An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 7. Originally published by W Miller, London, 1807.
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So called, from a large marsh or moor lying near to it, which being often overflowed, appears as a meer. The principal manor of this village was in the church of Ely, by the grant of King Edgar; and in the time of Leoffin, the 5th abbot of that church, the produce of it was set apart as a farm, and appointed for the entertainment of strangers who came to the said abbey, and to bring in provisions necessary for that purpose. (fn. 1) The Norman lords made encroachments on it at the Conquest, as appears. At the grand survey, it seems to have been the capital lordship of that church, in the hundred and half of Clacklose, and had 10 letes therein; and St. Etheldreda, or St. Audrey, the foundress of that church, is in the said survey, said to have had 4 carucates in demean, in the reign of the Confessor, and then but 3; in the aforesaid reign there were 6 carucates among the tenants, 19 villains, 13 bordarers, and 7 servi, 26 acres of meadow, one mill, 10 beasts (runci) for carriage, one cow, 131 sheep, 24 swine; the land was one leuca long, and 100 perches, and half a leuca broad, and one quarter; but the measure in the marsh was not known; it was valued at 10l. per ann. To this lordship there belonged in King Edward's time 27 socmen, with all their customary dues; but after King William came, Hugh de Montfort had all of them, except one, whom William de Warren had, which socman held 6 acres of the church of Ely. This whole land paid 14d. gelt, when the hundred and half paid 20s. and it was the same at the survey. (fn. 2)
The Abbey Manor.
This lordship was held by the Earls Warren of the church of Ely. In the 1st year of King John, there was a suit between the Bishop of Ely, and Hamlen Plantaginet Earl Warren, when they came to this agreement, that the Earl acknowledged it to belong to the see of Ely, and the Bishop granted the Earl and his heirs to hold it of that see, by the service of one knight's fee; and the Earl 100s. rent per ann. in lands, in pure alms for ever to the church of Ely. (fn. 3)
William, the 6th of that name, Earl Warren and Surry, on the marriage of his 2d daughter Isabel, gave it with her in marriage to Hugh de Albini Earl of Arundel and Sussex, who dying s. p. in 1243, she in 1249, on her founding a nunnery in this town, settled it on that house: about this time the rent of assise of the free tenants, &c. is said to have been 14l. 5s. 3d. ob. per ann. (fn. 4)
By the inquisitions taken in the the 3d of Edward I. the abbess was found to have the lete, assise of bread and beer, all forfeitures, a gallows, and other royal privileges, which she claimed as liberties belonging to the see of Ely; and in the 20th of that King, she held here one knight's fee in pure alms of the Earl Warren, the Earl of the Bishop of Ely, and the Bishop in capite; and it appears from a curious parchment roll, illuminated and made in this reign, that there were 2 carucates and an half of land, 8 acres of pasture in demean, a water-mill, free bull and boar, 26 villains, and many free tenants are mentioned, with the right of a gallows, tumbrel, &c.
In or about the 29th of Edward III. a rental specifies, that the abbess had 500 acres, and 3 roods of arable land here in demean, and 48 acres and a half of pasture, or meadow here, and in Shouldham; several turbaries, a water-mill, a fulling- mill, and a right in the river from Holmes, in the moor of Narburgh, to the pool of the said mill.
On the dissolution of this convent, it came to the Crown; and King Henry VIII. conveyed it on July 3, in his 38th year, with the site of the abbey, to Sir Nicholas Hare, Knt. and John Hare, citizen and mercer of London, on the payment of a fee-farm rent of 3l. 6s. 2d. ob. per ann. to the Crown, which on July 9, in the 4th and 5th of Philip and Mary, was also granted to the said Sir Nicholas, together with lands and tenements in Wimondham, Besthorp, Carlton, Kentford, Needham, Gasely, Heringswell, &c. in the tenure of Thomas Buckworth, belonging to the late nunnery of Marham, with the appropriated rectory of Didlington, the advowson of Saxmundham church, messuages and lands in Brigham, Roudham, Wichingham Magna, Bodney, Thetford, Bedingham, Okeholt, &c. and in this family it remains, the honourable Sir George Hare, Bart. being the late lord.
Old - Hall.
This consisted of that part of the possessions of the see of Ely, which were alienated by Wilfrick, the 6th abbot of Ely, (fn. 5) to his brother, before Domesday Book was made; and at the Conquest, Hugh de Montfort was lord of it by an exchange; 26 socmen held it of the church of Ely in the time of the Confessor, when there were also 8 bordarers, 5 carucates, and 6 acres of meadow, valued at 80s. at the survey at 40s. This was measured, and accounted for in the lordship of St. Etheldreda; (fn. 6) (see in the priory manor,) and Walter held it under Hugh.
The socmen abovementioned were by their tenures, obliged to plough the lands of the abbot of Ely, to weed, bind, &c. their corn, and to bring provisions (when required) there, &c. all which services, &c. Hugh had, as their lord.—He was son of Thurstand Bastenbergh, a Norman, and was commonly called Hugh with a Beard (the Normans at that time being usually shaved,) and accompanying William Duke of Normandy into England, assisted him as a valiant and expert commander in the decisive battle of Hastings, afterwards was appointed to be an assistant in the administration of justice throughout the realm to William Fitz-Osborn and Odo Bishop of Baieaux. For his great services he obtained a grant of many lordships in Kent, Essex, Suffolk, &c. and of 19 in this county, viz. Marham in this hundred, Islington, Middleton, Beneleai, (or Bilney,) and Geyton in Frebridge hundred.— Bodney and Langford in South Greenhou hundred.— South Creke in Gallow hundred.—Burnham, Rainham, and Helgeton in Brothercross hundred.—Ruguton and Beston in North Erpingham hundred—Stanford and Buckenham in Grimshow hundred.— Wica in Gildecross hundred. — Gately in Launditch hundred.—Bodham in Holt hundred, This lord was killed in a duel with Walkeline de Ferrers, and left Hugh his son and heir, who had two sons, Robert and Hugh, by his first wife, and by his 2d wife a daughter. Robert was general of the army of King William II. in the 12th year of his reign, but favouring the title of Robert Curthose, the Conqueror's eldest son, against King Henry I. retired with his brother Hugh to Jerusalem, leaving his inheritance, &c. where they both died S. P. in their pilgrimage; so that their sister inherited it, who married Gilbert de Gaunt, by whom she had a son, Hugh, who assumed, from his mother, the sirname of Montfort.
Walter, who was enfeoffed of this lordship, and held it under Hugh at the survey, seems to be the ancestor of the family of De Marham, from whom descended Marcus de Marham, who married Ermelina, widow of Osbert, mareschall of Robert de Vere, senior, constable to King Henry II. which Robert was father of Ermelina by a daughter of Hugh de Montfort. Walter de Marham, son of Mark, gave to the monks of Horton in Kent, a marsh called Marcheston, which had been given to his mother Ermelina by Robert de Vere, and his wife, in frank marriage, and Jeffrey, son of Walter, confirmed the same. (fn. 7)
Sir Walter de Marham, son (as I take it) of Jeffrey, was lord in the reign of Henry III. and held it by one fee of the honour of Hagenet or Haughley in Suffolk; his daughter and heir Margaret brought it by marriage to Sir William Belet, alias Bygot; in the 34th of that King he possessed it, and in the 44th being the King's valet, had a grant of free warren, a weekly mercate and a fair. (fn. 8)
In the 3d of Edward I. William Belet claimed the lete of his tenants, assize of bread, &c. a gallows, &c. as privileges belonging to the see of Ely, had a messuage with 120 acres of land, 5 of pasture, 60s. rent of assize, and performed suit to the King's court at Haughley from month to month, paying 10s. per ann. to Dover Castle. About this time, from a curious parchment roll, in the initial letter of which are the arms of Belet, argent, on a chief gules, two crescents, or, William Belet was lord; he and Margaret his wife claimed the patronage of the two churches in this town, the great tithes of which were appropriated to Westacre abbey, by the grant of Geffrey de Marham; and there belonged to this manor a carucate of land, and 10 acres of meadow in demean, 14 villains with their messuages and lands, and cottagers with 3 cottages, a windmill, free bull and boar. The freehold and copyhold tenants are mentioned with their services of this Belet's ancestors, see an account in Rudham and Coxford.
Margaret, widow of Sir William Belet, was in the first year of Edward II. found to die seized of it, valued at 7l. 12s. 7d. and Sir Ralph Belet, alias Bygot, was her son and heir, aged 50, who gave 100 shillings relief for his lands here: he died in the 9th of that King, when a messuage, a pigeon-house, 120 acres of land, 3 of meadow, 3 of pasture, and 60 shillings rent of assize belonged to it, and Walter was his son and heir, 23 years of age.
By an inquisition taken in the 20th of Edward III. Sir Walter Bygot appears to be lord, and in the 4th of Richard II. Walter, son of Sir Walter; William Bygot, son of Walter, dying sans issue in the 14th of Henry IV. it came to his 3 sisters and coheirs; Catherine married to Robert Hunt, Margaret to William Galyon, and Elizabeth to Richard Fox; but Isabell their mother, who was married to John Dorward, Esq. held it for life. They had also their parts and shares in the manor of Tofts in Norfolk, Bacon's and Alfreston-Hall in Dunmow Magna, and the advowson of the chapel or prehend in the church of Dansey in Essex; but all came after to Hunt, whose daughter and heir, Isabel, married to Thomas Dayrell or Darrel, who died lord of the manor of Old-hall, in the 5th of Henry VII. as did Thomas his son in the 21st of the said King, leaving two sisters and coheirs; Beatrix and Anastatia; this last brought it by marriage to Thomas Jermin Esq. who was lord in 1517, and conveyed it in that year with his wife Anastatia, by fine, to John Spelman, Esq. with about 300 acres of land, pasture and moor, 40s. per ann. rent in Marham and Shouldham; and in this family it remains, John Spilman, Esq. of Narburgh, being the present lord.
Belet's and Denham's Manor
Hermerus de Ferrariis held at the survey 20 acres of land, which was Turchetel's in King Edward's reign, and belonged to the soc or lordship of St. Etheldreda aforementioned, and two villains who had then 3 bovates of land or oxgangs, and an an acre of meadow, valued always at 3s. 4d. and this land was measured with the lordshp of St. Etheldreda (fn. 9) William Earl Warren had also half a carucate of land, which St. Etheldreda held in King Edward's time, 3 bordarers belonged to it with a carucate and 4 acres of meadow, valued then at 20s. but after, and at the survey, at 26s, and 8d. and Ralph held it under this Earl. (fn. 10)
Of these fees I shall treat together. The family of De Bekeswell had an interest herein in the 35th of Henry III. when William de Bekeswell settled lands by fine on John de Tudenham and Cassandra his wife, who seem to have held both the fees abovementioned; and before this, in the 20th of the said reign, Hermerus de Bekeswell was petent in a fine, and Thomas de Ingaldesthorp tenant of a carucate of land, which Thomas held in right of Sibila his late wife, widow of Peter de Bekeswell, brother to Hermerus.
William de Bekeswell, by his deed dated at Cambridge, in 1266, grants this lordship, which he held here of Sir Roger de Wimple, to Sir William Belet, to be held of him by the payment of a pair of white gloves on Easter day, or a penny, if asked of him; (fn. 11) to which deed Sir Walter son of Sir John de Wygenhale, Sir Nicholas de Stradesete, Sir Adam de Cokesford, Sir Adam de Verley, Walter de Thorp Hervey de Geyton, &c. were witnesses; and in the year following Sir William Belet quitclaimed to William de Bekeswell, all the land he held belonging to William, given him by the King, on the rebellion of the said William, excepting the tenements and lands in Marham, Shouldham, and Berton, which Sir William had purchasded of Bekeswell, and for this grant Bekeswell was to pay to Belet 100 marks.
In the 3d of Edward I. William Belet, as lord, claimed to have the assize, &c. of his tenants, and to have built a castle to the King's prejudice, and that of his castle at Norwich; and that if war should happen (which God forbid) the King's enemies might have reception, destroy the country and the neigbouring religious houses. From the curious roll beforementioned, it appears that William Belet was lord, held a carucate of land, and 8 acres of meadow; that there were 13 villains with 9 messuages, &c. and 5 cottagers with their cottages and lands, &c. of the heirs of William de Bekeswell, by the service of one pair of gloves; the names of the free and copyhold tenants with their services are mentioned; the arms of Belet in the initial letter here are somewhat varied from the other arms, being, argent, on a chief gules, two cinquefoils, or. After this Sir Ingelram Belet was lord; he was knighted in the 34th of Edward I. at Westminster, with Edward the King's son, by bathing.
In the 6th of Edward II. Sir Ingelram seems to have died, and is said to hold a castle here, ditched in, in right of Lora his wife, (fn. 12) formerly belonging to William de Bekeswell, of the fee of the abbess of Marham, which William held 80 acres of land in demean of Roger de Wymple, and was afterwards purchased by Isabel Countess of Arundel, the foundress, and given to the abbey; out of this Ingelram paid 22s. per ann. to that convent, and the said convent paid for the same, 7s. per ann. to Coxford priory. (fn. 13)
This Ingelram was probably a younger son of Sir William Belet; he married Avice, daughter and heir of Robert Bardolf, and Avice his wife, daughter of John, and sister and heir of Anselm de Lound, lord of Crimplesham and Wyrham, by whom he had Robert his son and heir, who was found in the 8th of Edward II. to have held in this town, Beacham-Well, Wyrham, Crimplesham, &c. one fee and an half of the honour of Clare; he probably died s. p. anno. 16 Edward II. being 18 years old at his father's death.
In the 19th of Edward II. Robert de Well was lord, and in the 39th of Edward III. John de Denham and Maud his wife, held it of the abbey of Marham with the castle, late Sir Ingelram Belet's, paying 22s. per ann. the rent of assize of the free tenants, villains, &c. amounted to 12l. 12s. 2d. q. per ann. and besides the demean lands there were 372 acres and 3 roods held in villanage, 103 acres and 3 roods of aul'ond, 49 hens, 205 eggs paid yearly, and many reaping days of the tenants due in harvest, &c.
In the 9th of Richard II. it was in the hands of the abbess and convent, being aliened thereto by Richard Holditch and John de Clenchwarton, and Richard Earl of Arundel wrote in the same year to his steward, John Gourney, to enquire what damage would accrue in his consenting to it, (as capital lord of the manor of Belets,) and it was certified, it would be no damage, and yet the yearly value of it extended was 10 marks. (fn. 14) Holditch and Clenchwarton were trustees of John de Denham and Maud his wife, for this purpose; Richard de Holditch was appointed with others, a trustee in the 42d of Edward III. as appears from a fine; it remained in the abbey till its dissolution, and then granted as aforesaid to Sir Nicholas Hare, &c.
Of this lordship, which lay partly in this town, and partly in Shouldham, I have spoke at large in the said town, being held of the prior of Shouldham, by the family of Shouldham: I shall only observe that Walter Bishop of Norwich, about 1250, granted license to Simon de Shouldham, and his heirs for his own and his family's use, to found a free chantry in his chapel, with the consent of the priory of Westacre and the vicar of Marham.
Westacre Priory Manor.
Geffrey de Marham gave to this convent lands, with the rectories of St. Andrew's church, and that of the Holy Trinity, about the reign of King John, which were appropriated to it, and had the patronage of the vicarages.
In 1428, their temporalities were valued at 4l. 14s. 3d. and their spiritualities at 16 marks here, per ann.
At the dissolution of this priory, or soon after, it came to the Spelmans; in 1607, Sir Clement Spelman was found to hold it in capite by the 40th part of a knight's fee, and John Spelman, Esq. of Narburgh, is the present lord.
In the 5th of Edward VI. a fen called Monks Fen was granted to Thomas Darcy, on April 4, to be held in soccage, which probably to the said priory.
Many religious houses had lands here. In 1428 the temporalities of Castleacre priory were taxed at 34s. 4d. and their spiritualities at 3 marks and an half.—Roger de Sculdham, with the consent of Emma his wife, confirmed to them the rent of 7s. per ann. (given them by his ancestors) of Geffrey de Fonte, &c. and 4s. in Fincham of the sons of Turlack. (fn. 15) Roger son of Reiner de Sculdham, gave Ulfketel, son of Aeldric, cum totâ sequelâ.—Geffrey son of Walter de Markam gave 40 perches of a turbary;---also a furlong of a turbary.
William Earl Warren gave to the canons of Walsingham 6 furlongs of his marsh, and Isabell Countess of Arundel, his daughter, an acre. Sir Robert de Stradset gave 2 furlongs, confirmed by his brother Nicholas, &c. In the 38th of Henry VIII. October 21, Andrew Mansfield had a grant of the Canons marsh, &c. and in the said year had license to alien it to Elizabeth Spilman and her heirs.
The temporalities of Coxford priory were 4d.—Of Sporle in a turbary 2s.—Of Wendling abbey in a turbary, 2s.—Of Massingham in a turbary 4d. The 10ths of the town were 10l. 10s. deducted 2l.
Here were formerly two churches in this town, one dedicated to St. Andrew, the other to the Holy Trinity; this last is still standing: they were rectories united and valued together at 16 marks, granted to the priory of Westacre, and appropriated thereto; out of these the priory of Castleacre had a portion of tithe valued at 3 marks and an half; it consisted of two parts of the tithes of the demean of Hermer de Bexwell, and a moiety of the tithe of the whole fee of Walter de Marham, which Simon Bishop of Norwich confirmed to them in 1265; and the prior of Westacre had a manse belonging to these rectories, &c. The patronage of the vicarages, which were consolidated, was in the priory of Westacre, and they were valued at 6 marks; the vicar had a manse in King Edward's time. Richard de Walleys had a portion of tithe valued at 6s. 8d. and Peter-pence was 16d. The present valor of the vicarage is 6l. 13s. 4d. and is discharged.
The Church now standing, of the Holy Trinity, has a nave, with a south isle and a chancel built of rag-stone, clunch or chalk, and covered with lead; at the west end of the nave stands a lofty four-square tower of flint stones, &c. with quoins, embattlements, &c. of freestone, with 4 bells; on the top of this tower is a wooden shaft or spire covered with lead; the length of the nave is about 63 feet, and with the south isle about 30 in breadth: at the east end of the nave lie several marble gravestones for the Shouldhams, &c.; their inscriptions, shields of brass, &c. all disrobed.
In the lowest window of the nave on the north side, are several arms; quarterly on the first and fourth quarter, argent a bear salient sable, muzzled, or, Bernard of Isleham in Cambridgeshire; and in the second and third quarters, gules, three lucies, najant in pale, in a bordure ingrailed, argent, Lilling;—argent on a chief gules, two crescents, or, Belet;—azure, a cross or, Shelton;—p. pale, azure and gules, a cross engrailed ermine, Berney;—argent three owls, sable, beaked, &c. or, Brigge;—sable, on a chevron between three trefoils, or, as many crescents of the first, Holworthy;—lozengy, argent and gules, Todenham. In the next window as you ascend, &c. sable, a fess nebulée between three wolves heads erased, or, Wolfreton;—or, three chevronels, gules, each charged with as many lis argent, Fitz-Ralph;— Fincham;—gules, three chevronels, argent, Bond of Essex;—azure, a bend argent, Swathing;—quarterly argent, and sable, a bend over all gules, Burston;—gyrony of eight, azure and ermine, Trussebut;—argent on a bend, azure, a gobon, between two cross croslets, or, Beaupre;—or, a cross between four squirrels sejant, gules . . . argent, a lion rampant, gules, bruised with a bendlet, or, Branch. In the south isle windows, gules, a fess, between six cross croslets, or, Beauchamp Earl of Warwick;—gules, a chevron, or, between three leopards faces, argent, Carville;—azure, an eagle displayed, or, Shouldham;—azure on a fess between two chevrones, argent, three crescents, gules, Tendring;—argent, a chevron, azure, between three squirrels, sejant, gules, Lovell.
At the east end of this south isle is a chapel, and therein a large altar monument or tomb, whereon lie the statue of a man in complete armour, a lion couchant at his feet, and that of his wife, both of calkstone, painted over, a canopy or cover above, and this inscription:
Here lieth the body of John Steward, and Ann his wife, which Ann was daughter of Humphrey Shauldham, Esq. the said Ann died the 28th day of January, Ao. Dni. 1603, and the aforesaid John died February 16, 1604.
On the summit is the quartered shield of Steward, consisting of 23 coats of arms: 1, or, a fess checque, azure and argent, Steward; 2, the same with an escotcheon of pretence, argent, a lion rampant gules, bruised by a staff ragulée in bend, or, Steward; 3, argent, the lion rampant, as before. This family of the Stewards came into England, and settled there in the reign of King Henry IV. Sir John Steward, who attended James, Prince of Scotland, son of King Robert, (on the sea coast of Norfolk, crossing the seas for France, (fn. 16) was taken prisoner with that prince.—Sir Robert Steward of this family is said to have encountered a lion in France, and his sword being broke in the engagement, seized on a staff, and with that slew the savage beast, for which action the French king gave him the bearing of the lion and ragged staff, as an augmentation of honour, as this distich testifies:
Francorum Carolus voluit sic stemmata ferri, Singula cum valeant, sunt meliora simul.
The Honourable Sir Simeon Stuart, Bart. of Heartly Mauduit in Hampshire, and of West Derham abbey in Norfolk, is the lineal descendant of the aforesaid Sir John, and Sir Robert.—But to proceed; in the 4th quarter, vert, three boars heads couped argent, Burley;—in the fifth, argent a lion rampant, sable, on his shoulder a mullet, or, Walkfar;—6, argent, a chevron gules, between three hurts. Baskervile;—7, gules, a fess, ermine, in chief a label of five points, or, Wallis, or Wales;—8, gules, a fess checque, argent and sable, between six crosses patée fitchée of the second, Butler;—9, quarterly argent and azure, on a bend over all sable, three martlets of the first, Le Gross;—10, argent on a cross sable, a leopard's face, or, Bridges;— 11, gules, a fess, or, between three escallops, argent, Pitchard;—12, azure, a fess between three chessrooks, or, Bodenham;—13, argent, a chevron between three martlets sable, Wimondsell;—14, argent, a griffin, segreant sable. . . . . .;—15, per pale, sable and gules, a lion rampant, guardant, argent, crowned or, Bestney;—16, or, a castle triple-towered, sable;—17, gules, an eagle with two heads displayed, argent. . . . . .;—18, argent, a cross patonce between four Cornish choughs, sable, Spendelow;—19, argent, flory de lis, sable, Meredith; —20, vert, three lions passant, in pale, or;—21, argent, a lion rampant guardant in a bordure ingrailed, sable. . . . . .;—22, azure, a chevron between three leopards faces, or, Froyk;—23, or, a griffin, segreant, sable, Morgan; and this motto, Ferendo Sperando.
On the body of the tomb is, azure, an eagle displayed, or, Shouldham; also Steward with his quarterings; and in the east window, azure, three cinquefoils, or, Lord Bardolf,—and Fitz Ralph.
The chancel is separated from the nave by a wooden screen, and is in length about 32 feet, and in breadth about 18: besides the arms above mentioned, here were formerly in this church the following arms; argent, a maunch, gules, Tony;—argent, six annulets, sable, in a bordure ingrailed, gules, Bexwell;—azure, an escothon between an orle of martlets, argent, Walcot;—ermine on a chief, gules, five lozenges of the first, Charles;—sable, three mallets, argent, Rainham;— quarterly, or and azure, on a bend, gules, three escallops, argent, Fastolf;—argent, three escothons, sable, Loudham;—argent, a cross ingrailed, gules, Gournay;—sable, a griffin, segreant, argent, Froximer;—argent, two bars and a canton, gules, Bois;—argent, on three ogresses, as many cross croslets of the first, Heath;—ermine on a fess, gules, three escallops, or, Sackford;—azure, three cinqefoils, argent, Fitton; Shouldham impaling, gules on a chevron, argent, three crosses formy fitchée, of the first, Wilton; Shouldham and Wolfreton quarterly, and Shouldham and Rainham quarterly, &c.
Nicholas occurs vicar of the churches of the Holy Trinity, and St. Andrew in Marham about 1250, and John in 1294. (fn. 17)
In 1307, Rowland de Godewyk instituted, presented to both churches by the prior, &c. of Westacre.
1349, Roger Godwyn.
1352, Henry Albot.
William Wardebois, vicar.
1378, Andrew Reed.
1384, John Gibbs.
1385, John Fitz-Simon, by papal provision
1395, Rath Atle Heythe.
1398, John Alman.
1399, John Cave.
1400, John Ferthyng, buried in the churchyard of Trinity church, and gives to the repair of both churches.
1431, Thomas Howde.
1433, Thomas Boterell.
John Bull. vicar.
1446, William Malton.
1450, Thomas Croxley.
1455, John Brydde.
Richard Marsh, vicar.
1501, John Freeman.
1506, William Slack.
1520, John Chyrnge.
1550, Richard Sharp, by the King.
1562, John Beckworth, by the Queen.
1590, Ralph Dodge, A. M. by the Queen: in 1603, he returned 26 communicants.
1610, Stanley Waller, by the King.
1610, Thomas Atkinson, A. M. by Sir Robert Rich.
1615, Oliver Philips, A. M. by Sir Ralph Hare.
1652, Jonathan Loftus, A. M. admitted by the committee, afterwards sequestered.
Thomas Scott, A. M. by St. John's college, Cambridge.
1669, Robert Becket.
James Frost, A. M.
1729, Edward Chappelow, A. M. by St. John's college.
The church of St. Andrew stood in the close, near to the vicar's house, the site is still to be seen, by the wall of flint in some places; Mr. Frost, vicar, making a ditch here, found several human bones and a stone coffin. This church was standing, as appears by a will, in 1428.
The appropriated rectories with 30 acres of glebe land, and the advowson of the churches, &c. on the Dissolution, came to the Crown, and so remained, as appears from the presentations. Sir Thomas Mildmay, farmed the rectories at 12l. 6s. 8d. per ann. in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, and paid also 4l. per ann. to the heirs of the Duke of Norfolk for that portion of tithe which the prior of Castleacre had in this church which had been granted to the Duke. After this Sir Francis Gawdy, the judge, had a grant of it, and held it in 1603, from whom it came to Sir Robert Rich, (afterwards Earl of Warwick,) by the marriage of the Judge's grand-daughter, who presented in 1610; he sold it to Sir Ralph Hare, who presented in 1615. This honourable gentleman, being Knight of the Bath, gave to the master, fellows, and scholars of St. John's college in Cambridge, and their successours, all the rectory, parsonage and church of Marham in Norfolk, with all its rights, &c. glebe lands, tithes of corn and hay, advowson of the vicarage, the master and fellows to employ the profits for 3 years for the new erecting a spacious library in the said college, and then to go towards the maintenance of 30 of the poorest and best disposed scholars residing there; dated April 13, 1623.—The style and spirit of religion and devotion, whereby as a Christian he offers up this gift, is so exemplary that the reader I am persuaded, will excuse me, in here inserting it.
"Sir Ralph Hare, in all humility doth humbly offer this his gift hereafter mentioned unto our Blessed Saviour Jesus Christ, God and man, and in him to his beloved disciple, St. John, with all humility and penitency acknowledging and confessing himself a most unworthy being, a great and miserable sinner to offer this or whatsoever else, unto his divine majesty, and withal acknowledging, confessing, and saying, with the holy prophet David—Domine, tuu est magnificentia et patientia et gloria, cuncta enim quæ in cælo sunt, et in terrâ, tua sunt, tuum, Domine, regnum, et Tu es super omnes principes, tuæ divitiæ, et tua est gloria, tu dominaris omnium.—Quis ego nisi peccator turpis et miserrimus, ut hoc tibi promittere possum; tua sunt omnia et quæ de manu tua accepi. Do tibi cum omni humilitate in compunctione et contritione cordis mei. Oh ne me projicias a facie tuâ Domine, Deus Abraham, Isaac et Israel, custodi in æternum hanc voluntatem cordis mei, et semper in venerationem. tui mens mea permaneat."
In the field of Marham, east of the vicar's house, is a little hill called Chapel-hill, and a clay pit, part of the glebe; here a hermit had his station. This chapel was dedicated to St. Guthlake. (fn. 18) In the 20th of Richard II. a patent was granted for a chantry here, so that it is certain that chantries were allowed of in such chapels.
The Abbey, or Nunnery of Marham.
The nunnery of Marham was founded by Isabell, (fn. 19) widow of Hugh de Albany Earl of Arundel, for Cistertian or White nuns, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, St. Barbara, and St. Edmund the King and Confessor, by Richard de la Wiche Bishop of Chichester, on the 27th of January, in the year 1249, for the health of the souls of William, late Earl Warren and Surry, her father, and Maud her mother, daughter of William Marshal the elder, Earl of Pembroke, Hugh Earl of Arundel, her husband, and all her ancestors deceased, &c. and as the foundation deed is to be seen in Dugdale's Monasticon, beginning thus:— Universis Sancte Matris Ecclesie filiis, &c. I shall here omit it, and only observe that the witnesses to it (though sans date, according to that age,) were Walter de Suthfield Bishop of Norwich, R. de Wiche Bishop of Chichester, Master Walter de London Archdeacon of Norfolk, Roger Bigot Earl-Marshal of England, and Earl of Norfolk, Lord Hugh Bigot, and John de Warren Earl of Surry, her brother, Master William de Shirewode, Sir Ralph Hauvil, Sir Alexander Arsyk, Master John de Ingaldesthorp, &c. And on St. Bartholomew's day in the year of our Lord, 1252, this nunnery was incorporated into the abbey of Waverley in Surry, the principal, first, and mother-house of this order in England, by the abbots of Waverley and Beaulieu in Hampshire; this incorporation was, as I conceive, the reason that some authors assert this house to have been founded in the year 1252, (fn. 20) ("Isabella Comitissa Arundel, morum quidem gravitate non mediocriter adornata circa salutem animæ suæ diligens et sollicita, divinâ ut creditur inspiratione prævenitæ, abbatiam monialium ordinis cistercens. Marham vocatam cum summa devotione hoc anno. viz. 1252, construxit. Cujus rei causa abbatem nostrum (sc. de Waverley) duxit consulendum, ac permissione Domini ipsius, domum nostram intravit, societatem ordinis in capitulo nostro devotè petiit, et obtinuit, quatuor marcas et unum dolium vini conventui ad pitancias donavit.") And it appears from the Remembrancer of the said house of Marham, that Walter Bishop of Norwich granted license for this incorporation, on the 6th of September, 1251. "Walterus, &c. . . . Universitati vre. innatesiomus qd. votum. et concedim. tam pro nobis q. p. successor. n'ris. qd. demi. monial. de Marh'm. qu'cq; voluit Isabella Com. Arund. vel ej. successor. principali domui ord. Cisterc. incorpor." The foundress endowed this house with the manor and lands which her father had in this town, and which he gave her in frank marriage as by his deed appears. (fn. 21) "Sciant p'sentes et futur. qd. ego Willi'us Comes Warennie dedi et concessi et hâc p'senti cartâ meâ q. firmavi Hugon de Aubeney, comiti de Arundel in lib'o maritagio cu. Ysabella filiâ meâ quadraginta libratas tre. in villa de Marham in homagio et servitiis in p'tis in pascuis in pastur. in molendinis in messuagio de Marham integ. ita quod retinui mi. una' portionem t'barie ad castru' meu' de acra sustine'd. et q'cquid rema'serit ultra extensionem quadraginta librar. mi et heredib; meis remaneat habend. et tenend. de me, et heredib; meis, illi et heredib; suis de p'd'ca Ysabella exeuntib; lib'e quietè pacificè sine aliq. exactione, et ut h. mea donatio et concessiof' ma sit et stabil. hoc sc'ptu'. sigilli mei apposit. o'e roboravi hiis testib; Dno. Johe. Stutevill, Dno. Rado. de la Haye, Dno. Thom. filio Willi. Dno. Johe. f're suo, Dno. Rog. f're suo, Dno. Alexandro Harsyk, Dno. Rob. Crevequor, Dno. Hugon. de Playz, Dno. Rog. de Hales, Dno. Ada de Caly, Dno. Johe. Lenveyse, sans date." This gift of the foundress was confirmed by John Earl Warren, her brother, as appears also by his deed, sans date. (fn. 22) "Om'ib; Xti fidelib; p'sens scp'tu' visur. vel auditur. Johe de Warrenn. fil. Willi. qu'd. Com Warenn. salute in Dno.—Nov'itis me inspexisse carta' qua' Isabella de Aubeny soror mea Comitissa de Arundel fecit abbisse et conventui b'e Marie de Marham in hec v'ba.—Universis sc'e matris, &c.
"Ego aute' in plena etate existens d'cam dona't'om et concessione' p. me et heredib; meis rata' h'ns et g'tam. eam p'd'cis abbisse et covent. et s' success. in p'petuu' concessi et confirmavi, qu' tam ego q' hered. mei co't om'es homines warrantizabimb; in p'petuu' &c. Hiis testib; Dno. Rico. Com. Cornubie, Dno. Rog. Bigod, Com. Norff. et marescall. Angl. Dno. Rico. Com. Gloucest. et Herteford, Dno. Willo. de Vdlenc. Dno. Warino de Mundchensi, Dno. Robo. de Tattesshale, Dno. Rogo. de Monte Alto, Dno. Rogo. de Turkeby, Dno. Willo Bardolf, Dno. Johe. Talebot, Dno. Rado. de Seynplaunteys. Dno. Rado. de Hauvill, Dno. Willo. Rusteyns, Dno. Alexo. Arsyk, Dno. Regino. de. Dunham, Dno. Hub'to Hakum, Dno. Symon, de Suldham, Philippo Talcurteys, Rado Valens. Willo. Litchare, Johe. de Rudham, &c." —The said foundress also, afterwards, purchased of Sir Roger de Wymples of Thuringthon, knight, (fn. 23) for 15 marks of silver, 22 shillings yearly rent, with the homages, reliefs, escheats, &c. from William de Bekeswell, for lands and tenements which William held of him in Marham, paying to the said Roger and his heirs one pair of gloves, of the price of one penny, on the nativity of our Lord, yearly, and to the prior of Cokesford for the time being, 7s. yearly; and gave it by deed to the said house. Witnesses, Sir William Rusteyng, Sir William Belet, Sir Ralph de Wyrham, Hugh de Suldham, Alan de Suldham, Roger de Toftes, Geffrey de Say, Ralph de Wells, &c. She also by deed gave them the messuage, land, and the whole tenement which Thomas de le Wro, chaplain, once held of her in Marham, with all the rents, services, homages, &c. which Ryngolf, son of Walter and his heirs; also all the rents, services, homages, &c. which William Bond of Narburgh used to pay and perform to Walter de Wyndysouere, wherewith the said Walter had enfeoffed her. Also all that tenement in Marham, and all the land, meadows, &c. in Suldham, which she had of Ralph de Waleys. (fn. 24)
King Henry III. confirms the foundation deed and grants of the foundress, on Sep. the 3d, in the 36th year of his reign. Witnesses, Walter Bishop of Norwich, Geffrey de Lozingham, our brother, Roger Bigod Earl of Norfolk, Hugh de Ver Earl of Oxon, Mr. William Kilkenny, archdeacon of Coventry, Bertin de Crioll, Nicholas de Sco. Mauro, Eubel. de Montibus, William de Chaeny, Robert de Noreys.
Walter Bishop of Norwich, with the consent of the prior and convent of Westacre, and Nicholas, vicar of the churches of the Holy Trinity, and St. Andrew in Marham grants to this house free sepulture in their own church or chapel by their own priests, and a power to say mass there, and perform divine services, on condition that none of the parishioners of the said churches, be admitted to any holy sacrament, or there buried; and if any stranger should desire to be there buried, a salvo is made for the right of the said churches, dated the 9th of September, 1251; (fn. 25) this was again ratified in 1294 between the prior and convent of Westacre, and John, vicar of the said churches, and the abbess and convent; and it appears that the prior and convent had (on this account) granted to them by the abbess and convent a portion of tithe here, viz. the tithe of 17 acres and 2 roods, belonging to the said abbess, &c. and the said Walter Bishop of Norwich, with the will and consent of the foundress and patron, granted the said house to their proper use, all the great and small tithe belonging to her demean lands and lordship of Marham, which the secular clergy used to receive of the gift of the lords of the manor.
—"Walter. D'i gra' Norwyc' ep's om'ib; Xti fidelib; p'sentes li'ta visur. v'l auditu. &c. Universitat. v're tenor. p' sentiu' innotescat qd. nos de voluntate concessim' et assig'm' dil'cis in Xto filiab; abb'e et monial' de Marham n're dyoc. in pp'os us' om'es decimas majores et minores de d'nico et de cur. man. de Marham p'venient. qs. cl'ici secular' ex do' ati'e dnor. man. de M. hac ten. p'cipe consu' erunt volentes et concedentes qd. p'dce monial' d'cas decimas p'. pet'uis pt'pib; p'cipia't et in us'p'os sublato cuj. lib' conditio'is obstaculo s'n diminut'o'e'converta't, &c. Dat. 12 Kal. Jul. 1254. &c. Test. Rob. de Insula archidiac. Colechest. Willo. de Whitewell, capello, Will de Wichingham, Nich. de Surlingham, Hugh de Corbrig. Tho. de Walkote, Egid. de Whitewell, capello. Willo. de Bungeya cler."—And Roger the prior, and the convent of Norwich, confirmed it 15 kal. of June, 1260.
Walter de Fonte gave them a toft in Marham; witnesses Sir Symon de Suldham, Alan his brother, Geffrey de Marisco, Geffrey Oky, John Toke, &c. and William de Bekeswell confirmed it. (fn. 26)
Jeffery de Fonte gives them a messuage and lands, and a tenement with all his goods, moveable and immoveable, which he had in he village of Marham.—Witnesses, Sir Symon de Suldham, Sir William de Marham, capellan; confirmed by Simon de Suldham.
Thomas Burth gives to Mary, abbess of Marham, and the convent, one villain (Thomas Ulketel) in Marham, with all his family, tenements, and cattle, and all his rent, work, services, &c. also 8d. yearly rent in the said town.
Cecilia, formerly wife of Hubert Hakun of Schuldham, gives them 2 acres of land in Schuldham, paying to her and her heirs, 2d. per ann. Witnesses, John Trussebut de Schuldham, Richard his son, Reiner de Schuldham, &c.
William son of Alan, bastard of Marham, gave them an acre in Marham, and 2d. ob. yearly rent, which used to be paid for the same.
William de Bekeswell gave them his messuage in Marham.
Henry, son and heir of Edmund Ringof of Marham, gave them 15d. yearly rent, isuing out of 5 roods of lands in Marham, also 7d. ob. yearly rent in the said town.
Robert, son of Peter, son of William de Marham, 3d. yearly rent, which Robert, son of John Clerk of Marham used to pay his father for 7 roods of land.
John, the prior and the convent of Westacre, released to them half a mark rent per ann. due from a watermill in Marham, given to the convent of Westcre by Isabell the foundress, when the said convent of Westacre, grated this house the privilege of having divine service in their church, and a right of sepulture, the said foundress paying to John the prior, and convent of Westacre, 7 marks sterling; dated 11 July, 1273.
The prior ancconvent of Westacre, rectors of the parish churches of Marham, and John, vicar, grants them a portion of great and small tithe in the saicvillage.
Isabell de Albany, the foundress, gave them also lands in Kentford, Gaysle, Needham and Heringswell in Suffolk.
Thomas de Chawmbre, John de Rothings, and Stephen, son of John de Ressebrook, gave them lands in the said towns, and many persons are named.
In the 17th of Edward II. John de Ward held of Sarah, lady abbess of Marham, in Kentford, 20 acres of land and 5 of meadow; and in Needham 8 acres of land, and paid 2s. per ann. for the last, and 18s. and 4d. per ann. for that in Kentford.
In Heringswell the abbess had a messuage and all the land which the foundress bought of Roger Ulketyl of Attylburgh, with liberty of a foldage, common of pasture, homages, wards, reliefs, escheats, &c. also lands bought by the said foundress in Kentford, Gaysle and Needham, of the said Roger Ulketyl, all which was confirmed by deed of John Earl Warren, in memory (as it is said) of his most dear sister Isabell de Albany, dated in the 7th of Edward I.
Stephen, son of Wymer de Brandon, remits to the foundress 6s. yearly rent from 6 solidates of land bought by her of Roger Ulketyl, belonging to his fee in Heringswell.
Herbert de Besthorp gives to God and the church of St. Mary, and St. Edmund of Marham, for his own soul and that of Lucy his wife, &c. all his land with the appertenances in Besthorp, Norfolk, homages and services of his tenants, paying to him and his heirs, 22d. ob. per ann. for all services, &c. witnesses, Sir Baldwin de Melles, Sir Thomas de Bavent, Simon de Yxninge, William de Plessiz, &c.
Thomas de Dunham, gives to Mary, abbess, &c. of Marham, for their homage and service, and an 100 marks paid him, two messuages, one acre of meadow, and 24 acres of arable land in Wymondham, Norfolk, Witnesses, Sir Robert de Morley, Sir Andrew de Hengham, Sir William de Brom, Sir John de Gurnay, Sir Hubert Hakon, Richard his son, John de Gelham, Nicholas de Karlton.
Richard Blak of Carlton Forhowe, gives them one messuage, 5 acres and 3 roods of arable land there, and Roger, prior of Wymondham confirmed the same, and Ralph Crowe, gave land here to the foundress, which she gave to this house.
Robert de la Vel gives them a messuage with the appertenances in Stow Bedon, Norfolk. Witnesses, Sir William Mortimer, Sir Gyd. Buttetourte, Sir Jeffrey Bindale, William Howard, &c.
William Tyngtor of Newbreg, in Norwich, and Muriel his wife, paid them a mark per ann. for lands and tenements held there by him, and given by the foundress.
In the 18th of Richard II. the convent had a paent for 50 acres of land in Waynflet.
Churches appropriated to this House.
Carlton Forhowe, alias Carlton St. Peter's in Norfolk. (fn. 27) —The advowson of this church, and one acre of land, was gien to them by the foundress, which she purchased of Richard de Dunam. Witnesses, Sir William Agillon, Ralph de de Ferneaux, Hamelin e Warren, &c. and Roger de Skerning Bishop of Norwich appropriate it, and settled a vicar, whom the Bishops of Norwich were to nominate, and this convent present, dated at Teford the 4th of the nones of July, 1274. Richard de Dunham had for this advowson, and an acre of land, (on the north side of the churchyard,) 30 marks of the foundress, and she and her heirs were also to pay a pair of white gloves of the price of one penny, or one penny per ann. for all services. Witnesses, Sir William Rusteyng, Sir William Malerb, Sir Henry Noble, Sir Peter de Bokenham, Sir Thomas de Getham, Mr. William de Russebroc, &c. This church was valued at 8 marks per ann.
Stowe Bedon, in Norfolk. (fn. 28) —King Edward I. gave them for the health of his own soul, and that of his late consort, Alianor Queen of England, half an acre in Wyveton, and the advowson of this church, dated at Westminster, February 6, in the 20th year of his reign; a fine for this half acre and advowson was levied between Alianor Queen of England, querent, and Jeffrey de Suthorp, impedent, before Thomas de Weylaund, John de Lovetot, William de Brumton, Roger de Leycester, and Elias de Beckingham, the King's justices, in the 10th of Edward I. Ralph Walpole Bishop of Norwich appropriated it, and settled a vicar, whom the abbess, &c. was to present;—dated at Geywod, 14 of March, 1295. This church was valued at 16 marks per ann.
Didlington in Norfolk. (fn. 29) —John Earl Warren, &c. for the benefit of his own soul, &c. gave them the advowson of this church.—Dated at Kenington, 11th of July, in the 30th of Edward I. Witnesses, John Bishop of Norwich, Henry de Percy Earl of Northumberland, Lord William Latimer Lord Marmaduke Tweng, Sir Richard de Waunsingham, Sir John de Wantone, &c. and John Salmon Bishop of Norwich appropriated the same, on the resignation of Oliver de Wisset, the last rector, when a vicar was settled, whom the Bishops of Norwich were to nominate, and the convent to present;—dated at Terling, 20 December, 1302. This church was valued at 20 marks per ann.
Hackford in Norfolk. (fn. 30) —Sir Andrew de Hengham gave them 3 acres of his demesne lands in Hackford, with the advowson of the church of Hackford, St. Mary. Witnesses, Sir Robert de Marle, Sir William de Brom, Alexander de Elingham, Ralph Malerbe, John de Rokeland, &c. Mary, the abbess, and the convent, oblige themselves to find a chaplain at their own cost (from the time of its appropriation) to pray for the soul of the said Andrew, &c. This church was appropriated to them in the year 1329, by William Ayrmine Bishop of Norwich; and was valued at 4l. 6s. 8d. (fn. 31)
Rockland St. Peter's. (fn. 32) —Sir Robert de Benhale, Adam de Blofield, and Robert, vicar of Didlington, purchased of Sir John de Caston the advowson of this church, which was confirmed to them by Sir Constantine Mortymer, in the 20th of Edward III. and appropriated by William Bishop of Norwich, in 1349.
In the 12th of Edward II. a fine was levied by John Earl Warren and Surry, by which he settled the advowson or patronage of this house (which came to his family on the death of the foundress, sans issue) on Thomas Earl of Lancaster; and in 1347 the said Earl, John died seized of the patronage, leaving Alice his sister and heir, married to Edmund Fitz-Allen Earl of Arundel, but the patronage came to the house of Lancaster, by the aforesaid fine, and in the 34th of Edward III. it was settled by Henry Duke of Lancaster, on Maud his daughter, and coheir, married to William Earl of Heinalt; and in the 40th of that King, his other daughter and coheir, Blanch, and her husband, John Duke of Lancaster, were possessed of it. (fn. 33)
Many of the Kings of England confirmed the grants and privileges of this house; as did King Richard II. in his 9th year; and in the 20th of that King, they had a patent for founding a chantry in the hermitage of St. Guthlac in Marham, and in the 18th year of the said King, a patent for 50 acres of land at Waynfleet in Lincolnshire. (fn. 34)
The abbess had the privilege of proving the wills of those that died within the precinct or jurisdiction of this house, granted to this order by the popes. (fn. 35) In 1401, a contest arose about this privilege, and it was allowed them by the Bishop of Norwich; Joan Narburgh, then lady abbess, and Margery Harsyke prioress; the abbess and convent received from the year 1401, to the year 1453, several mortuaries due from lay persons, &c. who died in their convent, and were probably there buried.
For William Wulstan's mortuary, a gown of a blood colour.—For Margaret his wife's mortuary, a gown, &c.—For Sir Ralph Hersent's, a gown of a violet colour.—For Isabella Coupere's, . . . . of cloth and gold.—For Walter Chapman's, his best gown.—For Alot's (his wife) an armiclausa.—For John Dolman's, his best gown of russet colour.— For Muriel, his wife's, her best tunick of russet colour.—For Cecil Narburgh's, (who lived in the precincts of the abbey, and being there taken ill, died soon after at Narburgh,) a gown of blood colour furr'd with menyver.—For Matild de Murham's, a mantle furr'd with white. —For the Lady Alianore, late relict of Sir William Ingoldesthorpe, a mantle furr'd with gray.—For Beatrix Ryselegh's, a gown.—For Kath. Breckley's, a gown furr'd.—For Sir John Champeney, priest, who had a chamber in the precinct of the said abbey, and died in the priory of Blackburgh, a book called Chochont, sold for 8 marks to Thomas Schuldham, Esq.—For Mr. Thomas Rynstede's, a sorrel horse.—For Joan Pytty's, a gown.
About this time the temporalities of this house in the archdeaconries of Norwich and Norfolk amounted to 27l. 9s. 7d. ob. q. and the spiritualities are thus valued: Carlton Fourhow, 8 marks; Stow Bidon, 16 marks; Dodelyngton 20 marks; the portion of Ralph de Waleys in Marham, 8d. Total, 57l. &c. (fn. 36)
The abbess of Marham has the tithe of the domain belonging to her lordship of Marham, valued at 10 marks.—Norwich Domesday.
Mary, occurs about 1251, and in the 5th of Edward I.; (fn. 37) she was probably the first abbess.—Sarah occurs in the 17th of Edward II and in 1316. (fn. 37) —Agatha Howard occurs in the 16th of Edward III. and in 39 of the said King; she is called late abbess. (fn. 38) —Mary de Ingham; she was admitted and confirmed 7 July, 1363, and then received the Bishop's (of Norwich) benediction. (fn. 39) —Egidia Howard occurs in the 3d of Richard II. (fn. 40) —Elianor Weyland occurs in 1384, and kept her first court here in the 14th of Richard II. and occurs also in 6 of Henry V. (fn. 41) —Margery (fn. 40) occurs abbess in 5 and 6 of Henry VI.— Joan Narburgh occurs in 1453, and in 1467. (fn. 41) —Joan Heigham occurs in 1486, and in the 3d of Henry VII. and in July 1501, when she presented to Rockland. (fn. 41) In the 8th year of King Henry VII. I find the following account of the profits and disbursments of the abbey for one year past, under this abbess:
In average—13s. and 4d. Rent of assise for the abbey manor 12l. 16s. 8d. Assise for the manor of Denham's 1l. 3s. and from Besthorp 3s. For the farm of the rectory of Dydlington, 53s. and 4d.—For that of Hackford, nothing, it being this year in the hands of the vicar by way of augmentation.—For that of Stow Bedon 53s. and 4d. and 13s. and 4d. pension out of Rockland, and nothing from the rectory, it being in the hands of the vicar this year by way of augmentation.—For lands in Wymondham, Carlton Fourhow, and Kimberley, 40s.—For lands in Kentford, Needham and Gasely, 26s. and 8d.—For lands in Heringswell, 16s.—For lands in Shouldham, 10s. and 2d.—For corn sold this year, 11l. 9s. and 11d.; wool sold, 1l. 6s. and 8d.—For the hides and skins of cattle, 9s. out of which was 8s. for 12 ox hides.— Agistment of sheep, 28s. and cows 22d.—Received of Thomas Sefoul for the board of his two daughters for one year, 40s. and of Leonard Cotton for his board, 26s.—For the watermill, nothing.
Total received this year, 46l. 18s. 1d.
Part of the account of Nicholas Houghton their bailiff, or steward of their grange, stands thus for the said year.
Wheat 53 quarters and 5 bushels.—Meslin, 58 quarters and 6 bushels.—Rye 19 quarters and 6 bushels.—Oats 12 quarters and 4 bushels.—Malt 78 quarters and 2 bushels.—The rest relates to the cattle, sheep, &c.
The disbursments of the said year stand thus: To the prior of Coxford, per ann. 7s.—To the manor of Old-Hall, 2d.—To John Shouldham, 18d.—To the prior of Castleacre, 2d.—Expenses in carts and ploughs, &c. 31s. and 2d.—In beef, mutton, veal, pork, salt-fish and herring, 12l. 5s.—In threshing and dressing the corn of the abbey, 24s. and 9d.—In repairs of the abbey, &c. 35s. and 8d.—In repairs of the churches, 42s. and 6d.—In the watermill, 13s. and 5d.—In the foldage, 3s. and 10d.—In foreign charges and expenses, 35s. and 8d.—In the ditches and fences, 4s. and 10d —Charges in harvest, &c. 49s. and 3d.—In wages, fees and stipends, 12l. 19s. 8d.—For the rent of a toft, 3s. 9d.—The whole disbursments amounted to 69l. 19s. 5d. ob.— After this is adjoined the sum of 16s. and 8d. for 20d. apiece given to the nuns, and 6d. given to 13 poor people.
Barbara Mason occurs in 1511, and in the 25th of Henry VIII. and was the last abbess. Amongst the evidences of the Honourable Sir Thomas Hare, Baronet, is the seal of this house, affixed to some deeds and grants, and one to a deed of this abbess: the seal is oblong, the impress is the figure of a lady abbess in her proper habit, (fn. 42) standing in an antique arch curiously wrought, and holding in her dexter hand a crosier staff, and in her sinister hand before her breast, something resembling an open book, and on each side of the arch is a shield,—checque, or and azure, the paternal arms of the foundress, being the arms of the Warrens Earls of Surrey, &c. and under these shields a lily: the upper part of the seal is broke, at the head of the abbess, as is the greater part of the legend beginning—Sigillum Abbat.
This order of the Cistertian nuns had many large privileges from the Pope, probate of wills within their precincts, exemption from paying of tithes, and procurations, and the liberty of bearing the crosier in processions. (fn. 43)
The lady sacrist of this house had 11 acres and 3 roods of land in Marham annexed to her office, and the lady hostillar, 7 acres 3 roods and an half. (fn. 44)
This house was dissolved in the 27th of Henry VIII. and stands thus differently valued; by Dugdale, at 33l. 13s. and 5d. ob. q. (fn. 45) Stephens, in his Addition to the Monasticon, says that the abbey of Marham, St. Barbara, was valued at 42l. 4s. and 7d. ¾, the clear value, 33l. 13s. 6d. ¾. (fn. 46) and Speed has the same; but Weaver says, at 13l. 6s. 1d. ob. (fn. 47) — It was certainly a religious house very meanly endowed, and on that account they were often pardoned and excused from the payment of their tenths, and particularly by King Edward I. in the 10th year of his reign. (fn. 48)
On the Dissolution the religious had these enormous crimes laid to their charge:
Barbara Mason peperit semel, et fatetur se cognitam a priore de Pentney.
Elizab. Lightfoot semel peperit ex conjugato.
Elizab. Plumer peperit semel ex conjugato.
Dorothea Lovel peperit semel ex conjugato.
Joanna Manne peperit duas proles ex solutis. (fn. 49)
The site of this abbey, with the nuns church or chapel, bell-tower, and the appertenances, with the manor of Marham, (as has been observed,) was given by King Henry VIII on the 3d of July, in the 38th year of his reign, to Sir Nicholas Hare, and John Hare, citizen of London, in whose family it still remains. This nunnery stood a little westward of the present church of Marham, (the common way or road only being between them,) in a large pasture close, enclosed with walls of clunch or chalk stone, dug out of some neighbouring pits: in the said close is a farm-house with large barns, &c. which seem, by the materials, to be built out of the ruins of the said abbey. The most observable building now remaining, is a very lofty wall of clunch stone, running east and west, in length about 73 feet; this was the south wall of the church or chapel of the said abbey; near the summit of this wall were 4 oval windows, (as represented in Plate I. Fig. 15.) two of which are still entire: the whole length of this chapel was about 99 feet, the breadth, about 30, as appears from the foundation walls, and the space between them; the reason that the walls were so high, and of this form on this wall, was because the cloister here joined to it, which, with the area in the centre, was a square of 99 feet, as appears from the ruins and foundation stones; and from the projection of the stone work of the said chapel wall, which supported the timber, roof, &c. on this north side of the cloister. No doubt in the north wall of this chapel, the windows were large and lofty, but there are no remains of that, save the foundation. Near the west end of this wall is a little building of stone, &c. in which are two or three arches, (supported by pillars of free stone,) now worked up, and which are now used to lay turf and other firing in: and over this is a dove-house, probably part of some old cloister leading to the church, or the charnel-house.