Holt hundred: Cley

An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 9. Originally published by W Miller, London, 1808.

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Francis Blomefield, 'Holt hundred: Cley', An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 9, (London, 1808), pp. 377-380. British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/topographical-hist-norfolk/vol9/pp377-380 [accessed 25 June 2024].

Francis Blomefield. "Holt hundred: Cley", in An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 9, (London, 1808) 377-380. British History Online, accessed June 25, 2024, https://www.british-history.ac.uk/topographical-hist-norfolk/vol9/pp377-380.

Blomefield, Francis. "Holt hundred: Cley", An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 9, (London, 1808). 377-380. British History Online. Web. 25 June 2024, https://www.british-history.ac.uk/topographical-hist-norfolk/vol9/pp377-380.

In this section


Was a beruite to King Edward's manor of Holt, and at the survey was in the hands of the Conqueror, as royal demean; 2 carucates of land, 24 villains, 21 borderers, and 2 servi, belonged to it; there was one carucate in demean, and another might be restored to it, and 12 among the tenants, one acre of meadow, 7 swine, 140 sheep, and was valued together with Holt. (fn. 1)

Hugh Earl of Gloucester, seems to have a grant of this manor from the Crown, soon after the conquest, and after came to the Earls of Albemarle and Devonshire, who held it in capite, and was held of them by the Vauxes.

Nerford's Moiety.

The family of De Vallibus or Vaux, was enfeoft of it with Holt and Houghton, and possessed it in the reign of Henry II. and on the death of Sir John de Vaux, in the 16th of Edward I. it was divided between his 2 daughters and coheirs; Petronilla married Sir William de Nerford, who was lord of this moiety in her right, and had view of frank pledge, assise of bread and beer of his tenants; and Peter de Letheringset is said to hold it of the Nerfords, with Holt, by one fee.

In the 3d of Eaward II. the Lady Petronilla obtained license for a fair on the eve and feast of St. Margaret the Virgin. In this family it remained till the death of Margery, sole daughter and heir of Sir John de Nerford, in 1417, as may be seen in Holt.

In 1422, Robert Tyrwhit and Richard Gascoign seem to have an interest herein, &c.

It came after to the family of Symonds, of which was John Symonds, who died in 1505, and was buried in this church with his two wives, as was John, his son, a merchant, who died in 1508, and his wife, Agnes, in 1511, leaving Ralph Symonds, Esq. her son and heir.

John Symonds, Esq. of Cley, was grandson of Richard Symonds of Suthfield, and Margaret his wife, and 2d son of John Symonds, by Jane, daughter of William Theobald; the aforesaid John died July 24, 1502, and had by Agnes his wife, daughter of William Sanderson of London, John his son, who died in 1508, father of Ralph, who dying 1557, left Gyles his son and heir, by Elizabeth, daughter of William Bishop of Yarmouth, who by Catharine, daughter of Sir Anthony Ley of Bucks, had Ralph, his son. John, (by Anne, daughter of Jeffrey Cobb of Sandringham,) married Anne, daughter of Richard Toothby of Lincolnshire.

Lord Ross's Moiety.

William Lord Ross of Hamlake was lord of a moiety also of this town, in right of Maud, youngest daughter and coheir of Sir John de Vaux, in which family it remained till it came by marriage to Sir Robert Manners, whose descendant, Thomas Earl of Rutland, in the first and 2d of Philip and Mary, sold it to Thomas Lodge, Esq. as may be seen at large in Holt.

In 1572, Sir Christopher Heydon was lord and patron of the church, and both the moieties seem to be in him at that time.

Charles Britiff, Esq. died lord in November, 1703, and was buried in the church of Cley. Peter Wilson, Esq. died lord and patron in 1740.

The lordship of Wiveton extended into this town. Simon Filz Richard held the fourth part of a fee here in the reign of Henry III. of the Earl of Gloucester and Clare, the capital lord, which came after to the Mortimers Earls of March, &c. the family of Briggs had an interest in it in the 35th of Henry VIII.

Robert Beales, Gent, died seized of it ao. 17 of Charles I. and Robert was his son and heir.

Ralph de Hauvile held lands by grand sergeanty, by keeping the King's hawks, in King John's reign.

The tenths were 10l. the temporalities of Castleacre priory 13s. 4d.

Hubert de Monchensy gave 2 parts of his tithe here and in Holkham, to it, which was confirmed by John Bishop of Norwich, in 1181.

The Church is dedicated to St. Margaret the Virgin, and is a rectory; the old valor was 34 marks; paid Peter-pence, 16d. The present valor is 22l. 13s. 4d. and pays first fruits, &c.

It is a very large regular pile, consisting of a nave, a north and south isle, and a chancel built of free-stone, and covered with lead, and there seems to have been two wings or cross isles.

At the west end stands a four square tower, and was built, as I take it, (by the arms) in the reign of Henry VI. About the arch of the south porch are many arms carved in the stone; France and England, quarterly; Lord Ross; Mortimer Earl of March, and Burgh, quarterly; Delapole Duke of Suffolk, and Wingfield, quarterly; Narford; Vaux; Erpingham; a plain cross, St. George's shield; St. Peter's, 2 keys in saltire; a cup with a serpent issuing out of it, St. John's; a saltire, St. Andrew; the emblem or arms of the Trinity; three escallops, St. James's; two swords in saltire, St. Paul, &c.

There has also been at the west end a curious porch, or entrance into the nave, of stone, as appears from the ruins.

The east end of the south isle has been a chapel belonging formerly to the German merchants; on the roof are delineated several black spead eagles, with two heads, couped, &c.

On a gravestone here,

Of your charite pray for the souls of John Symonds, merchant, and Agnes his wyfe, the which John decessed the xiiii day of January, the yere of our Lord m. v. viii, and the said Agnes decessed the last day of May. m. v. xii.

Their portraitures in their winding sheets, and under them those of 8 children are in brass, and about the stone, brass labels inscribed, Now Thus.

On another,

Orate p. a'i'ab; Johs. Symonds, Agnetis et Margarete consort. suar. qui quidem Johs. obt. xviii die mensis Julij Ao. Dni. m. vc. ii. et p'dicta Agnes obt. secundo die mensis Martij, Ao. Dni. m. cccc. lxxxii.

On a gravestone the portraitures of a priest, his arms cross each other, and holding the sacramental cup with a wafer or host, and on it, I. H. S. and, Orate p. a'i'a. Johs. Yslinton, S. T. P. cuj; a'i'e, &c.

In the nave, a stone

In memory of Robert Burton, gent. who died December 2, 1687, in the 68th year of his age.


Hic jacet corpus Roberti Beales, generqsi, qui obt. 18 Apr. Ao. Dni. 1624.

Bernard Uther, gent. obt. 16 August 1710, œt. 70; and Lydia his wife, obt. June 3, 1712, œt. 68.

Also these arms; or, two barrulets, azure, each charged with as many bezants.

Patrick Eson, gent. collector of the customs in this port, died August 26, 1752, aged 36; with an orle for his arms.

In the chancel on a gravestone, a brass plate,

Here lyeth the body of Richard Attyson, late pastor of Cley, who departed 7th November, 1659.

A marble gravestone

In memory of Joseph Ward, M. A. rector of this parish 45 years, did March 5, 1735, aged 77; and azure, a cross moline, or.


In memory of Lydia, wife of Thomas Rogers, Esq; daughter of William Garret of this parish, merchant, and Margaret his wife, who died August 19, 1725, in her 23 year.

In the churchyard an altar tomb,

In memory of John Greve, an assistant of Sir Cloudesly Shovel in burning the ships in the port of Tripoly, in Barbary, January 14, 1676, for his good services made captain of the Orange Tree, by King Charles II. and dyed Apr. 14, 1686, aged 48.


In 1319, Hubert de Stanham was instituted rector, presented by Sir William de Ros.

1361, Walter Russell, by Margery Lady Roos.

1364, Nicholas Cobald, by Thomas de Ros Lord Hamlek.

1390, William de Beningholm, by Beatrice, relict of Thomas Lord Roos.

John de Gunthorp occurs rector.

On July 3, 1524, license was granted to Thomas Manners Lord Roos to give a messuage, with a close, late Colles, lying between the churchyard of Cley to the south, and a messuage belonging to the guild of St. Margaret to the north, and the close lying thereby between the churchyard, west, and the demean land of the lord, east; which messuage and close did not exceed the yearly value of 6s. 8d. clear to John Wyat, then rector of this church, and to his successors for ever.

Sir Christopher Heydon was lord and patron in the reign of Queen Elizabeth.

Vincent Goodwin occurs rector about 1600.

Richard Alison compounded for his first fruits, as rector, in 1646.

Joseph Ward died rector 1735.

1736, John Girdlestone, by Richard Warner, Esq. died in 1763.

Sir Christopher Heydon, in the 38th of Elizabeth, by deed, demised to James Calthorp, Esq. an old house called the decayed chapel of Cley, with a piece of marsh and a fir ground, called Thornham Eye, wherein the chapel stood, butting on Cley channel to the east, and Blakeney channel to the west, between Cley common and the channel on the north, and Wiveton and Blakeney marsh south, excepting wreck of sea, herring fishery, &c.

The town has a good haven, several merchants live in it, and a considerable number of ships, about 20, belong to it, which sail to Holland, Newcastle, &c. and the King has a collector of his customs residing here.


  • 1. Terra Regis—Claia i beruita (viz. Holt) de ii car. t're. sep. xxiiii vill. et xxi bor. tnc. ii ser. mo. iiii sep. in d'nio. i car. et al. posset restaurari et hou' xii car. i ac. p'ti. sep. vii por. mo. clx ov.