Hundred of South Erpingham: Saxthorp

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: Saxthorp', in An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 6, (London, 1807) pp. 497-501. British History Online [accessed 11 April 2024]

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Was the lordship of Godwin, in the reign of the Confessor, (fn. 1) when two carucates of land belonged to it, 10 villains, 10 bordarers, and 2 slaves, 3 carucates of land appertained to the freemen, there was paunage for 60 swine, a mill, and afterwards two, in the Conqueror's time, when there were 50 swine, 50 goats, 15 socmen, and a right in part of another, who held 40 acres of land, and 3 carucates, and 2 acres of meadow, also one freeman who had 30 acres, and one acre of meadow. Matelase (now Matlask in North Erpingham) was then a berewite, or hamlet, dependant on this lordship, and was valued at 4l. afterwards at 6l. and at the survey at 10l. per annum, and 20s. per annum by way of present. Saxthorp was one leuca long, and one broad, and paid 12d. gelt; Matelase was three furlongs long, and two broad, and paid 3d. gelt, and Godric kept it for the King, William the Conqueror, at his survey.


It remained in the Crown till it was given to William de Wendevall, a Norman, who occurs lord in the reign of Henry I. and Robert de Wendevall his brother succeeded him, who dying without heirs, it escheated to the Crown.

King Henry III. gave it to William de Valentia Earl of Pembroke, his half brother, together with the advowson, and liberty of a gallows, hanging all persons convicted of felony within the manor. His son, Aymer de Valentia succeeded, and built a large house, or hall, called Mekil-Hall, or the great-hall, from which the manor assumed its name, and as this Earl often resided here, he founded the free chapel of St. Dunstan near to it, for a custos, to be perpetually resident, and perform service for his family. On the death of this Earl, it came to his Countess, Mary, daughter of Guy de Chattelon Earl of Pem Paul in France, foundress of Denny abbey in Cambridgeshire, and of Pembroke-hall in Cambridge; on the death of this lady, 1376, it came to John de Hastings Earl of Pembroke, a minor, as heir to the Valentia family; from the Hastings family it came by descent to Reginald Lord Grey of Ruthyn, who by Eleanor, daughter of John Lord Strange, had Reginald his son, Lord Grey, who by his second lady, Joan, daughter and sole heir of William Lord Astley, had Edward Lord Grey of Groby, and Robert Grey, of Whitington in Staffordshire, Esq. to whom his father gave this manor; Robert, by Eleanor, daughter and heir of Sir Humphrey Lowe, Knt. had Humphry Grey, Esq. who died seized in the 15th year of Henry VII. and by Anne, daughter of Sir William Feilding, Knt. had Sir Edward Grey of Whitington, who by his first lady Joice, daughter of John Horde, of Bridgnorth, in Shropshire, had Thomas Grey of Envile, in the said county, Esq. Sir Edward's will is dated February 2, 1528, Anne, his 2d lady, being then living. Thomas, his son, married Ann, daughter of Sir Edward Verney, Knt. and dying in 1559, left John his son, who came of age in 1562, and had livery of this manor held of the honour of Richmond, and that of Fornicet. After this it was purchased by Sir Christopher Heydon, who died seized of this manor and that of Lounde-hall, St. Dunstan's chapel, and the tithes thereto belonging in Saxthorp, and gave them to William Heydon, Esq. and Ann his wife, daughter of Sir William Wodehouse, who in 1582, sold them to Sir John Cotton, and Roger Townsend, Esq. and they to Andrew Thetford, Esq. and Thomas Thetford, Gent. in 1588, and Thomas Thetford, in 1592, to Francis Thetford, and Thomas Jermy, Gent.

In 1605, Thetford conveyed this lordship, &c. to— Scambler, and they both joined in 1608, and conveyed it to Sir Henry Hobart, attorney general, who in 1610 settled it on Thomas Plumstede, Gent. and John Gooch, Gent. in trust, and in 1602, Sir Henry conveyed it to John Earl of Bridgwater, &c. after this it was in the family of the Earl of Haydon, but Peter Elvin, Esq. of Booton is the present lord.

Crepings of Laund Hall.

Aymer de Valentia Earl of Pembroke giving a considerable part of his manor of Mickil-hall, to Simon de Creping, (who occurs lord of it in 1315,) was the founder of it. This Simon and Maud his wife held it by the service of a quarter of a fee of the Tatshall's honour or barony, and sold it to John de Gurney; but in 1337, John de Mereworth and Margaret his wife, were in possession of it.

In 1400, Henry Alexander and Roger Groos held it, and about 1411 John Gurney of West Barsham; after this, Sir John Fastolf, Knt. of the Garter, was lord, and died seized of it; his feoffees sold it to the Greys, lord of Mikel-Hall, and thus it was united to it, and so continues.

The town belongs to the dutchy of Lancaster, is valued at 535l. 17s. 6d. to the land tax, and pays 8s. 5d. to every 300l. levy of the county rate.

The Church of Saxthorp is dedicated to St. Andrew, has a square tower, with 4 bells, a nave, 2 isles, a south porch, a chancel, and vestry, all covered with lead; it was formerly a rectory valued at 20 marks, appendant to the manor; Walter Alexander, who was presented to it in 1313, by Aymer de Valentia Earl of Pembroke, was the last rector, that Earl leaving the manor and advowson to his lady, Mary de St. Paul, for life she on the payment of 200 marks, to Richard Talbot and Elizabeth his wife, and others, had the advowson, with that of the nuns minoresses of Waterbeach in Cambridgeshire con veyed to her, and her heirs, by the special license of King Edward III. in 1335, and in 1346 the said King granted her another license to settle it in mortmain, on her college in Cambridge, (fn. 2) called then Mary Valence college, or hall, (now Pembroke-hall,) which was appropriated in 1350, by William Bateman Bishop of Norwich, (fn. 3) to the said house, reserving to the Bishop 2 marks per annum pension, in recompense for the first fruits lost from the see, by the appropriation; (fn. 4) on this a vicarage-house, and an endowment of 10 marks per annum was settled on the vicar, and confirmed by the Pope's bull, and the advowson of it reserved to the college, in which it continues to this day.

1350, Roger Crees instituted vicar, presented by the master and fellows of Pembroke-hall.

1362, John at Medere, of Wickmere. Ditto.

1409, Nicholas Man, who exchanged it for Wickhampton in 1427, with

Lawrence Cove, alias Steven.— Ditto.

1454, John Norman. Ditto.

1456, Thomas Runhale, on Norman's resignation. Ditto.

1471, William Rokeland, a Carmelite friar, on Runhale's resignation. Ditto.

1482, Peter Page, on Rokeland's resignation. Ditto. In his time the present church was built by the lord of the manor, his tenants, and this vicar, who seated the church, and the initial letter of his name, a capital P, with a crown over it, may be observed, carved on the seats, the crown over it denoting St. Peter to be his patron, and tutelary saint, and the bottom of the P, having a cross, bespeaks his own christian and sirname; his arms are, or, a chevron between three martlets azure; his crest is the holy lamb holding St. George's banner; he lies buried by the font, with this remembrance;

Corpus Petri Page hujus Ecclesiœ Vicarii, sub hoc marmore sepultum, Anno Domini M.CCCCCXXXVI.

1537, Antony Temple, A. M. deprived in 1554, being a married priest. Ditto.

1554, Thomas Bury, he held it united to Holt.

1555, Thomas Herris.

1559, William Adamson, on Herris's death.

1600, Richard Wright, A. M. on Adamson's death, deprived in 1604.

1604, John Jones.

1605, Thomas Partington.

1641, John Duncon, on Partington's death.

1642, John Vaughan, this gentleman by his will, dated September 16th, 1666, gave 300l. to the city of Norwich, to be put out, free from interest, to poor young tradesmen, and 260l. to the boys hospital in Norwich, on certain terms and conditions, to be seen at large in Blomefield's History of Norwich, page 411.

1670, Francis Gregge, on Vaughan's death.

1671, Samuel Flack on Gregge's resignation.

1708, William Sutton, A. M. on Flack's death, who held it united with Corpusty, and afterwards with the rectory of Salle, for which rectory he resigned that of Cressingham-Magna, and in 1723 was prebendary of Bristol, in 1714 he published a sermon, preached in Norwich cathedral, on Queen Ann's accession; also a charity sermon, preached there in 1721.

1727, John Browning, A. M. held it united with Salle, on Sutton's death.

1744, Cornelius Harrison, A. M.

1744, Leonard Addidson, A. M. on the resignation of Harrison, he held it united with Earl Stonham in Norfolk, and now with the rectories of Salle and Cawston.

In the nave of the church on a gravestone,

Tho. Deye Mercator, obiit 30. Sept. A. D. 1596.

Orate pro animâ, Thomœ Smyth, qui obiit xvi die mensis Sept. A. D. M. CCCCCXXVIII. cujus animœ &c.

On another gravestone,

Hâc jacent in tumbâ Cysly venerabilis Ossa, VIII die Maii A. D. M. CCCCCXXXIIII. Orate, Orate.

On one at the west end of the nave,

Hic jacet Willelmus Page, qui obiit v die Maii A. D. MCCCCCI, cujus anima propitietur Deus.—

The family of Page, are of considerable standing in this town, and Peter Page, vicar here, was of the same, and left all his fortunes to it.

John Page, of Saxthorp, Esq. married Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas Howse of Norwich, and had Anthony Page, who by Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Richard Gresham of Thorp-Market, and his wife, daughter of Thomas Crofts of Saxham in Suffolk, Esq. and coheir to her brother Edmund Gresham, had four sons, Gresham, Richard, Miles, and John. Gresham is buried in the church; on his gravestone are the arms of Page (as above) and Gresham, (argent, a chevron ermin between three mullets, pierced sable) quarterly and

Here lyeth buried the 21 day of July 1693, GRESHAM PAGE, never married, born the 6 of April 1621, the first son of Anthony Page Esq; and Elizabeth his wife, he was the first son of Jon Page, of Saxthorp, gent: and she the only child (that had issue) of Richard Gresham, of Thorp Market, in Norfolk Kt. and Ann his wife, daughter of Tho. Crofts, of Saxham in Suffolk, Esq;

John Page, of Saxthorp, Esq. his younger brother, was a justice of peace, and married Mary, daughter and coheir of Robert Page, of Saxthorp, brother to Anthony, and are both buried here, at the entrance into the chancel, in a vault: John died February 6th, 1707, aged 82 years; Mary died February 17th, 1672.

John Page, Esq. of Saxthorp, their 3d son and heir, married Judith daughter of John Davy, rector of Heydon, and had Gresham Page, Esq. who was high sheriff of Norfolk, in 1723.

On a small marble in the chancel,

M. S. Wilhelmi Byrom Sutton Wilhelmi et Barbarœ filii primogeniti, nat. Oct. XI denat. Jan. 27, 1713.

The vicarage is valued in the King's Books at 4l. 13s. 4d. and being in clear yearly value 37l. it is discharged of first fruits and tenths, and capable of augmentation; it pays 2s. ob. synodals, and 7s. 7d. procurations, and 20s. per annum pension to the Bishop.

The prior of Westacre had a portion of tithes valued at half a mark, and temporals valued at 10s. The prior of Waborn's temporals at 15d. The prior of Hempton's at 4d.

St. Dunstan's Chapel

Was founded by Aymer de Valentia Earl of Pembroke, and endowed by him for a custos or master, daily to celebrate service therein for the family of Mekil-hall, and for the souls of the said Aymer, his ancestours and successours; before this foundation he had license to have service daily performed in an oratory within his own house.

In 1313, Thomas de Castro Godreci was presented custos by the said Earl. 1357, Simon de Kerbrook, by Mary de St. Paul Countess of Pembroke. 1359, Ralph Cat, on an exchange with Kerbrook for St. Butolph's in Norwich. 1384, John Athill, presented by the King.

1404, John Searle, on Athill's resignation, by the feoffees of Reginald Lord Grey of Ruthyn, instituted also at the same time into Manington rectory. 1414, Robert Merton, by John Grey, lord of Saxthorp. 1434, Laurence Steven. 1453, Richard Ferrour, by Robert Grey, Esq. on Steven's resignation. 1468, John Bulman held it by lapse on Ferrour's death. — William Norington. 1526, Richard Wherwood, alias Horwood, by Sir Edward Grey, on Norington's death; he was the last custos, and on the dissolution of this free chapel in the first of Edward VI. had a pension of 30s. per annum assigned him for life, out of its revenues, which were valued in one valuation at 3l. 3s. 4d. in another at 40s. He was alive and received it in 1553. It remained not long in the Crown; in the year after its dissolution, 1547, King Edward granted it and the site thereof, with all the lands, tenements, tithes, &c. in Saxthorp thereto belonging, (fn. 5) and all other lands, to Thomas Woodhouse of Waxham, Esq. and his heirs, of whom it was afterwards purchased by the lord of the manor, and has been united to it ever since. It is now entirely in ruins, the site belongs to the lord, and is in a close called Chapel close.

Here was formerly an ancient family, who took their name from the town, and had an estate therein; in 1215 Robert, son of Robert de Saxthorp, paid a fine of 24 marks for pardon, by which it seems that he had took part with the Barons against King John; and Richer, son of Ernald de Saxthorp, when he became a crossed devotee to the Holy Land, agreed, jointly with Augustina his wife, that Robert the tanner, son of Richard Bacon of Thorp, should marry his daughter Maud, and have his rents and estate here, paying Richer 6 marks to perform his journey, if he went in person, or to any one that he should procure to go, and perform his vow for him, and to keep him and his wife honourably, and according to their degree, for life.


  • 1. Terre Regis quam Godricus servat. Saxthorp ten. Goduinus T. R. E. ii. car. terr. semp. x. villani et x. bordarii et ii. servi, semp. ii. car. in dominio, tunc et post iii car. homin. modo ii. et iiii. acr. prati silva lx. porci, tunc i. molend. post et modo ii. semp. iiii. runcini et xx. animalia et 1. porci et l. caprae; et xv. socmanni et dim. xl. acr. terr. et iii. car. et ii. acr. prati. silva xii. porci et lib. homo xxx. acr. i. acr. prati, et i. berewita Matelasc i. car. terr. &c. tunc valuit iiii. libr. post vi.modo x. libr. blancas et xx: sol. de gersuma, et habet i. leug. in longo et aliam in lato, et xii. de gelto, et Matelasc hab. iii. quar. in longo et ii. in latid. et iii. de gelto.
  • 2. Pat. 20 Ed. 3. Pt. i. M. 6, 7.
  • 3. In Lib. Institut. iv. fo. 46. In the archives of that see, the original appropriation may be seen.
  • 4. In 1612, the Bishop's pension was 40s. and 2s. to the college.
  • 5. In 1621 I find certain rents paid yearly to the lord of Swaffham in Norfolk, (as Richmond-fee) viz. Saxthorp and Corpusty for lete-fee, at St Michael, 2s. 5d. ob. of the lord of that of Lound-Hall, for the steward and bailiffs dinner. Item. Payable at Easter, by the township aforesaid, for warpound 2s. 1d. ob. and of the lord Lound-hall, for the steward and bailiffs dinner 16d.