Hundred of South Erpingham: Little-Berningham

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

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'Hundred of South Erpingham: Little-Berningham', in An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 6, (London, 1807) pp. 316-320. British History Online [accessed 20 April 2024]

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Or Bernesworth, Goodale, or Berningham Stafford, for by all these names, this village hath passed, in order to distinguish it from the other villages of the same name.

At the Conquest it was in four parts; one was valued as part of the King's manor of Aylesham, and was under the care of Godric; the advowson of the church, which had then 9 acres of glebe, and the second part, belonged to William de Warren, (fn. 1) and was formerly owned by Herold; a third part was valued with Blickling manor, and was owned by William Beaufoe Bishop of Thetford, and the fourth part belonged to Brant, a noble Dane in the time of Edward the Confessor, and to Robert Fitz Corbun in the time of the Conqueror, when the whole town was seven furlongs long, and four furlongs broad, and paid 3d. three farthings to the geld, towards every 20s. raised by the hundred.

The Church is dedicated to St. Andrew, and there was a gild of St. John Baptist held in it; the tower is square, and hath two bells, and a third stands broken in the church; the nave is leaded, the chancel thatched, the south porch tiled, and a north vestry is ruinated.

Under the communion-table lies a stone altarwise, viz. the ends to the south and north, on which a brass plate is thus inscribed,

Here ys Edmundys Grave; JESU his Sowlle hauue.

In the nave is a pew erected by a Shepherd; a skeleton carved in wood is fixed at the south-west corner of it; and this carved on the pew,

For Couples join'd in Wedlock: and my Friend That Stranger is: This Seate I did intend.

But at the Coste and Charge of Stephen Crosbee.

All you that doe this Place pass by As you are nowe, even soe was I, Remember Death for you must dye, And as I am, soe shall you be, Anno Domini 1640.

This rectory is valued in the King's Books at 5l. 15s. 2d. ob. ana stands there by the name of Barningham Parva, and being sworn of the clear yearly value of 45l.; it is discharged of first-fruits and tenths, and is capable of augmentation; it pays procurations to the Bishop at the visitation 17d. qr.; synodals 9d.; and 4s. procurations to the archdeacon; the old valuation was 7 marks; it paid to every tenth 1l. 15s. clear; is now valued to the land-tax at 314l. 10s. and 5s. 6d. to every 300l. levy of the county rate. It is in the dutchy of Lancaster, and took its name from [Bar] bread-corn, [ing] low meadow, and [ham], a village; so that it signifies the village or dwelling by the low meadows, abounding with wheat.


1320, Master de Roger Strattone. Sir Hugh Audeley, Knt. Resigned.

1328, Philip de Okeley. Ditto. Res.

1339, Hugh de Wynnesbury. Hugh de Audley Earl of Gloucester.

1340, Robert de Wynnesbury, changed this for the rectory of Montgomori in Hereford diocese, with

Sir Walter de Brykyndon, who was licensed by the King in 1441 to change this with John de Newton, for Cheshunt vicarage in Hertfordshire; but it seems not to have taken effect, for in 1343 Brikyndon resigned this rectory, and Sir Robert de Causton, Knt. gave it to

Bartholomew French. In 1349 Robert, Baron of Stafford and Lord of Tunbrigge was patron, and in

1361, James Beck was rector. In 1374 Hugh Earl of Stafford, gave it to

John Littleker, and in

1437, when Thomas Bradley resigned it,

Richard Bisheton was presented by Humfry Earl of Stafford and Perche, Lord of Tonebrigge and Caus. In 1460 John Duke of Norfolk died seized of the advowson, and the Earl of Surrey was also patron of Bernyngham Goodale, alias Stafford. In 1540 Thomas Duke of Norfolk gave it to

Robert Denton, whose successour,

Thomas Hill, died rector. In 1565 Edward Clere, Esq. a trustee to the Howards, presented

George Wicks, who was succeeded by

Philip Wicks, and in 1631 John Dix, alias Ramseye, of Wickmere, Esq. presented

Thomas Cooper, and afterwards

Richardson Jackson, at whose death in 1670 John Dix gave it to

William Plumstede, A. M. who held it with Wickmere, and at his death in 1692 Richard Knight, Gent. patron in full right, presented

John Gray, A. M. at whose death Richard Knight, Esq. of Attlebridge, the present patron, gave it to the present rector,
Mr. John Browne, who holds it united to Ashwellthorp rectory.

The manor was anciently in a family that took their sirname from this lordship; Humfry de Berningham was sole lord, as the Red Book of the Exchequer informs me; and held it of the honour of the Abbot of St. Edmund's Bury in Henry the First's time, as land of the new feoffment: he bare for his arms,

Arg. on a bend gul. cotized. az. three escalops or, and some of his descendants bare the field, az. a bend ingrailed or.

Thomas de Berningham held it, and after him his son Matthew; in 1260 Walter de Berningham held it at half a fee. In 1279, (fn. 2) in the Register of Bury Abbey called Pinchbeck, fo. 118, it is said, that John de Sancto Claro held the 4th part of a fee of the abbot of Bury, (fn. 3) which Eustace de Berningham formerly held, which in the time of Abbot Baldwin, who lived in the Conqueror's days, one Burchard held.

Walter de Berningham, lord here, had a charter from King Edward I. (fn. 4) for a fair and market here, and for liberty of freewarren in this and Wickmere manors.

In 1312 Sir Henry de Seagrave, Hugh Tirrel, and 25 others, came hither armed to the manor-house of William de Berningham, and fired it in five several places, and seized the Lady Petronel de Gra, mother of the said William, and pricked her with swords, and cut her with knives, to force her to tell them of her jewels, money and plate, and brake open her chests, &c. for which they were all indited, but produced the King's pardon; in 1313 Walter de Berningham settled this manor and advowson, and the manor of Wykemere, on himself for life, (fn. 5) remainder to

Gilbert de Clare Earl of Gloucester and Hertford, and their heirs; and in 1315 the Countess of Gloucester was in possession of them; (fn. 6) but upon the marriage of Isabel, sister and coheir of Gilbert de Clare, Hugh de Audley her husband had them, and was lord and patron here. In 1371 Ralf Earl of Stafford, in right of Margaret his wife, one of the daughters and heiresses of Hugh de Audley Earl of Gloucester, held this manor, and Hugh his son and heir was then 31 years of age; and in 1401 the Earl of Stafford was lord, and Adam de Gelbie held a fourth of a fee in this town, which belonged to the manor of Wickmere, of him: in 1423 Sir Hugh Stafford Earl of Stafford, son of Sir Hugh, Knt. of the Garter, and Lord Bourchier, in right of his wife, held this and Wickmere, and left them to Edmund his brother, who left issue, Humphry Earl of Stafford, nephew and heir to this Sir Hugh, 20 years old, who married Elizabeth, daughter and heir to Bartholomew Lord Bourchier, who remarried to Sir Lewis Robsart, Knt. of the Garter, and Lord Bourchier in her right; in 1495 it was in the hands of Katherine Dutchess of Bedford, and was then found to extend into Wickmere, Wulterton, Erpingham, Iteringham and Matlask; and it descended to Edward Duke of Buckinghamshire, with Wickmere, Wells, Warham, Wyveton, &c. who was attainted in the time of King Henry VIII. This Lady Katherine held these in dower, as daughter of Richard Woodevile Earl Rivers, and widow of Henry Stafford Duke of Bucks and Constable of England; she died 21 December in this year.

After the attainder aforesaid, in the year 1522, King Henry VIII. granted this manor and advowson, parcel of the possessions of Edward late Duke of Bucks attainted, to Thomas Duke of Norfolk, with remainder to his son, Thomas Earl of Surrey, who had livery thereof in 1524, and it was owned by Philip Earl of Arundel, at his attainder in 1583: (fn. 7) in 1615, John Dix, alias Ramsey, of Wickmere, Esq. (fn. 8) as trustee to Thomas Earl of Arundel, granted a rent charge of 20l. per annum to James Wilford of Lincolnes Inn, Esq. out of this manor, and then mortgaged it to Thomas Marsham of London, Esq. and it was after sold by John Tasburgh, who married a daughter and coheir of John Dix, alias Ramsey, to whom the Norfolk family had conveyed the manor and advowson, to Richard Knight of Attlebridge, Esq. who was high sheriff of Norfolk in 1704; but the manor belonged to Mr. John Gurnay of Norwich in 1733, and at his death came to his son, Mr. John Gurnay, who is the present lord


  • 1. Terra Regis, Hund. Erpincham Sud Doms. fo. 43. In Berneswrde i. soc. xvi. acr. semper iii. bord. et i. car. et dim. et iii. acr. prati tenebat Radulfus quando forisfecit, modo Godricus ad feudum Regis et est in pretio de Aelesham. Terre Willi. de Warrenna. In Bernincham ii. liberi homines Heroldi xxx. acr. terre, semper 5 bord. et ii. car. et tercia pars molendini et ii. acr. prati, silva xx, porc. et val. xiii.s. iiii.d. et i. ecclesia ix. acr. (fo. 83.) Terra Willi: Episcopi TedfordEnsis de Feudo. (fo. 153.) In Bernincham i. car. terre et l. acr. et iii. villi. et ix. bord. semper ii. car. et dim. et v. acr. prati silva de xxviii. porc. tunc i. mol. quem modo tenet Godricus ad feudum Regis, tunc valuit xii. sol. mo xxii. hoc jacet in Blicklinga. Terre Roberti filii Corbutionis (fo. 269.) In Bernincham tenuit Brant de Rege i. liber homo lxxxii. acr. terre semper v. bord. et i. car. in dominio et dimid. hominum et ii. acr. prati, silva xv porci, et val x. sol. et habet vii. quar. in longo et iiii. in lato et iii.d. et iii. ferdings de Gelto.
  • 2. 1278 Adam de Berningham and Alice his wife had lands here.
  • 3. In 1285 Felicia widow of William de Sancto Claro sued for dower here in divers lands, but her husband had no concern with the manor.
  • 4. Cart. 32 Edw. I. membr. 107
  • 5. In 1385 Alexander de Berningham of Lynn had King Richard the Second's letters of protection for him to go into Spain with John Duke of Lancaster, &c.; he was the heir of this family
  • 6. The prior of Ely and several others, had revenues and under parts of fees, here and in Wickmere.
  • 7. At the attainder of the Norfolk family, Queen Elizabeth had the manor and advowson, and leased them to William Dix, Esq. John Bleverhasset, Esq. and others.
  • 8. In 1632 there was a long suit between John Dix, alias Ramsey, then lord, and the tenants, about Shack, and the Sheeps walk on Berningham-heath.