIII. it was valued at 583l. 17s. ob. q. as Dugdale, and as Speed at 677l. 9s. 8d. q. as appears from Bishop Tanner.

King Edward the Confessor was a benefactor, granted them many privileges, and confirmed those of King Canute, as did Maud the Empress, King Henry II. Richard I. &c.

Many of the royal family visited it in 1469, on Wednesday, in Whitsunday week; the mayor, and aldermen, and about 100 citizens of Norwich waited on horseback on the King's mother here, with a petition to her.

This was one of the monasteries that King John kept in his own hands, in the time of the Pope's interdict.

In 1487, John Jermy, Esq. of Metfield in Suffolk, deposited in the hands of Thomas Pakefield, then abbot, whom he appointed one of his executors, two hundred marks, as a maintenance for a priest, to sing herein for his soul.

The worthy Society of Antiquaries have at their cost, printed 2 views of the west (or principal) gate of this abbey now in ruins, by which it appears to have been a sumptuous stately pile; over one side of the arch of this is represented, a person, with a sword in his right hand, and on the other a lion, both injured, and much defaced through time. This, with submission I take to be figures much misrepresented.

In a grant of the manor of Heyham by Norwich, by William Basset, abbot, and the convent sans date, to Richard Basset; we find this remarkable seal:

A person in a close vest, or tunick, and a gown, part of it to be seen hanging behind him, with a lofty cap issuing out of a coronet, and holding a great broad sword in his right hand, wherewith he has pierced the nostrils of a great dragon segreant, (holding in his mouth by the waist a young man) and ready to seize on the person with the sword, and an oblong shield before him, and near the rim of this seal is in capital letters, the word—CARDIBAS. See the plate, vol. iv. p. 504.

All which is to represent the miraculous rescue of an idle young monk, (by St. Bennet, as the Romish Legends say,) who fled from his convent, and was forthwith seized on by the Devil, (represented by the Dragon,) and returned safe to his convent.

Richard Basset, to whom William, the abbot and convent granted the aforesaid manor, was living in the reign of Henry I. and then Lord Chief Justice of England.

Over the arch of the said gale are the arms of Delapole Earl of Suffolk.—Beauchamp Earl of Warwick; the Earl of Clare.—Valence Earl of Pembroke.—Earl of Arundel, &c.

On the east side of the said gate, on the sides of the arch, are the arms of England, and of France, and over it, those of Arundel, Erpingham, Hastings, &c.

In the beginning of the reign of King Edward IV. I find the following jingling rhymes wrote as a lampoon on this abbey:

Porticum Regale, Signum Capitale, Sordidum Mappale, Olus sine Sale, Cervisia Novale; Stratum Lapidale, Stabulum Sordidale.

Fœnum Gladiale, Hospitalitas parcimoniale, Ignis in Caminis frigidale, Vadia Servientium valde vane. Ideo hospites ibunt, sine vale. Fastolf eis benefactor ampliale, Et valde cito monachis Immemoriale.

At the head of the causey going down to St. Bennet's abbey in the beginning of King Henry the Third's reign, was an hospital dedicated to St. James, under the government of the almoner of the monastery, and this was granted also to the see of Norwich.

The Church of Horning was dedicated (as I take it) to St. Bennet; the rectory was appropriated to that abbey, and the vicarage was valued then at two marks, the rectory at 12 marks, in the reign of Edward I. there belonged to the vicar a manse, with an acre of land, the present valor is 4l. 13s. 4d. the presentation was in the abbot, and so came to the Bishops of Norwich.

Here was the guild of St. Michael.


John, occurs vicar in 1299.

1300, William de Brundale instituted.

1319, Hervey de Brok.

1334, Richer de Foxele.

1340, William le Cooke.

1375, John Gernoun.

1381, Henry Crede.

1420, John Gresham.

1420, John Colney.

1425, Richard Chapman.

1431, John Thirston.

1433, William Watton.

1437, John Foster.

1441, John Smith.

1443, John Brown.

1488, Robert Palmer.

1493, Roger Humpfrey.

In 1593, —Styward occurs vicar.

1613, John Dix, collated by the Bishop.

1662, John Sheringham.

1730, George Kenrick.

1762, John Blackburn.


  • 1. Hec sedes abbie—Horningham tenet somp. S. B. p. iii car. tre. sep. xviii vili. xi bor. ii ser. mo. null. sep. ii car. in d'nio. et vi car. hom. et c. ac. p'ti. silva. c. porc. sep. i mol. i runc. iiii an. x porc. ccclx ov. sep. val. iiii lib. ht. i leu. et dim. in long. et i leu. in lat. et vid. de g.
  • 2. Lib. Rub. Sc'cij.
  • 3. Sir John also built the chapel of St. Mary, on the side of the chancel, or presbytery where he was buried.
  • 4. Refectory, or Hall.
  • 5. The Author of Neustria Pia calls him Gulier. Bussus, and says he was a monk of Utica in Normandy, p. 118.
  • 6. Daniel built the Chapter House, the Dormitory, and the hospital of St. James.
  • 7. Reginald occurs abbot in the 13th of Henry III. 1228, and Sampson in the 15th of Henry III. 1230.
  • 8. This John Keving was instituted rector of Smalburgh in 1475, and called late abbot of St. Benet's, and held it till his death in 1500.
  • 9. Notit Mon. p. 334.