Hundred of South Erpingham: Wickmere

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: Wickmere', in An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 6, (London, 1807) pp. 456-463. British History Online [accessed 20 April 2024]

In this section


Wicmara, Wigemere, now commonly called Wickmere, signifies the winding or turn at the Meer or Water, and accordingly we find it so called in Domsday, and at the making of that survey it was in five different parts, having two principal manors; the first of which Earl Harold held, and Hanfrid after him, and Drue de Breureria claimed it as his heir; this was the greater part of the town, for it was 7 furlongs long and 5 and an half broad, and paid two-pence farthing geld. (fn. 1)

The next was Roger Bigot's, of whom it was held by Roger de Curson, and was six furlongs long and 4 broad, and paid 8d. geld. (fn. 2)

Another part belonged to Almar Bishop of Thetford, and was ever after held of the barony of the bishoprick of Norwich. (fn. 3)

Tiheli de Helion held another part here of the Bishop of Bajeux, (fn. 4) and the Abbot of St. Bennet at Holm had 12 acres. (fn. 5)

And the other part, which was also Harold's, came to the Earl Warren, (fn. 6) who had the principal manor,

After the death of Drue aforesaid; and the advowson of the church, which was given by William Earl Warren and Surrey to the monks of Castleacre, when he founded that house, and

Spriginus or Spregi, to whom it seems that Earl conveyed the manor afterwards, (whose son Robert was lord and patron, and took the sirname of Wickmere,) agreed with the prior and monks of Castleacre, and had the advowson released to him and his heirs, with divers men and tenants in Wickmere, that belonged to the prior, on condition, that as often as the prior and convent wanted any assistance from their own tenants in Wickmere they should always have the like assistance from Sprigi's men, which he held of them in Wickmere, Wolterton, Paston, Iteringham, and Berningham; and the said prior was always taxed for his temporal rents here at 10s. 11d. (fn. 7)

Roger, son of Robert de Wickemere, or Wigmere, succeeded, and in 1201, Nicholas Pincerna, alias Botiler, impleaded him and Bartholomew de Calthorp for the advowson, and recovered it against them and the prior of Acre, whom they had called to warrant his grant; the prior pleaded the Earl Warren's grant, Botiler pleaded that Earl Roger Bygod had the advowson and not the Earl Warren, and that that Earl had infeoffed him in his manor here and the advowson.

This Roger de Wigmere added much to his manor, by purchase of Alan Benjamin in 1227; in 1232, an agreement was made and settled by fine, between this Roger and Emma le Butiler, widow, and Thomas le Butiler, her attorney for this purpose, that she should have the first turn to her manor, after the death of Richard le Butiler the then rector; and that Roger should have the second turn to his manor, and that the future turns should be alternate for ever. In 1249 Nicholas le Butiler sued Roger for service due to him for half a knight's fee for his manor here, which was held of him. In 1261, Roger de Uphall granted a messuage and 50 acres, and the moiety of this advowson, with the reversion of the land which Clarice widow of Roger, son of Ralf de Uphall held in this town; this Ralf de Uphall was brother to Roger de Wickmere, so that his issue inherited; but soon after it was in

Walter de Berningham, who conveyed a part of it to John de Erpingham; this Walter, in 1285, had assize of bread and ale, view of frankpledge and lete allowed to his manor here, and so had Robert de Erpingham in 1274, in all the lands which belonged to his manor in Erpingham and Wickmere, which he held of the barony of the bishoprick of Norwich, at half a quarter of a fee; and in 1306 the said Walter de Berningham, though he conveyed to Erpingham the estate he held of the see here, reserved this manor, which was held by him of the Norfolk family at half a fee, being part of the fees late Roger Bygod's: this Walter, in 1302, had a charter for free-warren in all his lands here. (fn. 8) In 1313 Walter de Berningham settled this manor and Little Berningham, after his own decease, on Gilbert de Clare Earl of Gloucester and Hertford, and Maud his wife, and the heirs of Gilbert; and in 1315 the said Maud Countess of Gloucester, then Gilbert's widow, held it; and from that time it passed in that family with Little-Berningham, as you may see at p. 319, till the attainder of Edward Duke of Buckinghamshire, in the time of Henry VIIIth. of which King it was purchased by Sir Jeffry Boleyn, Knt. Lord Mayor of London, and it was devised by Sir William Boleyn, Knt. his son, to his son, Sir Thomas Boleyn, about 1505; (fn. 9) from which family it came into the hands of King Henry VIII. again, and was by him granted to

The Duke of Norfolk, and being vested by the Norfolk family in divers trustees, it was at last purchased by one of them, about 1570, viz.

William Dix of Wickmere, Esq. who became lord of this manor, and patron of the church; he was a merchant of London, gained great wealth there, and retired hither in his latter days; his will bears date June 1, 1591; he and his wife Dionise are interred on the north side of the altar, under an handsome inarched monument, with their effigies kneeling, but the inscription which was over their heads is totally lost; on the top, are the

Crest and arms of Dix, viz. a greyhound's head erased sab. collared or, between two wings of the second.

Dix, az. on a bend or, three martlets gul. on a chief arg. two bucks heads caboshed sab.

Dix impales quarterly, 1st a cross between four cocks, 2d on a chief a lion passant and two chevrons on each three de-lises.

Dix impales arg. a fess between two crescents in chief, and in base a bugle-horn gul. stringed or.

He was succeeded by John Dix, his son and heir, who married a daughter of Nolte of Norfolk, Gent. and was trustee, and one of the principal managers for the Norfolk family. He had

William Dix, Esq. his son and heir, who married Dionise, daughter of John Neale, Gent. for his second wife, and Lucy, daughter of John Smith of Blackmore, Esq. for his first; but having no issue, he covenanted with

John Ramsey of Hitcham in Bucks, his cousin and heir, (fn. 10) that at his death, he should assume the name of Dix, and quarter his arms in the first place with the arms of Ramsey; and accordingly in 1604, May 19, he had a patent from William Cambden, then Clarencieux King at Arms, to bear the name of Dix and arms as above. (fn. 11)

John Dix, alias Ramsey, was son of John Ramsey of Hitcham aforesaid, and was settled before Dix's death at Walsingham in Norfolk, and by Margaret Gibson his wife, had

Wimund Dix, alias Ramsey, of Wickmere, lord in 1664, who by Frances (fn. 12) his wife had two daughters their coheiresses:

Dorothy, the eldest, married John Bedingfield, Esq. second son to Sir Henry Bedingfield, Bart. who lies buried under black marble in the chancel, with the arms of

Bedingfield, impaling quarterly, 1st, arg. a cross croslet sab. fixed on a mount vert; 2dly, gul. three rams heads caboshed arg for Ramsey. (fn. 13)

Under this Stone lieth the Body of John Bedingfield, Esq. second Son of Sir Henry Bedingfield of Bechall, Bart. he married Dorothy Ramsey, Daughter and Coheiress of John Ramsey of Wickmere, Esq. he left 3 Sons and 2 Daughters of the Body of the said Dorothy, and departed out of this World, on the 9th Day of August 1693, and of his Age 42. Requiescat in Pace.

They conveyed their moiety of the whole to

Penelope, their sister, who married John Tasburgh of Flixton in Suffolk, Esq. owner of the whole in 1693.

It after came to the Spelmans, and at the east end of the south isle there is a handsome mural monument, with a wild man for a crest, and Spelman's arms quartering gul. a chief er. thus inscribed,

M. S. Henrici Spelman de Wickmere in Norfolciâ Armigeri, Patre Clemente, Barone de Scachario, Avo Henrico Equite aurato, Scriptis celeberimo, tum suis maxime meritis Clari, Qui inventâ et fundatâ Londini Societate ad Reparandâ damna ex Incendijs orunda, et Urbis Æternitati egregiè consuluit, et suæ.

P. Patruo, Willielmus Spelman Hæres, defuncto, 19° Novembris A. D. 1698, A. Æt. 68.

And under the monument is a large altar tomb with the same arms, and only, Henricus Spelman, Arm. ob. 19 Nov. 1698, Æt. 68, and at the end of the tomb a black marble hath this,

Within this Vault lie inter'd the Body of Margaret Twidde, Relict of Thomas Twidde, Esq; Sister to Henry Spelman, Esq; who is buried in this Vault with her, she died the 2d of Sept. 1729, Aged 81, and was very Exemplary in Acts of Charity, both living and dying.

This Henry Spelman having only one daughter, Elizabeth, who died young.

William Spelman, Esq, his nephew, son of his brother James, by Emma, daughter of Sir William Bowles of Berkshire, was made his heir by will, and was lord and patron, and so continued till his death in 1713; he married Elizabeth, daughter of Martha Countess of Midleton, second wife of John Earl of Midleton in Scotland, and daughter and heiress of Henry Cary Earl of Monmouth.

Spelman's coat and Crest impales

Midleton, per fess or and gul. a lion rampant, and double tressure of Scotland counterchanged.

The Manor anciently called Butlers alias Herewards,

After Roger de Curson's death, came to the Bigots again, and was granted by Roger Bigot to Nicolas de Pincerna, alias le Botiler, whose son Nicholas was lord in 1201, and Emma his widow had it in 1231; they had two sons; Richard, the eldest, was lord, but died without issue, and left it to Nicholas his brother, who assumed the name of Stalham, from his estate there, which his father at his death settled on him; he was lord before 1249, and in 1256 there was a long suit between him and William son of Richer de Bosco or Bois, for not taking his homage, and demanding an unreasonable relief of him, for lands held of him here, to which Nicholas pleaded that he was his Villain belonging to this manor, and that he, and the rest of the villains of this manor were taxable at their lord's will, and that they paid a fine for leave to marry their daughters and sisters, and that he took a mark for leave to marry, as his fine, and that therefore it was not unreasonable; (fn. 14) which being proved, the lord recovered. I mention this, to show in what a miserable state the under tenants were in at that time.

In 1270, Adam de Brancaster had one moiety, and William de Sancto Claro the other, in right of their wives, who were heiresses to Nicolas le Butler. In 1272 St. Clare sold all his moiety to William de Parco of Hevingham, and his heirs, who was to hold it of him and his heirs at half a fee, reserving to William Fitz-Reyner and Beatrice his wife, all her dower; and in 1285, Felice, widow of William de St. Clere, demanded against William, son of William de Hevingham, and Beatrice le Butler, late wife of Nicolas le Butler, (and now of Fitz Reyner,) her dower here. In 1289 William, son of William del Park of Hevingham, purchased Adam de Brancaster's part, and so had the whole manor and advowson, which then belonged to it. In 1299 the manor was settled by John Mounpinzon, and Thomas de Redham, trustees, on William de Hevingham and Isabel his wife. In 1310 Julian, daughter of William de Yarmouth, settled the manor on Simon Alwood and Isabel his wife; and in 1316 Thomas de Bosco of Bodham had it, and settled it on himself for life, by purchase from Henry Havile and Isabel his wife, and they were to have Bodham manor for life, and it was confirmed in 1335: and in 1345 Thomas de Bosco or Bois of Bodham held one quarter, and half a quarter of a fee of John Curson, he of Richard de la Rokele's heirs, they of the Norfolk family, and they of the King; and it was formerly William de Hevingham's; it came after to John Winter, and then to Robert Hereward of Aldburgh, whose widow Margaret held it in 1401, and in 1436 Clement Hereward had it, and settled it on Cecily his wife for life, and after, on Robert his son and heir; in 1509, a Clement Hereward of Aldeburgh died seized, and afterwards it became united to the other manors.

Erpingham's Manor

Was in two parts, the first was anciently part of the manor of Erpingham that extended hither, and always attended Erpingham manor; the other part was joined to it, by John de Erpingham, who purchased it of Walter de Berningham, viz. the 8th part of a fee, held of the see of Norwich. In 1312 John de Erpingham and Beatrice his wife had it, and in 1315, being his widow, held it. In 1345 Robert de Erpingham had it; in 1401 Sir Thomas de Erpingham, Knt. In 1461 the King conveyed it to Joan, wife of William Beaumont, Knt. and daughter of Humphry Stafford Duke of Bucks, and the heirs of her body. In 1466 it was granted as parcel of the possessions of William Viscount Beaumont, attainted, to Richard Quatermains, for life, who resigned the patent, and it was granted to Richard Southwell for life; and in the act of Parliament made in 1472, 13th of Edward IV. for resumption of the King's manors, the title of Southwell is excepted, and the manor confirmed to him; and in 1541, a Richard Southwell held it of the King. In 1551 Edw. VI. granted it to Edward Lord Clinton, who had license to sell it, and all his right in the advowsons of Wicmere and Alby, to William Dix of London, merchant, who joined it to the other manors.

The Manor of Calthorp, alias Uphall, or Dame Kate's,

Was part Helion's, and part in the abbey of St. Bennet at the Holm, and was granted to the family sirnamed Hautbois, with HautboisMagna, as at p. 300, and Sir Peter de alto Bosco, who sirnamed himself Calthorp, was lord in 1242, and it passed in the Calthorps, and in 1317 it was settled on Roger son of Bartholomew Calthorp, and Lady Catherine his wife, who was afterwards his widow, and lady here, and from her came its name of Dame Kate's, at whose decease, her daughter and heiress carried it to the Arsicks or Harsicks of Southacre, (see p. 78, 83,) and in 1453 Sir Roger Harsick died seized, and passing with the heiresses of that family, it came to the Reymeses and Blofields, and in 1607 Nicholas Reymes, and Thomas Blofield, Gents. conveyed to Robert Godfrey, Esq. and Robert Underwood, Gent. the manor of Up-alias-Hookehall, alias Calthorp's, or Dame Kate's, in Wickmere, Calthorp, &c.

Besides the monuments before observed, I find these here,

On a black marble in the nave,

Henry, Son of Dennis and Mary Gunton, died Oct. 28, 1712, Aged 37,

But is Gunton Dead? what dost thou say? His Soul is alive, his Body here doth lay, But in a Sleep untill the Judgment Day.

And live he shall, unto Eternity.

Men say he's Dead; I say so too, And er'e a while they'll say the same of you.

On a brass plate in the north isle,
Orate pro animabus Johannis Greneway et Agnetis uxoris eius et Ricardi filii eorundem, qui obierunt A. D. Mcccclxxxiiii.

On the end of a seat in this isle,
Orate pro animabus Jon. Bacon, Jsabel Bacon, Rauffe Jsabel.

On the stone-work by the south side of the altar are two shields; 1st, a cross ingrailed; 2d, a fess between three roses, and formerly here were the arms of

Hereward, az. a fess gobonè gul. and vert, between three howlets arg.

Erpingham, Reppes, Stafford, Cary's whole coat, and crest, Clere impaling Crane, Dix, Heydon, and crest, a talbot passant erm.

Dodge, barry of six or and sab. on a pale gul. a woman's breast dropping milk, proper.

The RECTORS I have met with are,

John Galys, 1344.

1326, Thomas de Redham, late rector.

1378, brother Thomas de Hengham, canon of West Derham, was presented by William de Barshall, and Robert de Fordham.

1360, William de Galis.

1371, Richard de Fransham, presented by Aymer de Schirlond, and Simon rector of Caster.

1471, Thomas Bonet, priest; he is buried in the chancel, with this on a brass plate,
Orate pro anima Thome Bonett, quondam Rectoris istius Ecclesie cuius anime propicietur Deus Amen.

1557, Mr. Hill, he was prebend of Ely, rector here and of Ketton in Suffolk, after him

Thomas Stone, and then

Samuel Hinkes, were rectors.

1737, Mr. George England resigned Hanworth, and held this and Wulterton united, and afterwards they were consolidated; at his death

The Rev. Mr. Patrick St. Clair, the present rector, had it, and now holds them with Alby rectory.

The prior of Norwich was taxed at 6d. for his temporals here, and the prior of Walsingham for his at 18d. the prior of Ely, for his at 1d.

There were two gilds kept here, one of the Virgin Mary, the other of St. John Baptist.

This advowson was settled, and an acre of land, as at vol. iv. p. 388, on John Derlington's chantry in St. Giles's hospital at Norwich, but it was recovered very soon from it, and so was never appropriated.

The rectory was anciently valued at 15 marks, and now stands in the King's Books at 9l. but being sworn of the yearly value of 40l. it is discharged of first fruits, and tenths, and is capable of augmentation the Bishop's visitatorial procurations are 2s. 3d. the archdeacon's yearly procurations are 7s. 7d. ob. and 9d. a year for synodals to the Bishop, and formerly this rector paid a yearly pension to the rector of Little Berningham of 2s. 4d.

The town is in the liberty of the dutchy of Lancaster, and paid 2l. 6s. to every tenth, when the taxes were raised that way, and now pays 8s. to every 300l. levy to the county-rate, and is valued at 448l. to the land-tax.

The Hon. Horace Walpole is lord and patron.


  • 1. Terra Regis Erpincham Sud. H. Doms. fo. 12. In Wicmara i. libr. homo Heroldi. xxx. acr. tunc i. car. mo dim. et dim. acr. prati, tunc valuit xxv. sol. modo xx. hanc terram calumpniatur Drogo de Breureria ad suum feudum quia Hanfridus eam tenuit, et habet vii. quar. in longo et v. et dim. in lato et ii. den. et i. ferdinc. in gelto.
  • 2. Terra Rogeri Bigot. fo. 135. In Wicmera ix. liber i. homines ejusdem i. car. terre mo tenet Rob. de Curcon. semper v. bord. et ii. serv. et ii. car. et i. acr. prati. silva x. poici tunc. val. xx. sol. mo xxx. et habet vi. quar. in longo et iiii. in lato et viii. de gelto.
  • 3. In eadem ii. liberi homines Heroldi et Almari Episcopi xxx. acr. semper ii. bordarij et dim. car. et dim. acr. prati, tunc iii. partes unius molendini, tunc valuit viii. sol. m. xii.
  • 4. Terre Episcopi Bajocensis, fo. 60. In Wicmera ii. liberi homines xxx. acr. terre semper iii. bord. et dim. car. et i. ac. prati et val. iiii. sol. hoc tenet Tihelus de Helion.
  • 5. Terra Sancti Benedicti de Holmo ad victum monacorum, fo. 198. In Wicmera xii. acr. terre tenuit Sanctus Benedictus T. R. E. valuit xvi. den.
  • 6. Terre Willi de Warrenna, fo. 83. InWicmara i. libera femina Heroldi, xxiiii. acr. terre et iii. bordarij semper i. car. et i. acr. et dim. prati et val. v. sol.
  • 7. Regr. Castleacre, fo. 160, Mon. Angl. vol. i.
  • 8. See p. 319.
  • 9. See under Blickling, p. 387, 8.
  • 10. John Ramsey was son of Margaret, daughter of Amy, daughter of Agnes, sister to William Dix, according to the common pedigrees; but the truth was, Agnes, sister to John, father of William Dix, married Henry Wilcox of Bedford for her 1st husband, and had Amy, who married John Gibson, Gent. and had Margaret, who married to this John Ramsey.
  • 11. Lib. in Officio Armorum Ld. Anglesey's Books Norf. et Suff. 4, p 66 B. Biblia Cotton. Faustina, E. 1, fol. 4.
  • 12. Daughterof Henry Merry of BartonPark in Derbyshire
  • 13. Crest, the like croslet on a mount encompassed with a ducal coronet or.
  • 14. Norff. Placita de Juratis et Assis. 41 Hen. 3, Rotulo 13°.