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 town is properly enough named from its situation by a brook or rivulet, and its carry soil, and was at first, without doubt, no more than the carr by the brook's side.
The Church is a regular pile, rebuilt about the beginning of Henry the Sixth's reign; it consists of a nave, two isles, two porches, and chancel, which are all covered with lead; there is a lofty square tower at the west-end, and in it are five good bells.
At the upper end of the north isle is a chapel dedicated to St. John the Baptist, whose altar and image were in it; this belonged to the gild of St. John the Baptist in this town, and that society found a chaplain constantly to sing for the welfare of the brothers and sisters of the gild living, and the souls of the brothers departed; right before the altar of this chapel, in 1462, Elizabeth Astle, gentlewoman, was interred.
Directly opposite to the south isle is another chapel of the Holy Virgin, whose altar and image were also in it; this belonged to the Virgin's gild, and had a priest maintained by them, to sing there.
The church itself is dedicated to St. Peter and Paul, and so was the high altar, at which the gild, in honour of those Apostles was always held, and was the biggest of the three gilds.
Directly in the midst of the chancel lie two exceeding ancient coffin-stones, with a cross patee on each, to show they belonged to the Templars; there are two imperfect circumscriptions on them, in capitals, which seem to be added long since they were first laid, and most probably when they were replaced, after the rebuilding of the church; I take that most north to be the sepulchre of Maud Countess of Clare, their foundress, and the other on her right hand, or that most south, to be one of her younger sons, that might probably be the first Commander of this house; but to say positively it is so, I do not pretend; they lie exactly in the place where the founders of religious places were generally buried, as Herbert founder of Norwich cathedral was; by the crosses, they were of the order; by their place of interment, persons of distinction; by the remains of the inscriptions, mother and son, and also of the Clare family; now, though I do not meet with their names, Vincent on Brook, fol. 120, says that she had by Roger de Clare, her husband, Richard Earl of Clare and Hertford, and others; and Mr. Dugdale telling us where that Earl was buried, shows plainly it was not his sepulchre, else I should have been induced to have thought so, by reason of his confirmation of his father and mother's benefactions to this house, to which he was also a benefactor. It is plain from this inscription, that he was Knight of the order, and had been at Jerusalem, and so qualified to be Commander of the house, and must be of great note, his name being not mentioned, all which confirms my former conjecture.
On the first,
Mater. Clarensis. Generoso. Milite. Clara.
Ma. - - - - - - - - - - -Hic. Tvm. - -ve. - - - -
On the second
A. Dextris Natvs. Reqviescit. Matris. Hvmatvs.
Hvnc. Petiit. Portvm. Proprivm. Revolvtvs. In. Ortvm.
There are sixteen stalls in the chancel, which tells us the number of knights resident here, when this church was built; great numbers of persons of figure were certainly buried here, as the stones reaved of their arms and inscriptions plainly show us.
In 1530, Robert Wallot, Gent. of this town, was buried in the church.
The screens between the church and chancel are very fine, there is the beginning of an old inscription on them, viz. Drate pro Benefac coribus. the rest being lost.
In 1650, the following arms were in this church, some of which still remain.
And these, Barry of ten, arg. and az. a lion rampant or.
Ermine, a saltier ingrailed gul. and the same two coats impaled.
Three lions rampant in a bordure, impaling a fess between two chevrons.
Arg. on a fess gul. three de-lises or.
Gul. six cross croslets or, a label of three az.
Az. two luces indorsed, between crusuly of cross croslets or.
In the middle isle is a grave-stone, for Sara wife of John Pennyng, Gent. who died Dec. 4, 1638.
In the south isle is a grave-stone stripped of all its brasses, save one shield, on which are the arms of Grey of Merton, impaled with Bainard, which shows me that it was laid over Fulk de Grey, Gent. one of the five sons of William de Grey of Merton, Esq. (fn. 1) who was buried here in 1560, as the parish register informs me, in the grave of Eliz. Drury, his wife, who was buried Nov. 8, 1555.
In 1570, George, son of Anthony Grey, Gent. was buried here, and the same year, the said Anth. Greye, Gent. son and heir of Fulk de Grey aforesaid, was buried also, whose son, Anthony de Grey of Carbrook, was living in 1616, and had one brother, Thomas, and nine sisters.
There are several priests buried under grave-stones here, as is plain from the badge or emblem of the priesthood, still remaining on several of them, the other brasses being gone, viz. the three chalices, thereon the wafers or sacramental bread, as in this shield.
The King's honour of Clare still extends hither, there being many lands, &c. held of it at this day.
The roof was adorned with the images of our Saviour and his Apostles, all which were demolished in the time of the Usurpation.
There is a parcel of town lands belonging to the parish, which tradition says, was given by two maids, who danced themselves to death, and are buried on the south side of the church.
The following notes I transcribed from the old register, which begins in 1538.
1625, Interog. Nata mori cur es, simul orta et mortua? Cur heù! Natalis Funus Venter et Urna fuit?
Mary Daughter of Edward Catheral Minister of Carbrook, and Faith his Wife died the 9th of August.
Respons. Mortua nascor, Ego perijssem, ni perijssem; Mî Funus, Fœnus, Tumulus Alvus erit.
Tho' in this Book of death thou bees't recorded, Thy Part i'th' Book of Life, thou art awarded.
1625, Oct. 23. Mary Wife of Tho. Gaudron, a Woman rich in good Works and Alms-Deeds died.
Apoc. 20. 12. The Book of Life agrees with thy Lives Story. And by theise Bookes thou judged art to Glory.
Mœrens composuit Edwardus Catherall Minister, utillam Memoriæ consecraret, et Amoris sui superstitem Tessaram relinquat.
1630, Will. Sadlington, Gent. buried.
1637, March 19. Henry Sidney an antient Man, descended of the Right Honourable House of the Sidneys Earl of Leicester, but more Honourable by his new birth, was buried here.
On the last Leaf.
Funell. Si quid nosti verius istis, dedito: Si non, Candidus, ut soleas, miseresce Infantie Annis.
This Funell, I suppose, was one of Catheral's scholars, and transcribed the register for him.
The Rectory was appropriated to the Prior of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem, and is an exempt, not visited by the archdeacon, and pays neither synodals nor procurations, neither is it taxed, though the church was valued at 55 marks, with the church of Little Carbrook included, and the vicarage at 40s. but yet the parochial and spiritual jurisdiction over the parishioners, belongs to the Archdeacon, who always inducts the vicar.
The Vicarage was valued at 7l. 12s. 6d. and being sworn of the clear yearly value of 10l. 11s. 11d. it is discharged of first fruits and tenths; it pays 3s. 4d. synodals, and is in the archdeaconry of Norwich, and deanery of Breccles.
It hath been augmented; the Queen's bounty being procured by the Rev. Mr. John Cater, rector of Elingham-Parva, who hath settled part of the great tithes of Elingham-Magna upon it for ever, to 20l. per annum value. This town paid 6l. 6s. to the tenths, and is now valued at 919l. 6s. 8d. to the land tax.
1332, 6 id. Jan. Peter Drury, brother. Leonard de Tybert, Prior of the hospital of St. John of Jerusalem in England.
1349, 28 June, Roger Druene. The Prior, &c. resigned.
1357, 7 March, Adam Pope of Haleholm, resigned.
1360, 2 Dec. Robert, son of Geffery Robyn of Toftrys.
1361, 24 Nov. Robert de Bolton, resigned.
1366, 30 June, John Finch.
1382, 10 Nov. John Poyntour, exchange with Breccles.
1393, 1 May, William Taliour, change for Patesle rectory.
1396, 13 April, Richard Nicol.
1404, 12 March, Tho. Belton, who on Smith's resignation in 2d Dec. 1424, had a consolidation of the two vicarages, and so became vicar of both the Carbrooks.
1453, 26 April, Robert Goreham, died vicar.
1479, 13 Dec. Robert George.
1522, 27 June, John Emyson. Lapse.
1540, 26 Feb. John Winter, the last presented by the Prior.
1564, 26 Sept. Sir James Robinson, rector of Ovington. Thomas Southwell, Esq. Buried here Feb. 19, 1565.
1566, 11 July, Ambrose Sympson. Ditto. Resigned.
1573, 30 Dec. James Sympson. Thomas Lord Paget of Bodandesert. Died.
1583, 25 Sept. William Butterwood, buried here in 1592. Robert Southwell, Esq.
1592, 19 Jul. Ric. Cooper. Jeff. Gate, Esq. for this turn. Deprived.
1595, 21 Aug. Rob. Dixon. Rob. Southwell, Knt. Resigned.
1598, 1 April, Stephen Bowgeon. Lady Anne Southwell, patroness after Sir Robert's death.
1614, 30 June, Henry Porter, presented by the King, as guardian to Tho. Southwell. He was suspended in 1618, but held it till 1636, and was the last that was ever presented to the vicarage,it having been held ever since by sequestration.
1636, Edward Catherall was sequestrator and curate.
1662, Edward Bulver.
The Rev. Mr. Thomas Godwin is now [l738] curate.
Great Carbrook Manor.
Alfere, a Saxon freeman in the Confessor's time, held the chief of this, and the other Cherebroc, there being in this, at that time, four carucates and an half, three of which were his own demeans; the wood maintained 400 swine, and he had a mill, and half the fishery of the river; part of the manor laid in Griston, and Osbert held it of him; the whole was worth 7l. There was a church and 24 acres of glebe worth 2s. and this and Little Cherebroc, were above two miles long, and as much broad, and paid 15d. to the gelt. (fn. 2)
At the Conqueror's survey, John, nephew of Waleram, held it, and it passed to the Earls of Clare, of which honour it was always held, it contained better than half the town, and almost a third part of Little Carbrook, and the advowsons of both the churches belonged to it, and were given with it to the Preceptory or Commandry in this town, by Maud Countess of Clare.
The Commandry or Preceptory
Of Knights Templars, and knights Hospitalers, of St. John of Jerusalem, was the only commandry in this county, and was first a preceptory of the Knights Templars, founded by Roger Earl of Clare, who died in 1173, and was a great benefactor to the order; at their foundation he built their house for them. (fn. 3).
These Preceptors were so termed, as Minsheu and others observe, because they were possessed by the more eminent sort of the Templars, whom the chief master by his authority created, by the name of Preceptores Templi, or Masters, for so were the governours of this house often called. This order had its first original about 1118, when some religious knights vowed chastity to the Patriarch of Jerusalem, professing to live after the manner of the regular canons, and settling by the consent of Baldwin King of Jerusalem, near our Lord's temple there, they thence took the name of Knight's Templars, (fn. 4) and professed to guard the pilgrims that went in pilgrimage to the holy temple, as much as they could possibly; and about nine years after, their order was established, and a white habit assigned them by Pope Honorius, with a cross pattee of red cloth on their right shoulder, and from that time they began to have numerous gifts conferred upon them, so that in a short time there was scarce any nation but had them settled among them, and in England, their chief house was the Temple in London, on which the smaller preceptories were all dependant; in 1182, Maud, daughter of James de St. Hillary Countess of Clare, and widow of Roger (fn. 5) Earl of Clare, their founder, gave this preceptory (which was not finished nor fully endowed by her husband) to the Knights Hospitalers of St. John of Jerusalem, with the churches of Great and Little Carbrook, and the moiety of the town, on condition they paid 13s. 4d. yearly to the nuns of Buckland, all which was confirmed by Richard de Clare Earl of Hertford, her son, and King John in 1199, from which time she was declared foundress of this house. It is certain the Templars were concerned, and had some of their order here, upon the foundation of Earl Roger, for at the dissolution of their order, (fn. 6) their part of the possessions of this preceptory was seized, but in 1314, was conveyed to the house again, and settled on the Prior or Master of the Commandry of St. John Baptist of Jerusalem, and the Knights Hospitalers residing here; they were called Hospitalers, (fn. 7) because they built an hospital at Jerusalem for the entertainment of all that came from any part of the world to visit the holy places, and did guard and protect such pilgrims in their journey; they had also the care of their hospitals in all countries, where pilgrims were received; to these, Pope Clement V. transferred the Templars, which, by order of the council held at Vienna, he had got suppressed. The Hospitalers are now the Knights of St. John of Malta, where their chief abode is, the island of Melita or Malta being given them by the Emperour Charles V.
The constitution of this council was obeyed here in England in Edward the Second's time, when an Act passed to dissolve that order, and after that, their whole possessions were conferred upon the Knights Hospitalers. The Atlas, p. 406, gives us an erroneous account of its being dedicated to St. John the Apostle, and that its founder was unknown; but as to the rest, it is right, in telling us that it was enriched with many farms and vassals, and that all that enjoyed the privileges of this order were allowed to set a cross upon their doors, in all places where they dwelt, that they might be known by all others, and he might have added, upon the lands of all such also, (fn. 8) for upon this account great numbers of small annual payments were given to this house, out of houses, lands, and tenements, all over the county, in order to have the cross of the hospital set upon them in token of exemption; thus I find divers lands in Weston-Market in Suffolk, and seven acres of land in Fersfield, &c. paid small rents to the house, by which they enjoyed the extensive privileges of the order, not to pay any tithes, nor other dues whatever; but great numbers of people presuming to do this as a protection, a statute was made in Edward the First's time, that all that set those crosses falsely, should forfeit either the house or land to the lord of the fee.
These Hospitalers at first were like all other orders, in a mean state, and raised themselves by rebelling against their patriarch of Jerusalem, who had first encouraged them, and then appealing to Rome, which see being desirous to have that patriarch subject to it, engaged with the Hospitalers, against their patriarch, and gave them whatever privileges they desired; by virtue of which, whenever the bishops excommunicated any one, the Hospitalers would receive them, administer the sacraments to them, and bury them in their churchyards; (fn. 9) thus, was any kingdom, province, city, or town interdicted, if the Hospitalers had a church, that was still open, and the interdict did not reach it, so that then their offerings and mortuaries were wonderfully increased; thus also in all parishes that were given them they took the church wholly to themselves, served it by a chaplain removeable at their pleasure, and did every thing that way, without taking notice of any bishop, till the statute of the endowment of vicarages took place, and then the bishops obliged them all to endow, it having been in some measure levelled against them. In like manner, all houses and lands which they purchased, or which were given them, were exempt of all tithes and other dues, not only in one, but in all places where they were concerned: their privileges being so great, that they cared neither for the spirituality nor laity. In the statute of Magna-Charta, chap. 37, their privileges are reserved to them, and you may see the right of the King's subjects vindicated, from the usurpation of their jurisdiction, by the statute of Westminster 2, 13th Edward I. and by the statute of 32d Henry VIII. cap. 24, their lands and goods here in England were vested in the King.
Their house here was sometimes called the Priory of St. John of Jerusalem, but most commonly the Commandry of Kerbrook, which word is derived from con and mando, because the brethren always were obliged to eat together in publick, or be in commons, as we now express it, there being vast numbers of devotees who had the privilege of boarding in the house, though they did not lodge there: every one that took this order was obliged to vow to go in pilgrimage to Jerusalem, either as a religious devotee or as a knight of the order, to fight against the infidels; and every commandry (fn. 10) was governed by some brother of the same house, who had been actually knighted in the holy wars, who was always named by the Grand Prior of the order in England, (fn. 11) unless (as sometimes he did) he gave license to the Commandry to choose their own commander or prior, upon which choice he had the government and direction of the house, and all the revenues belonging to it, but could dispose of nothing but to the use of the grand priory, only was allowed every year, in his accounts to the grand prior, a sustenance for himself, according to his degree; they are sometimes called cross-bearing brethren, because by the rules of their order, they were always obliged to wear a cross on their breasts, and another on their shoulders; at their reception into the order, every one promised to defend it to the utmost of their ability, and to pay on St. John Baptist their patron's day, something annually to the fraternity.
In 1256, Elias, Prior of St. John of Jerusalem in England, had 20 acres and a messuage here, given to this commandry by Robert le Syrreys and Aveline his wife, settled on him and his successours.
It was valued at the Dissolution at 65l. 2s. 9d. ob.; and in 1543, was granted to
Sir Richard Gresham, Knt. and Sir Richard Southwell and their heirs; by the name of the Site of the Preceptory of Carbrook, with the manor and rectory impropriate, and the advowson of the vicarage thereto belonging, and also Herberd's Grove, St. John's Wood, RysingWood, and a wood in Ketysall Field, &c. Sir Richard Southwell changed his manor of East-Walton with Sir Richard Gresham, and having this solely his own, he settled it with Woodrising, and the main of his estate, on Thomas Southwell, Esq. son to Sir Robert Southwell of Mereworth in Kent, his younger brother, and it hath been ever since joined to the manor of Woodhall or Wood-gate in Carbrook, with which it now  continues.
I find but few names of the masters of this house.
1256, Elias, prior.
1285, Robert de Hengham, master.
From 1307 to 1315, Alexander de Micham, master, which shows it was for life.
1424, John Hallegate, preceptor of the commandry.
There are no ruins of note remaining of the commandry, its site joins to the south side of the churchyard, and there was a chapel of St. John Baptist, either close by, or joining to the house, which the fraternity used as their private chapel.
Woodhall or Wood-Gate, alias Latymer's Manor.
From Domesday we learn, that Herold in the Confessor's time, held this moiety or half of the town, as a berewic to Neketon, with which it was valued; that there were three carucates of land, of which one was always demean, or in the lord's own hands; there was one villein, 18 socmen, one servant who had 16 acres of meadow allowed him, and two men to plough the land, a wood that would keep 300 swine, one cart-horse, three cows and nine hogs, the whole of which was given by the Conqueror to,
Ralf de Tony; (fn. 12) it afterwards belonged to Roger le Biged, who gave it to William de Muntchensi, and he infeoffed William de Manerijs, who was to hold it at one fee, in the time of Richard I.
In 1253, Guy de Butetort had a charter for free-warren here, but he had it only for life, or term of years, for in 1256 Walter de Manier or Manners was lord, and the same year William de Manerijs was found to be of age; and to hold a whole knight's fee here, and was not yet knighted.
It belonged some time to Baldwin de Maniers who in 1290 had free-warren, &c. allowed, both by the Earl Marshal, as lord of the fee, and the King also.
In 1311, this Baldwyn sold it, with the manor of Fulbourne in Cambridgeshire, to Robert de Bulelort, who settled them on the said Baldwyn for life, remainder to John Butetort and Maud his wife, and their heirs; the said John died seized of it, and Mendlesham in Suffolk, 17th Edward II. and of Butetort's manors in Cranworth and Kimberle, and John, son of Thomas Butetort, was his heir; it was then held of Maners, who held it of the Earl of Arundel.
In 1327 Will. Latymer had it, and
In 1328 Sir Robert de Morley, Knt. conveyed his manor of Carbrook to Walter de Hales, Knt. during his life.
In 1345 Elizabeth Latymer, widow of William Latymer, held it of Hockham manor, and Will. de Latimer was their son and heir, at whose death,
John de Nevill Lord Raby, who married Elizabeth, daughter of the said Elizabeth, and sister and heiress of Will. de Latimer, had it, and was found seized in 1388, Ralf, his son and heir, being then 24 years old.
In 1443, it belonged to George Nevile Lord Latimer, and Elizabeth his wife, who died seized in 1469, leaving
Richard Nevile, his cousin and heir, who in 1493 was jointly seized of it with his feoffees, (fn. 13) for then they leased it to John Nevile, Esq. with Woodhall wood, out of which the lessee was to have Hokewood; and in 1530, the said
John Nevile, then Lord Latimer, had livery of it, and he, in 1544, sold it to
Sir Richard Southwell, Knt. at which time there were 20 messuages, 10 cottages, 400 acres of land, 40 acres of meadow, 100 acres of wood, 200 of furze, and 40s. rent of assize, in Carbrook, Scoulton, and Cranworth; and in 1558,
Sir Richard settled them with his estate, on himself for life, and then on
Thomas Southwell, eldest son to Sir Robert Southwell, his younger brother, and he enjoyed them, who was lord of this and the other manors, impropriator and patron, the whole being now joined, as it still continues.
He was a minor in 1570, and in
1616, the manors of Carbrook, Woodhall, which was Latymers, and the preceptory, were aliened by Sir John Steward, Knt. Lord Kincleven in Scotland, to Clement Corbet and others, during the life of Elizabeth, that Lord's wife. It afterwards came to the Cranes, and
Richard Crane, Esq. only brother and heir of Sir Francis Crane, Knt. Chancellour of the Garter, &c. succeeded in this estate; on the 10th March, 1642, he was created baronet, and married Mary, daughter of William first Lord Widdrington; he lived at Rising, and died about 1645, his will bearing date in that year, by which he appointed his manor of Carbrook in Norfolk, should for ever stand bound for the payment of 200l. per annum to the chapel of St. George of Windsor, to maintain five poor knights there, and by virtue of a commission [upon the statute of the 43d Elizabeth] for charitable uses, the manors of Woodrising and Westfield, were found charged too; but in the time of William Crane, Esq. to whom Sir Richard's estate fell, 27th Jan. 1659, it was decreed in chancery that the manor of Carbrook only should for ever stand charged with 230l. per annum, payable half yearly, 200l. of which is for the maintenance of five poor knights, and the 30l. a year for the repair of their houses, the Chancellour of Windsor for the time being, to receive the money, (fn. 14) the 30l. per annum being added (as I suppose) at that time, because the manors of Woodrising and Westfield were found liable to satisfy for building and finishing the five houses for them. (fn. 15)
About 1662, William Crane, Esq. and Mary his wife, settled the manors of Carbrook, the preceptory or commandry there, the impropriate rectory and and advowson of the vicarage, &c. on
Robert Clayton, Gent. (fn. 16) and others, in whose family it still  continues,
Sir William Clayton being lord, impropriator, and patron, and hath a leet.
In 1561, William Brampton, Esq. and Elizabeth his wife, sold to Robert Crane, Esq. and others, a capital messuage and 20 acres of land in this and the adjoining towns, called Warners.
Sir John Parrot, Knt. had a grant of the lands in this town, which were in the tenure of Thomas Walsingham, and were forfeited by Dionise Topps, and did belong to his manor of Rokele's in Watton, (fn. 17) which he was to hold at the 20th part of a fee, as of his manor of East Greenwich.