An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 8. Originally published by W Miller, London, 1808.
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The Conqueror granted this town to William Earl Warren, and it was held of him at the survey, by Walter; in the Confessor's time Toche, a Saxon thane, was lord of it; and had two carucates in demean, and two among the tenants, with 2 villains and 10 borderers, 6 servi, and the moiety of a salt-pit, &c. 180 sheep; also 12 socmen with 60 acres of land, and half a carucate, then valued at 60s. per ann. but 70s. per ann, at the survey: the whole was one leuca long, and 5 furlongs broad, and paid 8d. to a 20s. gelt, whoever possessed it. (fn. 1)
Walter abovementioned, who was enfeoffed herein, and held it under the Earl Warren, at the survey, seems to be the ancestor of Philip de Burnham, who was lord in the time of King Stephen, and had two sons, William the eldest, and Reginald, to whom William his brother gave a moiety of this town. Philip was son and heir to William, and lord of this manor, in the 36th of Henry II. and was succeeded by Philip de Burnham, his son, who married Emma, daughter and coheir of Sir Ralph L'Estrange, Knt. and impleaded Fulk d' Airy, at Gedney in Lincolnshire, (fn. 2) and Maud his wife, sister to Emme, for the moiety of 3 messuages, lands, &c. in Weniz, (East Winch) Litcham, and Ringtead, in the 4th of King John. By Emma he had a son, William de Burnham, who dying without issue, this lordship, &c. came to Cecilia his sister and heir, who married William de Calthorp; but in a pleading, in the 4th of Edward I. when Cecilia claimed a right to the patronage of this church, she proves her title from Sir Philip de Burnham, lord in King Stephen's time, who had William his son and heir, whose son Philip, had William his son and heir; and he dying without issue, this manor came to Ralph his brother and heir, and he dying also without issue, Francis his brother succeeded; and on his death without issue, Philip his brother, who had William de Burnham his son and heir, and dying without issue, Cecilia was found his sister and heir, married to Sir William de Calthorp, and her right was acknowledged.
In the 45th of Henry III. William de Calthorp, and Cecilia his wife, held half a fee of the Earl Warren in this town, of the honour of Lewes, and William de Grancourt released to them by fine, a carucate of land in this village; in the 55th of the said King, they had a grant of free warren, and the lete, paying 4s. per ann. to Robert de Tateshale, lord of the hundred.
Walter de Grancourt, in the 14th of Edward I. had a grant, by fine, from the said Sir William, and Cecilia, of lands, in Burnham-Sutton, &c. with the manors of East Winch, Fincham, and Hungrey-Swanton, and the rents of divers tenants, according to a fine levied in the 41st of Henry III. between William, father of Walter, and William de Calthorp and Cecilia, saving to William and Cecilia, the service of Simon de Nodariis, in Hungry-Swanton.
In the 17th of Ed. II. Sir Walter de Calthorp was lord, and held here, in Fulmodeston, Hackford, and Burnham, 5 fees and an half of the Earl of Pembroke, of the castle of Acre; but in the 3d of Edward III. Sir William de Calthorp, Knt. of Burnham-Thorp, settled it on himself for life, and Walter his son, and Alice his wife, in tail; remainder on his younger sons, John, Oliver, William, &c. In 1360, Sir Oliver de Calthorp was lord; and in the 14th of Henry VII. Clement Anger had it in farm, of Sir Philip Calthorp; in this family it continued, till Elizabeth, sister and heir of Philip Calthorp, Esq. and only daughter of Sir Philip, brought it by marriage, to Sir Henry Parker, who had livery of it in the 3d of Edward VI. Sir Calthorp, Parker died possessed of it in the 13th of King James I. and Sir Philip his son succeeded him.
William de Burnham, eldest son of Philip de Burnham, by his grant of the moiety of his fee, (which he held of the Earl Warren) to his brother, Reginald, (as is abovementioned), gave rise to this lordship; this Reginald is said to have had an only daughter and heir, Rose, who was given in marriage by Hameline Planlaginet Earl Warren, and of Surrey, capital lord of the fee, to Matthew de Gurney, who was lord in her right, about the 30th of Henry II.
This moiety was to be held by Reginald of his brother William, by half a fee, as appears by the deed of William; to which, William (Turbus) Bishop of Norwich, Reginald de Warren, Richard de Wrungey, Ralph and Baldwin de Frevil, Ralph de Plaiz, Simon de Caly, were witnesses; the seal to it was round, of an inch and an half over, with a man completely armed on horseback, a drawn sword in his hand, and William Earl Warren, &c. confirmed the same, to which Reginald de Warren, Anceline de Pavelly, Hugh de Bardolf, &c. were witnesses; and their grants, though sans date, seem to be about the end of King Stephen's, or the beginning of Henry the Second's reign.
In the 30th of this last mentioned King, disputes arising about the tenure of this lordship, between Philip de Burnham, son of William, who granted it, and Matthew de Gournay, and Rose his wife, a fine was then levied in the King's court at Westminster, before John Bishop of Norwich, Adam de Glanvile, the King's justices, Richard the King's treasurer, William Mald, William Basset, on Wednesday next before the feast of St. Luke the Evangelist, when it was ceded to Matthew, &c. and his heirs, to be held by half a fee, he paying to Philip 10 marks per ann.
William de Gournay was his son and heir: to this William, Sir William de Calthorp, and Cecilia his wife, are said to have granted their right of patronage in the church of Harpele. John de Gournay succeeded his father William, and was with Sir Henry Hastings at the battle of Lewes, in Sussex; his estate was seized by the Earl Warren, as a rebel against Henry III. (fn. 3) but being after pardoned, Sir John, in the 3d year of Edward I. in Easter term, recovered against the prior of Lewes, the advowson of this church, who claimed it at the grant formerly of the Earl Warren; but it appeared on trial, in the King's Bench, that John le Coward, the champion of Matthew de Gournay, had by combat, gained it of the prior, in the reign of Henry II.
Sir John de Gournay was lord in the 27th and 28th of the said King, as appears from the court rolls.
In the 35th of Edward I. John de Gournay was lord, rector, and patron of the church, and had the grant of a fair in the said year; by a fine levied in the 9th of Edward II. he settled it on John de Gournoy, (son of Catherine,) and Jane his wife, in tail; (fn. 4) remainder to William and Edmund, brothers of John, his nephews. John de Gourney, his nephew, (as I take it,) kept a court here on Friday, the vigil of St. Laurence, in the 27th of Edward III. and appears to be lord in the 6th of the said King; in which year, John his uncle died, and he presented then to this church; but in the 34th of the said King, Edmund de Gurnay presented, and kept his first court in 1354, on Thursday next before the feast of the conversion of St. Paul, and in 1360, was lord and patron; and John Gournay presented in 1387.
John Gournay, Esq. of Harpley, released in the 2d of Henry IV. to Hugh Bavent, all his right in a messuage, and 44 acres of land in this township, formerly Alice Bavent's, wife of Richard Bavent, and died in the 9th of the said King.
Alice his widow held her first court on Thursday next before the feast of the exaltation of the Holy Cross, in the 10th of the said King.
After this, Sir Robert de Morley, and others, who farmed, or were trustees of this lordship, kept their first court in the 11th of the said King, on Thursday next after the feast of St. Simon and St. Jude; and William Pakenham, clerk, held his court on Monday next before the feast of St. Edmund the King.
In the 13th of Edward IV. and again, the said William, and other feoffees, held courts in the 6th and 8th year of Henry VII. though it appears from the institution books of the see of Norwich, that Thomas Gurnay presented to the church in 1443, and William Gurnay, Esq. in 1485, and Anthony Gurnay, in 1511, who, with Elizabeth, his wife, was living in 1535, and soon after conveyed it to Sir John Allen, Knt. with 10 messuages in this town, Massingham Magna, and Parva, Houghton, &c.
In a computus of the cellarer of Norwich, in 1512, it appears that Robert Gurney was lord before this Thomas, de manerio quond. Robi. Gurnay, postea Tho. Gurnay, et nuper Willi. Gurnay, armigeri. in Harpley, de 60s.
After this, William, son and heir of John Curson, Esq. had livery of it in the 3d and 4th of Philip and Mary; and William Rugg, Esq. kept his court as lord, with the lete, on Thursday next before the feast of St. Matthew, 1572, in right of Thomasine his wife, late wife of William Curson.
In 1579, the Queen presented, on the minority of Thomas Curson, son of William; about which time, it appears by a court held here, that there was a statute in force, for not wearing of woollen caps, with a penalty to the lord of the manor and the poor, for not complying therewith.
About the said time, I find the town amerced for not mending their butts. Soon after this, Thomas Curson had livery of it; and on October 10, 159-, sold it to Richard Stubbs, Esq. of Sedgeford, who, August 19, 1605, conveyed it to Sir Miles Corbet, Edward Paston, Esq. Francis Guybon, and Thomas Cook, in trust to him for life; after that to Dionysia Yelverton and her heirs, daughter and coheir of the said Richard, and wife of Sir William Yelverton, Knight, with power of revocation; and by his deed, dated June 10, in the 12th of James I. he settled it on William Yelverton, Esq. (son and heir of the aforesaid Sir William and Dionysia,) and Ursula his intended wife, eldest daughter of Sir Thomas Richardson.
In 1620, Sir William Yelverton presented, being held about this time by half a fee, of the dutchy of Lancaster, and paying 13s. 4d. per ann.
Sir William Yelverton, Bart. sold it about 1642, to John Walpole, Esq. of Brunsthorp, who married Abigail, daughter and heir of Froximer Corbet of Brunsthorp.
This John was brother of Robert Walpole, Esq. of Houghton in Norfolk, and father of Sir Edward Walpole, Knt. of the Bath, who inherited it as heir to his uncle John; and in this family it remains, the Earl of Orford being lord.
Here was also a lordship held at the survey by Odo, Bishop of Baieux, in France, half brother to the Conqueror, who gave it to him on the deprivation of Stigand, the Archbishop of Canterbury, whose lay fee it was in the reign of the Confessor, and was a beruite or lordship, depending on his great lordship of Snetesham, when 2 carucates of land, 2 villains, and 9 borderers belonged to it; there were 2 carucates in demean, and 5 socmen held 12 acres of land; also there were 2 carucates of the tenants, valued in Stigand's time at 40s. at the survey at 4l. per ann. and Hugh de Portu held it of the Bishop of Baieux. (fn. 5)
This prelate, Odo, on his rebellion against William II. his nephew, was deprived of it. The next possessor of it after Hugh de Portu, that we meet with, was the Lady Mabel de Becc, daughter of Walter de Becc, or Bek, and wife of Stephen de Chameys, who, with the consent of her sons, Walter de Aunfreville, Gilbert, and William, gave to the church of Holy Trinity of Norwich, in the chapter-house, by deed, sans date, 20s. rent per ann. out of her manor of Herpele, 10s. to be paid on the feast of St. Michael, and 10s. on the feast of Easter, yearly, for the souls of her father and mother, and the rest of her relations, as well predecessors as successours; (fn. 6) the witnesses were Alan, priest of Flocketorp, Matthew de Danmartin, Tebald de Watenis, Helewis de Clere, William de Burestowe, Hugh Pistor, Robert Fychet, Osbert de Chantbrigge.
And, by another deed, dated in 1109, she grants to the said church, and to the monks her brethren, (as she styles them, probably being then a lay sister, nun, or recluse,) serving God there, all her land in Herpele, with all her men, and all its appurtenances in the said village, which came to her from her ancestors, being her own patrimony, and proper inheritance, with the consent of her husband and sons, to hold it free from all services, and all claim of her heirs, &c. for the health of her own soul, that of her husband, &c. Witnesses Alan, the priest, aforesaid, Jordan de Blosseville, Richard Fitz-Odo de Wrethestede, William de Whateville, &c. and was after confirmed by Pope Eugenius III.
William de Manerio, son of Robert de Manerio, (or Manors,) by his deed, sans date, gave it to his brother — de Manerio, which he held of the church of Norwich, paying the old service to the monks, viz. 60s. and to him and his heirs 10s. per ann.; witnesses, Eustachius de Vesci, Henry de Manerio, Walter de Manerio, Adam, parson of Elyngham.
In the 3d of Edward I. Laurence de Manors was lord, and had a lete belonging to him, for which he paid 18d. to the lord of the hundred; he was succeeded by his son, William de Manors, who, with Margaret his wife, was living in the 35th of that King.
After this, by a deed dated November 26th, in the 18th of Edward II. at Harpley, Walter, son of Robert de Meleford, grants to his lord, Sir John de Gurney, rector of the church of Harpley, his messuage called Uphall, with all the homages and services of his free tenants, view of frank pledge, free bull and boar, all perquisites of court, and all other liberties, late Ralph's, son of Walter de Manors, with wards, reliefs, escheats, &c. with all the lands that Marion, late wife of the said Walter, holds for life, being of his right and inheritance, and all the tenements which Sir Henry de Walpole, Knt. Godfrey, son of Ascelina de Harpele, and Thomas Elwyn of Howton, hold of the said Mariona, during her life, and which, after her death, ought to descend to the said Walter, and his heirs, the said John de Gurnay paying one clove per ann.; witnesses, Sir Henry de Walpole, Thomas de Feltham, Edmund Laurence, Oliver de Massingham, Ralph de Walsingham, William de Harplee; and the said manor, tenements, &c. were, by deed of the said John de Gurney, dated on Monday the feast of St. Thomas the Apostle, in the 6th year of King Edward III. granted to his nephew, John de Gurney, and Jane his wife, and their heirs; to which was a seal of green wax, oval, about the size of a half crown, with the impress of some saint in an arch; the legend, S. Johi's de Gurnay.
This lordship became thus united with that of Gurnay's, and 3l. per ann. was paid for it to the church of Norwich, as appears from the receipts of the cellarer of that church; and in 1428, the prior of Norwich was taxed at 3l. per ann. for it.
Matthew de Gurnay, and Rose his wife, gave, about the 30th of Henry II. 12 acres and a rood of land, to the prior of Castleacre, for which he had a bezant of gold.
The temporalities of Castleacre priory were taxed in 1426 at 12s. per ann.
The abbot of Wendling's at 6s. the prior of Coxford at 6s. and the abbot of Creyk had also temporalities.
The tenths were 6l. 6s. per ann.
Here is an annual fair kept on the 25th of July, granted in the 35th of Edward I. to John de Gurnay, lord, patron, and rector of the town; and it belongs to the rector for the time being.
On the 22d of June, in the 35th of Elizabeth, Robert Kenyon, rector, let to farm, to Richard Stubbs, of Sedgeford, Esq. this fair, with all its rights, court, amerciaments, and profits thereto belonging, for the term of 40 years, for the sum of 10l. in money paid him.
The Church is dedicated to St. Laurence the Martyr, and is a rectory, formerly valued at 34 marks, and paid Peter-pence 8d.
The present valor is 22l. and pays first fruits and tenths.
The church has a nave, a north and south aisle, and a chancel, and was built by Sir Robert Knowls, a famous general in the reigns of Edward III. and Richard II. in the wars in France, who was Knight of the Garter, and bore gules, on a chevron, argent, three roses of the first, which arms are painted on the screens on the left hand, as you enter the chancel; and on the right hand argent, a fess dauncy, between three leopards faces, sable, the arms of Sir Robert's wife, probably a Beverley.
In the windows of the church were the arms of Gournay, argent, a cross, ingrailed, gules; of Bassingbourn, gyrony of eight, or and azure; of Noiers, vairy, argent and gules; of Calthorp, checque, or and azure, a fess ermine.
On the pavement of the chancel, lies an old marble gravestone, whereon was the portraiture or effigies of a priest, with 2 shields and a rim of brass, now all torn off; by the incision of the stone made to let the letters in on the rim, it appears to be—Hic jacet corpus Johis de Gournay, quonda' rectoris et patroni hujus ecclesie, cuj; a'i'e.p'pitietur Deus, Amen.—He died rector in the 6th of Edward III.
Hic jacet Henricus Colman, S.T.P. Rector de Harpley, et Foulsham in agro Norfolc. filius Ricardi, Colman, armigeri, et Annæ uxoris suæ, filiæ Edwardi Hyde de Hatch in com. Wylt. S.T.P. vir admodum reverendus, benevolentiâ, literis, et pietate egregiè notus, qui obt. nono die mensis Oct. ao. 1715, ætatis suæ 46, sic nobis illuxit monumentum.
In the uppermost window but one, of the north aisle, was the history of St. Laurence, painted on the glass, as appears from some fragments, and the insignia of that saint, a grid-iron, or.
On the battlements of the south aisle, which are of freestone, are several arms carved; viz. of Knowls and his wife, St. Laurence, Lords Bardolph, Howard, Scales, and Bassingbourn; three feathers for the Prince of Wales; cheque, a fess engrailed, between three roses, quarterly, a bend over all, a fess lozengy, a fess between two chevronels, three chevronels, three pallets, and a cross.
In this church were the lights of the Virgin Mary, of the Holy Cross, of the Sepulchre, the boys light, and that of All-Saints; also the guilds of St. Margaret, (and her chapel,) of St. Laurence, and St. James.
Jeffrey was rector in Henry the Second's reign, presented by Philip de Burnham.
Alexander de Walpole occurs rector in the 6th of Henry III. as appears by a fine, then levied, between him and Godfrey, dean of Brisley, when 20 acres were granted to Alexander and his successours, in this town.
John de Gurnay occurs rector in the 35th of Edward I.
1332, Thomas Spendlove, presented by John de Gurnay.
John de Pattesley occurs in 1349.
1360, Hugh Wauncy, by Edmund Gurnay.
John de Wolterton occurs rector in 1382; he was master or warden of Mottingham college, 1384, and dying in 1387, was buried in the churchyard of this church, by the south door.
1387, Richard de Taseburgh, by John Gurnay.
1389, John Drew; he was rector also of Northwold, in Norfolk, of Tharfield in Hertfordshire, &c.
In 1420, October 6, the Bishop of Norwich, at the request of this rector, changed the feast of the dedication of this church, which used to be kept on All-Souls day, to the Sunday next following that feast, because the parishioners could not attend the service on AllSaints day. By his will he desired to be buried here between 2 pillars by the pulpit.
1421, William Drye, by Thomas Astele of Melton.
1443, Robert Wylton, by Thomas Gurnay, Esq.
1465, Henry Abraham. Ditto.
John Knowles occurs rector in 1474, and prior then of Coxford, in Norfolk, brother of Sir Robert Knowles.
1485, Christopher Gurnay, by William Gurnay, Esq.
1511 Thomas Higney, by Anthony Gurnay.
1537, William Ugge, by Thomas Godsalve, assignee of Anthony Gurnay.
1579, Robert Kenyon, by the Queen, on the minority of Thomas Curson.
1620, Edmund Gurnay, B. D. by Sir William Yelverton, Knt.
1648, George Heyhoo, by Robert Heyhoo.
1668, Walpole Chamberlayn, by Thomas Dyke, M. D. and Elizabeth his wife, and John Turner, Esq.
1700, Charles Clarke, by Theoph. Harris, widow.
1706, Henry Colman, S. T. P. by William Hookes and Elizabeth his wife.
1715, Henry Bland, afterwards D. D. dean of Durham, &c. Ditto.
1744, Horace Hamond, D. D. by the Earl of Orford.
Thomas Gurnay, senior, Esq. lord of West Barsham, by his will, dated March 18, in the 9th of Edward IV. orders his body to be buried in the chancel of this church, if he dies at Harpley, and if at Norwich, in the church of the friars minors there: (fn. 7) of this family see more in West Barsham.