An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 7. Originally published by W Miller, London, 1807.
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Though now looked upon, and accounted as one town, was, at the time of the grand survey, two distinct and separate towns, Well, and Bicham. Well was the most southern part, near the river that arises at Shingham.
Rainald son of Ivo, had the grant of the lordship of Well, on the deprivation of Toli, a Saxon lord. (fn. 1) Here were 9 villains, 5 bordarers, 6 servi, 8 acres of meadow, 2 carucates in demean, and 2 among the tenants, &c. a fishery, (or fishpond,) one runcus, 2 cows, with 12 swine, &c. 80 sheep, &c. always valued at 6l. but had paid 8l. 17 freemen also belonged to it, with 64 acres of land, and a carucate and a half, &c. valued at 13s. 4d. whom Wihenoc (fn. 2) had invaded, or seized on.— All Well was one leuca long, and one broad, and paid 2s. to the King's gelt at 20s.
Rainald had also the lands of 6 freemen, who possessed 2 carucates, and 15 acres of lands, with 9 bordarers, valued at 26s. 8d. 3 of these freemen were under the protection of the predecessor of Hermerus, (de Ferrary's,) and Wihenoc had these.
In Bicham, Rainald had 24 acres of land, which a freeman had been deprived of by the invasion of Wihenoc; and Hermere, predecessor, had the protection of him only, and it pays 5s.
Hubert de St. Philebert was lord in the reign of Henry II. and held it of the Earls of Clare, and was lord of Bray in Berkshire. In the 3d year of King John, a fine was levied between Hugh de Philibert, and Roger de St. Philibert, whereby Hugh granted to Roger, and his heirs a moiety of this manor, to be held of Hugh; and, in the 2d of Henry III. Albreda, widow of Hugh de St. Philibert, had her thirds assigned her herein. In the 13th of the said King, a fine was levied between Stephen de Scalariis, and Beatrix his wife, daughter and heir of Roger de St. Philibert, and Hugh de St. Philibert, of the moiety above-mentioned, granted to Hugh, reserving only the domain lands to themselves. In the 53d of Henry III. Nicholas de Cressingham, and Alice his wife, granted, by fine, to Gilbert de Well, and Maud his wife, a messuage, and 80 acres of land; and, in the 14th of Edward I. Peter de Well, son of Gilbert, had 5 messuages, a mill, 380 acres of land here, in Caldecot, Cley, and Oxburgh, for life, remainder to Alice, daughter of Roger de Swafham, for life, remainder to Joan, daughter of Peter, &c. by Robert Person of Overe.
About the end of Henry the Third's reign, part of this lordship we find held by William Belet, of the Earl of Clare. The Belets were a family of great worth and dignity.—Michael Belet was a judge itinerant in the reign of Henry II. and another Michael (if not the same) held the cup at the coronation of Queen Alianor, consort of King Henry III. Of the same family was also Hervey Belet, a great benefactor to (and by some accounted founder of) Cokesford abbey in Norfolk. After this, it was in the hands of Ingelram Belet, who was knighted in the 34th of Edward I. with Edward Prince of Wales, by bathing. This Ingelram married Avicia, daughter and heir of Robert Bardolph, by Avicia his wife, daughter and heir of John de Lounds, lord of Wyrham and Crimplesham. Robert Belet, son of Ingelram, by Avicia, died possessed of it about the 8th of Edward II. Before this, in the 3d of Edward I. the jury present, that the Earl of Clare, the capital lord, extended the bounds of his warren here, and that he had made warren of lands, which he purchased after the grant of the warren made to him; at which time the lete here belonged to that Earl, who had a gallows at Mickel-Dyke, between Barton and this town. Rot. Hund. 3d Edward I. in Cur. Recept. Sccii.
In 1326, Robert de Well was lord, and presented to the church of St. John in this town, (the advowson of which belonged to this lordship,) who died about the 9th of Edward III. and soon after this, in the 20th of the said King, it was held by Richard de Walkfar, and John de Benstede, &c. which John presented to the church aforesaid, as lord, in 1349; but, in the year 1354, John de Denham was lord, and presented to the church of St. John. This John was son and heir of Avice Walkfare; and he appears to be lord, (or his son,) and presented to the said church in 1374.
In the year 1420, it seems to be in the hands of trustees, who presented that year to St. John's church; but, in the reign of Henry VI. it was purchased by the Lovells; and Ralph Lovel, Esq. presented as lord in 1458, in which family it continued, till it was sold to the Athows, in the reign of King James I. and Thomas Athow, Esq. presented as lord in 1613, which Thomas was serjeant at law, son of Christopher Athow of Brisley in Norfolk, (by Dorothy, daughter of Thomas Jenison of Creak in Norfolk, by Ann his wife, daughter and heir of John Wingfield, Esq. 2d son of Thomas Wingfield of Dunham Magna, was father of Wingfield Athow, who died sane issue; and John Athow, who married Cecily, daughter of Sir John Lunsford, by whom he had Sir Christopher Athow, Knt. who, by Penelope, daughter of Sir William de Grey, of Merton in Norfolk, left 2 sons, Christopher and William, who both died sans issue. William sold this lordship to Sir Simon Tayler of Lyn. By his son, Samuel Taylor, Esq. it descended to Andrew Taylor, Esq. who dying unmarried, this estate, came to William Fowks, Esq. by his wife, sister of the said Andrew.
Ashfield and Joces Manor.
At the survey, Ribald, lord of Mildham, in Yorkshire, held under Alan Earl of Richmond, and lord of Swaffham, in Norfolk, 60 acres of land in Bycham. In the time of the Confessor, it consisted of one carucate; at the survey, but of half a one, valued at 5s. (fn. 3)
In the reign of Henry III. it was held by Richard de la More, of Mary, Lady Nevill, a descendant of Ribald, by the service of the 10th part of a fee; and William de la More was lord in the 3d of Edward I. In the 20th of Edward III. Roger de Dersingham; soon after it came to John Joce, who, with Agnes his wife, conveyed it with the homages and services of several persons, in the 50th of that King, to John Fitz-John, alias John de Thorp, and his heirs. This Joce was probably related to Sir Philip Joce, a retainer to Hugh Lord De Spencer the younger, in the reign of Edward II. John Ashfield, Esq. of Stow Langtoft in Suffolk, by his will, proved June 13, 1394, appears to die seized of it; (fn. 4) wherein he bequeaths to Agnes his wife, the 3d part of all his goods; to Joan Bokenham, his sister, 40s.; to each of the churches of Bycham, 40d.; and names Robert his father executor. In the 5th of Henry IV. Sir John Strange, Knt. granted to John de Bohun Earl of Hereford, &c. the custody of all the manors, &c. late Robert Ashfield's, during the minority of Robert Ashfield, cousin and heir of the said Robert, in the towns of Bycham-Well, Shyngham, Berton, &c. and in 1459, Robert Ashfield of Stow Langtoft, Esq. by his will, dated Feb. 22, bequeaths his body to be buried in Stow Langtoft church, by Elianor his first wife; to Cecilia (his 2d wife) his utensils in his manor of Bicham-Well, and for her life this lordship, with the appertenances in Shingham, Berton, Caldecote, and Cley, and lands which he purchased in Helgey, Southrey and Fordham; remainder to John Ashfield, junior, his eldest son, by Cecil, in tail; remainder to William his son, rector of Stow Langtoft, for life; remainder to Reginald his son, and his heirs. This Robert was son of John Ashfield, son of Robert, who died in the 3d of Henry IV. In the 21st of Edward IV. John Ashfield died lord; and, in the 22d of Henry VII. died his widow Florentia, daughter and coheir of John Botiler of Mepertishale in Bedfordshire. Thomas Jermyn of Rushbrook, in Suffolk, Esq. in the 11th of Henry VIII. bought of Thomas Earl of Surry, the custody of the lands, and the heir of George Ashfield of Stow Langtoft, named Robert, and married him to Maud his 4th daughter.
Soon after this, it came to the family of the Lovells, lords of WellHall, and became united to it, and so continues; being conveyed from the Athows, so to Sir Simon Taylor, and And. Taylor, Esq. and to William Folkes, Esq. the present lord, in right of —his wife, sister and coheir of the said Andrew.
On the deprivation of Alfeith, a freeman, Roger Bygot, ancestor of the Earls of Norfolk, had a grant of this lordship, and Robert de Vaux held it under Bygot, at the survey. Two carucates, with 2 acres of land, 14 borderers, 4 servi, one carucate among the tenants, 6 acres of meadow, &c. belonged to it in Alfeith's time, &c. There also then belonged to it 3 freemen under protection only, with 60 acres, and Herold had the sock, valued at 40s. Wihenoc had taken away 30 acres from the domain lands, and Bygot laid claim to them as the gift of the King; to this manor also belonged a church, endowed with 30 acres, valued at 2s. and 6d. (fn. 5) Herold, who had 3 men under his pro tection, &c. was King of England; and this land, on his death, was granted to Bygot.
This manor took its name from its ancient lords, the Cherviles; Roger Chervile was found to hold one fee here, &c. of John de Vaux, in the reign of Edward I. and, in the reign of Edward III. Roger de Chervile presented to the church of St. Mary, as lord, who then held it of Sir Thomas de Narford; to which family it came by the marriage of Petronella, one of the daughters and heirs of John de Vaux.
About the reign of Henry V. on the death of Roger Chervile, the last heir male of this family, (as I take it,) it was divided into parts, and came to his daughters and coheirs; one of which (Christian) was the widow of Richard Grace, and presented to the church of St. Mary in 1425: this Christian was aftewards (as it is said) wife to Thomas Rous of Walton; but the manor, with the advowson of the church of St. Mary, was in the hands of Thomas Mannyng of Elyngham Magna, who presented to that church in 1430; (fn. 6) but in 1476, Henry Spelman, Esq. of Narburgh, was lord, by the marriage of Christian, daughter and coheir of Thomas Mannyng, who died lord, and was found to hold the same by fealty of the manor of Well-Hall, and paying the rent of 13s. per ann. Thomas, son of Henry, left it, by will, in 1499, to Ann his wife, till John his son was 21 years old. Soon after the death of this John, who died sans issue, it came into the family of the De Greys of Merton, by the marriage of Elizabeth, daughter of Sir John Spelman, to William de Grey, Esq. in which it continued, till Thomas de Grey, Esq. sold it about the year 1722, to Mr. Robert Harvey, whose grandson, Edward Harvey, Gent. of Watton, has conveyed it to Andrew Tayler, Esq. lord of Well-Hall, who died lord in 1760, and his estate came to William Fowks, Esq. by the marriage of a sister of the said Andrew.
The lete of this town, with that part of Shingham, which is in the hundred of Clacklose, is in Sir George Hare, Bart.; the fee is 4s.
In the 16th of Richard II. Thomas More, and others, aliened lands here to the prior of Ingham.
In 1428, the temporalities of the abbey of West Derham, with the priory of St. Winwaloy, were valued at 4l. 10s. 8d. per ann.
The spiritualities of the college of Stoke by Clare, at 20s. being a portion out of the church of All-Saints; and the portion of the priory of St. Noets, in the said church, at 4s. 6d.
The town of Bycham is remarkable for an ancient Saxon dike, extending from it to the town of Narburgh, dividing the hundred of Clacklose (of which the abbey of Ramsey had the lordship) from the hundred of South-Greenhoe. Some conceive, that this town takes its name from this dike or ditch, and is called Bycham, quasi, By-DitchHam: but as this dike is generally believed to be raised with its bank, by that monastery, as a boundary of their limits and liberties, in this open champaign country, it seems to me to be so called by the Saxons, before that abbey was founded, which was not before the year 974.—This dyke, in the 3d of Edward I. was called Mikeldick, (or the great dike,) and the Earl of Gloucester had a gallows here between Barton and Bycham.
The tenths were 10l.—Deducted 18s.
Beacham Well, All-Saints. This church, which is now in ruins, stood about a quarter of a mile south of the town of Bycham, in a close near to Well-Hall. It was a single building, built of flint and boulder; the greatest part of the walls, both of the church and chancel, were lately standing, with the east gable of the chancel, and the west one of the church; whereon are the arms of Athow impaling Wingfield, and the year 1612. The length of the church was about 42 feet, and the breadth about 18; and, on the north wall is an old enarched stone monument wrought up with the wall, carved, and rising in the centre of the arch, with a floral pyramid; but no arms or inscription are remaining. The chancel, in length, about 34 feet, and the breadth the same with the nave; and a very neat arch of stone between the church and chancel, is still standing. Near the northeast end of the chancel wall stood, a few years past, a very stately altar monument of marble and alabaster, with a wall-piece of the same, now in entire ruins; but, in the year 1721, when I first viewed it, I found this inscription on the body of it.
Nomina exituum prœdict. Thomœ et Annœ, —1. Wingfield Athow, natus 18 Martii, 1590.—2. Johan. Athow, natus 20 Septemb. 1592, hic duxit in uxorem Ceciliam filiam seniorem Johan. Lunsford militis. —3. Thomas, natus 30 August. 1597.—4. Clement, natus 20 August. 1599.—5. Francisca uxor Wilhelmi Waldegrave armig. nata 6 Maii, 1605.—6. Gregorius, natus 11 Apr. 1610.—Isti sunt superstites, et insignia eorum locantur hic immediatè supra.—7. Elizabetha Athow, nata 10 Martii, 1588, et obiit Sabbati in septimana Pentecost. 1589.—8. Amia, nata 22 Jun. 1594, et obiit 3 Nov. 1597.—Dorothea, nata ultimo Maii, et obiit 1 Aug. 1597.—10. Henricus, natus 18 Jun. 1601, et obiit 7 Jan. 1601.—11. Anna nata 13 Novemb. 1606, et obiit 28 Apr. 1607.—Insignia defunctorum locantur hic in occidentali parte.
Under this inscription another; viz. the names by which the several coats are borne, in the highest two escutcheons; in the first Athow and Curson are quartered; in the escutcheon upon the same, 1, Wingfeld; 2, Bovile; 3, Gowsell; 4, Albany Earl of Arundell. In the second, 1, Wingfield; 2, Bovile; 3, Gowsell; 4, Fitz-Allen Earl of Arundell; 5, Baron of Clun; 6, Albany Earl of Arundell; 7, Kivelioc Earl of Chester; 8, Meschines Earl of Carlisle; 9, Lupus Earl of Chester; 10, Hamlin Plantaginet Earl Warren and Surry; 11, Earl Warren and Surry; 12, Theould, Marshal of England; 13, The EarlMarshal; 14, Strongbow Earl of Pembroke; 15, Macmorrow King of Linster in Ireland; 16, Dorward; 17, Coxall; 18, Harsike; 19, Calye; 20, Wingfield.
On the west end of the said monument was then, 1721, remaining this quartered shield. (See Plate I. fig. 1).—1, Sable, a chevron between three carpenters squares, argent, Athow; 2, ermin, a bend gobonated, argent and sable, Curson; 3, argent, on a bend, gules, between two bendlets, or cottises, sab. three hawk lures, or wings conjoined, Wingfield;—4, Quarterly, or and sable, Bovile of Suffolk, whose heiress was married to the Wingfelds;—5, Barry of six or and gules, a canton, ermine, Gawsell: Elizabeth, daughter and heiress of Sir Robert Gawsell, was married to Ant. Wingfeld, Esq.; 6, Barry of eight, or and gules, Fitz-Allen Earl of Arundel: Helena, daughter and coheir of Thomas Fitz-Allen Earl of Arundel was first married to Thomas Moubray Duke of Norfolk, and after to Sir Robert Goushill; 7, Party per fess, azure and argent, Fitz-Allen Baron of Clun; 8, Gules, a lion rampant, or, Albany Earl of Arundel; 9, azure, three garbs, argent, Kivelioc Earl of Chester;—10, or, lion rampant, tail erect, gules, Meschines Earl of Carlisle;—11, azure, a wolf's head erased, argent, Lupus Earl of Chester;—12, seme of France in a bordure of England, Hamlin Plantaginet Earl Warren and Surry;—13, checq. or and azure, Earl Warren and Surry;—14, gules, a bend fusilly, or, William Marshal Earl of Pembroke, called the Old Marshal of England, from his office; and having three sons successively in that office after him; —15, or, three chevronells, gules, and a label of five points, azure, Richard Strongbow Earl of Pembroke, whose daughter and heir Isabell, was married to William Marshal Earl of Pembroke;—16, sable, three garbs, argent, Mac Murough, or (as others say) Diarmuid King of Lemster, in Ireland, whose daughter Eva (with the county of Lemster) was given in marriage to Richard Strongbow Earl of Pembroke; —17, ermine on a chevron, sable, three crescents, or, Dorward of Essex;—18, argent, a cross between four escallops, sable, Coggeshall of Essex;—19, or, a chief indented sable, Harsike of Norfolk;—20, Checq. or and gules, a bend, ermine, Calye, or Clifton of Norfolk.
This church (as I have observed) is now in ruins; weeds, briars, elders, &c. growing therein, and lies open for cattle, &c. to enter. Its fall was owing to this; the lords of the manor of Well-Hall having the privilege of burial in the chancel, were obliged, by immemorial custom, to keep in repair that part of the chancel to which their burialplace belonged; and, on the conveyance of the lordship to the late lords, this being contested, and not set aright in time, not only the chancel, but the whole church fell by this neglect; and the aforesaid elegant monument, being by this means exposed to all injuries, is now ruined, and beat into pieces: and it is a matter of very great concern, that monuments set up in sacred places should be thus violated, when they serve also for many noble ends and services; being the best of evidences to prove descents and pedigrees; memorials to put men in mind of their own mortality, and examples, whereby men may be incited to imitate those virtues which have rendered others honourable and praise-worthy. This monument was in memory of Thomas Athow, Esq. serjeant at law, (fn. 7) who was buried here September—, 1630, and of Ann his wife, daughter and heir of John Wingfeld, Esq. who brought, by marriage, the above-observed noble quartered coats into the Athow family.—The Athows were a very ancient family.—William Atte Howe flourished in the reign of King Henry III. and died in his pilgrimage to St. James of Compostella in Spain, leaving Richard Atte Howe, his son and heir, under age, a ward to Thomas de Snyterton; which Richard held lands in Sengham and Taterford, by knight's service. Rot. Assis. 68. 15 Ed. I. (fn. 8)
In the yard near to the church, lies a good bell on the ground, with these arms,—ermin, three bells, and this inscription in old characters; —Dulcis Melis sisto Camp'a Vocar Mich'is. (fn. 9)
Martin, who styles himself rector of Great Bicham, (probably of this church,) and grants land to Ralph de Caldecote, by deed, dated Ao. 45 of Henry, son of King John.
In 1295, Robert de Benhale occurs rector of Bicham-Well, of Rishtonand Keleshale. (fn. 10)
1312, William de Maundevilla, presented by Gilbert Earl of Clare.
The capital lords of the fee always reserved (as appears) the patronage of this church to themselves, till it came to the Crown.
1313, Roger de Estdone, by Gilbert Earl of Clare.
1322, Robert de Hoton, by the King, on the rebellion of Roger Lord Damory.
1323, William de Arundel, by the Lord Hugh Le Despencer, junior.
1331, William de Wells, on the resignation of Arundel, by the Lord William Zouch of Glamorgan.
1371, Ralph Cook, on the resignation of Wells, by Robert Perle, William Strete, and Thomas Mortimer, attornies-general to Edward Lord Le Despencer. This Ralph, by his will dated in 1392, desires to be buried in the chancel of this church. (fn. 11)
1393, Geffrey Walker, by the lady Elizabeth Le Despencer.
1395, Richard Wormbridge, vel Wormbrugge, by the lady Elizabeth Le Despencer. He was chancellor of Landaff, and exchanged with Walker.
Thomas Cantrell occurs in the 3d of Henry V. By his will, dated on the feast of St. Simon and Jude, 1434, he desires to be buried in the chancel of this church.
1435, Simon Cosyn, on the death of Cantrell, by Richard Earl of Warwick.
1449, John Boole, on the resignation of Cosyn, who exchanged for the vicarage of North Elmham, by Tho. Huggeford, Nicholas Rody, and William Berkswell, feoffees of Richard Earl of Warwick.
1458, Robert Mayster, on the death of Boole, by T. Huggeford, &c.
1459, Bobert Curteys, on the resignation of Mayster, by T. Huggeford, &c. He was vicar of Necton in Norfolk, and exchanged with Mayster.
1465, John Browning, on the death of Curteys, by T. Huggeford, &c.
1468, Alared Massy, on the resignation of Browning, by T. Huggeford, &c.
1469, Richard Morston, on the resignation of Massy, by T. Huggeford, &c. who exchanged for the church of Moose, in the diocese of London.
1509, William Smith, on the death of the last rector, by the King. This church was then valued at 12 marks.—
1532, Peter Garnet, on the death of Smith, by Thomas Earl of Wiltshire.
1557, Thomas Watson, on the death of Garnet, by King Philip and Queen Mary. In Archbishop Parker's Certificatorium, he was styled, Dns. Tho. Watson, presbyter conjugatus, satis doctus, residet, hospitalis ibidem, non prœdicat, nec licentiatus, duo. (fn. 12) Rector also of St. John, Beecham-Well, and Shingham.
1583, Richard Downes, on the resignation of Watson, by the Queen: in 1603, in his answer to the King, he returned 224 communicants in this town.
1611, John Burton, A. M. by the King
1611, John Knowles, on the resignation of Burton, by the King.
1645, Thomas Cabeck, A. M. of Pembroke-hall in Cambridge, by the King, on the resignation of Knowles.
1655, Mapted Violet.
1676, Thomas Ibbot, on the death of Violet, by the King.
1684, William Constable, by the King.
1686, Thomas Ibbot iterum, by the King.
1696, William Whitby, by the King; see in Bexwell.
1706, John Richardson, A. M. by the Queen.
1723, Tho. Ibbot again, (by the King,) vicar of Swaffham, and rector of St. Mary Beacham, &c. educated at Cleare-hall, Cambridge.
John Walpole, by will, in 1433, bequeaths a legacy to the guild of St. Ann in this church. (fn. 13)
Peter Langwade, Capellan, gives, by will, dated 4 Nov. 1446, to this church, 4 marks to buy a silver cup (fn. 14)
This church is a rectory, valued at 6l. 13s. 4d. discharged of tenths and first fruits; being (as given in) of clear value, 29l. per annum.— Old valor, 12 marks.—Prior of St. Noet's portion, at 4s. 5d.—Prior of Stoke's, at 20s. Peter-pence, 15d.
St. John. This church (which is now in ruins) stands on the northwest part of the township of Beecham-Wells; part of the north wall of the nave is standing, as is part of the four-square tower, as high as the sounding windows; which tower and church was built of flint, &c. The church, as appears from the foundation, was about 66 feet in length; and, on the site of the church some poor people have made themselves little cottages. The patronage of this church seems to have belonged always to the lords of Well-hall; and they who held that lordship of the capital lord, presented to it. Hugh de St. Philebert was patron about the beginning of Edward I.
1304, Robert de Suthfeld to the 3d part of Becham, by Gregory de Felmingham.
1326, Martin Wolwan, presented by Robert de Welle.
1349, Ralph de Brome de Skelyngham, presented by John de Benested.
Peter de Baldeswell occurs rector 27th of Edward III. (fn. 15)
1354, William Walwyne, on the resignation of Baldeswell, (by John de Denham,) who exchanged for the rectory of Gunton in Lothingland.
1359, William de Leightone, on the resignation of Walwyn, on an exchange for the vicarage of Neketon, Norfolk, by John de Denham.
1364, Robert Warrener, on the resignation of Leighton, by John de Denham.
1367, William Kemp, on the resignation of Warrener, by John de Denham.
1373 Ralph Chercheman of Neketon, on the resignation of Kemp, on an exchange for a mediety of Wetherdon in Suffolk, by John de Denham.
1374, William Alefounder, on the resignation of Cherchman, by John de Denham.
1420, John Grymeston, by William Paston, John Alderford, Tho mas Stedhagh: he was also rector of St. Mary, Beecham-Well.
1458, John Flytcham, on the resignation of Cooke, on an exchange for the church of Holkham, Norfolk. He was after vicar of Goodeston; by Ralph Lovell, Esq.
1460, Thomas Cely, on the resignation of Flytcham, by Ralph Lovell, Esq.
1467, Richard Lethom, canon-regular, on the resignation of Cely, by R. Lovell, Esq.
1468, William More, on the death of Lethom, by Ralph Lovell, Esq.
1475, Thomas Baldewyn, on the resignation of More, by Ralph Lovell, Esq.—This rectory was then valued at 2l. 0s. 8d.
1479, John Rysum, on the death of Baldwyn, by William Hermer of Beecham-Well, Gent.
1484, Gilbert Cowper, collated by the Bishop of Norwich hâc vice.
1485, Bartholomew Mekyll, by Jeffrey Flode, Gent. of the King's bedchamber, and Catherine his wife.
1487, William Chapman, on the death of Mekyll, by Sir Thomas Lovell.
1496, Richard Westgate, on the death of Chapman, by Sir Thomas Lovell.
1506, Richard Wynstanley, on the death of Westgate, by Sir Thomas Lovell.
1546, Peter Garnet, on the death of the last rector, by Sir Thomas Lovell.
1557, Thomas Watson, on the death of Garnet, by Sir Thomas Lovel of East-Harling; see in Beecham, All-Saints.
1587, Edward Smithe, by the Queen, a lapse.
1596, John Williamson, A. B. by the Queen, a lapse.
1604, John Sherwin, A. M. by Robert Lovell. He was rector of Ickburgh, Oxburgh, &c. Norfolk.
1613, John Canham, A. M. by Thomas Athow.
1615, William Leeds, on the resignation of Canham, by Thomas Athow, serjeant-at-law.
1623, Clement Athow, by Thomas Athow, Esq. He was buried 12 April, 1655.
1660, Thomas Wolsey; he was fellow of St. John's college, Cambridge, and presented by the King, (on the death of the last rector, by lapse. He was afterwards rector of Thornhaugh, Northamptonshire; archdeacon of Northampton, 1679, and D. D.
1680, Thomas Ibbot, A. M. by Mary Wells, widow: see in Beecham, All-Hallows.
1737, Robert Say, A. M. the present rector, (was the vicar also of Swaffham,) on Ibbot's death, by the Bishop, a lapse.
Here was in this church, in 1420, the guild of St. John, and paid Peter-pence, 8d.
It is a rectory, valued at 5l. 6s. 8d. discharged of first fruits and tenths, together with the rectory of St. Mary, to which it was consolidated in 1686, and is of the yearly value of 48l. 0s. 8d.
St. Mary. This church stands at the east end of the township of Beacham-Wells; it has a nave, with a south isle annexed, and a chancel, built of flint stone, boulder, &c. The nave is in length about 29 feet, and in breadth, with the south isle, about 26. On the pavement, near the east end, lies a gray marble, on which is a demi-portraiture of a priest, hands erect and conjoined; and, on a brass plate, this inscription:
Hic jacet Dns. Johes. Grimston quonda. rector isti' ecclie. qui obiit viii die mens. Novemb. anno Dni. m.cccc.xxx.cuj' aie. p'pitietur Deus, Amen.
In a north window, near the pulpit, is this shield; (see Plate I. fig. 2.)—azure, a lion rampart, or, bearing in his dexter paw a cross croslet bottony, fitché, argent, Beckingham, as I take it. This nave is covered with reed, and has a porch annexed to it, covered with tile. At the west end of the nave is a round tower of flint, &c. On this (which rises as high as the roof of the nave) is raised an octangular one, (and on that a shaft, covered with lead, is a weathercock) and one bell. There was a church here in the time of the Conqueror, as appears from the Domesday-Book; and Harold, as we there find, had the soc of that manor to which this church belonged. The south isle, which has been erected not many centuries, is covered with lead, and has served for some chapel to a chantry priest. On the pavement before the east-end, lies a gray marble, with the portraiture of a priest, vested for the altar; but the plate of brass, with the inscription, and other brass ornaments, are now reaved. The chancel is separated from the nave, by an old wooden screen, and is about 26 feet in length, and 13 in breadth, covered with reed. The communion table is railed in, and has an ascent of two steps. In the upper south window are the figures of St. Augustine, and St. Dunstan, the archbishops, painted in the glass. On the north side is a vestry, having a stone stair case, by which it appears here was formerly a room over it, but the floor is now taken away; this is covered with lead. Some years past, Mr. Ibbot the rector found under the pavement of the chancel two pieces of alabaster about two feet each in length; one piece had the effigies of two persons taking down our Saviour from the cross, that of the Virgin, and St. John standing by the cross; the other had that of St. Peter, with a key and a book in his hands; they had been curiously gilt and painted, were well carved, and no doubt were buried here, (about the time of the Reformation,) as are many other such-like figures, most probably in other churches.
That there was a church here, and endowed with 30 acres of land, at the conquest, appears from the general survey; the patronage of it was then belonging to that manor, which Roger Bigot held, which is now called the manor of Chervill's, and it continues in the said lordship at this day.
John de Bicham occurs rector about 1278.
Vincent, rector. (fn. 16)
1306, Robert de Chervyle, by Roger de Cherville.
1329, Walter Chervyle de Bycham-Welle, presented by Roger de Chervile.
1346, Thomas Henod, on the resignation of Chervyle, on an exchange for the rectory of Wood-Bastwick, Norfolk, by Roger de Chervile.
1349, Thomas Chervyll, by Roger de Chervile.
1384, John Mannyng, by John Chircheman, citizen of London, William Bys, citizen and stock-fishmonger of London, William Parson of St. Martin's Orgar, London, and Jeffrey de Compton.
1425, John Grymeston, by Christian, late wife of Richard Grace:
1430 John Sonowe, (on the death of Grymston,) by Thomas Mannyng of Elyngham Magna.
Robert Langwade, occurs rector in 1448.
1476. Thomas Horn, on the death of Langwade, by Henry Spelman.
This church was then valued at 5 marks.
1506, John Lyster, on the death of Horn, by Henry Wyat, Esq. on account of the wardship of John Spilman.
1532, William Mynshew, on the death of the last rector, by Sir Hen: Spylman, Knt.
1540, David Dawson, on the death of Minshew, by Anthony Gurney, Esq. and Elizabeth his wife.
1543, Peter Garnet, on the deprivation of Dawson, by Thomas Dethick, Esq. Francis Spilman, William Dethick, Gents. and William Gilliot, clerk, on a grant of the presentation from Ant. Gurny, Esq. &c. He was rector also of All-Saints.
1556, Henry Wilsonne, on the death of Garnet, by Thomas Gray, Esq. Presbiter conjugatus, mediocriter doctus, residet, hospitalis, ibidem, non prœdicat, nec licentiatus, duo. (fn. 17)
1562, Edward Croft, A. M. on the death of Wilsonne, by Temperance Gray, widow.
1571, Robert Lawson, on the resignation of Croft, by Robert Gray, Esq.
1581, Richard Downes, A. B. on the resignation of Lawson, collated by the Bishop of Norwich, by lapse; rector also of All-Saints. In his answer to the King's queries, 1603, he says, there were 224 communicants in the township here.
1616, Nathan. Garey, A. M. by Sir William Grey, on the death of the last rector. He had a wife and several children, and was sequestered, and suffered much in the time of usurpation.
1655, Mapted Violett.
1676, Thomas Ibbot, A. M. on the death of Violet, by Eliz. de Grey. See in Allhallows church.
1737, Robert Say, by the Bishop, a lapse.
In a will, dated in 1430, mention is made of St. Ann's guild in this town, (fn. 18) probably belonging to this church.
Christian Grace, by her will, dated in 1427, and proved the 9th of March in the said year, desires to be buried in the church of St. Mary, Bycham-Well, near her husband, Richard Grace; appoints her son William executor. (fn. 19)
John Manning of Ellingham Magna, by his will dated 4 July, 1430, desires to be here buried.
John Fox, rector of Shingham, buried here 22 March, 1624.
This church is valued at 4l. 6s. 8d. discharged of tenths and first fruits, and is valued with St. John's at 48l. per ann. clear value.—The old valor of this church was 5 marks; Peter-pence 8d.