Walsham Hundred: Acle

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, 'Walsham Hundred: Acle', in An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 11, (London, 1810) pp. 90-95. British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/topographical-hist-norfolk/vol11/pp90-95 [accessed 21 May 2024].

Francis Blomefield. "Walsham Hundred: Acle", in An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 11, (London, 1810) 90-95. British History Online, accessed May 21, 2024, https://www.british-history.ac.uk/topographical-hist-norfolk/vol11/pp90-95.

Blomefield, Francis. "Walsham Hundred: Acle", An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 11, (London, 1810). 90-95. British History Online. Web. 21 May 2024, https://www.british-history.ac.uk/topographical-hist-norfolk/vol11/pp90-95.

In this section


Godric, as steward to the Conqueror, took care of this lordship for him; the old Earl R. (fn. 1) (as the Book of Domesday informs us) held it in King Edward's reign, and was Earl of Norfolk, and deprived (as I take it at the Conquest) but who that old Earl was does not appear; in the Earl's time there were five carucates of land, 23 villains, 38 borderers, &c. 3 servi, 3 carucates in demean, 10 among the tenants, &c. 50 acres and a half of meadow, paunage for 40 swine, one mill, 3 runci, and 2 cows, &c. with 120 sheep, 2 skeps of bees, &c. and 4 socmen had half a carucate of land, and one carucate and 3 acres of meadow, valued then at 8l. afterwards at 12l. and at the survey at 14l. 13s. 4d. fifty three shillings of the said sum was in the account, the rest was a quit-rent: it was one leuca long, and one broad, and paid 2s. gelt. (fn. 2)

How long it continued in the Crown is not clear; it was probably granted to Hugh Bigot, by King Stephen, when he was created Earl of Norfolk, by that King: he was son of Roger Bigot, who came into England with the Conqueror, and was lord of Fornset, &c.

In the 3d of Edward I. Roger Bigot Earl of Norfolk had free warren, and in this family Earls of Norfolk it remained, till on the death of the said Earl in 1305, it came by his grant to the said King, and was in the Crown till Thomas de Brotherton, fifth son of that King, had the Earldom of Norfolk, and marshalship of England, with great part of the Bigod's estate, and this lordship and advowson given to him and his heirs, by King Edward II. in 1312. He left two daughters and coheirs, Margaret and Alice, and by Elizabeth, daughter and heir of Margaret, Dutchess of Norfolk, and John Lord Segrave, it came by marriage to John Lord Mowbray, (the aforesaid Margaret being one of the daughters and coheirs of Brotherton,) and Thomas Mowbray Duke of Norfolk his descendant died lord in 1400.

From the Mowbrays it came to the Howards; John Howard being created Duke of Norfolk in the first year of Richard III. as heir to the Mowbrays.

On the attainder of Thomas Duke of Norfolk, in 1572, it came to the Crown, and on January 17, Ao. 1 of King James I. was granted to Thomas Howard Earl of Suffolk, and Henry Howard Earl of Northampton. Henry dying possessed of it, and s. p. it came to Thomas Howard Earl of Arundel, his cousin and heir, who sold it on the 16th of June, in the 16th of James I. to Sir Robert Bancaster of — in Northamptonshire, and the said Earl and Bancaster jointly convey it in the first year of King Charles I. with the advowson of the church to William Whetel, Esq. of Ampton in Suffolk, and Henry Calthorp, Esq. of the Middle Temple, and Sir Henry Calthorp dying seised of them August 1, in the 14th of King Charles; James was found to be his son and heir, aged 11 years, and the said James was lord in 1660, and R. Calthorp in 1742: of this family see in Cockthorp in North Greenhow hundred.

In the 1st of King John, Robert Fitz Roger, sheriff of Norfolk, had an allowance of 21l. 13s. 4d. for land here, which had been granted to Roger le Bigot.—Rot. Pip.

Weybridge Priory

Was in this parish; Roger Bigot Earl of Norfolk, seems to have been the founder of it in the reign of Edward I. for canons regular of the order of St. Austin, by deed sans date, he grants to the church of St. Mary of Weyburgh, and Robert the prior, and the brethren thereof, for the souls of his ancestors, successors, and heirs, all his marsh in Acle, with all the appertenances in pure alms;—witnesses, Sir Ralph le Bigoth, Herbert de Alencon, Phil. de Bocland, Henry de Reveshale, Hubert de Bavant, knights, &c. to this deed is a seal of green wax, with his figure on horseback in full career, and Sigillum Rogeri Comitis Norf. et marescalli Anglie. It was dedicated to St. Mary.

In the 11th of Edward II. this priory had a patent for 3 acres of land in Felthorp, and the advowson of that church, for 12 acres in Clipsby. Ousby, and Burgh, and in the 14th of that King one, to purchase of John de Botetort, a moiety of Fishley church, and half an acre of land.

Margaret Countess of Norfolk, in the 8th of Richard II. aliened to this priory a messuage, 92 acres of land here, in North and South Birlingham, with the rent of 3s. and the advowson of the church of Lingwood belonging to Blofield manor.

In 1428, their temporalities were valued at 40s. 5d.; a modern author says. (fn. 3) that Robert Oliver, Thomas Monday, John Palmer, and John Barford, founded and endowed it, that it was dedicated to St. Margaret, and valued at the suppression at 7l. 13s. 4d. per ann. but most of this seems to be gratis dictum.

The patronage of it was in the Bigots, then in the Mowbrays.

John Berham by his will dated January 10, 1465, was buried in the church of St. Mary of Weybridge, he appoints Catherine his wife, (fn. 4) and Robert Norwich, prior of Weybridge, executors.

On March 29, Ao. 29 of Henry VIII. Richard Fulmerston had a grant of the site of this priory, with all the manors, lands, &c. belonging to it, in Weybridge, Upton, South Birlingham, Billocksby, Cleppesby, Owby, Ashby, Burgh, St. Margaret, Acle, Redenhale, &c. except the rectory of Weybridge.

Robert Benslyn had the site of it, with several acres of meadow, 20 of marsh; (and left it to his son William) Ao. 3d and 4th of Philip and Mary, the said William had the site, with gardens, orchards, and demeans held in capite, and license to convey it to Miles Corbet, Ao. 6th of Elizabeth.

The site of it was by Acle-Dams, near the bridge as you go to Yarmouth, and was a very small priory, as appears by the value of it.

Ralph Goodwyn in 1518, gives by will to the chapel at the Damesend in Acle 3s. 4d. for repairs, and to that of the bridge 6s. 8d.


Hugh occurs prior Ao. 14th of Edward I.

Robert occurs in the - - of Edward I.

On the 15th of the calends of July 1308, the custody of it (being then void) was committed to John de Kaylli, rector of Rollesby.

On the 14th of November 1408, Matthew de Horsey, admitted prior, presented by the King.

1321, Nicholas occurs prior.

1323, Matt. de Horsey, collated by the Bishop, a lapse.

1328, Laur. de Billockby

Adam de Hakelyng, prior.

1333, Robert de Martham.

1340, William de Acle.

John occurs prior in 1379.

John de Bayton, prior.

1397, Robert de Repp, by Margaret Countess of Norfolk.

John Peket, prior.

1452, Robert de Norwich, by the Duke of Norfolk.

1470, William Parker, by the Bishop.

Peter Clark, occurs in the 2d of Henry VII.

1492, William Basset, canon of Royston.

1508, Robert Chambers by the Bishop.

1509, John Bokenham.

John Canne, prior, he resigned.

1520, Edmund Larke.

1530, Andrew Waleys.

1531, Ant. Derby.

Anth. Blode occurs in 1553.

In this priory was the guild of St. Anne.—The patronage was in the Earls of Norfolk.

The abbey of Tintern in Wales had a manor here, and the advowson of the church of Acle, given them by Roger Bigod Earl of Norfolk, in the reign of King Edward I. by a deed dated July 26, Ao 13th of Henry VII. Robert, abbot of St. Bennet at Holm, then held certain marshes here, of the said abbot, as parcel of his manor, called Earl's Holm, and Little Holm, and in right of his abbey of St. Bennet, called Possewyk marsh and Monk's marsh, with all tithes to the said marshes belonging, which he demised for 6 years to Walter Hawse of Worstede, in consideration of 40 marks, of money lent to the abbot in bond by Walter, and other money due to Isabel, wife of Walter, before her marriage in her widow-hood.

On the Dissolution it was granted with the advowson of this church, to Thomas Howard Duke of Norfolk.

Acle lies by the river Bure, near its falling into the Hier, or Yar, and takes its name from its site, A-Cle, or Cley, as a place at times overflowed, thus Cley by the Sea, and Cley-Cockley near Swaffham.

King Richard II. granted to the inhabitants Ao. 11, freedom from all tolls, suits of shire, and of hundred, and other privileges, and to have a turbary in the park of Acle.

Reginald de Acle, one of the justices of the forest of Rutland, in the 53d of Henry III. was probably born here.

It is a market town, the market is weekly on Wednesday, and had a fair when the Bigots were lords.

The tenths are 7l. 16s.—Deducted 16s.

The Church is a rectory dedicated to St. Edmund the King and Martyr, the ancient valor was 45 marks, Peter-pence 2s. 8d.; carvage 6d. ob. this was a payment to the mother church the cathedral of Norwich, the present valor 20l. and pays first fruits, &c.

It is a single pile covered with reed, and the chancel with lead, has a round tower, the upper part octangular, and 5 bells.

About the pedestal of the font—Orate p. ai'ab; qui istu' fontem in honorem dei fecerunt fieri Ao. Dni Mo. C. C. C. C. X.; here seems to have been a brass plate, with the name of these benefactors, but now lost.—The battlements of the steeple made by the church reves in 1472, cost 16l.


King Henry III. in his 5th year, presented to this church, Ralph de Norwich the Bishop of Lincoln (as the patent expresses it) refusing to present, to the prejudice of the King.

In 1311, Mr. Adam de Orleton was instituted, presented by the abbot and convent of Tintern, this Adam was afterward Bishop of Hereford, Worcester, and Winchester, famous in history.

1322, John de Orleton, presented as ditto.

1329, William de Culpho.

John de Ely, occurs in 1365.

1383, William Potter.

1384, William White.

1384, John de Friseby.

1394, Walter Fitz Piers.

1404, John Dautre.

1404, Thomas Stormworth.

1414, John Glanvile.

1423, John Smith.

1429, Ralph Wellys.

1459, John Prefaut.

1488, Phil. Beynham.

1506, Sim. Singar.

1515, Mr. John Morys, LL.B.

In 1531, the church was granted in commenda, to Charles Clere, aged eleven years.

1543, Mr. Thomas Tedman, S.T.P. by the Duke of Norfolk, prebend of Norwich,

On the dissolution of the abbies, &c. the patronage of this church, with the fishery of Weybridge, was granted May 9, Ao. 29 of Henry VIII. to Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk, the abbey of Tintern had the grant of a manor and advowson from Roger Bigod Earl of Norfolk, and a fine was levied on this grant in the 31st of Edward I.

—, — Duffield, rector.

1583, Thomas Stones, presented by the Queen.

1628, Edmund Michel, by Sir Robert Banaster.

1646, Charles Ward.

—, Edward Lamb.

1710, John Loggan.

1710, Calthorp Harvey.

In this church were the gilds of St. Edmund, St. Christopher, St. John Baptist, and St. Peter.—The lights of our Lady, and St. Nicholas.—The market plough light—Curgate plough light.—Damgate plough light.—A whole suit of vestments of red velvet was bought in 1474.


  • 1. Some make him to be Ralph Guader, but he is said to be made Earl about 1070, and so could not be Earl in the Confessor's time, but was after deprived as a rebel.
  • 2. Terre Regis qua' Godric, servat. —Acle ten. Comes R. vet. T. R. E. v car. tre. sep. xxiii vill. tc. xxxviii bord. p' xxx mo. xxxviii tc. iii ser. sep. iii car. in d'nio. tc. et ii p' x car. hou. mo. xii l ac. et dim. p'ti. silv. ad xl por. p' et mo. i mol. sep. iii r. et ii an. et xx por. c. et xx ov. p' ii vasa apu. mo. xv et iiii soc. de dim. car. tre. sep. i car. iiii ac. p'ti. tc. val. viii lib. et x p'ii mo. xiiii lib. et xiii sol. et iiiid. et de istis s'nt. liii sol. ad co'pot. et reddit alias blancas et ht. i leug. in longo et i in lato. et de gelto ii sol.
  • 3. Mag. Britain. Ant. et Nova, vol. iii p. 418.
  • 4. Reg. Cobalde, fol. 75.