An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 2. Originally published by W Miller, London, 1805.
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This village lies east of Colveston, on the north side of the river Wissey, the London road to Swaffham, Walsingham, &c. running through it; Dr. Gale, in his Commentary on Antoninus, (fn. 1) makes this a Roman station, (the Iciani,) and of the same opinion was the learned Mr. Talbot; though a modern author places the Iciani at Colchester, (fn. 2) and even the Villa Faustini at Maldon in Essex; but most authors dissent from him. It is certain that the distance betwixt this town and that of Bury, (generally agreed to be the Villa Faustini,) as observed by Antoninus, exactly answers, take which rout you please, cither through Brandon or Thetford, and that the road here leading to Swaffham, &c. is broad, straight, and level, and has an air of antiquity and grandeur, appears to every traveller; and in the plantations at Linford, within less than a mile of Ickburgh, and at the building of the New-Hall there, several Roman urns have been lately dug up, and on the road towards Bury was a large milliare, lately to be seen, which might be the primus ab urbe lapis, the distance answering. Sir Henry Spelman observes, that the Iceni, by which name this part of the Heptarchy was distinguished in the time of the Saxons, and on which the Roman Iciani is founded, is a British term, derived from the river Ise or Ichen; and indeed this is a conjecture highly probable, most of the rivers in Norfolk still retaining (though varying a little) the same name. The great river which flows between this county and Cambridgeshire, and empties itself into the sea about Lyn, is called the Ouse-Magna. That river which divides the south-west part of this county, from Suffolk, has the name of the Ouse-Parva; and that river which is in a good measure the boundary of the hundred of Grimeshoe, from those of Clackclose and South-Greenhoe, is called the Wissey, which comes very near to the British word ise above-mentioned; and on the north side of this Ise, or Wissey, stands the town of Icheburc, as it is wrote in Domesday, that is, a town or burgh on the Ise, or Icheburna, (as it is also wrote,) that is the bourn, brook, or river Ise.
At the time of the survey, in the reign of William the Conqueror, Walter Giffard held the greatest part of this town, one carucate and an half, and 8 acres of land, and 3 acres of meadow, which 4 free men held in the time of the Confessor, valued then at 20s. at the survey at 30s. per annum. This part was half a leuca in length, and half a one in breadth, and paid 8d. of the 20s. gelt. (fn. 3)
He also held here and in Linford four carucates and 35 acres of land, and 60 acres of meadow, which 14 freemen held in the time of the Confessor, valued then at 20s. at the survey at 10s. per annum. These freemen were under the protection of the ancestor of Ralph de Waer, and were afterwards delivered to Bodin de Ver, (fn. 4) who took part with the King; but afterwards Ralph attached them to his own fee, and when he forfeited, he was their lord, and Hervey de Ver held them of him, as the hundred says. The whole of Leneforda was half a leuca in length, and four furlongs in breadth, and paid 4d. of the 20s. gelt.
Walter Giffard was the son of Osborn de Bolebec and Aveline his wife, he was made Earl of Bucks on the Conquest, and had many lordships given him; after the death of this Earl and his son, this lordship descended to Rich. Fitz-Gilbert Earl of Brion, &c. in Normandy, who married Rohesia, daughter of this Walter Giffard, and had by her
Gilbert Fitz-Richard, the first Earl of Clare, lord of this town, and the greatest part of it was held of these lords by the ancient family of
Langetot, from which family Stow-Langtot in Suffolk derives its name; and in the 1st year of King John, it appears from a fine then levied, (fn. 5) that
Gilbert de Langetot bought of William de Bellomont, and Muriel his wife, the service of two knights fees, &c. in Ickeburc, Brinton, Witchingham, Schotesham, Saxlingham, &c.; and in the 24th of Henry III.
Godfrey de Langetot held the manor of William de Englefield; after this, in the said reign,
Rob. Longtot was found to hold a manor here of the Earl of Gloucester, by half a knight's fee, and the Earl of the King.
In the 3d of Edward I. John Langetoth was lord, (fn. 6) and had the assize of bread and beer; and in the 34th of that King,
Nich. de Langetot and Margery his wife had two messuages, and 312 acres of land here, and in Bukenham-Parva, settled by fine on them and their heirs; and the said Nicholas and Margery settled by fine in the 8th of Edward II. lands here, in tail, on John de Goldingham, and Maud his wife, and the heirs of Maud, but this lordship was not in them; for in 1304,
Rob. Langetot presented to the church; and in the 8th of Edward II. a fine was levied, whereby the manor and advowson was settled on the said Robert and Amicia his wife, for life, remainder to Stephen, son of Robert, in tail; (fn. 7) and in 1333, the said
Stephen, as lord, presented to the church, and enjoyed the same in the 31st of Edward III. and held it of the Earl of Gloucester, by half a knight's fee.
But in the 2d of Rich. II. (fn. 8) Nicholas, son of Stephen de Langetot of Mundeford, released by deed to
John Churchman and Emma his wife, all his right in the manor and advowson; and in 1385, they presented to the church: this
John was citizen and sheriff of London about this time; and in the 1st of Henry IV. he conveyed it to
James Billingford, clerk of the Crown, who was found to hold it of the honour of Clare; soon after this, in 1416, in the reign of Henry VI. John Bungey, clerk, Thomas Fekys of Colveston, and Simon Coupere, presented to the church, by right of the manor of Ikeburgh. In 1448,
Richard Geggh, Esq. as lord, presented to the church, and soon after this, Hugh Fenn presented in 1454, 1461, and 1472; but in 1478,
Geo. Nevyll Lord Abergavenny, and Margaret his wife, held it, and presented; and in the 19th of Henry VII. a fine was levied between the said lord and Richard Fox Bishop of Winchester, to whom it was then conveyed. (fn. 9) In 1518,
Sir Edw. Benstede was lord, and presented; and in the 18th of Henry VIII.
Will. Purdee of Herting ford-Bury in Hertfordshire, and the lady Jocosa his wife, late wife of Sir Edward Benstede, conveyed the manor by fine to
John Crofts of West-Stow in Suffolk, according to the will of Sir Edward. (fn. 10) After this it came to the family of the Bedingfields of Oxburgh, and
Henry Bedingfield, Esq. was lord, and presented in 1541; and in the 32d of Elizabeth,
Thomas Bedingfield, Esq. was found to die seized of it, held of the honour of Clare. About the end of the reign of King Charles I. it was sold by Sir Henry Bedingfield to the Garrards of Lang ford; and in 1680
Sir Thomas Garrard, Bart. presented to the church; and his son,
Sir Nicholas, dying in 1727, sans issue, the manor is at present  held by
Sir Francis Bickley, Bart. who married Alathea, eldest daughter of Jacob Garrard, Esq. eldest son of Sir Thomas Garrard, Bart. who died before his father; by which Alathea there is no issue, and by
Charles Downing, Esq. third son of Sir George Downing of Cambridgeshire, who married Sarah, the second daughter, and by her has a son and heir.
Part of this town, a moiety only of that land which (as is observed above) was held here and in Linford by 14 freemen, (fn. 11) was held in the reign of King Henry III. by Sir Hamon Chevere, Knt. who, in the 14th of that King, conveyed it by fine then levied, (fn. 12) to
Drogo de Barentine, and Jane his wife; and in the said year, he had a grant of a weekly market, and a fair yearly, with free-warren in all his demean lands here; this was held by
William Barentun, son (as I conceive) of the said Drogo, who founded the chapel and hospital of lepers in this town, and gave considerable lands, and part of his lordship to it. The remaining part was afterwards held by
John de Cressingham, who, by will dated 22d February 1372, (fn. 13) bequeaths to Thomas his son, his manor of Ickburgh, land in Fouldon, and his manor of Linford, and makes Emma his wife, and William de Bodney, his nephew, executors; and to his three daughters, Margaret, - - - and Joan, he gives 40l. each. And in 4th King Rich. II. the King confirmed to
Joan de Cressingham, daughter of John de Cressingham, deceased, cousin and heir to Drogo Barentyn, the market and fair held here on the 10th Aug. with free-warren; but in the 10th of the said King,
John Veyle and Thomas Veyle of Bodney, nephews and heirs of John Cressingham, released to John Churchman, and Emma his wife, their right in this manor; and in that year, Richard Holditch did the same; and in the 12th of the said King, Richard Mey of Ikeburgh released to the aforesaid John, all his right in the manor, &c. so that
Churchman, being possessed of the whole, joined it to his other manor, and conveyed it thus united, to James Billingford, as has been already observed; and since that time it hath continued united, and had the same lords.
Besides the manors above-mentioned, Ralph de Tony held 30 acres of land here, at the survey, which was valued with his manor of Neketun, which extended into this town, and this part was held in the time of the Confessor, by a socman of Herold; (fn. 14) but this, as I take it, was soon after annexed to the other manors, as I meet with so further account of it.
The monks of Castle-Acre had also lands, &c. in this town. Henry, son of John de Stanford, gave them 2 acres and an half of land, abutting on a croft of Godfrey de Langetot's; witnesses, Eudo Arsic, Ralph L'Strange, &c. (fn. 15) This was in the beginning of King Henry III.
Hugh Prior, and convent of Lewes, granted them a tenement, which was William's, son of Hugh, in this town, to be held at the yearly rent of 11d. and William, son of Hugh, releases his right therein, about the aforesaid time.
Sir Hamon Chevere, Knt. acknowledges to have received of Robert de Alenzun Prior of Castle-Acre, &c. the said tenement, paying the yearly rent of 12s. 1d. for that, and 112 acres of land, as appears further from a fine levied between this Hamon and John the Prior, in 40th Henry III. and in 1428, the convent of Castle-Acre's temporalities here were charged at 12s. 1d. This was (I take it) that part which Roger, son of Renard, held at the survey, viz. 40 acres, and half a carucate, with 2 acres of meadow, valued at 16d. which a freeman held in the Confessor's time, which afterwards came to th Earl Warren, and so to the abbey of Castle-Acre. (fn. 16)
The tenths of this town, were 2l. 8s. 8d.
The leet is in the lord of the hundred.
The Church is an old single building of flint and pebbles, covered with reed; it was first dedicated to St. Bartholomew, and after rededicated to St. Peter; John de Langetot was patron. It is in length about 44 feet, and in breadth about 18; at the west end is a square tower of the aforesaid materials, with quoins and battlements of freestone, in which hang three bells.
On the cornish of the screen that divides the church from the chancel, over which stood the old rood-loft, are several shields painted, but through length of time mostly defaced and obscure, viz.
Langetot, arg. an annulet (as it seems) gul.
Filiot, gul. a bend arg.
Lord Tey, arg. a chevron gul.
Earl of Arundel, quarterly gul. a lion rampant or, in the 1st and 4th quarter.
Earl Warren, chequy or and az. in 2d and 3d quarter.
Mortimer Earl of March, barry of six, or and az. over all an escutcheon erm. on a chief of the first, three pallets between two base escuers of the second.
Bohun Earl of Essex, az. a bend cotized between six lioncels rampant or.
Plantaginet, quarterly France and England with a label.
Prince of Wales, three ostrich feathers arg. Edward the Black Prince used sometimes one feather, sometimes three, in his arms, in token (as it is said) of his speedy execution in all his services, (fn. 17) as the posts in the Roman state wore feathers to signify their flying post haste; but the truth is, that prince won these arms at the battle of Cressy, from John King of Bohemia, whom he there slew, and adjoined this old English motto, Ic Dien, (I serve,) according to the Apostle, The heir, while he is a child differeth nothing from the servant.
These eight shields are on the left hand of the screen as you enter the chancel:
Gul. the triangular emblem of the Trinity, with the legend.
Gul. an heart between a dexter and sinister hand, and a dexter and sinister foot couped, and in form of a saltier arg.; this is termed the Shield of the Five Wounds. We see this shield in many old churches, joined, as here, to that of the Holy Trinity, and that of the Holy Cross.
Gul. a cross arg. born by the Knights Hospitalers.
These three last are over the door that leads into the chancel:
On the right hand are the arms of France and England quarterly:
Brotherton Earl of Norfolk.
Beauchamp Earl of Warwick.
Vere Earl of Oxford.
Lord Scales and Stapleton.
Also gul. a bend arg. And arg. an annulet gul.
Besides these shields, here were formerly in this church, these arms:
Sab. three barrulets and an escallop between two pallets in chief arg. (fn. 18)
Churchman, or, two chevrons gul.
Billingford, sab. two watch-bills armed, in saltier, arg.
Clifton; and, quarterly gul. a castle arg. in the 1st and 4th quarter, and az. florette arg. in the 2d and 3d.
The chancel is in length about 26 feet, and in breadth about 18; in the east window is the figure of St. Catharine, and in a window on the north side, that of the Virgin. On the pavement lie several marble grave-stones, some ridged, and with crosses floral cut on them, in memory of some ancient rectors; there is an ascent of two steps to the communion table.
1304, 10 Oct. Stephen de Langetot. (fn. 19) Robert de Langetot.
1326, 8 Dec. John de Collum. Lapse.
1333, 17 Feb. Simon de Carleton, on the resignation of Collum. Step. Langetot.
1349, 6 Jul. Rich. Costeyn. Ditto. By his will, dated on St. Mathew's day, 1385, he desires to be buried in the churchyard of Ickburg. (fn. 20)
1385, 12 Oct. Edmund Grove. John Churchman, and Emma his wife. By his will, proved 17th Aug. 1416, he desires to be buried in the chancel of this church. (fn. 21)
1416, 9 Aug. Rich. Good. John Bungey, clerk, Tho. Feyks de Colveston, and Simon Coupere, patrons in right of the manor.
1448, 27 Nov. John Pepyr. Rich. Geggh, Esq.
1454, 1 July, Robert Meteham, on the resignation of Pepyr. Hugh Fenn, Gent.
1461, 5 Oct. John Cappe. Ditto.
1464, 10 Jan. Hugh Whytchede. Lapse.
1472, 12 Dec. Thomas Wylkok. Hugh Fenne.
1478, 8 Aug. John Cannock, on the resignation of Wylkok. Sir George Nevyle, and Margaret his wife.
1479, 14 May, John Debeney, canon, on the resignation of Cannock. George Nevill Lord Ab-Burgevenncy, &c. By his will, proved 26th Apr. 1518, he desires to be buried in the chancel. (fn. 22)
1518, 27 June, John Thomas, on the death of Debeney. Sir Edw. Bensted, Knt. John Townesend.
1541, 7 May, Richard Townesend, on the resignation of John. (fn. 23) Henry Bedingfield, Esq.
1564, 30 Jan. John Cottam, on the death of the last rector. Anthony Bedingfeld, patron for this turn.
1583, 7 Dec. John Townesend, on the resignation of Moreys. Francis Mounford, LL. B. for this turn. He was also rector of Bretenham.
1584, 18 June, William Baxter, on the resignation of Townesend. Ditto. In his answer to King James's queries he observes that there were 55 communicants. He was buried here 9th Oct. 1604.
1604, 28 Oct. John Sherwin, A. M. on the death of the last rector. Rob. Shene, Gent. of Eye in Suffolk, for this turn. He was afterwards rector of Oxburgh.
1605, 4 Oct. Ralph Sherman, A. M. on the cession of Sherwin, The King, on account of the minority of Henry Bedingfield, Esq. He was buried here 31st Sept. 1626.
1626, 18 Jan. Daniel Donne, A. M. The King. He was rector also of Caldecote.
1627, 1 May, Thomas Riseing, A. M. on the resignation of Donne. Sir Henry Bedingfield. Walker calls him Thomas Bissing, and says he was ejected in the time of the Rebellion, and makes a quære if he did not loose a temporal estate of 50l. per annum. (fn. 24) He was buried here 4th Nov. 1654.
Richard Harvey, buried here 7th Aug. 1657.
1671, 26 June, Andrew Needham, A. M. on the cession of the last rector. The King. He was vicar also of Didlington.
1676, Matthew Blewet, A. M. Sir Thomas Garrard, Bart. He was rector also of Langford, to which rectory this was consolidated about this time.
1693, 20 May, Thomas Jukes, on the resignation of Blewet. Sir Nich. Garrard, Bart. He was vicar also of Methwold.
1696, 21 Dec. the Rev. Mr. John Ellis, the present  rector, on the resignation of Jukes. Ditto. He is rector also of Cranwich.
This rectory is valued in the King's Books, at 5l. 6s. 10d. ob.; synodals 11d.; Peter-pence, 10d.; there was a house and 30 acres; it was valued at 4 marks and an half, but was not taxed. (Domesd.)
It is consolidated to Langford; the clear yearly value of both being 43l. 6s. 8d. it is discharged from tenths and first fruits.
The Hermitage, or House of Lepers, (fn. 25)
Stood in the south part of the town, a little distance from, and on the north side of, the river Wissey. In old writings it is frequently called the House of Lepers, at the New-Bridge in Ickburgh, that bridge which is nearest to the said hermitage being, in respect to the other, (which is over the Wissey,) a new one, and erected most likely by the founder of this house, for the safety of travellers on great floods, yet (as it is probable) on a certain toll or duty, payable to the house; a chain going cross the said bridge at this day, and the key belonging to it being kept at the said place. It is most likely that the said bridge was also formerly maintained by the hermit or custos of this house.
That the run or watercourse, over which the said bridge is erected, was to be cleared by him, appears from an old roll that I have seen, when at a leet, kept in the beginning of the reign of Henry VII. John Canon, chaplain of St. Lawrence in Ykburgh, was fined 12d. for not drawing and scowring the watercourse on the south side of the chapel.
It was founded by William Barentun, in the reign of Edward I. who gave and granted to Henry Scharping of Hyldeberworth, and his heirs, for the health of his own soul, and the souls of his parents, in pure and perpetual alms, certain lands here, with meadows, pastures, heath, warrens, services, homages, wards, reliefs, escheats, fairs, markets, &c. to have and to hold of him, for the maintenance of one chaplain, to celebrate in the chapel of St. Mary of Newbrigge, and to find a lamp for St. Mary there. Witnesses, Sir Osbert de Kailli, Sir Gerard de Insula, Sir William Belet, &c. In 17th Edward II. John, son of William Scharpyng, cousin and heir to the aforesaid Henry, confirmed the grant which Henry had, of the feoffment of William Barentun; and it appears there was then an hospital of lepers here. And that there was an hermit, master, or chaplain, and brethren, in the reign of King Henry IV. appears from a bull of Pope Gregory XII. granted to this house; the preamble of which runs thus:
"Gregorius Epis. Servus Servor. Dei, dilectis filiis magistre et fratribus domus leprosor. de Novo Ponte de Ykeburgh, Norw. dioc. salutem et apostolicam benedictionem." (fn. 26)
By this bull, dated 17th id. March, in the 3d year of his pontificate, they and all their lands were freed from the payment of tithes, and all secular services.
This hospital was dedicated to St. Mary and St. Lawrence; the chapel is built of flint and boulder, about 30 feet in length, and 20 in breadth, and is now converted into a farm-house, having an additional building at the west end.
It was endowed by William Barentun, the founder, with seven score and five acres and half a rood of land, six roods of meadow, a folkcourse, and 3s. rent per annum, with the rights and privileges of a fair, held here on St. Lawrence's day, viz. Aug. 10, Hen. Scharpyng, the founder's trustee, had the patronage of it, and after him, John, son of Will. Sharpyng, cousin and heir to the said Henry, who conveyed his right therein to John, son of Sir Richard de la Rokele; this John de la Rokele was a considerable benefactor, and gave to this house, in the reign of Edward III. 59 acres and 2 roods of land, 12d. 1q. rent, and the liberty of a fold-course here: from Rokele the patronage came to Edm. Ingaldesthorp, and Alice his wife, sister (as I take it) of John de la Rokele, and Will. Ingaldesthorp, son of Edmund and Alice, cousin and heir of John, conveyed it, 20th October, in the 27th of Henry VI. to
Sir Thomas Tuddenham, Knt. of Oxburgh; and Margery widow of the said William, confirmed the grant; from Sir Thomas it came, by the marriage of Margaret, his sister and heir, to
Edm. Bedingfield, Esq. and on Thursday before the nativity of St. John Baptist, in the 21st of Edward IV. Edm. Bedingfield, Esq. afterwards Knight of the Bath, and grandson to the aforesaid Edmund, presented Will. Dane to be hermit and chaplain here, who was to pray for the said Edmund, and all the patrons of the house: and in this family it continued till the Dissolution.
On the 10th of Aug. the second of Edward VI. Osbert Mounford of Feltwell, and Tho. Gawdy of Shottesham in Norfolk, for 900l. had the grant of all this chantry or chapel, called Newbridge, with the appurtenances; it was valued at 67s. 11d. Afterwards it was held by
Sir Henry Bedingfield, who conveyed it, in the 1st of Queen Mary, to
Robert Bate of Hoxne in Suffolk; and Gabriel Bate, his son, conveyed it to Rob. Astley, he to John Wormley, in the 24th of Elizabeth; and in 1606, Wormley Martin and John Martin conveyed it to George Eades; and by Frances, daughter and heir of Edmund Eades, it came to Henry North, Esq. who sold it to Samuel Vincent, Esq. in 1682; from Vincent it came to
Rob. Partridge, Esq. of Buckenham-House, and so to Henry Partridge, Esq. his brother, whose son Henry lately conveyed it to Mr. Henry Cocksedge of Thetford, the present  owner.
Richard was hermit or chaplain here in 1446. (fn. 27) The lady Joan Bardolph, by will bequeaths to him 13s. 4d.
John Bath, hermit, temp. Edw. IV.
William Dane succeeded Bath, 21st Edw. IV.
John Canon, in the beginning of Henry VII.
1528, Sir John Lyster, hermit, buried in Munford church-porch; he left 16 acres of land, and the west-close to this chapel. (fn. 31)
It is to be observed that hermitages were erected for the most part near great bridges, and high-roads, (fn. 28) as appears from this, and those at Brandon, Downham, Stow-Bardolph, in Norfolk, and Erith in the isle of Ely, &c. but how such sites and stations can answer the pretended design or intention, will be difficult to be accounted for. They were also sometimes erected in churchyards, in towns of considerable note, as may be seen from the petition of the Mayor of Sudbury in Suffolk, to the Bishop of Norwich, which being not foreign to our present purpose, I shall here adjoin.
"To youre Ryght Reverent Lordshepe and Faderhod in God. We John Hunt, Meyr of the Tonn of Sudbery, Henry Roberds, John Tournour, &c. Parisshyens to the Cherche of Saynt Gregory of the same Tonn, in humble wyze comand us, as it befalleth us to your worshepfull Estates to do. And forasmoche as we been informed that on Richard Appelby, of Sudbery, conversaunt with John Levynton, of the same Tonn, Heremyte, wheche Richard, is a Man as to oure Consicience knowen, a trewe Membre of Holy-Cherche, and a gode gostly Levere, &c. hath besought unto your Lordshepe to be admitted into the Ordre of an Hermyte, and ye by youre gracious and special Councell, would not admitt him lesse yanne he wer sekyr to be inhabited in a Solitary Place, wher Virtues myght increase and Vice to be exiled, We consederyng youre sayd paternell Ordynaunce, and hys holy Desyr, sadly set as we truste to God it shall, and in hym better and better be founde, have graunted hym be the Asent of all the sayd Parysh and Cherch-Reves, to be inhabited with ye sayd John Levynton, in his Solytary Place and Hermytage, whych yat is made at the Cost of the Parysh, in the Cherch-Yard of Seynt Gregory Cherch, to dwellyn togedyr as yey leven or whiche of them longest leveth, wherefore our Ryght Revernt Lord and Fader in God, we entewrly beseke youre gracious benyngnyte to admitte hym into that Ordre, there to abyde your Bedeman, the Lords of the Tonn and the Paryshiens, as we doe truste to God he will be persevarint, wheche God graunte him grace to. Moreover, Rygt Reverent Lord and Fader in God, forasmoche as we will yat yis oure Leter and Graunt to be not annulled, but be us confirmed, we have in Wytness put to oure Seales, goven and graunted at Sudbery, the xxviii Day of Janyver, in the Yere of Lord m.c.c.c.c.xxxiii." (fn. 29)
A late author gives a melancholy account of the modern hermits, who (he says) follow no other rule than that which is dictated to them by libertinism, and may be compared to the Sarabaites, &c. who (as Jerom says) professed indeed a religious life in outward appearance, but really lived together in a sad manner after their own humour. (fn. 30)