City of Norwich, chapter 42: Carhoe or Carrow

Pages 524-530

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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Or the hill by the carr's side, as the situation plainly demonstrates, stands on a hill by the side of the river, about a furlong from Conisford or South-gates, and was always in the liberty of the city, and still remains part of its county; it was a parish by itself, and had a parochial church dedicated to St. James the Apostle, before whose image there was a light burning during divine service, and at the procession (or west) door of the church, was an image of St. Christopher; it was in use in 1520, and was served by parochial chaplains, appointed by the prioress, who received all the profits, and paid them for their service: it is now so totally demolished, that there are no apparent ruins, though its site still is called the Churchyard. (fn. 1)

Here was an ancient hospital, or nunnery, dedicated to St. Mary and St. John, (fn. 2) to which King Stephen, having given lands and meadows without the South-gate, Seyna and Leftelina, (fn. 3) two of the sisters, in 1146, began the foundation of a new monastery, called

Kairo, Carrow, Car-Hou, and sometime Car-Dieu,

Which was dedicated to the Virgin Mary, and St. John, and consisted of a prioress and nine (fn. 4) Benedictine black nuns; who were endowed, according to Mr. Dugdale, with revenues to the value of 64l. 16s. 6d. per annum, or according to Mr. Speed, 84l. 12s. 1d. 3q. both which sums did not exceed the third part of the real value of their revenues. Their church was founded by King Stephen, and was dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, and had a chapel of St. John Baptist joined to its south side, and another of St. Catherine to its north; there was also an anchorage by it, and in 1528, Lady Julian Lampet was anchoress there.

The Prioresses of this house were,
1198, Lady Maud le Strange. 1224, Lady Agnes de Monte Canisio or Munchensy. 1264, Lady Magdalen. 1289, died Lady Petronel the Prioress. 1290, Lady Amabill de Ufford, who was buried in the nuns church, on Thursday before the feast of St. Benedict in Lent, and on Monday after, Lady Catherine de Wendling was elected, by Cecily de Howe, sub-prioress, and the nuns here; and on Sunday following, she held her installation feast. They were installed often by the archdeacons of Norfolk, it being in Humbleyard deanery; but could by virtue of its being exempt from all jurisdicton, but that of the Pope, choose whom they pleased to perform that office. 1310, Lady Beatrix de Holm, sacrist here, was elected prioress. 1325, Lady Agnes de Carleton; she was installed by Master Nicholas de Rudham, fellow-commoner here, their priest and chaplain, and was buried in the church. 1328, Agnes de Lenn, resigned. 1341, Lady Cecily de Plumstede. 1349, Alice de Hedersete. 1365, Margery Cat; she was buried here. 1369, Margery Engys or de Enges, buried here. 1395, Lady Edith Wilton, buried here; she was prosecuted by the Prior of Norwich, and Brother Tho. Roughton, monk there, for harbouring in sanctuary, the murderers of Will. Koc of Trows, at the appeal of Margaret his wife, and was committed to goal, tried and acquitted. 1430, Lady Alice Waryn, resigned. 1444, Lady Margery Bygot, buried here. 1457, Lady Alice Pygot. 1472, Lady Joan Spaldyng. 1491, Lady Cat. Segrime, buried here; her brother, Ric. Segrime, clerk, of London, gave 3l. 6s. 8d. in 1494, to this monastery for his soul. (fn. 5) 1514, Dame Isabell Wygan. Cecily Stafford, the last Prioress, had a pension of 5l. per annum assigned her at the Dissolution, which she enjoyed A° 1553.

In 1388, John Downe was buried in the abbey church, as it was even then called. 1407, Will. Doncastre, chaplain. 1437, John Dowes, rector of Cantley. 1472, John Braylles, chaplain, left legacies to the prioress, nuns, and anchorite; and to Sir Robert Mateshall, William Hall, and William Walsingham, their three chaplains. 1537, Isabel, wife of Rob. Damme.

This monastery and parish, with the parts that belonged to it in Trowse Milgate and Brakendale, was an exempt jurisdiction belonging to the prioress; and in 1327, Nic de Cnapton, chaplain of the nuns church, and official of their jurisdiction, proved wills, and exercised all spiritual authority whatever, and placed the bounds between the exempt jurisdiction of the Prior of Norwich, and his own, both in Brakendale and Norwich. In 1244, Will. de Burgh, chaplain to King Henry III. was consecrated Bishop of Landaff in the nuns church, (fn. 6) along with Walter de Suffield Bishop of Norwich, (see Pt. I. p. 486.)

1552. Simon Wade, chaplain, was buried in this church; and Rob. Blickling of Norwich, Esq. by his wife's grave, and gave 26s. 8d. to St. James's parish church at Carhoe, and 20 marks towards building the nuns new dormitory; (fn. 7) and in honour of the crucifix, he ordered the cross between Carhoe, Lakenham, &c. to be rebuilt, the foundation of which, may still be seen at the cross-ways between Norwich and Trowse Milgate. (See p. 90.)

In 1531, Will. Aslak, Esq. was buried between the high-altar, and the image of our Lady of Pity.

This house was endowed by the founder, and other benefactors, with its site and lands adjoining, both within the walls and without, and with all the liberties that belonged to those lands when they were in King Stephen's hands, as soc and sac, toll and team, and infangenetheef; by which liberty they had a common gallows near their windmill, standing on the hill by Berstreet-gates, near the 12 acres of land held by Rob. de Hemenhall of Langley abbey, at 4s. per annum, and then they had St. James's parish church in Carrow, of their founder's gift, appropriated by the Pope, when he confirmed their foundation.

In 1199, King John granted the nuns a fair for four days together, at their village of Carhou, with the same liberties which the Norwich monks had to their fair in Norwich, (fn. 8) to be held on the vigil, and day of the nativity of the Virgin Mary, and two days after; by virtue of which, on those four days, they had the toll of all that came through the city; this and other rights in the city, occasioned a dispute, which was setted as in Pt. I. p. 64. Sir Ric. de Boyland, Knt. (fn. 9) gave his house joining to the south side of the churchyard of St. Mary Unburnt, (fn. 10) to the Prioress of Carrow; which in 1290, (fn. 11) Amabill de Ufford, then prioress, assigned to the friars-preachers to be laid into their site. And the same Prioress released to St. Giles's hospital, a yearly rent of 6s. which she used to receive from a piece of ground lying in the precinct of the hospital, which her father left her. Rob. son of John de Stanford, gave 8 acres by their monastery church, and 6s. in rents in Norwich to find a lamp burning for ever at St. Catherine's altar, in her chapel in the monastery church, by his mother's grave; Sir John Helgeton, Knt. and others, are winesses to his deed. In 1228, Henry III. confirmed all their liberties and revenues; (fn. 12) in 1273, Pope Gregory the Tenth inhibited their receiving more nuns than their income would maintain, upon their representation that the English nobility, whom they could not resist, had obliged them to take so many sisters in, that they could not support them. (fn. 13) Reginald de Warren and Alice his wife, gave the advowson of Stow Bardolph, and William de Warren confirmed it about 1273, (fn. 14) gave them a messuage and 40 acres there, with Muriel his sister, who was a professed nun here. It was appropriated to this nunnery, and a vicarage endowed, to which the prioress always presented. The said Reginald gave them also the tithes of the demeans of his manor of Barshall in Riston, which were valued to the tax at 10s. Roger Bygot, Earl Marshal, gave the tithes of his demeans in Halvergate, which were taxed at 26s. 8d. and confirmed by Bishop Sim. de Walton in 1264. Margaret de Caineto, or Cheyney, gave the advowsons of the churches of Wroxham St. John and St. Mary, and the chapel of All-Saints in Salhouse thereto belonging, and Bishop Blomevile appropriated them, and ordained a vicarage, to which the prioress always presented; there was a manor here which belonged to the nunnery, in which the prioress had liberty of free-warren. She paid also 30s. a year to the Prior of Norwich, for his portion of the tithes of Wroxham-Hall. William de Muntchensy gave the two parts of the tithes of his demeans of Burghapeton, which portion was then valued at two marks, and was confirmed by John and Ralph Bishops of Norwich, and Thomas, rector of Burgh; it was after compounded for at 12 quarters of wheat; and in 1612, a pension of 10 combs of wheat was paid to the owner of Carrow. The prioress had a portion in Fincham St. Martin, valued at 13s. 4d. Revenues in Thurlton valued at 18d. In Chedistan, valued at 5s. The mediety of the rectory of Great Wrenningham, or Wrenningham All Saints, was given by one of the Thorps of Ashwelthorp to this house, and the prioress presented to it till 1414, and then Edith the prioress, with the consent of her convent, conveyed it to Sir Edmund Thorp, Knt. who then purchased the mediety of the abbot of Creke, and got the bishop to grant a perpetual union of the medieties, and of the churches of St. Mary of Little Wrenningham and St. Peter of Nelonde, which remain united at this day. This prioress had also a mediety, of the rectory of Howe in Brook deanery, of the gift of Sir Ric. de Boyland, which with the prioress's consent was perpetually united to the other mediety in 1405. The rectory of East-Winch, was also given them by Sir Ralf le Strange, and appropriated by Bishop Roger, and a vicarage endowed, at their presentation. The advowsons also of Surlingham St. Saviour, and St. Mary belonged to them; and they had temporals here, and in Rockland Major, taxed at 20s. St. Saviour was only appropriated and no vicarage endowed, only they were obliged to pay a stipendiary chaplain for performing the parochial duty of it; and in 1349, St. Mary's was also appropriated, and a vicarage endowed, and the vicars are to be nominated by the Bishop, and presented by the prioress. In 1335, the prioress had license to receive in mortmain, 34 messuages, 80 acres of land, 6 acres of meadow, and 12 acres of Turbary, or ground to cut turf in, in Wroxham, Rackhyth Crostweyt, Beeston, Bastwick, Blofield, and Randworth, which they purchased of John de Hecham, all which were held of the prioress's manor of Wroxham, by 68s. per annum, which the prioress held of Eve, daughter and heiress of Sir John de Clavering, by one knight's fee; (fn. 15) and the said Eve held it of Rob. de Morley, who held it of the King in capite, as parcel of his barony of Hockering, and they were valued at 11s. 4d. clear; the whole being cottages, and the 80 acres, 13s. 4d. and no more, because it was all sand; and the 6 acres meadow 9s. and turbary 2s. In 1391, Will. Colyns and others, conveyed to the house, one toft, 14 acres and an half of land, and 3 acres of meadow in Norwich, Lakenham, and Brakendale, and 13s 4d. rents. (fn. 16) In 1449, Rob. Everard, chaplain, gave a tenement called Churche's in Coltishall, and 20 acres of land to these nuns. (fn. 17) Their revenues in Dunwich deanery in Suffolk were taxed at 7s. and there were but few parishes in Norwich, in which they had not houses or rents, as may be seen under the several parishes in this history, and the advowsons of the rectories of St. Julian's, All-Saints, and St. Catherine in Newgate, belonged to them. And the advowson of Erlham, (fn. 18) which was conveyed to the prioress in 1249. In 1198, rents in Melton Magna were settled on them, and Torpingesmersh in 1206, and tenements in Lyn. In 1520, they had other revenues besides these; those in Carrow were valued at 6l. to the taske, and all that belonged to them, at 123l. 8s. 5d. and so paid 12l. 7s. 1d. q. to every whole tenth, whereof 54l. 13s. 4d. were spirituals, either impropriated churches, or appropriated portions of tithes, and the most part (if not all) of them were granted at the Dissolution to John Shelton, Esq. (fn. 19) and his heirs. This nunnery, for many ages, had been a school, or place of education for the young ladies of the chief families of the diocese, who boarded with, and were educated by the nuns; and though the abuse of religious societies in those days was so great, that a reformation was absolutely necessary, yet that could never justify their dissolution, that took away the real use of them, (fn. 20) which was no little loss to the publick, when their hospitality was demolished; as is evident by the numerous poor that the parishes soon after were forced to maintain, a thing never known before their fall.

Neither were nunneries without their conveniencies, for as Fuller says, "they were good Shee-Schools, wherein the Girles, and Maids of the Neighbourhood, were taught to read and Work; and sometimes a little Latine was taught them therein. Yea give me Leave to say, it such Feminine Foundations had still continued, provided no Vow were obtruded upon them, (Virginity is least kept, where it is most constrained) haply the weaker Sex (besides the avoiding modern Inconveniences) might be heightned to an higher Perfection, than hitherto hath been attained. That sharpnesse of their Witts, and suddeness of their Conceits (which their Enemies must allow unto them) might by Education be improved into a judicious Solidity, and that, adorned with Arts, which now they want; not because they can not learn, but are not taught them, I say, if such Feminine Foundations were extant now of Dayes, haply some Virgins of highest Birth, would be glad of such Places; and I am sure their Fathers and elder Brothers, would not be sorry for the same."

The site in the walls, contained about 10 acres; (fn. 21) the church was large, though so far demolished, that it was with difficulty I found its site; the parlour and hall are grand rooms, and were fitted up by Sir John Shelton, Knt. at his coming to dwell here, which was not long after the Dissolution. In the hall windows is a fine succession of the matches of the Shelton family, still remaining:
1, Shelton single. 2, Shelton and Harling impaled, as all the following coats are with Shelton: 3, Illey or Illegh, erm. two chevrons sab. 4, Mellers, az. in a bordure per pale wavy gul. and arg. on a fess of the second, between three crowns or, three mascles conjoined of the field. 5, Sauntphilibert, ar. three bendlets az. 6, Vaux, chequy arg. and gul. 7, Burys, erm. on a chief indented sab. two lions rampant or. 8. Geddyng, arg. three mullets sab. 9, Uveaale or Dovedale, arg. a cross moline gul. 10, Lowdham. 11, Cockfield, az. a cross chequy arg. and gul. 12, Stapleton. 13, Barret, arg. a fess between three mullets sab. 14, Ufford. 15, Brewse. 16, Clere. 17, Marke, per pale erm. and az. a lion rampant counterchanged, in a bordure sab. bezanté. 18, Boleyn. 19, Shelton impaling Wodehouse of Waxham, quartering Barrowe. 20, Shelton impales Morley, and these arms were put up in their time, for two coats of Shelton with blank impalements follow them.

In the hall east window, Shelton and Barrow, and gul. on a cross ingrailed sab. five escallops. In the west windows, Bacon, gul. a boar in fess or, quarters Butts. Calthorp and Drury. Shelton and Morley. Illegh quartering Wodehouse of Waxham, and Reppes quartered. Gawdy with a crescent, impale, Bassingbourn and his quarters. Wichingham, Walcote, Phelip Lord Bardolf, and Furneaux. Cornwaleis and his quarters, S. three bars gemellé, and a canton arg. Braham. Jarnegan and his quarterings, gul. a cross ingrailed arg. Gul. three bars gemellé or, and a canton arg. Arg. a bend between six croslets fitché sab. Tirrel with a crescent, a chevron between three martlets arg. Mortimer, or, semi de-lises sab. Gonvile. Keldon. Erminois, a lion rampant arg. Jarnegan again, &c.

In a room by the gate-house, Bleverhasset, Lowdham, Keldon, Scales, a fess dancetté G. between- - - - az. a lion rampant arg. crowned or.

Soon after the grant, Sir John Shelton, Knt. settled on John Mynys his trustee, the manors of Overhall and Netherhall in Shelton, Barret's in Hardwick. Shelton-Hall in Bedingham, with Shelton and Hardwick advowsons, Saie's manor in Stratton, his manor of Carrow, the rectories of Eastwinch, Stowbardolph, and Wrenningham, with the advowsons of St. Edward, St. Julian, All-Saints, Eilham, and Erlham vicarage, and St. Catherine's chapel in Norwich, for himself for life, remainder to Anne his wife for life; after, on John Shelton, Esq. his son, for 60 years, and then to Ralf Shelton, his cousin. And in 1550, Lady Anne Shelton, his widow, lived here. In 1579, Sir Ralf Shelton, Knt. owned it, and in 1581, Anne Shelton, widow. 1589, Charles Cornwaleis, Esq. and Anne Shelton his wife. In 1624, Humfry May owned it, and in 1631, Judith May, Esq. and it is now owned by Robert Moreton, Esq.

To the site of this abbey, as it is now commonly called, belongs a swan-mark (fn. 22) and free-fishery, in

The River,

As far as the bounds of Carrow extend; but though the lords of the several manors joining to the river, between the city and Hardleycross, have all free-fisheries in the river in their several manors, and some swan-marks, &c. and several others under them, the same liberties; yet it is not exclusive of the corporation of the city, who have full right (jointly with them) in all the common stream, from the end of Hellesden bounds to Hardley cross, both of fishing, swannage, and all liberties, as appointing what wherries shall be the constant wherries for passengers to and from Yarmouth, nominating their swanner, game-keeper, &c.; and formerly there were 19 appropriated fishing-places, which they called Sets, which were yearly allotted by the mayor, to certain fresh-water fishermen. The first was called the Panne. 2. Carrow Dyke. 3. Thorphall Set. 4. Wicklingham Wood. 5. Muckflete. 6. Posewick Thorn. 7. Surlingham Wood's End. 8. New Ferry. 9. Dames Ende. 10 Carflete. 11. Midle Trayle. 12. Claxton-flete, alias Armet-yard. 13. Bokenham-ferry. 14. Rowghflete, alias Fayer-flete. 15. Burrel's-flete. 16. Cantley Hall. 17. Thursbam Set. 18. Lyttlehed. 19. Hardley Cross. And in 1620, there were two wardens of the fishermen. company appointed to inspect the set nets belonging to them, that they should not take fish of too small a size. This river abounds with many sorts of fresh-water fish, as perch, tench, roach, dace, gudgeon, bream, pike, roughs, eels, &c. of which last sort, great numbers were taken at the sets; and sometimes salmons have been, and now are, taken here. I have a picture by me, of one about 3 feet and an half long, with this inscription on it: "This Sammon was taken in Norwich River at the newe Milles by Good Man Wright the Miller, the 24 of October Anno Dom. 1656, Samuel Puckle Maior."

These are all the villages in the county of the city of Norwich, except small parts of the parishes of Hellesden St. Mary, Catton St. Margaret, Sprowston, St. Mary and St. Margaret, and Thorp St. Andrew, or Bishop's Thorp; but as the churches and chief parts of those parishes are in the county of Norfolk, they are not to be treated of here.


  • 1. Will. de Brakenden owned part of it. 41 H. III.
  • 2. Tanner's Notitia, fo. 347. Stow, fo. 148. Speed, 464. Fuller's Church Hist. 297, 370.
  • 3. Mon. Ang. vol. i. fo. 426. King Stephen gave them all his uncultivated land in Norwich Fields, which belonged to his demeans belonging to his city of Norwich, then valued at 25s. per annum, and all the meadows belonging to that land, extending from Berstreet-gates to Trowse bridge; and on this account, the citizens were always allowed to discount 25s. a year, out of their fee-farm rent, at the Exchequer. And all these lands were then in the suburbs; part of this land was after enclosed in the city walls, and is called Butter-hills, the whole account ofwhich, see at p. 68.
  • 4. There were 12 at the Dissolution.
  • 5. Regr. Tunstal, fo. 85. b.
  • 6. Willis's Hist. of Landaff, p. 50.
  • 7. It was finished by contribution about 1460.
  • 8. See Pt. I. p. 57.
  • 9. Hist. Norf. vol. i. p. 57.
  • 10. See p. 450.
  • 11. See p. 336.
  • 12. Mon. Ang. Tom. I. fo. 427.
  • 13. Weever, fo. 85.
  • 14. Rot. Hund. 3 E. I. Mss. Neve.
  • 15. Mon. Ang. tom. i. fo. 427.
  • 16. Esch. N. 167.
  • 17. Regr. Alleyn.
  • 18. See p. 512.
  • 19. 1473, Will. Shelton, Gent. lived at Norwich.
  • 20. See Fuller's Chu. History, lib. vi. fo. 297, and the excellent Preface to Tanner's Notitia, fo. 32.
  • 21. The farm belonging to it is about 250l. per annum.
  • 22. See the swan-mark in the Plan, and the seals of this house, the great one of which, is fixed on the site of it.