Clackclose Hundred and Half: Wermegay

An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 7. Originally published by W Miller, London, 1807.

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Francis Blomefield, 'Clackclose Hundred and Half: Wermegay', An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 7, (London, 1807), pp. 493-502. British History Online [accessed 24 June 2024].

Francis Blomefield. "Clackclose Hundred and Half: Wermegay", in An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 7, (London, 1807) 493-502. British History Online, accessed June 24, 2024,

Blomefield, Francis. "Clackclose Hundred and Half: Wermegay", An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 7, (London, 1807). 493-502. British History Online. Web. 24 June 2024,

In this section


Hermerus de Ferrariis, a powerful Norman baron, had the grant of this lordship, on the expulsion of Turchetill, who had large possessions before the conquest; Hermerus takes place in the survey before the abbots, &c. and had manors given him in the following towns;—Marham, Fincham, Barton, Westbrigg, Wallington, Foston, Downham, Stow, Wimbolsham, Riston, Derham, Fordham, Thorpland, Bexwell, Stradset, and Well, in the hundred of Clackclose;—EastWinch, Tilney, Islington, North-Rungton, West-Winch, Wigenhale, Walton, Geyton, Thorp, and Lynn, (including what he had also seised on, and invaded,) in the hundred of Frebridge;—Ellingham in Shropham hundred; Litcham, Longham and Rougham in Launditch hundred;—Whinburgh, Garveston, Shipdam, Yaxham, North and East Tudenham, Reymerston, Mateshale, Letton, Torvestuna, Bicherston in Milford hundred;—Wreningham in Humbleyard hundred, including, as I have observed, what he had seized on, as the survey sets forth.

In Turchetil's time this lordship consisted of one carucate of land, 8 villains and 2 servi, with 8 acres of meadow, one carucate in demean, and one among the tenants, the 4th part of a mill and 3 fisheries, 3 cows, &c. 4 skeps of bees and a church; the whole valued at 60s. per ann. was 5 furlongs long, and 2 broad, and paid 2d. to a 20s. gelt.

Hermerus had also seized on 4 acres held by 2 freemen, and his predecessor had all customary dues from them. (fn. 1)

Hermerus's descendants, according to the Norman custom, took the name of De Wirmegay, from this lordship, which was the head manor of a barony. The first that I meet with (and probably son of Hermerus) was Richard de Wirmegay, father of William de Wirmegay, who in the 7 or 8th year of Henry II. accounted for 20l. 10s. belonging to his barony, and in the 12th of that King, was found to hold 14 knights fees and a half in capite, also 2 knights fees of the old feoffment, of Hugh Bigot. (fn. 2) Soon after this William died, Ao. 14 Henry II. (as I take it) in which year Reginald de Warren, second son of William 2d, and brother of William 3d, Earls Warren and Surry, accounted for 9l. 10s. for this barony, (and had a good part of his scutage pardoned,) on the marriage of Maud, the King's daughter, to Henry Duke of Saxony. This Reginald married Alice, daughter and heir of William de Wirmegay, in the 14 and 15 of that King; he was a justice itinerant in Norfolk, Suffolk, Surrey, &c. and in the 20th, one that was ap pointed to levy tallages in the King's demeans of England; and with the consent of Alice his wife, gave to the canons of Southwark the church of Plumpton in Sussex.

Reginald, by Alice, had William de Warren, who paid scutage for this barony in the 31 of Henry II. and in the 14 of Richard I. paid 14l. 5s. to the King's redemption. In the Register of Bury abbey is an agreement between this William, and Sampson, then abbot, who claimed 65s. rent, and 2000 eels, for the mills between Wermegay and Westbrigg, the gift of William's ancestors, who on a grant of lands, here, in Tolenhill, &c. released the said rent in the court of Exchequer, before Richard, the King's treasurer, Joceline, archdeacon of Chichester, Hubert Walter, Rt. de Inglesham, Thomas de Hasseburn, &c. barons of the Exchequer, &c.

He married, first Beatrix, and secondly, Millecent, widow of Richard Lord Montfitchet and gave in the 5 of King John, 400 marks for license to marry her, and dying Ao. 11 of that King, left Beatrix his daughter and heir, by his first wife, and then relict of Doun or Dodo Bardolf, son and heir of Thomas de Bardolf, by Rose his wife, daughter and heir of Ralph Hanseline, lord of Shelford in Nottinghamshire, which Thomas was son of William Bardolf, sheriff of Norfolk and Suffolk, Ao. 16 Henry II. The said Beatrix, in the aforesaid year, gave 3000 marks to have her dower of Bardolf's lands, and seizin of her inheritance, and that she might not be distrained to marry again, and that the debts owing to the King from her father, should be paid out of the goods and chattels belonging to her father, and of Milisent his wife, which he died possessed of. (fn. 3) William, her father, was a benefactor to the canons of Southwark, in which he was buried, for the souls of Reginald and Alice, his father and mother, and the souls of Beatrix his wife, and Reginald his son, and Isabel his wife, and Beatrix his daughter. Reginald his son dying before him, s. p.

In the 13th of King John, Beatrix, widow of Dodo Lord Bardolf, was the wife of Hubert de Burgh, the King's lord-chamberlain, and after Earl of Kent, and in the 17th, Hubert held it in right of his wife, lately deceased.

In the 27th of Henry III. William Lord Bardolf, son and heir of Dodo and Beatrix, had livery of his honour, which the Earl of Kent held late for life, and the sheriff had authority to deliver it to him, and in the following year, the grant of a mercate every Monday, and a fair.

On the marriage of the King's daughter to the Emperor, he answered for 14 knights fees and an half, belonging to his barony; in the 38 of that King, had a grant of free warren, for all the manors belonging to it, and in the 55 it was found that 700 acres of fen, marsh, &c. in this town, Tetinhill, &c. belonging to this lord, were drowned by the raising of a causeway. This seems to be now what is called Sechie Causeway, and made about this time.

In the 3d of Edward I. he claimed the lete, assise, weyf, pillory, fairs, trebuchet, and held 15 knights fees and a half in capite, and in the following year died, leaving by Nichola his wife, William his son and heir, who married in his father's life, Juliana, daughter and heir of Hugh de Gourney, a baron of the realm; who bore paly of six, or, and azure; and in the 43d of Henry III. William Bardolph, junior, and Juliana his wife, paid 184l. and 2 hogsheads of wine, for debts due to that King, and the manor was extended at his father's death, at 45l. 11s. 10d. per ann.

This lord had several summons as a baron to serve that King Ao. 5, and 10, &c. and in the 15th to a parliament at Gloucester, by Edmund Earl of Cornwall, during the King's absence, and died in 1289; Juliana survived him, and on her death, in the 23d of the said King, Hugh was found to be her son and heir aged 40 years.

Hugh Lord Bardolf took to wife Isabella, daughter and heir of Robert Aguillon of Addington in Surry, a parliamentary baron: he was the 22d peer, who subscribed the letter to the Pope in the 29th of Edward I. signifying that the kingdom of Scotland was not of his fee, and that the Pope had no jurisdiction in temporal affairs; on his death, in the 32d of that King, it was found, that he paid 7s. monthly for castle guard to the castle of Norwich, and that Thomas was his son and heir, by Isabel, aged 22. Isabel survived him, and in the 6th year of Edward II. released by deed to Sir Michael de Poynings, Knt. and Margery his wife, all her right in the manor of Bures, in Suffolk, dated at Bercamp, in Sussex, on the feast of the annunciation; the seal is of red wax, the impress a cinquefoil, each leaf of it charged with a lis, the cinquefoils being her husband's arms, and gules, a lis argent, her paternal arms.

The Lord Bardolf, son and heir of Hugh, or, as some say, son of William Lord Bardolf, son of Hugh, was created Knight of the Bath, in the 34th of Edward I. with the Prince of Wales; in the 15th of Edward II. &c. had, with Sir John de Thorp, and Sir John Haward, the guard of Norfolk and Suffolk, and of the sea coasts; he married Agnes, daughter of the Lord Grandison, and dying in the 3d of Edward III. was buried in the priory of Shelford in Nottinghamshire, leaving John his son and heir, aged 17, who, in the 10th of that King, married Elizabeth de Burgo, or Burgh, 3d daughter and coheir of Gilbert Earl of Gloucester and Clare, by his wife Joan de Acres, sister of Edward I. called de Burgh, from her first husband, John de Burgo, Lord of Connaught in Ireland.

This John Lord Bardolph, and his lady Elizabeth, appointed John de Lasceles, jun. to deliver, in their name, to the lady Avice, late wife of Sir Robert Constable of Halsham, seisin of the fourth part of the manor of Kirkby under Knolle in Yorkshire, by deed dated at Wirmegay Ao. 13th of Edward III.; to it are 2 seals, one of the Lord Bardolf, azure, three cinquefoils, or; the other, a large and round seal,— in the centre the arms of Bardolf, in the summit and the base, or, a plain cross, gules, in a bordure, sable, the arms of her first husband, Burgh; on the right side of these, are three shields of arms; 1st, sable, a lion rampant, argent, the arms of Theobald de Verdon, her 2d husband; the 2d, or, three chevronells, gules; the arms of her grandfather, Earl of Clare; the 3d, a castle, triple-towered, on the left side is 1st, the said castle, 2d, barry of six, argent and gules, nebuly, a bend over all, azure, the arms of her 3d husband, Roger Damorey, Baron of Armoy in Ireland; and the 3d Verdon.

This lady styled herself, in grants made in her widowhood, Elizabeth de Burgh, Lady of Clare, and dying in 1360, was buried in the nunnery of the Minorites, without Aldgate.

King Edward III. in his 19th year, sent his writ, witnessed by Lionel his son, then custos of England, to this Lord John, then a panneret, to attend him beyond sea, with all his retinue, and in his 21st year, June 14th, he had a summons to repair immediately to the King, at the siege of Calais, not to stay till his horses were shipped, but to be there before the French raised the siege, which they daily threatened.

Several genealogists make Elizabeth, the wife of this John Lord Bardolf, not to be the daughter of Gilbert Earl of Clare, by Joan of Acres, who married John de Burgo, but to be the daughter and heir of Roger D'Amory, an Irish lord, 3d husband of Elizabeth de Burgo, daughter of the Earl of Clare aforesaid, and what seems to confirm this, is the grant of King Edward II. on December, 1st Ao. 12 at York, (in the parliament there,) of divers manors, to this Roger and Elizabeth, his wife, and niece to that King, and the heirs of her body, and after his death they went to Elizabeth, daughter of the said Roger, who married John Lord Bardolf; as appears from the eschaets rolls in the 3d of Henry VI. and this Elizabeth died in the 51st of Edward III. 1377.

In 1353, this lord had a grant from Pope Clement, of a portable altar to perform mass at, which, as a curiosity, I have here annexed; (fn. 4)

"Clemens Eps. s. s'vor. Dej dil'co filio nob'lj viro Johi. Bardolf militi, et dil'ce in Xto. filie nobili mulieri, Elizabethe ej; uxori Norwicen. dioc. sal'm. et aplica' bn. sincere devotionis affect. qu. ad nos et Romanam geris ecc. n. i'digne mer't. ut petic'o'ib; v'ris, &c. quas ex devoc'o'is fervore, p'dire conspicim; qua'ta' cu. D'o. possum; favorab'ter annuam. Hinc est q. nos v'ris devot. supplicat' o'ib; inclinatj, ut liceat vot. haber, altar. portabile c. reve'ncia et honore sup' quod in locis ad hoc convenientib; et honest. possit qui'i't. vestu. p. p'p'u. sacerdote' ydoneu' missa' et alia divina officia s'n juris alienj p'judic' in v'ra p'sencia facere celebrarj, devoc'o'j v're, tenore p'sent. indulgem; nulli vero o'i'o ho'i'u'. liceat hanc paginam n're concession. i' fringere v'l ej; ausu temerar. cohibere si quis aut hoc attemptar. psumpsit indignac'o'em o'ipotent. Dei et Beator. Petri et Pauli Ap'lor. ej; se nov'it incursuru. Dat. Av'ion. VII. Id. Augusti Pont. n'ri. Ao. undecimo." Every Romish priest has in England at present, such an altar to carry about with him.

In the 28th of the said King, he was one of those barons of parment who signed the letters of proxy to Richard Wymondesold, &c. (fn. 5) to agree on their parts to what should be accorded before the Pope, between the envoys of England and France, about settling their differences, and in the 33d, he was appointed by the King to meet at Westminster on Sunday next after the feast of St. Martin, to be of counsel to Thomas of Woodstock his son, (Earl of Gloucester,) whom the King, being then at Sandwich in Kent, ready to embark for France, had named custos of England. In the 45th of Edward III. on the 3d of August, this John Lord Bardolph died, when it appears that he held the manor of Wyrmegay, a water-mill there and a pool called Le Ley, with the appertenances, &c. together with the honour of Wyrmegay in capite by barony, paying to Norwich castle yearly 7s. for castle guard, and wait fee of the said castle 40d. at St. Michael, and 40d. at Easter, (fn. 6) to which manor and honour were belonging, about 20 knights fees, viz. 2 knights fees held of the Earl-Marshal, 8 knights fees and a quarter of the Earl Warren, and 9 knights fees and an half of the Bishop of Norwich; those held of the King in capite were Watlington, Brussard manor; Thorpland. Estow manor; Stradsete manor; Fordham, Prior's; Fyncham, Curpel; Derham Abbots; Fincham, Fareswell, and Grancourt; Barton, Lovell; Dereham, Tymworth; Russell Moyne in Foteston (Foston), and other towns; Watlynton Moyne; Seche Moyne; Westwinch Moyne; Wreningham Moyne; Thurston Wace; Geyton Thorp, Yaxham, Ellingham Magna, Grimston, East Lexham-Rou's; East Tudenham-Cockfield; Tylney Chervyle; Tirington, Spalding; Tirington Sculhum; Tirington Monk; Islyngton Chervyle, Clenchwarton Chervile; Wigenhale Chervile; Matshall Chervyle; Hermitory of Downham and Hillington manors; also divers parcels of land in divers towns. The fees of the Earl Mareschall, were two knights fees, Narburgh and Rugham, those of the Earl Warren, the manors of Croxton, Klypston, Hempton, St. Martyn, Hempton Barsham, Hempton Waterden, Lyrling, Gunvile, Rushworth Gunvile, Caston, Griston, Wicklewode, Refftey, and parcels of lands in several towns in Norfolk; Betourd or Botetourt manor in Cambridgeshire, and Euston Virley in Suffolk. The fees held of the Bishop of Norwich, were the manors of Ringsted Magna, Holkham Wake, Cockthorp, Sniterle, Glanford, Sniterle Astley, Calthorp, Hungriswanton, alias Swanton-Morley, South Birlingham Rightwise, Boyton South Birlingham, Hindringham Outlagh, Field Dawling, HindringhamNowers, Hindringham Cantley, Langele, Mendham Foliot, North Elmham, North Rungton, Bekeswell, East Winch Drewe, Middleton Howard, Thorp, Grymston, Feltwell, Thorp Russell, Thor Hyndrecle in Norfolk; and South Elmham and Ilketishall in Suffolk.—Besides the possessions abovementioned he died seised of the manor of Clopton in Suffolk, (fn. 7) those of Burgh, Hekinton, Cathorp, &c. in Lincolnshire; Stoke Bardolph, &c. in Nottinghamshire, as parcel of his barony of Shelford to which, as it is said, there were 29 knights fees belonging, and William was found to be his son and heir, aged 14, and then in ward with Sir Michael Poynings, having purchased it of Queen Philippa.

This William Lord Bardolf married Agnes, daughter of the said Sir Michael, and on the 13th of June, in the 8th of Richard II. was summoned by writ to meet the King, with his horses and arms and whole service, on the 14th of July following, to march into Scotland, against the Scots; he died in the following year, and was buried amongst the Carmelite friars at Lynn, in the quire; his will bears date at Cathorpe in Lincolnshire, the 12th of September, 1384, and on his death, Thomas was found to be his son and heir, aged 17 years; Agnes his wife survived him, and was afterwards married to Sir Thomas Mortimer, Knt. and in the 21st of Richard II. he was found to hold this manor, &c. in her right. By her will, dated June 9, 1403, at the Earl of Oxford's house in St. Austin's de Papey at London, (then a widow,) she desires to be buried in the conventual church of the Holy Trinity, without Aldgate, London, which was proved October the 15th following.

Thomas Lord Bardolf, son of William and Agnes, gave his vote with some other lords, for the safe custody of the late King Richard II. in the 1st of Henry IV.; his wife was Avice or Anne, daughter of Ralph Lord Cromwell of Tatsall in Lincolnshire; being in arms against King Henry IV. in his 9th year, and wounded in an engagement at Bramham-moor in Yorkshire, he was beheaded, and attainted in parliament; he left two daughters and coheirs, Anne and Joan; Anne married first Sir William Clifford, and after Sir Reginald Cobham. Joan was the wife of Sir William Phelip, son of Sir John Phelip of Denyngton in Suffolk, treasurer of the household, and chamberlain to King Henry V. whom he attended in the wars of France, and had the chief conduct of that King's melancholy funeral. Sir William was Knight of the Garter; by his will dated December 1, 1438, he requires to be buried in the chapel of St. Margaret in Denyngham, where he founded a chantry for 2 priests, but by a codicil, orders his body to be buried in the churchyard, and died in the 19th Henry VI.

On the attainder of the aforesaid Thomas Lord Bardolf, Ao. 9, of Henry IV. May 8, this lordship or barony was granted, with all its knights fees, to Thomas Beaufort, the King's brother, afterwards Duke of Exeter, who dying s. p. in the 5th of Henry VI. the said King, on the petition of Sir William Phelip, and Joan, afterwards gave it by patent to them, and he died Lord Bardolf.

Anne, the other daughter and coheir of Thomas Lord Bardolf, dying without issue Ao. 32 of the said King, this honour descended to John Viscount Beaumont, who married Elizabeth, only daughter and heir of William Phelips Lord Bardolph, and Joan his wife, whose arms were, quarterly, gules and argent, in the first quarter, an eagle displayed, or.

This John Lord Beaumont was the first Viscount in England, and in great favour with the King, and for his continued services had many privileges allowed him in this town, &c. with the grant of a capital messuage in St. Bennet's Paul's wharf, (Thames-street, London,) called New Inn, in the 27th of Henry VI.; and in the following year created (June the 8th) lord great chamberlain; but at the battle at Northampton on July 9, Ao. 38, was slain, leaving William his son and heir, who married first Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Richard Scroop, brother to the Lord Scroop of Bolton in Yorkshire, and after her death, Joan, daughter of Humphrey Stafford Duke of Buckingham, and being engaged in the same royal cause as his father, was taken prisoner at the bloody battle of Towton in 1460, but making an escape on the 14th of November in the 1st of Edward IV. was attainted, and this manor was granted, in the 5th of this King, to John Nevill Marquis Mountacute, who being slain in the battle of Barnet, it was given to Anthony Woodvill, the Queen's brother, who possessed it, till he was beheaded at Pomfret castle.

William Lord Beaumont abovementioned, on the accession of Henry VII. to the crown, was restored in blood, and on December 11, 1495, John de Vere Earl of Oxford had a grant, by letters patents, of the custody of the person of this Lord, honours, manors, &c. during his life.

This William Viscount Beaumont, Lord Comyn, Bardolph, Phelip, and Erpingham, (as he is styled,) died December 20, 1507, sans issue, and lies buried under a noble monument at the east end of the chancel of Wyvenho in Essex, with his effigies in armour, where also his second lady, who remarried the Earl of Oxford, was interred on her death, June 16, 1537, (fn. 8) when this manor came to the Crown.

King Henry VIII. on July 3, in his 32d year, conveyed to John Dethick, Esq. many pastures, marshes, and lands, with foldage, in the tenure of John Fincham, and a fishery in the water of Eye, in the tenure of the prior of Pentney; by which it appears that the river here was called the Eye, and not the Nar. The said King, in his 36th year, May 5, grants to him, the park of Wormegay, lands called the Hall-yard, with the myll, part of the said manor, and in the following year license from him to alienate the site of the manor called the Hall-yard, the Hall-croft, and the Hall-fen, to Bartholomew Plumstede and his heirs.

On an inquisition taken a Norwich, September 10, Ao. 8 of Elizabeth, Edmund Dethick, son of John Dethick and Ann his wife, was found to die April 6, 1565, seized of a capital messuage, park and lands held of the King in capite, by the 20th part of a knight's fee; a messuage called le House at the Oak, with lands and marshes held by the 40th part of a fee; and Christopher was his son and heir, by Elizabeth his wife.

In the 15th of Elizabeth, B. Plumsted alienated the site of the manor, &c. to Richard Wilcocks and William Guybon, but the manor was in the Crown, till King Edward VI. granted it, November 16, Ao. 5, to John Duke of Northumberland, who had license to alienate it to Thomas Myldmay, Esq. whose son, Sir Thomas, was lord in the 9th of Elizabeth, and conveyed it, in the 23d of that Queen, to Francis Gawdy, afterwards chief justice of the Common Pleas, and so came to Sir Robert Rich, who conveyed it to Sir John Peyton, in which family it was in the 18th of King James I. After this it was purchased by Dr. John Warner, who died Bishop of Rochester in 1666, and was settled by his trustees to pay certain annuities to 20 poor widows of the clergy in his hospital at Bromley, &c. John Lee Warner, D. D. archdeacon of Rochester, son of Thomas Lee of London, Gent. by Anne his wife, sister to the Bishop, was his heir, and lord in 1630, and in that family it continues, Henry Lee Warner being the present lord.

Here is a good decoy belonging to this manor.

The tenths were 4l. 12s.—Deducted 1l. 6s. 8d.—The lete is in the lord of the hundred, fee with Totenhill 2s.

John Fincham, &c. in the 16th of Richard II. aliened to the prior of Ely a messuage, 27 acres and one rood of land, 3 acres, &c. of meadow, and 6 of pasture, with liberty of a foldage here, in Foston, and Garboisthorp, and lands in Fincham, Wyrham, and Shouldham. (fn. 9)

The Priory.

In this town was a priory founded by William de Warren, in the reign of Richard I. who died in the 11th of King John, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, the Holy Cross, and St. John the Evangelist, for canons of the order of St. Augustin. No remains of it are visible at this time; it was in a close, opposite to the castle of Wirmegay, on the left hand, as you enter into the town; the priory being on the north side, the castle on the south.


Ralph occurs prior Ao. 18 Henry III.

Nicholas (fn. 10) occurs prior 14 of Edward I.

1300, John de Boylound canon of Wyrmyngey, was admitted prior; presented by Hugh Lord Bardolph. (fn. 11)

1302, Nicholas de Elme, elected by the convent, but admitted by the Bishop by lapse.

1315, Robert de Craneworthe, canon, &c. admitted.

1330, John de Cauntely, canon, admitted on the death of Craneworthe.

1349 Simon de Leverington, on the death of Canteley.

Michael de Thoruham.

1370 Robert de Fordham, or the resignation of Michael de Thornham.

1383, Hugo de Fincham canon of Wyrmegey, on the death of Fordham appointed by the Bishop of Norwich, the election of the convent being set aside, as insufficient.

1416, Hugo Watlyngton.

1447, Robert Walsyngham, canon of St. Mary, Westacre, on the death of Watlyngton,

1461, John Methelwold on the resignation of Walsyngham; this convent then granting license to the Bishop of Norwich to present, and pleading great poverty; and in the year 1468, this priory was annexed, with all its members and appertenances to that of Pentney, an adjoining priory.

John Nevil Earl of Northumberland, and his Countess, giving their consent, to which Earl King Edward IV. (on the attainder of William Lord Viscount Beaumont, lord of this manor and patron of this priory, as heir to the Lords Bardolph,) had granted this manor, &c. the convent of Pentney engaging to pray (as that of Wirmegay had done) for ever, for the soul of this Earl, &c. patrons of this priory.—On the dissolution of Pentney priory, the lands, &c. of that house, came to the Crown, and amongst them, those which belonged formerly to this priory; and in the 29 of Henry VIII. the site of this priory, with the house, garden, &c. meadows, and pastures belonging to it were leased out February 14, in the said year, to Thomas Earl of Rutland, by the court of augmentations, &c. for 21 years, and were farmed under the said Earl by John Dethick, for 21l. per ann. King Edward VI. in his 4th year, 11 of April, gave the site of this priory of Wirmegay, and manor, together with the rectory, which was appropriated thereto, to Thomas Thirlby Bishop of Norwich; (fn. 12) but Edmund Scambler, who was made Bishop of Norwich, in the 27 of Elizabeth, and doing, as Sir Henry Spelman observes, (fn. 13) as much as well he might to impoverish his church, made a lease of most of the manors and lands thereof, and amongst them of the lands belonging to this priory of Wirmegay, and the nunnery of Blackburgh adjoining, to Queen Elizabeth for 80 years, at the lowest rent he might, which Bishop Godwin, in like cases, termeth sacrilege; after this it came to the see of Norwich again

The imporalities of the prior of Wirmegay, in the said town, were, n 1428, taxed at 6l. 9s. his spiritualities for the church of Wirmegay at the said time, taxed at 6 marks and an half, Peter-pence, 8d.

The sum of the spiritualities of the said prior amounted then to 19l excepting the rectory of East Tudenham in Norfolk.

The sum of the temporalities of the said prior, to 37l. 8s. 6d.

At the Dissolution, this priory annexed to (and together with) Pentney, was valued, as Speed, at 205l. 18s. 8d. the clear value 170l. 4s. 9d.¼ as Duguale.

Roger Curpell gave to the prior and convent here, the manor of Derham Curpel in the reign of Edward III. which was confirmed to them by the Lords Bardolph, of whom it was held. Gilbert Hethill, in the said reign, gave to this prior, a messuage, 40 acres of land, 5 of pasture, and 5s. rent in Fordham and Riston. (fn. 14)

John de Houlton, 9 of Edward III. gave a manor in West Derham.

John de Cantele, the prior &c. held 5 acres of land in Seche, of the manor of Hogh, in the 12 of Edward III. (fn. 15)

In the 16 of Richard II. John Davy and others aliened to the prior of Wirmegey, of Holy Cross and the blessed Mary in Wirmegey, (fn. 16) 17 acres of land and 13 acres of meadow in Totenhill, Westwynch, EastTudenham and Sechithe Magna, together with tenements in Wyrham, Tofts, Wyrmegeye and Fordham.

The prior and convent held lands at Thorp in Suffolk, and were taxed for them (temp. Edward III.) at 20s. 10d. also lands then at Stow Langtoft, Suffolk, taxed at 3s. 4d. and for their temporalities at Westwinch in Norfolk in 1428, at 6l. 5s.

These churches following were in this house:

Wermegay, appropriated to it (as I conceive) on the foundation of the priory.

East-Tudenham in Norfolk, granted Ao. 15 King John, and appropriated to them in the year 1339; (fn. 17) here was a vicarage then, settled in the patronage of the said priory.

A mediety of the church of Fordham in Norfolk, to which they presented in 1306; (fn. 18) this was appropriated to them the last day of February, 1346.

Westbrigg and Totenhill in Norfolk, appropriated to this priory 18 July, 1416, given them by Thomas Beaufort Earl of Dorset on condition they supply it by one of their canons, or to find a sufficient chaplain.

A modern author calls this a cell to Pentney; and Stephens says that neither the Monasticon nor any other that he hath met with, gives us the least account of this monastery, whose name he only met with in Sir Henry Spelman's History of Sacrilege. (fn. 19)

The Church of Wirmegey is dedicated to St. Michael, as appears from the will of John Martyn, dated 16 December, 1488. (fn. 20) It is an ancient single building, of car-stone, flint, &c. covered with reed; at the west end of the nave is an ancient font; on the basons are 8 shields, now defaced; at the end of the south wall near to the screen, has been an altar; the bason for the holy water is still remaining. The tower, at the west end of the nave, is chiefly of car-stone, in which hangs one bell; the chancel is divided from the nave by a wooden screen, and is covered with Holland gutter-tiles.

This church stands near a mile east of the present village, (which is now a very mean one) in the fields by itself. It was (as has been observed) appropriated to the priory, and afterwards to that of Pentney on the union of the two priories; at the Dissolution it came to the Crown, and was given by King Edward VI. in his 4th year, to the Bishop of Norwich and his successours for ever, and is leased out at this time by the said Bishop.

In 1603, we find, from the account of Robert Geyton, then curate, that there were 107 communicants; (fn. 21) and the stipend was 6l. per ann. but Bishop Reynolds, upon the renewal of the lease of the impropriate rectory, (fn. 22) expressly reserved an augmentation for the curate of 20l. per ann.

In the 13th of Queen Elizabeth, 40s. per ann. was paid to the serving curate here, out of the lands belonging to the priory of Pentney, by the Queen's receiver general, from the augmentation office, and is said to be a perpetual grant.

Wermegay is environed with water and low grounds, fens and marshes; the chief and most safe entrance, is by a causey on the west side, where on the right hand, stood formerly a castle. Here the Bardolfs lived and resided at times, being the head, or site of the barony of Wermegay. Wire is the name of a river in Lancashire; hence Werhale in Cheshire, Werlingham in Suffolk, Surrey, and Wermelai, now called Wormley, in Hertfordshire, also Wermenhala, now Wormhale, in Bucks.


  • 1. Terre Hermeri—Wermegai ten. Turchetel. p. man. i. car. terre. semp. viii. viili et ii serv. et viii ac. p'ti. et i. car. in d'nio. i car. hom'. quarta pars. molin. et iii piscar. sep. iii. vac. et xviii porc. modo. xvi. ovs. tc. iiii vasa apu. mo. ii. et i ecclia. semp. lx. sol. et h't. v. qr. in longo, et ii. in lato. et reddit. iid. de gelto Regis de xx sol.—Invas. Hermeri—In Wermegay ii libi. ho'es. tenentes, iiii ac. sed suus antec. habuit tot consuet.
  • 2. Rot. Pip.—Lib. Nig. Sc'cij. v. i. p. 288.
  • 3. Rot. Pip. Ao. ii. Joh.
  • 4. Lib. Instit. Norw. 4. fol. 148.
  • 5. Rymer, vol. v. p. 797.
  • 6. Rot. Hen. Wringay, pen. Camerar. Sccij. in Baga quo Warr. Com. Nor.
  • 7. Esch. 45 Ed. III. N. 7.
  • 8. Regr. Dingley in Cur. prerog. Cant.
  • 9. Eschaet. N. 104, Pt. 2.
  • 10. Richard son of Prudence of Fransham, impleaedd this Nicholcas, Ao. 14, Ed. I. for a messuage, 20 acres of land, 8 of meadow, and 5s. rent in Secthythe, and Westwinch.
  • 11. Lib. Instit. Norwic.
  • 12. Pat. 4.
  • 13. Spelman's Hist. of Sacril. p. 246
  • 14. Rot. Hon. de Wirmegey.
  • 15. Collect. Le Neve, Norroy.
  • 16. Esch. N. 120.
  • 17. Rot. Fin. 15. Joh.
  • 18. Lib. Instit. Norw.
  • 19. Mag. Brit. vol. iii. Norff. p. 418. Steph. Addit. to Monast. Ang. v. i. p. 505.
  • 20. Regr. Sayve, Norw. p. 1. 6.
  • 21. Answers of the Parsons to the King.
  • 22. Kennet of Impropriat. p. 278.