Hundred of South Greenhoe: Hilburgh

Pages 112-118

An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 6. Originally published by W Miller, London, 1807.

This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.


In this section


This village is called Hildeburhwella in the survey, being seated on the decline of a hill in a springy ground, being sometimes wrote Hildeburghworth, near the joining of two rivers, the word worth signifying a nook of land in such a site.

It was held by Osmund in the time of the Confessor, William de Manerijs was lord of it by the gift of the Conqueror, and William Earl of Warren held it of him; here were then 4 carucates in domain, 120 sheep, 17 goats, pannage for 20 hogs, was half a mile and two furlongs long, and 7 furlongs broad, paid 8d. gelt, was valued in King Edward's time at 6l. at the survey at 7l. (fn. 1)

Soon after the survey the Kaillys or Caleys (fn. 2) held this lordship of the Earl Warren. (fn. 3) In the second year of King John, a fine was levied of lands here, between Alice de Kailly and John de Kailly. In the 3d of Hen. III. Adam de Kailly held in Hildeburghworth, a knight's fee of the Earl Warren; and in the 34th and 41st of the said King, Osbert de Cailly had view of frankpledge, assize of bread and beer, weyf and free-warren; about this time we find this extent of this manor, viz. rent of assise per annum 6l. 17s. 5d. qr.; boscage this year 10d.; (fn. 4) fee-farm 4l. 16s. 6d.; farm of the watermills per annum 6l. 13s. 4d.; of the rabbits of the warren and heath, 2l. 13s. 6d.; perquisites of courts this year, 6l. 8s. 6d.; farm of dovehouse, 3s. 4d.; of rents and works sold off this year, 2l. 6s. 9d; of 24 quarters and a bushel of barley 2l. 6s. 9d.; of the domain lands at 2s. 4d. per quarter. 24 acres in the lord's hands at 2d. per acre.

In 1806, Sir Thomas Cailey had livery of his mother's lands, Emme daughter and coheir of the lord Tateshale; (fn. 5) and in 1310, he and Eleanor his wife had this manor settled on them and their heirs; (fn. 6) and in 1825, he was found to have held it of the manor of Castleacre, by the service of one knight's fee, being valued at 26l. 17s. 4d. per annum; there was then a capital messuage, two watermills, &c. belonging to it, and Adam son of Sir Roger de Clifton was his heir.

In 1331, the said Adam was lord, and impleaded several persons for fishing in his waters here, (fn. 7) but Margaret, (relict of Sir Thomas Cayley,) then wife to Robert Ufford Earl of Suffolk, held some dower here, as appears by her presenting to this rectory.

In Sir John Clifton's time, I find the rents of assize were per annum 18l. the park, 8l.; a mill, 6l. 13s. 8d.; the rabbit-warren, 30l.; foldage for sheep, being 900, 40s. 4d.; foldage for 100 cows, &c.; the mill called Erles Myln, 10l.; when Sir William Knevet of Bukenham Castle was accused as an adherent of Henry Earl of Richmond, (fn. 8) against King Richard III. he was obliged to convey it to Sir James Tyrrell, Richard's great favourite; but on the accession of Henry VII. had it restored. In this family it remained till it was sold to

Robert Rich Earl of Warwick, in the reign of King James I.; and from that family to the Hares, Sir John Hare of Stow Bardolph presented as lord to the rectory in 1635; he left it by will to Hugh Hare, Esq.; his 3d son, who dying unmarried, it came to Sir Thomas Hare, Bart. who gave it to his 2d son, the present Sir Thomas Hare, Bart. who sold it to James Nelthorpe, Esq. of Linford, whose son now enjoys it.

The church, is a small but regular building, dedicated to all the Saints, having its nave, north and south isles, and chancel built of flint, &c. and covered with lead: the nave is in length about 42 feet, and the breadth with the isles 41 feet; the roof of the nave is supported by pillars forming 6 arches, 3 on a side, with windows over each arch. On the head of a seat in the nave, on the right side, is a shield with a shepherd's crook in pale, between four annulets; near the west end, on the pavement lie two small marbles with brass plates thus inscribed: (fn. 9)

Orate pro anima Domine Oswine walshm, Sancte Monialis cuiu anime propicietur Deus Amen.

Drate pro anima Domine Anne Sefull, Sancte Monialis cuius anime propicietur Deus Amen.

At the east end of the south isle, which is longer than the nave by 9 feet, is an ascent, where was an altar; on the pavement lie two large marble gravestones, without any arms or inscription; one of these is probably for Richard Duplake of this town, who by will in 1516, desired to be buried here, and bequeathed to the reparation and making up of the south isle of this church, and to the making a new porch there, 20 marks sterling.

This porch is a neat one of flint, covered with lead; about the water table is the letter M and swords with their points erected and crowns over them, as in Cressingham-Magna, this isle being probably dedicated to St. Michael.

In the upper window of the north isle, is azure a cross compony or, and gul. Cockfield; and at the east end is an ascent as to an altar. The chancel is divided from the nave by an old screen; it is in length about 30 feet, and in breadth about 18, and there is an ascent of two steps to the communion table. On the pavement lies a marble with this shield, Barry, of six arg. and gul. Wace, impaling arg. on a fess sab. three flowers-de-lis or, Pattison, and thus inscribed;

Hic jacet Corpus Amiæ Uxoris Edmundi Wace, Rectoris hujus Ecclesiæ obijt 12° Aug. An Dni. 1717, Ætatis 63.

Here has been a vestry, now in ruins. In the east window are the remains of two shattered old shields, azure two trumpets, their labia meeting in the base point, crusuly of cross croslets, or, Trumpington, and Clifton; and in the same window not long since, were to be seen the arms of the East Angles, of St. Edmund, Tatshall, Narford and Knevet: at the west end of the nave stands a neat strong four-square tower of flint, with quoins of free stone and embattlements, and four carved pinnacles, in which hang five modern bells. At the west side of this tower are two large niches for statues, one on each side the great door; and on the right side of the arch of the door is the effigies of a man in armour; his hands are by length of time decayed; on the left side, the effigies of a savage or wild man, bearing in his right hand the head of a man couped, and in his left hand a ragged staff or battoon, all carved in stone; over the arch of the door is the shield of Clifton, supported by two antelopes, or rather ibex's, sejant, and on an helmet a plume of feathers. These are the insignia of John de Clifton, who flourished in the reign of King Edward III. and was summoned to parliament, as a Baron then and in the beginning of King Richard II. and was no doubt the founder of this church, and died at Rhodes, in that King's reign: the being heirs to the Kaillis or Caleys assumed most likely their arms, using only a bend by way of distinction; and the Caleys, it is probable, being dependants, and near attached to the Earl Warren, assumed his coat; changing only the colours, a practice very frequent in ancient days.


Thomas de Kaylli, rector.

1315, Michael de Cayly, presented by Sir Thomas de Cayly, Knt. (fn. 10)

1325, Richard de Hassene. Sir Robert Ufford, by the marriage of Margaret, relict of Sir Thomas de Caley. He had been rector of Narburgh mediety, and exchanged with Cayly. In

1328, Richard de Crerk, rector here, was licensed to go a pilgrimage to St. James at Compostella.

1335, Edmund de Shelton. Lord Robert de Ufford.

1342, John Edrich. The Lady Margaret Countess of Suffolk and Sir Peter de Ty, attorneys general to Robert Ufford Earl of Suffolk, then beyond the sea.

1343, Peter Lacy; he was rector of Selsey in the diocese of Chichester, and exchanged with Edrich; he held after this the chapel of St. Margaret in this parish.

1351, Richard Clanylle. Robert Earl of Suffolk. He was rector of the first portion in the church of Diseley in Worcester diocese, and exchanged with Lacy.

1365, Thomas Grace. Robert Earl of Suffolk. He was rector of St. Nicholas in Abindon in the diocese of Salisbury, and exchanged with Clanylle. He held also the chapel of St. Margaret here.

1404, Roger Rawlyn.

1413, Peter Parsey, ob. John Drew, rector of Harpley. Richard creyk, and Roger Rawlyn, by virtue of a feoffment of the manor of Hilburgh, with the advowson, from Constantine Chfton, lately deceased.

1458, John Pert, A. M. ob. John Heydon, Gent. feoffee of this manor for Sir John Cliffton, Knt.

1460 Richard Sechythe, buried in the chancel in 1471, and gave legacies to the gilds of St. Margaret, and the Trinity here. John Heydon. (fn. 11)

1471, John Williamson, in dec. baccal. resigned William Knevet.

1509, Thomas Cook, A. M. He was also rector of Cranwich. Ditto.

Robert Ledall of Hilburgh, by will dated 1514, gives to the beme the which the rode shall stand on 2s.

1534, John Fowle, on the resignation of the last rector. Christopher Jenney, Esq. serjeant at law, by grant from Edward Serplaw.
John Methwold, died rector.

1554, James Glover, (fn. 12) ob. Christopher Cook, Esq. and the lady Ann Knevet his wife.

1562, Richard Coggell, ob. Ditto.

1576, Thomas Cross. The Queen.

1581, John Pratt, A. B. The Queen, in right of the wardship of the heir of Sir Thomas Knevet, Knt. deceased. In his answer to King James's Quæries, he says there were 115 communicants here in 1603.

1630, Richard Potter, A. M.

1635, 23d April, William Prettiman, ob. Sir John Hare.

1681, Edmund Wace, A. M.; he was rector of Bodney, educated at Caius College Cambridge, ob. Lancaster Topcliff, clerk, hac vice. These two last incumbents held this rectory an hundred years.

1734, Edmund Nelson; he held it united to the vicarage of Sporle, with Palgrave-Parva consolidated, and at his death was succeeded, in

1747, By his son, the Rev. Mr. Edmund Nelson, the present rector, who was presented by Mrs. Mary Nelson, patroness in full right, and holds it united to the vicarage of Sporle, with the rectory of Little Pagrave annexed.

This Rectory is valued in the King's Books at 13l. 6s. 8d. but being returned of the clear value of 49l. per annum; it is discharged of first fruits and tenths, and is capable of augmentation.

The synodals are 2s. archdeacon's procurations 7s. 7d. ob. Bishop's visitatorial procurations 3s. 4d.

St. Margaret's chapel, at the north-west end of the town of Hilburgh, in a grass close, stands the chapel of St. Margaret, built of flint and boulder, in length about 36 feet, and in breadth about 20 from out to out; the arched windows at the east and west are now the only windows remaining; it is a low plain pile, and has the face of great antiquity.

On the founding of this chapel it was ordained, that if the patron did not present in 40 days after a vacancy, that the Bishop should collate. It was founded by Sir John de Kailli and Margery his wife, who was remarried in 1207, 9 of King John, to Michael de Poynings; their son, Sir Adam de Caily, confirmed it; and his son, Sir Osbert de Caily, Knt. who married Emma, daughter and coheir of Robert Lord Tatshall, was a great benefactor; and by deed in Henry the Third's time, in honour of Christ and the Blessed Virgin, and all the Saints, and for the souls of his father, Adam de Cailli, Mabell his mother, and Margery his grandmother, and all his family deceased; he settled on Hervy de Brokedish, chaplain, and all his successours in St. Margaret's chapel at Hilburgh, for their performing divine service there, the whole furlong or went of land called Flitwong in Hilburgh-Field, joining to that land that he had before settled on the said chapel, Sir Adam de Cailly, his son, Sir Thomas and Simon de Cailly, Edmund de Illeye and others, being witnesses.
To this deed hangs a large round seal circumscribed,

Sigillvm: Osberti: De: Kailli:

He is represented on a horse running full speed, in armour, with a close helmet, his drawn sword in his hand, a shield of his arms, chequy only, and the trappings of the horse are also chequy. The reverse hath only a plain chequered shield circumscribed. SIGILLVM SECRETUM.

This seal being somewhat remarkable, I shall here add a word or two on that subject.

Whether the Norman nobility brought the use of large seals into England, or found it here, is not very certain; but certain it is, that they used them soon after their arrival; the most usual impresses being an armed man or knight on horseback with a drawn sword, and the bearer's name round him; perhaps the large territories, wherewith the Conqueror rewarded their services, induced them to believe themselves to be advanced to so many principalities, and this conceit might incline them to rival their Sovereign himself, in the grandeur of their publick instruments. Sometimes, instead of the horseman, we have a lion, leopard, greyhound, bird, or other device, part of the arms of the family, but always the person's own proper name, encircling his paternal coat, or whatever other impression he was pleased to fancy. Seals as this of a round form generally betoken something of royalty in the possessor, and a more than ordinary extent of temporal jurisdiction, whereas great ladies, under coverture, and bishops and abbots, &c. commonly made use of oval and oblong ones; if the grantor's quality was mean, and his family too inconsiderable to bear arms, the conveyances were usually ratified under the authentic seal of some public officer or corporation, the reason being assigned, "Quia sigillum meum penitus est ignotum, sigillum officialis de &c. apponi procuravi." Nobility and other persons of rank and family had also their larger and less seals, the former giving the impression of their ancestour's coat, and the latter oftentimes any little device without a scutcheon.

It has been a prevailing opinion, that no seals (on wax) were used here, till the Normans taught us this fashion; but Sir Edward Coke gives instances of grants, passed by some of our Saxon princes, sub proprio sigillo; but to this it may be replied, that the Crosses were anciently styled indifferently Signa et Sigilla. And as it is plain that sealing was in common use, soon after the Conquest, so it is certain that there were several conveyances, which (even as low down as the reign of King Edward III.) were admitted as good and legal when well attested, though they had no seals ever affixed to them, being the grants of such as still adhered to their old Saxon modes, and so retained the ancient subscriptions of names and crosses. There were other transgressions of the common rule and practice, as when Edward III. fancifully gave,
The Norman the Hunter, the Hop And the Hop-Town, With all the Bounds upside down, And in Witness that it was Sooth, He bit the Wax with his fong Tooth.

And to Aubrey de Vere's conveyance of Hatfield, a short black hafted knife was affixed instead of a seal, &c.

Many effectual ancient conveyances of right, were anciently made without writing, seizin being then only taken, by delivery of a sword, helmet, horn, spur, bow, arrow, &c. But even in those times, the more cautious thought it safest to convey their lands in scriptis, hence the [Gethrite Landboc], Telligraphum and Chirographum of the Saxon age.

Chaplains of the free-chapel of St. Margaret.

Hervy de Brokedis, occurs about the beginning of the reign of King Edward I.

1315, William de Pagrave, presented by Sir Thomas Caly. 1335, John de Pagrave. 1338, Robert Wright. 1345, William Sherman. 1347, Robert Wych or Wyth. 1349, Adam de Fyncham. 1349, Roger Wardebene; all these six were presented by Sir Adam de Clifton.

1351, Peter de Lacy; he had been rector, and resigned for this, and resigned this again. 1368, Thomas Grace, the King, as guardian to the heir of Sir Adam de Clifton. 1402, John Arundel, the King. 1404, Adam Mynte or Myns, Sir Robert Knolles, John Drew, rector of Harpley, James de Billyngford, Richard Gegge, and Roger Rawlyn, rector of Hitburgh. 1415, John Prentys. Richard Bowyer, chaplain. 1465, Thomas Eyr. 1465, William Botivant. William Welly. These five were presented by the King. 1494, John Williamson, on the death of William Wellys. Sir William Knevet.

John Collet occurs in 1508; he was then D. D. dean of St. Paul's London, rector of Denynton in Suffolk, &c. The income of this free-chapel is then said to be xxx. l. per annum, as appears from a rental of the Dean's estate, spiritual and temporal; which was a very considerable sum in that age, and almost equalled that great living (as Dr. Knight in his Life of this Dean calls it (fn. 13) ) of Dennington, which is there said to be xxxi. l. per annum.

It is likely he succeeded Williamson here, and was presented by the Knevets, as he was to the rectory of Dennington, his mother being of that family.

This Chapel being dissolved by King Edward VI. was in the fourth year of his reign, given with 60 acres of land to Thomas Reve, and Giles Isham, and their heirs, to be held of the manor of East Greenwich in Kent.

At this day it is called by the neighbouring people, the Pilgrim's chapel, being visited most likely by them in their way to Walsingham, which lies through this town from London; there are said to have been above an hundred acres of land in the fields of Hilburgh belonging to it, and no doubt was very nobly endowed, being formerly accounted a manor, and lands in the said fields were held by the tenure of finding of wax-tapers, &c. for the chapel, as appears from an old field-book in the hands of Mr. Wace, the owner, who used the chapel to lay his hay in.


  • 1. Terre Willi de Warrenna. Hildeburhwella tenuit T. R. E. Osmundus mo Will. de Manerijs de dono Regis, et Willielmus de eo, tunc xxii. vill. et semper tunc x. bord. et semper tunc vi. serv. et mo semp. in dominio iv. car. tunc inter omnes x. car. et post vii. et moviii. ac. prati, quando recepit v. an. inven. et ii. runc. mo similiter, et tunc xv. porc. et mo tunc c. oves, mo c. et xx. mo. xvii. capre et v. vasa apum etii. mol. silva ad xx. porc et habet dim. mill. et ii. quar. in longo, et vii. in lato, et redd. ad gelt. viiid. tunc val. vili. mo viili. Doms. fo. 96.
  • 2. See in Cranwich, and West Bradenham.
  • 3. Fin. 2 Sch. N. 35, Test. de Nevil, fo. 311.
  • 4. Several lordships pay rents to this, viz. Illington, Bukenham Parva, Stanford, (Pentney's manor,) Bodney, Cley, Foulden, Didhngton and Wroxham, so that it resembles an Honour.
  • 5. See vol. i. p. 373, it passing with Old-Buckenham.
  • 6. Esch. 19 Ed. 2.
  • 7. Plac. Term. Trin. 30 Ed. i. Esch. 17 Ric. 2, N. 16.
  • 8. See vol. i. p. 378.
  • 9. Those brasses, with others belonging to the church, were stolen by some person in the time of the Rebellion, and were afterwards found in the house of a tinker at Swaffham by the Rev. Mr. Wace, then rector.
  • 10. John de Cayly is patron; the rector has a manse with one carucate of land valued at 20 marks, besides the portion which is not taxed, portion of the nuns of Blakeburgh in the same 2 marks, Peter-pence 16d. Norwich Domesday.
  • 11. Richard Chrystmess, by will in 1473, desires to buried in the church of AllSaints in Hilburgh, gives to Trinity gild 2 and to St. Margaret's gild 2 sheep. John Snellynge of Hilburgh, by his will dated in 1493, bequeathed his body to be buried in the cherch yerde of the parish church of All Sents of heven in Hilburgh. Item I wole have a secular preste to serve and syng and pray for my soule and the souls of my good doers be on hole yer in the parys chirche of Hilburgh. Item to the said chirche viixx scheepe of my beste catel to buye therewith a booc clypyd an antyphoner.
  • 12. Presbyter non conjugatus, satis doctus, non residet, non hospitalis, in vicaria sua de Codenham, non prædicat, nec licentiatus, duo. Parkeri Certificat.
  • 13. Dr. Knight's Life of the Dean. Miscell. p. 330.