Hundred of Grimeshou: Cranwich

An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 2. Originally published by W Miller, London, 1805.

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Francis Blomefield, 'Hundred of Grimeshou: Cranwich', in An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 2, (London, 1805) pp. 222-228. British History Online [accessed 26 May 2024].

Francis Blomefield. "Hundred of Grimeshou: Cranwich", in An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 2, (London, 1805) 222-228. British History Online, accessed May 26, 2024,

Blomefield, Francis. "Hundred of Grimeshou: Cranwich", An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 2, (London, 1805). 222-228. British History Online. Web. 26 May 2024,

In this section


Lies east of Northwold, on the south side of the river Wissey, and derives its name from the Saxon word (angulus) a turn, nook, or corner, and pic, a bay, port, or landing-place; or from , and the river Wissey, being wrote in Domesday, Cranewisse.

In the reign of Edward the Confessor, there were two lordships, one was held by a freeman of Harold, (afterwards King,) who had two carucates in demean, and 4 acres of meadow, &c. the right of half a mill and half a fishery, and was valued at 60s. per annum. (fn. 1)

The other moiety or lordship was held by a freeman of St. Audrey, who had two carucates in demean, 4 acres of meadow, &c. the right of half a mill and half a fishery, and was valued at 60s. per annum. (fn. 2)

The whole contained seven furlongs in length, and four in breadth, and paid 9d. 0b. gelt, when the hundred was assessed at 20s. It belonged to the castle of Lewes. (fn. 3)

On the Conquest, these lordships were given to the Earl Warren by the Conqueror, and so being united, became one manor.

In the reign of King Henry I. Peter de Cranwich was lord, and held it of the Earl Warren; this Peter gave to the convent of CastleAcre, founded by the Earl Warren, part of a wood, 2s. per annum in tithes, two solidates and a half of land, and a thousand eels, per annum. (fn. 4)

Soon after this, the

Caillys or Cayleys were lords; John de Cally occurs lord in the 4th of King John, (fn. 5) and his father (as appears from a trial then) was lord before him. In the reign of Henry III. Adam de Cayly held here one knight's fee of the Earl Warren; (fn. 6) and in the 12th of that King, purchased of William de Butery 40s. rent issuing out of a mill, lands, &c. here, for 16 marks of silver.

In 3d Edward I. Sir Osbert de Cayly was lord, and claimed the assize of bread and beer here; (fn. 7) and in 9th Edward II. Tho. de Cailly was lord: on the death of this Thomas, about 17th Edward II. the lordship descended to Adam, son of Sir Roger de Clifton, by Margaret, sister and heir to Sir Thomas, then a minor; which Adam, then a knight, was lord in 9th Edward III.; Sir Adam dying in 1367, the manor descended to Sir John Clifton, son of Constantine, son of Sir Adam, who was lord in 50th Edward III. and was summoned to Parliament as a baron, from the aforesaid year to the 12th of Richard II. and died at Rhodes on St. Laurence's day, in the said year, (fn. 8) leaving Constantine, his son and heir, aged 16, who was also summoned to Parliament in 1393 and 1394, on whose death it came to his son, Sir John Clifton, who, by his will, dated 6th August, and proved 8th September, 1447, (fn. 9) desired to be buried in the priory of Wymondham, and gave this manor, with those of Hilburgh, and West-Bradenham, to remain in the hands of his executors, Joan his wife, John Haydon, John Barrington, and Thomas Wete, for twelve years, then to return to his right heirs; by Joan his wife, daughter of Sir Edmund de Thorp, he had one daughter, Margaret, married to Sir Andrew Ogard, Knt. who dying without issue before her father, the lordship came to the Knevets; Elizabeth, sister of Sir John Clifton, being married to Sir John Knevet, grandson to Sir John Knevet, Lord Chancellor of England; and in 7th Henry VIII. Sir William Knevet of Bukenham castle was found to die seized of it, being held of the Earl of Arundel; (fn. 10) and in 28th Henry VIII. Sir Edm. Knevet sold the manor and advowson, 4 messuages, 4 tofts, 500 acres of land, 30 of meadow, 20 of pasture, 500 acres of furze and heath, 100 of moor or fen, 100 of marsh, 3 of alders, and 7l. rent, and the right of faldage here &c. to

John Boldero, and Stephen Heyward; and on an inquisition taken the 24th July, in 26th Elizabeth, (fn. 11) John Boldero, Gent. was found to have died the 29th May last, seized of a moiety of the manor, &c. and Edmund was his son and heir, aged 30 years, and John Heyward was found, in the said year, to die seized of the other moiety. The aforesaid Edmund was also found on the 3d August, in the first King James I. to have died 24th Dec. 45th Elizabeth, seized of a moiety, and John was his son, aged 21 years; soon after this, John Boldero sold his part or moiety to

William Heyward, son of Stephen, who was lord of the whole town, and patron in 1603; and in the reign of King Charles I. it came again to the family of Knyvet, on the marriage of Emma, daughter and heir of William Heyward, Gent. with — Knevet, Esq. of Ashwellthorp; and in 1665, Sir John Knevet presented to this rectory as lord and patron; and in 1720, Col. P. Knevet sold it to Henry Partridge, Esq. of Bukenham-House, whose son, Henry Partridge, Esq. is the present [1738] lord.

The tenths of this town, were 2l. 10s. 8d.

The leet is in the lord of the hundred.

The Church is dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, and is a rude old single building of flint, boulder, &c. covered with tile, in length about 35 feet, and 15 in breadth; to this nave is a chancel annexed, about 30 feet long, and 15 broad, with an ascent of two steps to the communion table, and is covered with thatch; here lie several marble grave-stones.

One is thus inscribed,
Here lyeth JANE the Daughter of THOMAS STEWARD, of Barton-Mills Esq. and the Wife of WILLIAM HAYWARD, buried the 23 of November 1633.

Another thus,
Here lyeth WILLIAM HEYWARD Gent. Patron of this church, buried the 10 Day of Dec. 1630.

On a third, this only legible,

- - - - Vir Pius. - - - in memory (as it is said) of Mr. Doughty, rector.

At the west end of the nave stands a narrow but lofty round tower of flint, &c. embattled and coped with freestone, wherein hangs one bell. This tower is of great and venerable antiquity, built (as I conceive) in the reign of the Danish kings, and probably by Harold King of England, of whom a freeman, as I have observed, held a moiety of this town in the time of the Confessor.

In this church were formerly the arms of Clifton painted in glass.


1310, 7 July, Thomas de Hulm had this church given him in commendam.

1317, 10 June, Walter Kyng. Sir William Bernak, and William, son of John Beney of Thetford, patrons hac vice.

1321, 24 Jan. John de Wasteney. Sir William de Wasteney, and Joan his wife.

1349, 15 July, Robert Wygh. Sir Adam de Clifton.

1349, 28 Oct. William Hulle. Ditto.

William de Redingham. Ditto.

1350, 5 Sep. Robert Byshop, on Redingham's resignation, vicar also of West-Bradenham. Ditto.

Robert Osborn occurs rector 41st Edward III. Ditto - - - - - Smith.

1376, 22 Jan. Edmund Ive, on Smith's resignation. Richard Holdich, John Reed, John Holkham, John Morley, and Tho. de Fletcham. Ive was vicar of Chipenham in Cambridgeshire, and exchanged with Smith.

1386, 17 Sep. John Ansty, on Ive's resignation. Sir John Clifton. Ansty was rector of Canfield-Parva, in Essex, and exchanged with Ive.

1388, 8 Jan. Jeffery Pegge. Elizabeth, relict of Sir John Clifton. (fn. 12)

1390, 30 Aug. John Boulder. Ditto.

1415, 14 Sep. Stephen Noble. John Drew, Thomas Brampton, Rich. Creyk, and Roger Rawlyns, patrons, by virtue of a deed of feoffment from Constantine Clifton, deceased. Noble was also rector of Northwold.

1417, 1 June, Walter Wasteney. John Drew, &c. By his will proved the 5th May, 1434, (fn. 13) he requires to be buried in this church, and leaves money to the gild of St. Mary.

1434, 29, Apr. William Stalworth. Sir John Clifton.

Richard Love occurs in 36th Henry VI.

1468, 27 Apr. Robert Aleyn, on Love's resignation. John Toppys of Norwich, by the gift and grant of John Knevet, Esq. Aleyn in his will, dated 22 Dec. 1493, (fn. 14) desires to be buried in this church, and gives to St. Mary's gild a quarter of malt.

1493, 16 Jan. Thomas Cook, A. M. Richard Roos, Esq. and Joan his wife. He was also rector of Hilburgh.

1533, 4 Dec. Henry Callibut, on Cook's death. Edmund Knevet, Esq. buried in his own church, 15th April, 1560.

1560, 28 Nov. John Balkey. (fn. 15) Stephen Hayward and John Baldero.

1564, 11 Apr. Edward Balkey, on John's resignation. Ditto.

1579, 13 Jan. Tho. Garthside. Ditto.

1583, 21 Jan. Robert Dey, on Garthside's resignation. John Boldero of Fornham St. Martin, Suffolk, and Margaret, relict of Stephen Hayward, late of Bury St. Edmund. In his reply to King James's queries, in 1603, he observes there were 65 communicants, and that William Hayward of Bury was patron. He was buried here 13th Aug. 1620.

1620, Andrew Doughtie, A. M. on Dey's death; vicar also of Wilton; buried here 3d Jan. 1665.

1665, 24 Jan. Robert Gallard. Sir John Knevet. Buried here 15th Aug. 1667.

1667, 25 Nov. John Talbot, A. B. Ditto.

1689, 31 Jan. John Newson, on the death of the last rector. Ditto. He was also vicar of Methwold, and was buried 18th Feb. 1712.

1713, 3 Aug. the Rev. Mr. John Ellis, A. M. who is rector also of Ickburgh-cum-Langford. Edmund Wace, clerk.

This rectory is valued in the King's Books at 8l. 9s. 7d. and being in clear value but 40l. per annum is discharged of tenths and first fruits.

This town gives name to the deanery of Cranwich, which takes in all the churches within the hundreds of Grimesho and South-Greenhoe. In ancient days, each deanery had its peculiar dean, of which it may not be improper to make a few remarks in this place.

Rural Deans

Are very ancient, and no precise time has been determined when the office first began; it is probable it was in the Saxon time; and a learned author (fn. 16) has observed, that these deans in the church, answered the place of the [..] of the hundred, the head of the ten friborgs, or the tithing-man, and that in imitation of this secular method, the spiritual governours, the bishops, divided each diocese into deaneries or tithings, each of which had in its district ten parishes, or churches, and over every such district they appointed a dean, who should in spiritual matters, as the [..] in civil, reconcile differences, receive complaints, and enquire into grievances, &c.: the first mention of them is in the year 877, (fn. 17) and in one of the laws of Edward the Confessor, (fn. 18) it was provided, that of the 8l. penalty for breach of the King's peace, the King should have an 100s. the Earl 50s. and the Bishop's dean in whose deanery it was, the other 10s. which, according to the opinion of Sir Henry Spelman, &c. is meant of the rural deans. If these deans were over such a number of churches in a city, they were called decani urbani, if in the country, decani rurales; and as hundreds and tithings kept their name, when they bare no longer a strict relation to the number of villages or people, so likewise the rural deaneries continued, when they lost their first allusion to 10 parishes or churches, and the district of them was enlarged at the pleasure of the Bishop; though some deaneries do still retain the primitive allotment of ten churches, especially in Wales, where the most ancient usages continue.

These rural deans had their capitula or chapters, made up of the instituted clergy, or their curates, as proxies for them, and the dean was president, or prolocutor, (fn. 19) these were held at first every three weeks, afterwards once a month, but their principal chapters were assembled once a quarter; all rectors and vicars, or their capellans, were bound to attend those chapters, and to bring information of all irregularities committed in their respective parishes. The place of holding these chapters was at first in any church within the deanery, where the minister of the place was to entertain the dean, and his immediate officers; but in a council at London, held by Bishop Stratford, in 1342, it was ordained, that such chapters should not be held in any obscure village, where it was difficult to get provision, but in the larger and more eminent parishes, where the company could be best accommodated, and all the officials and servants of the dean were to have their charges defrayed by their master, without burthen to the clergy. In these chapters the dean published the decrees of provincial and episcopal synods, all ecclesiastical laws and canons, and enforced the execution of them; they had also the probate of wills, &c. the cognizance of all matrimonial causes, matters of divorce, and incontinency: thus we find that when King Henry II. was at York, a burgess of Scarburgh complained to him of a rural dean that had taken from him 12d. and enjoined his wife pennance as an adultress, without proof, contrary to the King's law. (fn. 20) They had also a great share in the trials for the right of advowson; and their more especial duty was to inspect and censure the manners of the clergy, and to pronounce sentence of excommunication; they were also commissioned to receive the taxes of the clergy, subsidies, first fruits, tenths, &c.; and the general taxation of benefices in England, called the Norwich Taxation, (made by Walter Suffeld Bishop of Norwich, the Pope's deputy,) was taken in every deanery by the rural deans, and two or three rectors or vicars, members of the chapter of that deanery. That these branches of their office and jurisdiction were of considerable profit, must be granted, else we shall be at a loss to account for the exchanges that we frequently meet with between rectors and dignitaries of the church, and these rural deans.

At the beginning they are said to be elected by the clergy of their own district, and when confirmed by the Bishop, were not to be ejected without the joint consent of their own presbyters; and in latter times, they were temporary, and removed, as Dr. Kennet asserts, (fn. 21) by the Bishop's sole power; but it is plain from the institutions of the deans of Cranwich here annexed, that they were collated by the Bishop, and that it was no temporary office, or durante Episcopi beneplacito, they being styled decani perpetui, and also from their solemn resignations and exchanges for this office, for other preferments in the church.

Each rural dean had his seal belonging to his office; and we are told that the seal of the Dean of Burchester in Oxfordshire was an oblong oval, (as most religious seals were,) the impress, a pelican standing on a pedestal, wounding her breast with her bill, and feeding her young with her own blood; and I have now by me the probate of the will of Thomas Westhowe of Boketon, at Downham in Norfolk, dated 16th Dec. 1413, proved by Hugh Birdham Dean of Fincham, to which is affixed an oblong seal of red wax, the impress a bird, probably a finch, on a tree, and a star in chief, and this legend, Sigillum Decanatus de Fyncham, expressing both his own, and his deanery's name, in that device.

The rural deans were plain honest men, not much skilled in the subtilties of the civil or canon law, but were not the less capable of their office and jurisdiction, as depending on known customs, and the rules of equity; but by degrees, when the method of ecclesiastical justice was turned into arts and mysteries, then began the canonists to pretend themselves the only fit ministers in all courts of Christianity, and insinuated themselves into the favour and counsels of the Bishops, and so obtained the new titles of archdeacons, officials, and chancellours, and then easily run down these deans. Thus, by the art and interest of the canonists, &c. the jurisdiction of this office declined so much, that little but the name and shadow of it was in being, even in the age before the Reformation. It has been wished that our reformers would have restored this good and useful office to all its ancient rights and laudable practices, and those great persons who were commissioned to revive the ecclesiastical laws of this realm, agreed in their good opinion of it, prescribed a proper method, but it fell for want of confirmation by the legislative power; yet though it was not formally ratified, all those parts of it have no less the force of a law, (fn. 22) (viz. all such ecclesiastical canons, constitutions, &c.) as are not repugnant to the laws, statutes, &c. of the realm, of which inoffensive nature was this jurisdiction of rural deans. And in a provincial synod held at London, 3d Apr. 1571, it was ordained that the archdeacon, when he had finished his visitation, should signify to the Bishop what clergymen he found in every deanery, so well endowed with learning and judgment as to be worthy to instruct the people in sermons, and to rule and preside over others; out of these the Bishop may choose such as he will have to be rural deans. The little remains of this dignity and jurisdiction depend now on the custom of places, and the pleasure of diocesans; in some parts of this kingdom, the rural deans have nothing left but the burthen of entertaining the rectors and vicars of the deanery at a solemn feast.

Deans of Cranwich. (fn. 23)

1315, 27 Oct. Mr. Ralph de Belegrave, collated to this deanery by the Bishop, with all its rights and privileges.

1321, 5 Nov. Mr. John de Walegrave, collated, &c.

1326, 1 May, Robert de Burneby, on the resignation of Walegrave.

1342, 27 Mar. John de Breydeston, &c. on the resignation of Burneby.

1342, 20 Dec. Simon de Cley, changed with Breydeston, for Thorp by Norwich.

1345, 14 Oct. Laurence Manors.

1348, Stephen de Cressingham, clerk.

1349, Robert de Hardreshill.

1359, 18 Nov. Walter Lathom.

1386, 23 Dec. William Baas.

1388, 11 Apr. William de Feriby, &c. he was dean of Hecham and exchanged with Baas.

1388, 19 Aug. Hugh de Bridham, he was rector of Snyterly, with the chapel of Glanford, and exchanged with Feriby.

1391, 2 Oct. William Clerk.

1391, 5 Oct. Roger de Belton. He was dean of Brisley, and exchanged with Clerk.

1392, 29 Nov. John Attelbrigg.

1393, 9 Nov. John Boseworthe.

1421, 15 July, Simon Thurton.

1491, 10 June, Humphry Ballard, collated to this deanery and that of Breccles, which was now consolidated to it.

1495, 11 Dec. Thomas Shrybbe.

1498, 10 Jan. Henry Goldwell. (fn. 24)

1509, 20 July, Thomas Vele, on the death of Goldwell; he was rector of St. Michael-at-the-Pleas, in Norwich.

Totum habet vii. quar. in long. et iiii. in lat. et redd. ix. den. et i. ob. de Gelto, de xx.s. Hoc est de Castellat. dé Lauues.


  • 1. Terre Willi. de Warrenna. Hund. de Grimeshou. Cranewisse, i. lib. hom. Heroldi semper ii. car. in dnio. et x. vill. et v. bor. et iii. ser. et iiii. acr. prati, tunc et post. iiii. car. et dim. hom. mo iii. dim. mol. et dim. pisc. silva x. porc. semper iiii. runc. tunc. vii. n. semper xiii. porc. tunc. c. oves, mo cxx. et vii. vas. apum, et val. lx.s.
  • 2. Hund. de Grimeshou. Terre Willi. de Warenna, (fol. 89.) In ead. ten. idem Wills. i. lib. hom. Sce. Aeldr. soc. et comd. ii. car. terre semper ii. car. in dnio. et ix. vill. et v. bor. et ii. ser. et iiii. acr. prati, tunc et post. iiii. car. et dim. hom. mo. iii. et ii. car. in dnio. et dim. mol. et dim. piscar. silv. x. porc. et iiii. run. et vi. an. et xvii. por. tunc c. oves mo cxx. et vii. vasa, apum et val. lx.s.
  • 3. Lewes in Sussex, the head of the barony of the Earl Warren.
  • 4. Dug. Mon. Ang. vol. i. p. 625, 626.
  • 5. Plita. apud Bedford a die Sancti Mich. &c. Ao quarto. R. Joh. Rot. 5.
  • 6. Inquis. temp. Hen. 3. Fin. 12 Hen. 3. Lig. 2. N. 193.
  • 7. Rot. Hund. in Cur. Rec. Scacarij Westmon. Nom. Villar. Fin. 9 Ed. 3. L. 2. N. 3.
  • 8. On the 8th of January, 1388, Elizabeth his widow, presented to this church.
  • 9. Regr. Wylby, p. 103; of the Cliftons, Caillys, &c. See in Dug. Baronage.
  • 10. Esch. 7 Hen. 8. Fin. Mich. 38 H. 8. N. 462.
  • 11. Esch. 25 Eliz. Com. Suff. N. 16. Esch. 1 Jac. Pat. 2. N. 174.
  • 12. Regr. Paynot
  • 13. Regr. Surflete, p. 141.
  • 14. Regr. Typps.
  • 15. Presbyter non conjugatus, satis doctus, non residet, non hospitalis, in ecclesia cathedrali Norwic. non prædicat, nec licentiatus. Parkeri Certificator. in Bibliot. Col. Corp. Christi Cantab.
  • 16. Kennet's Paroch. Antiq. p. 633.
  • 17. Du-Pin, vol. vii. p. 49 and 152.
  • 18. Leg. Edw. Confes. 31 de Emend. Pacis.
  • 19. Du Fresne in Verbis.
  • 20. Brady's Comp. Hist. of Eng. vol. i. p. 381.
  • 21. Paroch. Antiq. p. 639, 950.
  • 22. Ibid. 652.
  • 23. This deanery contained 47 parishes, and was taxed at 30s. (Domesd.)
  • 24. Goldwell was probably a relation of Bishop Goldwell; on his collation this injunction is entered: Et Episcopus virtute obedientiæ, firmiter injunxit omnibus et singulis abbatibus, prior. rector. vicar. curatis, &c. tam clericis quam laicis per dict. decanat. quod. Hen. Goldwello decano perpetuo eorum, obediant pariter et intendant in omnibus licitis, canonicisque mandatis. Lib. Instit. Norw.