City of Norwich, chapter 41: Of the Cathedral Precinct, St. Mary in the Marsh

An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 4, the History of the City and County of Norwich, Part II. Originally published by W Miller, London, 1806.

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Francis Blomefield, 'City of Norwich, chapter 41: Of the Cathedral Precinct, St. Mary in the Marsh', in An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 4, the History of the City and County of Norwich, Part II, (London, 1806) pp. 50-53. British History Online [accessed 18 May 2024].

Francis Blomefield. "City of Norwich, chapter 41: Of the Cathedral Precinct, St. Mary in the Marsh", in An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 4, the History of the City and County of Norwich, Part II, (London, 1806) 50-53. British History Online, accessed May 18, 2024,

Blomefield, Francis. "City of Norwich, chapter 41: Of the Cathedral Precinct, St. Mary in the Marsh", An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 4, the History of the City and County of Norwich, Part II, (London, 1806). 50-53. British History Online. Web. 18 May 2024,

In this section

St. Mary In The Marsh,

St. Mary In The Marsh, called Cow-Holm, that is, the marsh where the cows fed, that part of the city now called Conesford being originally called Couesford or Cowsford, from the ford they passed over to come to this holm or marsh, all which was then in the parish of Thorp, and came with that manor to Bishop Herbert; (fn. 1) before whose time all the inhabitants were buried and received the sacraments at Thorp; and as a proof of it, till the Reformation all the rectors in Blofield deanery came in procession to this church every Whitsun-Monday, as to a church in that deanery.

There was a chapel here before Herbert's time, belonging to its mother church of Thorp, which that Bishop pulled down, and rebuilt the present church, and gave it, with all Cowholm, to the Prior and Convent, who always presented, the dean of their manors inducting to it, as one of their peculiars.

The rectory was valued at 5l. 10d. was not taxed, and so paid no first fruits, but 10s. 1d. tenths, 12d. synodals, and 15d. procurations; but being sworn of no value, it was discharged of tenths.

In 1499, all the lands and gardens, with the cellerer's dove-house, within the Precinct, paid their tithes and offerings to this church; it being, from Herbert's time, the parish church of the Precinct: the prior, and since that, the dean and chapter, paid the rector a pension of 3l. 6s. 8d. a year; and the cellerer for the tithe of his gardens, offerings of the servants at Christmas, Easter, &c. paid 53s. 4d. per annum. (fn. 2) The


Of this church were,

1272, Master Simon de Skerning. (fn. 3)

1311, Tho. de Langele.

1324, John de Dudelington.

1332, Tho. Mannyngs of Hindolfstone.

1334, Mr. John de Brisele. His will is proved before the dean of the manors, of the prior and convent.

1357, Rob. de Ashele, who changed for Saxlingham-Nethergate in

1360, with Ric. Skyn.

1369, Will. de Sharington.

1369, Simon de Bukbrok.

1376, Rob. de Howe.

1390, Mr. Rob. Cook of Thurgarton.

1393, Will. Bernham, in Bac. Dec.

1405, Tho. Dallyng, who changed for Warham All-Saints, in

1406, with Will. Bacon.

1409, Jeffry Simonds.

1410, Will. Bernham again; he resigned for Blofield.

1420, Peter Skelton, resigned.

1425, John Hancok, he died rector.

1431, John Waryn, resigned.

1432, Will. Sekyngton, LL. B. resigned.

1459, Edm. Keche, resigned.

1466, John Hornese, alias Sipton; Bishop of Ross.

1471, John Styward, by lapse.

Jeffery Lawnder died rector.

1506, Henry Sharpe. Ditto.

1507, John Farewell.

1514, Rob. Jackson, he died rector in 1526; the brass taken from his stone in this church is now in Mr. Rolf's hands, with this on it,

Orate pro anima Domini Roberti Jackson quondam Rectoris istius Ecclesie, A. D. M. N.orrhio.

1526, The venerable and religious father in Christ, Rob. Catton, Prior of Norwich, on the presentation of Thomas Godsalve, by grant from the convent.

1528, Will. Chaumberleyn, he died rector.

1533, Will. Frankysh.

1546, Ric. Underwood, by lapse.

1547, John Basse, by lapse.

1559, John Tollar.

In 1564, John Parkhurst Bishop of Norwich, John Tollar, recto here, and John Salisbury dean, and the chapter, patrons of St. Peter per Mountergate, St. Mary in the Marsh, and St. Vedast, commonly called St. Vast's or Faith's, agreed to consolidate the said parishes; the church of St. Vedast being down, and this rectory being of small value, they were consolidated to St. Peter's aforesaid, which church was large enough for all the three parishes, the income of which, when united, would be but small, the dean and chapter having reserved all St. Mary's tithes lying in the Precinct, and all pensions, and also all the tithes of the gardens lying out of the Precinct on the north side of St. Vast's-lane, as enclosed with a wall or pale, down to the river, for a rector to be instituted in Jesus chapel in the cathedral, which was to be assigned to the parishioners of St. Mary, dwelling in the Precinct; and their rector was to have all things within the Precinct, as his predecessors had, and was to pay all things as they did, all ornaments, plate, &c. belonging to St. Mary's, being to be removed thither, the Bishop assuming a strange and unwarrantable power of desecrating the said church; (fn. 4) an example I never met with in any age before, or since; and not only so, but of converting the structure itself to the use of the cathedral; and on the first of June following, by virtue of the act of the 37th Henry VIII. by consent of the Bishop, incumbent, patrons, mayor, sheriffs, citizens, and commonalty of the city, that part of the rectory and parsonage of St. Mary aforesaid, lying within the Precinct, and the gardens aforesaid lying without the Precinct, were consolidated to the chapel of St. John the Baptist in the south isle of the cathedral, for the better maintenance of the said isle and chapel, and for the better relief of the incumbent there; (fn. 5) which said isle, called St. John's isle, was henceforth to be called the parish church of St. Mary and St. John for ever: and the parishioners inhabiting in the Precinct were bound and obliged for ever, to hear and receive the sacraments there, instead of the church of St. Mary, and were to be accounted parishioners of the said chapel or isle, and to pay to the parson there, all their tithes, offerings, &c. and the sextry yard joining to the south side of the said isle was appointed the burial-place for all the parishioners: (fn. 6) the site, lead, bells, and buildings, of the church of St. Mary, with the churchyard and ground on the north and south sides thereof, were reserved to the use of the dean and chapter; and the plate, jewels, books, and other ornaments, to the parishioners, to be carried to St. John's. The parson of St. Mary and St. John, and his successours, being obliged to pay to the Queen's Majesty, the Bishop, and Archdeacon, and their successours, all manner of tenths, subsidies, pensions, senages, visitation money, and proxies, in such manner as was always paid.

Upon this, the dean stript it of its lead valued at 160l. which he sold, and it was sworn in 1568, that he never brought one penny of it to account, nor yet of the lead that was sold off the dorter or dormitory; and Dr. Gascoign, the chancellor, stript the inside, and pulled down much of the stone work, having bought it of the dean and chapter for 80l. which was shared, as is mentioned at p. 7.

Afterwards the bells were sold, and it stood useless for some time, till it was turned into a dwelling-house, as it still remains, standing in the Lower-Close, on the right hand going to the ferry, it being inhabited by Mr. Holland, a hatter, some few years since.

In 1421, John Metfield, chaplain, was buried in the churchyard.

In 1460, Will. Sekyngton, some time rector here, was buried in the cathedral, and gave a vestment of black and white silk, an ordinal, and a new processional to this church.

In 1516, William Elsy, who was buried in St. George's of Colgate church, gave to this church a white vestment, in honour of God and our Lady, of 4 marks value, and 20s. to buy a small copper cross, gilt.

1539, John Horn was buried in the steeple in the belfry.

1540, James Wallington was buried upon the bank before the south church door, and gave 10l. towards repairing the church.

Soon after this consolidation, the dean and chapter, desirous to have the south isle clear, agreed with the parishioners, and assigned them the chapel of St. Luke the Evangelist, for their parochial church; and the isle between that chapel and the south transept of St. John's isle from which they were removed, for the burial-place of the principal parishioners, which hath continued so ever since, though it was done by verbal agreement only, no instrument, since that of the last consolidation, being made concerning it.

At Tollar's death, this rectory lapsed to the Bishop, who, in

1569, 17 Jan. collated Thomas Read to the consolidated rectory of St. Mary in the Marsh, and St. John in the Cathedral: and in

1579, 10 Febr. the dean and chapter presented Richard Sadlington to the said rectory.

From which time I find no institution, the rectory having been served, as it now is, by a Sequestrator or Curate.

In 1616, Tho. Askew, curate here, died.

1617, George Saunders, curate.

1662, John Harwood. See p. 10.

The present [1744] curate is the Rev. Mr. David Fleming, rector of Bixley and Framlingham Earl in Norfolk. See p. 11.


  • 1. Rr. iv. Pr. Norw. f. 1. Mon. Ang. tom. i. fo. 407, 8. Regr Pr. III. fo. 3.
  • 2. From the accounts of Will. Harridans, prebend and treasurer, A°. 31 H. 8.
  • 3. In his time, St. Vedast's parish, and the parish of St. Ethelbert or Albert, were perpetually united to St. Mary in the Marsh, and so continued till 1564, when all St. Vedast's parish, that part of St. Ethelbert's parish which laid without the Precinct, and that part of St. Mary's which laid without the Precinct also, except the gardens which lie on the north side of St. Vast's or Faith's-lane, down to the river, were consolidated to St. Peter per Mountergate; and all St. Mary's parish, and all St. Ethelbert's, within the Precinct, were then consolidated to the chapel of St. John the Baptist in the south isle of the cathedral.
  • 4. "Ulterius nos Johannes Episcopus antedictus, ecclesiam Beate Marie de Marisco suspendimus, prophanamus, ipsamque structuram dicte ecclesie sic per nos suspensam et prophanatam, ad usum et utilitatem ecclesie nostre cathedralis Sancte Trinitatis Norwic: conferend' et convertend' decernimus et declaramus per presentes." Dat. apud Ludham 6 Apr.
  • 5. Ex Autog. in Archiv. Ecclie. Cath. Norwic.
  • 6. The yard in the cloister.