An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 7. Originally published by W Miller, London, 1807.
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In ancient accounts it occurs by the name of Downham Market, and Downham Hithe: Spilman says the market here was of such antiquity, that he finds it confirmed by Edward the Confessor. The town is seated on a hill to the east of the river Ouse, over which and the fens it has an extensive view and prospect, and takes its name from its site, a Ham or dwelling, on a Dun, Down, or Hill. The principal manor was given by King Edgar, with the hundred of Clacklose, to Ramsey abbey.
Abbot of Ramsey's Manor.
The principal manor here was in the abbot, of which an account may be seen at large in Wimbotsham, it extending itself into this town, and he had the same privileges here as in that village. It appears that King John granted or confirmed a fair here to the abbot, in his 6th year, and the privilege of a gallows here, or hanging malefactors was allowed him in the time of Henry III. (fn. 1) On the dissolution of this abbey, it was granted by King Henry VIII. to Robert Miller, &c. as is mentioned in Wimbotsham, and so passed through several hands to the Hares, Sir George Hare, Bart. being the late lord.
At the survey William Earl Warren had here 30 acres held by 9 freemen, and half a carucate of land, valued at 12s. 4d. St. Bennet, that is the abbey of Ramsey, had the soc and protection, but the Earl laid claim to it by an exchange. (fn. 2) This appears to be held under the Earls Warren, by the Ingaldesthorps, of whom see in Wimbotsham, and passed to the Hares, as is there shown.
Hermerus de Ferrer seized on 13 socmen, (as appears from the Book of Domesday,) who held 40 acres and a carucate, valued at 10s. his predecessor had only the protection of them. (fn. 3) This descended to the Lords Bardolph, and was held by Blake, and Prat, as I take it, and came to the Hares, as observed in Wimbotsham, but anciently went with the manor which the Lords Bardolph had in Wimbotsham.
Rainold, son of Ivo, had at the survey the land late of 3 freemen who held 20 acres and an half, valued at xd. and were under protection only; also of one freeman with 7 acres, whose protection lately was in the predecessor of William de Warren, valued at 12d (fn. 4) —This descended to the Earls of Clere, and in the time of Henry III. Edward I. &c. was held of that honour by the family of the Narfords by the 23d part of a fee. This tenure went along with another small one held of the aforesaid honour in Bexwell.
Roger Bigot had at the survey a freeman's land, who held 12 acres valued at 16d.—Also St. Audrey (that is the church of Ely) had 2 villains here, who held 12 acres and one acre of meadow, valued at xiid. All Dunham is said then to be 3 furlongs long, and 2 broad. (fn. 5) Bigot's part seems to have come soon after into the hands of the Lords Bardolph, or to be held by them of the heirs of Bigot, and that which belonged to the church of Ely was granted by King Henry VIII. 10 Sept. in his 33d year, to the dean and chapter of Ely.
It is an agreeable town, well paved, has a good market on Saturday, supplied with fish and fowl from the neighbouring fens, and a bridge over the Ouse leading to Well, Wisbeach, &c. Near to this bridge, on the town side, is a market kept for butter every Monday, where, in the height of summer and spring, about 3000 firkins are said to be bought up by several factors, and sent hence by water to Cambridge, and thence to London by land carriage, and called there Cambridge butter. This bridge anciently belonged to the Lords Bardolph; and I find that on the 1st of July, in the 32d of King Henry VI. John Trenthale, in the name and license of John Lord Viscount Beaumont, (a descendant of the Lords Bardolph,) leased to Peter Baker, Thomas Spencer, Robert Lyster, and John Chaunter of Downham, the bridge here, at the rent of 13s. and 4d. per ann. they being obliged to keep it in repair at their own charge, and to take the accustomed tolls; but it was provided and excepted, that all the tenants, farmers, residents, &c. of the said Lord, belonging to his manor of Stow, should be free from the said toll. (fn. 6)
The lete was in Sir Thomas Hare, Bart. fee 2s. 8d. who has lately obtained a charter for 2 fairs in the year, one on May 8, the other on November 2.
Doctor Badgcroft, master of Cajus college, Cambridge, left by will 100l. to this town, to clothe the poor, for fuel, &c. with which land is purchased, now rented at 8l. per ann.
The Church is dedicated to St. Edmund, consisting of a nave, a north and south isle, built of car or rag-stone, and covered with lead; at the west end, sands a low four-square tower of the same materials, embattled, and with buttresses, quoins, &c. of free-stone, wherein are 5 bells; on this is erected a small spire of wood, covered with lead. The vault of the nave is supported by pillars forming 10 arches, 5 on each side, of a different workmanship, and turn; the roof is of oak, and at the west end is a neat gallery fineered, &c. and on the old octangular font, a shield on each angle, viz. two arrows in saltire, with a crown over them, to set forth the shield of St. Edmund,—three escollops, St. James's,—a cross, St. George,—two swords in saltire, St. Paul,—a saltire, St. Andrew,—two keys in saltire, St. Peter,—a cross with two spears in saltire, with a crown of thorns on the head of the cross, our Saviour's shield; the other is obscure. In this nave hangs on a piece of iron work a glass or crystal branch with 8 sockets; the nave is in length about 62 feet, and breadth with the 2 isles about 45. —The chancel is camerated, and covered with reed, in length about 34 feet, and in breadth about 16; the communion table is railed in, and is ornamented with the 10 Commandments, and the pictures of Moses and Aaron. Against the north wall is a stone thus inscribed;
RADULPHUS HARE, Baron. hujus tecti materiam ex pio erga Deum, nec minus benevolo erga rectorem, affectu liberè suppeditavit Ao. Dom. 1702.
South of the chancel and adjoining is a little chapel, about 18 feet long and 13 broad, covered with lead; on the pavement lies a gravestone with a brass plate; what remains is this, - - - - - Johis. Rouse, - - - - - - - p' pit. Deus.
In the church was anciently the arms of Ramsey abbey, or, on a bend azure, three rams heads erased argent, and those of Lord Bardolph.
On an altar tomb in the churchyard,
H. S. E.
Maria Uxor Gul. Adkin.
Cujus superstes Virtus Cineri, Mariti floret lugentis memoria, Fatoq; non divulsus amor.
Hic nempe conditur
Exemplar Conjugii optimum,
Matrona (siquæ alia)
Cujus cordi Pietas et Fides Linguœ Vultuiq; insedit benignitas, Quæ etiam in longis sinistrœ Valetudinis, Doloribus mansit composita.
Cujus patientiam, Moresq; placidos, Non ipsa Pthisis potuit deterere Ubi tuus, O Sepulchrum, aculeus! In salo Marmor hoc ponentis Animo, Tam grave plorantis damnum Conjugis, Qui non ita de Luctu suo, Ut Victrix de Morte Fœmina.
Obt. pr. Id. Oct.
On another altar tomb there,
Lector sub hoc marmore THOMAS CRICK.
(Hujus villæ nuper Generosus) In certam renascendi spem, Spei incertœ anchoram demisit, Optiman mercat. mercaturam, Obt. 6°. Id. Martii.
Æræ autem Xtianæ.
Anno Milleso. 6 Centesso 9 nagesso. 5°.
Victurosq; Dii celant, ut vivere durent, Fœlix esse mori.
Juxta, versus dextram jacet Hen. Saffery, Gen. variolar. morbo abreptus, Heu! miseri frustra morbos vitamus acerbos Mortis enim, mors est, quotidiana, timon, Gratia, nec vullus prodest, socieq; lepores, Nedum maturi pectora firma viri.
Nempe Henrice alitèr te tardior urna maneret, Dixerat et nondum mœsta camœna vale
Obiit. 7mo Idus Januarii
At the east end of the churchyard is a monument covered with a long ridged stone, on the south side thus inscribed,
|Lucretia,||Filia Thomœ Peirson, de Wisbeach, defuncti,||Gen.|
|Uxor Robti. Southous senis de hâc villa|
|Unico filio sup'stite: Martino,||Southous.|
|3bs. filiab; defunctis, Gratia,|
Obiit. 21, Julii, Ao. 1663°.
Ao. suœ Ætat.- - - 7-.
Let every wife, Remember her life And her waies to imitate, So shall ye be sure, Good names to p'cure, And wickedness learn for to hate.
On the north side:
Hicq; sepulta jacet, caro defleta marito, Notis, vicinis, pauperibusq; suis.
Nec fuit hisce suis olim Lucretia Romœ, Aut Collatino charior illa suo.
On the west end, or head:
In omnibus diebus usurpationis istius Impbi. Oliv. Cromwell, p'ditoris, p'ditor.
On another altar tomb,
Will. Parlett Armig. inter uxores et partus sub. spe resurrectionis, hic jacet sepultus.
Sir Nich. Holmes Aug. 3. 1558, a chantry priest. John Badgcroft, Gent. March 9, 1580. Margt. Badycroft, Gent. 15 Bridget, wife of Christopher Badgcroft, Gent. 1st. Sept. 1588. Christopher Badgcroft, Gent. 29th. June, 1622.
1304, Matthew de Tillebroke, presented by the abbot and convent of Ramesy.
1311, Henry de Deneford, by ditto.
1312, Roger de Nassyngton, by ditto
1316, Richard de Weresley, by ditto.
1357, Jeffrey Lisse, by ditto, on an exchange for Sutton vicarage in the isle of Ely.
1368, William Brown, by ditto, on an exchange with Lisse for Melbourn, in Cambridgeshire.
1404, Thomas Ledlady, by ditto.
1412, Robert Flode, by ditto, on an exchange with Ledlady for Lynn All-Saints.
1412, Robert Trussbut, on Broun's resignation, by ditto.
1420, Richard Hereford, by ditto.
1425, Henry Martyn, by ditto, on an exchange for Wigenhale St. Mary Magdalen.
1432, Godfrey Martyn, L. L.B. on Henry Martyn's resignation, by ditto.
1436, Thomas Champneys, by ditto.
1438, John Batcomb, (fn. 7) on Champeney's death, presented by the abbot, &c.
1449, Thomas Geyst.
1449, Richard Vigerous on Howard's death, by ditto
Thomas Goryng, a Benedictin monk or friar, was presented by the abbot, &c. about 1455, as appears from Ramsey abbey register.
1508, James Jackson on Honyter's death, by ditto.
1514, Eliseus Jackson.
1517, John Emottes, on Jackson's death, by ditto.
1521, John Rogers, on Emottes, resignation, by ditto.
1521, John Horewode, on Rogers's death, by ditto.
1540, Hugh Hall, on Horwod's death, by Thomas Gawsell, on a grant from the abbot of Ramsey.
1541, Baldwin Derham, on the death of the last rector, by the King.
1554, Thomas Fretwell, (Dereham being deposed by Queen Mary,) presented by Robert Miller, Gent. to whom King Henry VIII. granted the patronage in the 36 year, Pat. 19.
1558, Hugh Tayler, on Fretwell's resignation by Robert Miller, Gent. died in the same year.
1558, John Stokes, L. L. B. (fn. 8) buried October 15, 1587.
1587, John Butler, A. B. by Francis Gawdy, serjeant at law. Robert Miller, conveyed the patronage to John Walpole, and William Walpole in the 16th of Elizabeth, conveyed it to Gawdy. Butler was buried 18th of February 1640. In 1603, here were 200 communicants, as appears in his answer to the King.
1640, John Gilbert, A. M. by John Dusgate, of Cockley Cley, Gent.
1656, William Thetford, by Sir Ralph Hare, Bart.
1688, John Butler, A. M. by Sir Thomas Hare, Bart died February 2, 1732, rector of West Winch.
1733, Richard Eaton, A. B. by Sir Thomas Hare, Bart.
It appears from Norwich Domesday Book, that in the reign of Edward I. the abbey of Ramsey had the patronage, the rector held 30 acres of land, with an house, valued at 11 marks, Peter-pence, 16d. a pension was paid by the rector of 4s. per annum to the sacrist of that abbey, now a fee farm rent paid lately to Mr. Pile.
The rectory is valued at 6l. 13s. 4d. and is discharged of tenths and first-fruits.
In 1428, the temporalities of Carhow nunnery here were valued at 4s. 5d. per annum.
The temporalities of Ramsey abbey at 3l. 1s. 10d. ¼. per annum with the fishery and their spiritualties at 4s. 5d. with the priory or cell of Modeney.
West Derham abbey had possessions here, granted to Ed. Spanye and John Baspoole, 1st of July in the 7th of Edward VI.
In this church was the isle of our Lady, and the altar of our Lady —St. Edmund's gylde, and St. James's, and St. John Baptist's.
On the other side of the bridge of Downham, near to the foot of the said bridge, stood an old hermitage, or cell; this was probably founded by a Lord Bardolph, the presentation thereto being in that family, as appears from the rolls of the honour of Wirmegay, the seat of their barony. In the reign of King John, there was an agreement made between the custos of this hermitage and William, then rector of Downham, in the presence of Robert de Redings, then abbot of Ramsey, the patronage of the church of Downham being in that abbey, &c.
Hœc est conventio facta inter fratrem Ailettum qui tenet heremitorium de Downham et Will. Person. ecclesie de Downham quod ipse Ailetus pro omnib; decimis et obventib; ejusdem loci annuatim reddet eccles. de Downham xii. denar. ad pascha, in festo autem Sci. Andr. capellans. de Downh. missam celebravit in capellâ Heremitor. in Downh. et medietas oblation. cedet personæ eccles. de Downham, et alia medietas fratris ejusd. loci. Nullus autem confrater perpetuus præter illos tres qui modo ibi sunt, viz. Sigherus, Stammerus et Turstanus, nec aliquis cappellan. perpetuus vel annualis recipietur, nisi p. eccles. Rames. cum assensu personæ eccles. de Downh. Qui cappellanus fidelitatem prœstabit qd. in nullo diminuet jus paroch. eccles. de Downh. confratres qui ibi fuerint spiritualia percipient ab eccles. Rames. ad quam si pervenire non poterint, eadem recipiant ab eccles. de Downh. et non ab aliâ Seculares autem viri, si qui ibi fuerint pertinebunt ad eccles. de Downh. tanquam parochiam, si vero abbas illuc ubiquem de monachis suis mittere voluerit, quamdiu placuerit ibi remanebit. Ista conventio facta est apud Ramsey in prœsentia Dni. Rob. abbatis, et ejus authentico sigillo roborat. Utriumq; fide prœstitâ kiis testib. Willo priore, &c. sans date