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 in Hingham deanery, and at Walter's taxation was taxed as a rectory at 100s. but when Domesday was wrote, it was appropriated to the abbess and nuns at Marham, who had the rectoryhouse and 10 acres of land; the vicar had five acres of land, and a yearly pension of eight quarters of wheat from the abbess's grange. The rectory and vicarage were valued together at 8 marks, procurations were 6s. 8d. synodals 2s. 8d. Peter-pence 4d. and carvage 6d. ob.
The Church was dedicated to St. Mary, who had her gild kept in it; in 1461, the cross on the perke or rood-loft was made; and in 1429, the black-cross standing on the highway was repaired.
The advowson of this church of Carleton, and one acre of land, was given by the foundress, Isabell, widow of Hugh de Albany Earl of Arundel, who in 1249 founded the nunnery of Marham, for Cistertian or white nuns, and dedicated it to St. Mary the Virgin, St. Barbara, and St. Edmund the King and Confessor, for the souls of William late Earl Warren, her father, and Maud, her mother, daughter of William Marshall the elder, Earl of Pembrook, Hugh Earl of Arundel, and all her ancestors; and it was dedicated this year, on 27th Jan. by Richard de la Wiche Bishop of Chichester, and John Earl Warren, her brother: she purchased it of Richard de Dunham; and Roger de Skerning Bishop of Norwich appropriated it, and settled a vicar, whom the Bishops of Norwich were to nominate, and the Convent to present; the deed is dated at Thetford, 4 non. July, 1274; the acre laid on the north side of the churchyard, for which and the advowson the foundress paid 31 marks, and was to pay a pair of white gloves of 1d. price, every year, for all services. (fn. 1)
1301, Rich. Thoke, collated by the Bishop, as all the vicars were, the nomination being in the Bishop, and presentation in the Abbess.
1303, Michael de Sandringham.
1325, John Alayn of South Elmham, priest, chaplain to the Bishop, in his own chapel in his palace.
1349, Will. Tornour, chaplain in that chapel.
1350, Adam Grant, priest, another chaplain there.
1381, John Prestone.
1423, Laurence Baldewar.
1429, Rich. Skot.
1437, the Abbess and Convent renounced their appropriation, and reinstated the rectory, and presented to it till their Dissolution.
1437, John Smith, deprived.
1449, Thomas Clerk.
1466, Rich. Garnon.
1490, John Hodgeson. O.
1502, Richard Warner.
1527, Anthony Bitchborn, O. He was the last presented by the Abbess.
1551, John Maydwell, deprived. John Hare, citizen of London.
1585, Rob. Dickenson. John Gedney, for this turn.
1590, John Shiminge, deprived. Philip Woodhouse, Esq.
1597, Owen Ducket. He returned 76 communicants, and had Kimberley. Ditto.
1611, Anthony Aggas. Sir Philip Woodhouse, Knt.
1627, Thomas Amyas, O. Thomas Woodhouse, Bart.
1701, James Champion. Sir John Woodhouse, Bart. He had Kimberley also.
1729, the Rev. Mr. Joseph Brett, A. M. on Champion's resignation. He is now  rector, and holds it united to Kimberley. Sir John Woodhouse, Bart. is the present patron.
This rectory was valued in the King's Books at 5l. 17s. 1d. and being sworn of the clear yearly value of 29l. 8d. it is discharged of first fruits and tenths. The town paid 2l. 8s. to each tenth.
In 1391, John, son of Richard Sayne of this town, gave 35 acres of land for ever, to pay the King's tenths, and if there be none laid, then to repair the bridge and church; this now  belongs to the town, and the revenues were some time since applied to build the present steeple, which is a low one, and hath only one bell; the church and chancel are both leaded, the church being 31 yards long and 9 wide.
There is a grave-stone by the altar, for Abigail wife of John Gooch, June 9, 1686.
Another for, Anne wife of Timothy Lodge, who changed her mortality for immortality, April 3, 1706.
Jarnegan Smith died June 28, 1691.
Memoriæ sacrum, sit hoc Monumentum, Saræ, Samuelis Lodge Uxoris dilectissimæ, quæ postquam Ætatis suæ Annum 27 attigisset, Carltoniæ 8° Die Junij, Anno nostræ Salutis a Christo 1705, Animam efflavit; et Filij unigeniti, Nomine Timothei, qui in ipso Exordio vitam conclusit, Julij Die tertio, Anno 1705, post Menses 14 natus, Quorum hic subter sita sunt Ossa. Maritus paterque, gravi Animi Dolore pressus, in Amoris Testimonium et Spem Resurrectionis fœlicis hoc, Tumulum posuit.
Henricus Filiolus, Thomæ Amyas et Dorotheæ Uxoris ejus, obijt Oct. 7, 1667.
Elizabethæ Filiola Thomæ Amyas &c. obijt 10°. Die Dec. 1656.
Hic requiescit Anna Phyllis, Uxor Benjamini Gooch, Ecclesiæ de Ashwell-Thorpe hoc in Agro Norfolciensi, Rectoris, Fœmina, dum vixit, Virtutibus non paucis adornata, maxime erga Deum pietate spectata, Conjugij æqui Liberis provida, pauperibus munifico, omnibus grata, Mors Diem clausit, Martij xxv°. Anno salutis M.dcci. Ætatis xxxii.
Mulier Reverentia Dei &c. Pro: 31. v. 30.
Infra hunc jacet corpus Benjamini Gooch Clerici, Rector erat de Ashwellthorpe, in Comitatu Norfolciæ, ob: 25 Martij 1728, Æt. 49.
On a brass plate in the church; the arms are imperfect;
Orate pro anima Edwardi Tyllys Senerosi, cuins anime pro procietur Deus amen.
On a window,
Orate pro bono Satu fecerunt fieri in medid fenestre pro Dierum corundem qui me et non ipsorum
At the Conquest, the manor of Cossey extended hither, and Alan Earl of Britain, lord thereof, had 3 socmen, who held 10 acres in this town, as you may see under Cossey.
There were two manors here at the survey,
Gelham's Manor, or Gelham Hall.
At the survey, belonged to the abbey of St. Bennet in the Holme, and was appropriated to the monks table; it was given them by their founder, for they had it at the Confessor's survey, as we find it in Domesday, fol. 192. (fn. 2)
This was afterwards granted by the abbey to the Gelhams, to be held by the service of 30s. a year, to be paid to the sacrist of that monastery; and after the Dissolution thereof, it was paid to the Bishop of Norwich.
In 1262, Thomas de Gelham settled it on John de Gelham, his son, on his marriage, reserving 10 marks per annum for life; in 1315, Christian de Gelham had it, and in Edward the Fourth's time, John de Gelham; and soon after, it belonged to John Tyllys of Norwich, who died in 1490; in 1521, Edward Tyllys, his son, died, and was buried in this church, and gave 10s. to our Lady's gild, and to Avice his wife 80 marks, and the manor-house for life; and his manors of Carlton Hall and Gelham's, he ordered to be sold to Tho. Woodhouse, Knt. and his wife to have his half part of Flynt's manor in Barford. It seems the two manors united before 1490, for then John Tyllys was lord of them both.
South Hall or Carleton Hall Manor,
Belonged to Hakene at the Confessor's survey, and after that to Stigand, and was given by the Conqueror to Earl Ralf, after whose forfeiture it came into the King's hands again, and at the survey it was part of Kimberle manor, and was valued with it, and was farmed by Godric. (fn. 3)
In Richard the First's time, Stephen le Mansel was lord; and in 1195, Joceline, son of Ralf, (de Carleton,) and Richard, son of Elbald de Carletune, were lords; in 1218, William, son of the said Richard and Julian Carletune; in 1242, William de Carleton was lord, and had the leet and sole jurisdiction here; and in 1256, Katherine, widow of Richard de Carleton; in 1274, John de Carleton was lord; and in 1315, Will. de Carleton; and afterwards it seems to belong to the Beauchamps; it after came to the Tyllyses, as before is observed, and according to Edw. Tylls's will, was sold to Sir Tho. Woodhouse, by Henry Drury and John Clere, Knt. Robert Newport and Margaret his wife, who, in 1548, confirmed it to Sir Roger Woodhouse, Knt. in whose family it still continues, Sir John Woodhouse of Kimberley, Bart. being now  lord and patron.
The Prior of Wimondham was taxed for his lands and rents in this town, at 18s. and had free-warren, and the assize of bread and ale of all his tenants here.
In 1546, Sir Nicholas Hare, Knt. and Robert Hare, had a grant of all the revenues of the abbey of Marham in Carleton, viz. the patronage, &c. and it was sold by the Hares to the Woodhouses.
In 1555, Forchoe-Hill in this town was the place where the justices of peace were appointed to meet for the hundreds of Forehoe, Mitford, and Humbleyerd, in case any commotion should happen. Of this place see p. 374.