An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 9. Originally published by W Miller, London, 1808.
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Esket, a freeman, was lord of this village, but deprived at the conquest, when it was granted to Peter Lord Valoins, the Conqueror's nephew.
It was found to consist of 3 carucates of land, 3 villains, 13 bor derers, 2 servi, &c. but at the survey there were 6 carucates in demean, a carucate and half, and 11 acres of meadow among the tenants, a mill, &c. paying 16s. There were 8 horses at the lord'shall, at the survey 5, &c. (with lands in Wells, &c.) valued at 20l. was one leuca long, and half a one broad, and paid 2s. gelt. (fn. 1) See in Wells.
Peter, the lord, and Albreda his wife, founded here, with the consent of the Conqueror, a priory of Benedictine monks, dedicated to St. Mary, as a cell to the abbey of St. Albans, but to be subject only, as the priory of Lewes was, to that of St. Peter of Clugni, in France, and paying only to St. Albans a mark of silver annually; but not finished till the beginning of the reign of King Henry I.
The founder endowed it with the lordship of this town, and other considerable grants of land, &c. and Roger, his son, confirmed what his father had given, and was himself a considerable benefactor, as were Peter and Robert de Valoines, who were buried here.
King Henry I. gave them a charter for a fair, for 4 days, beginning on the vigil of St. Mary, and a weekly mercate on Wednesday; and in the 2d of King John a fine was levied, wherein William de Chaen, or Ken, lord of North Greenhow hundred, and Wighton, grants to the prior, certain customs due to him as lord, and the prior grants that the men of Wighton should be free from toll in Binham market.
In the said reign, Robert Lord Fitzwalter claimed the patronage of the priory, and besieged it, in order to reinstate Thomas, the prior, deposed by the prior of St. Albans, and the King sends forces to defend it. Pope Innocent, in 1250, confirmed by bull the grant of the church of Westley, in Cambridgeshire, to them; and Reginald de Bacon, in the 46th of Henry III. gave a moiety of Laringset church; and in the 14th of Edward II. there were resident (as is said) a prior and 13 monks.
Osgod was prior in 1106.
Ralph, in 1174.
Peter, in 1195.
Thomas, Ao. 1. of King John, and in 1210.
Richard de Shelford, in the 28th and 46th of Henry III.
William, in the 46th of Henry III.
Ralph, in 1261.
Walter, in 1286.
1317, William de Somerton, presented by Hugh, abbot of St. Albans.
1323, Nicholas de Flamstede, by the abbot, &c.
1337, John de Caudewell, by Michael, abbot, &c.
1380, William Dixwell occurs.
1424, Michael Cheyne.
William occurs in 1430.
1436, William Spygon, by the abbot.
1438, Nicholas Wellys.
1454, Henry Halstede.
1461, William Dixwell.
1464, John Peyton, Decret. Dr.
1465, William Dixwell.
1480, Richard Whitingdon.
1481, William Dixwell.
Thomas Sudbury occurs 1502.
1505, Dns. William Frevell.
1509, John Albon, S. T. B.
At the dissolution here was a prior and six monks; it was valued, as Dugd. at 140l. 5s. 4d.—as Speed, at 160l. 1s.
The register of this priory was, in 1652, possessed by Sir Thomas Widerington, Knt.
King Henry VIII. in his 33d year granted to Thomas Paston, Esq. the site of this priory, with the manor and rectory, lands in Walsingham, Wells, Gunthorp, Berney, Thursford, &c.
Thomas was the 5th son of Sir William Paston of Paston, afterwards a knight, and father of Sir Edward, who died lord in 1630: his descendant, Edward Paston, Esq. lord of this manor, and of Berningham, &c. married Mary, daughter and coheir of John Clerk, Gent. of Bale in Norfolk, by whom he had - - - - - - - - Paston, Esq. who sold this lordship and that of Barningham, in or about the year 1756, to William Russell, a whalebone merchant of King's-street, London.
Mr. Samuel Buck published a print of the ruins of this priory, and its church, great part of the west end of which church was standing then in 1738.
The Church was dedicated to the Holy Cross, the rectory valued at 20 marks, and was appropriated to the priory. The ancient valor of the vicarage was 5 marks; the present valor is 6l. 13s. 4d. and paid Peter pence 2s. 1d.
In 1310, Alan Alam was instituted vicar, presented by the prior of Binham.
1330, Richard Languale. Ditto.
1349, John Archer.
1349, William Alen.
1351, Andrew Goldsmith.
1374, John Randolph.
1375, Edmund Hillot.
1386, John Cheney.
1393, Thomas Catwere.
1400, John Sige.
1416, John Cosyn.
1471, Richard Dene, by the Bishop.
1481, Richard Harman.
1488, William Waterman.
1492, William Becbank.
1505, Richard Weston, by the Bishop, a lap se.
Thomas Lyon, vicar,
1521, Thomas Jary, by the prior, &c.
1542, Mr. Thomas Blithe, S. T. B. by Thomas Paston, Esq. gentleman of the privy chamber to the King.
1546, Mr. Thomas Silverside. Ditto.
1555, William Powle, by the Bishop.
1592, Ralph Same, by Edward Paston, Esq.
1603, Richard Baldwin. Ditto.
1628, Richard Slynn, by Robert Fieden, assignee of Sir Henry Compton, Knt.
In 1662, Edmund Wyth occurs vicar.
1706, John Wells, curate and sequestrator.
1750, Samuel Hemington, vicar, presented by the King.
Here were the guilds of St. Mary, Corpus Christi, St. John Baptist, St. Alban's, St. Thomas, and All-Saints;—the lights of St. Mary, of Tripudii de Westgate, and Tripudii de Market's hede, (fn. 2) of the Quinque Gaudia, or 5 joys of the Blessed Virgin, and of the Holy Trinity. Thirteen acres and one rood of land were bequeathed lying at Dallinggate, to a house called the Guild-Hall, belonging to one of the aforesaid guilds.