An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 9. Originally published by W Miller, London, 1808.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
In this section
Called North Elmham, in respect of South Elmham in Suffolk; it is seated on the north-west side of the river Wentsum, and also has a small brook, which running from the park, empties itself in the said river, and not the Hier, as some improperly term it.
In the survey, it is wrote Elmenham; El, in the British tongue, bespeaks water, and Main or Menna, Little; of this kind is Elmswell in Suffolk, Elmsted and Elmley in Kent, and Gloucestershire, &c.
At the survey, when the seat of the Bishop was at Thetford, it was found to be in the see, and was held by Bishop Ailmar, in the time of the Confessor, for a lordship, when there belonged to it 8 carucates of land, 41 villains, 63 borderers, 6 servi, 24 acres of meadow, 4 carucales in demean, and 16 amongst the tenants, or men, paunage for 1000 swine, 4 mills, 3 runci, &c. 300 sheep, 35 goats, and 34 socmen with a carucate of land.
Stigand had the soc in King Edward's time, and it was at the survey in the lord of Mileham, and there belonged to it 3 carucates, 4 acres of meadow, &c. and a mill.
Beteley was a beruite or small manor belonging to it, and valued with it. In this manor of Elmham there was then a church, endowed with 60 acres, and one carucate, valued at 5s. and 4d. per ann.
In King Edward's time the whole was 10l. per ann. at the survey 32l. It was one leuca long and half a leuca broad, and paid 20d. gelt (fn. 1).
This place is supposed to have been the seat of a flamen, in the time of the Romans, and at the time of the conversions of the EastAngles, by Fœlix, the Bishop, was held by him (their first Bishop) by the grant of King Sigebert, on his death, in 647, when Bisus, the fourth Bishop of the East-Angles, about 673, divided his diocese, being too large; one Bishop was appointed to reside at North-Elmham, to whom the jurisdiction of Norfolk was assigned, and the other at Dunwich, with the jurisdiction of Suffolk.
These two sees were again united, about 870, and Wildred, who was then Bishop, resided at North-Elmham, and so remained till removed to Thetford, by Herfast the Bishop, in 1075, and thence to Norwich, by Bishop Herbert, in 1094; but the Bishops of Norwich after resided here in their manor-house, it being the head of his barony (as some have said) at that time.
Bishop Turbus, who lived in the reign of King Stephen, confirmed to the priory all former grants of his predecessors, with the church of this town, and the fair. (fn. 2)
In the 7th of Richard I. the sheriff of Norfolk paid 18d. per ann. to the Bishop for his liberty of Elmham-madoe. History of the Exchequer, p. 560.
John de Grey, Bishop, in King John's time, confirmed to them the liberty of feeding their cattle every where with his, (excepting his park,) freely not paying for their herbage, with paunage for their swine, and to dig turf for their own use. (fn. 3)
Pandolf Bishop of Norwich, and the Pope's legate, after he had excommunicated King John and his kingdom, retired here.
William de Raleigh, Bishop, about 1240, was impleaded with Henry de Edlingthorp, &c. for throwing down unjustly the dam of Jeffrey de Hindringham, and Ricolda his wife, in this town, and Geist, to their damage; but on proof that Jeffrey had made the banks of his pool too high, he was amerced in the Bishop's court here.
Walter de Suffield, Bishop, had a charter of free warren in this manor, in the 35th of Henry III. and in the 14th of Edward I. the Bishop of Norwich was found by a jury to have frank pledge, a gallows, tumbrell, soc and sac, thol and them, infangetheof and outfangetheof, return of writs, judgment of duels, trial ordeal by fire or water, goods of felons and fugitives, a coroner within his manor, liberties of all pleas and assise, to be determined by justices on the spot, to be sent to this town, and tried there, as appeared on the inquisition of the whole country, and several precedents of justices itinerant, who were sent and tried causes here are mentioned on record.
In the 11th year of Richard II. Henry Spencer, Bishop, had a license to embattle and make a castle of his manor-house, when he seems to have rebuilt it, which is now entirely demolished; the site of it was on a grand artificial hill or mount, on a rising ground, surrounded with a great and deep entrenchment, (containing about 5 acres) formerly, no doubt, full of water, to which belonged a noble demean, and a park. That it was always a place of strength, or castle, is highly probable, most of the Bishops in ancient days having castles for their seats. The inner keep was also encompassed with a deep ditch, containing within it 2 acres joining south, and in the south-west part of which it stood, and had a deep well. (fn. 4)
In this state it continued, till on the exchange of lands between King Henry VIII. and Bishop Nix, this manor, &c. was vested in that King by act of parliament, February 4, in the 27th of his reign.
On July 14, in his 28th year, he granted it with the advowson of the vicarage, and the manor of Beteley, to Thomas Lord Cromwell; and on July 14, in his 30th year, he granted them to him and his heirs general.
This Thomas Cromwell was his principal agent in dissolving the monasteries, created Lord Cromwell of Oakham in Rutland, on July 9, in the 28th year of the said King, and on April 17, in the 31st of Henry VIII. Earl of Essex, but on July 24, in the following year, was beheaded.
By a daughter (as some say) of—Williams, Gent. of Wales, he left Gregory, his son and heir; but Dugdale takes that to be a mistake. (fn. 5)
In a pedigree that I have, he is said to have married Elizabeth, a daughter and coheir of John Prior, (widow of Thomas Williams,) by Isabel his wife, daughter of Richard Lord Talbot, which John was son of Sir John Prior, by Joan his wife, daughter of Edward Grey, 2d son of Reginald Lord Grey of Rutheyn, and bore for his arms, azure, a bend, per pale, gules, and or, in a bordure ingrailed, counterchanged,
In this pedigree Thomas Earl of Essex is said to be the son of Walter Cromwell of Oakham, in Rutlandshire, from which town he took his title, (before he had the grant of the castle and manor there,) as Dugdale, &c. assert, in the 28th of Henry VIII.
Yet it appears that in the acts of parliament in the 31st of that King, chap. iii. he is called Baron of Wimbeldon (in Surry) and not of Oakham.
Gregory his son's arms, in the aforesaid pedigree, were four coats, quarterly; first, quarterly, per fess indented, azure, and or, four lions passant, counterchanged; 2d, per fess, or and gules, on a pale between two lis, azure, and two pellicans of the first, a pellican and lis, all counterchanged; 3d, azure, on a fess, between three lions rampant, a rose, gules, between two cornish coughs; 4th, Prior, as before, and this motto, Faire mon devoir.
He is said to have had a grant of the arms born by that family, from Sir Christopher Barker, about the 28th of the said King, with the crest, a pelican vulning itself proper; but his father, in all books of heraldry, appears to have borne (when Earl of Essex and Lord Cromwell) quarterly, per fess, indented, azure, and or, four lions passant, counterchanged; the motto, Faire mon devoir.
Gregory, his son and heir, (fn. 6) about 5 months after his father's death, was created a baron of England, by the title of Lord Cromwell, but not distinguished by any place, and was lord of this manor.
By Elizabeth his wife, daughter of Sir John Seymour of Wolfs-Hall in Wiltshire, sister to Edward Seymour Duke of Somerset, and widow of Sir Anthony Oughtred, he left at his death, in the 5th of Edward VI. Henry his son and heir, who married Mary, daughter of John Puwlet Marquis of Winchester, and dying November 20, 1592, the jury, on an inquisition taken post mortem, find Edward to be his son and heir; and that Thomas Earl of Essex, his grandfather, by deed, dated December 26, in the 30th of Henry VIII. entailed this manor, with that of Beteley, &c. Oakham, Clipsham, or Clapsham, and Langham, in Rutlandshire, on Gregory his son.
Edward Lord Cromwell wasted (as Sir Henry Spelman observes) his whole inheritance, almost in England, and changed some that remained with the Earl of Devonshire; but this manor was sold by him to Edward Coke, Esq. afterwards lord chief justice, &c) who was lord in the 46th of Elizabeth; and in the 15th of James I. was settled with others (as it is said) on Frances his daughter, married to Sir John Villiers, Knt. afterwards Lord Viscount Purbeck. (fn. 7)
In the year 1631, it appears to be possessed by Sir Edward Coke, who presented then to this church.
This Edward Lord Cromwell removed into Ireland, and was there buried, leaving Thomas Lord Cromwell, his son and heir, (by Frances) his wife, daughter of William Rugge, Esq. of Felmingham, in Norfolk, who was created Viscount Lecale, and Earl of Ardglass in Ireland.
In 1659, John Cuke, Esq. presented to this vicarage, and at this time he was charged at 120l. per ann. for his park in his own hands, and for part of his estate held by Nathaniel Ducket, 30l. per ann. for that held by John Spooner, 90l. per ann. for that held by Rose Crome 50l. per ann. by Robert Hase, 10l. per ann. by Henry Lushers 80l. and Joseph Isaac, 10l. per ann.
Afterwards the estate here was mortgaged by—Coke, (the park excepted,) to Hugh Audley of the Inner Temple, London, Esq. on whose death it came with the rest of his personal estate, to his executors, Sir Thomas Davis, Knt. Sir Thomas Bonfoy, Knt. William Harvey, Esq. &c. and so to Robert Harvey of Low Layton in Essex, Esq. son of the aforesaid William, who presented in 1680, and John Harvey, Esq. in 1704.
Richard Warner, Esq. purchased the manor and patronage of the vicarage of the Harveys, and presented in 1723, and has built an agreeable new manor-house, &c. and died June 1, in 1757, aged 89, leaving his estate to his daughters and cohers—Mary, the eldest, married Christopher Mills, Esq. of Nackington in Kent, and Richard Mills, Esq. his son and heir, the present lord and patron, and member of parliament for Canterbury.
Took its name from a family, ancient lords of it, and was granted from the capital manor, by some Bishop of Norwich. Milo de Noyers (descended from William de Noiers, (fn. 8) most likely a great favourite of Willam the Conqueror) was lord about the year 1180, when the prior of Norwich complained that certain tithes due from his demeans, were refused to be paid to him, which Sir Simon de Noers, son of Milo, had given, (viz. 2 garbs of his tithe) to the church of the Holy Trinity of Norwich, about 1130, and these tithes were ceded to the prior.
King Henry III. in his 51st year, gave to Charles, son of Charles, the lands of Robert de Ireland, in Elmham, his enemy.
In the 7th of Edward II. Richard, son of of Henry de Coleburne of East Derham, and Margaret his wife convey to Sir William de Hackford this manor.
Sir William left 2 daughters and coheirs; Joan, married to Sir John Seckford, and Elizabeth to Henry de Elmham.
In the 6th of Edward III. Sir John Seckford and Joan his wife, conveyed by fine, to Henry de Elmham, and Elizabeth his wife, lands in this town, Calthorp and Bodham, which Margaret, widow of Sir William de Hackford, held for life.
Henry was probably father of Sir William Elmham, who died in the 4th year of King Henry IV. and was buried in the abbey of Bury.
Sir William was accused in parliament, ao. 7th of Richard II. and condemned for having received of the King's enemies in France, 3400 franks of gold, for making peace with them, whilst in the army commanded by Spencer Bishop of Norwich, &c. and the King wrote to the sheriff of Norfolk to levy the same on the lands and goods of Sir William; to arrest him, and bring him before the King and council, to be imprisoned till he should satisfy him by a fine and ransom, but had after a pardon in the said year.
In the 16th of Edward IV. Robert Bog of Worsted, and Elizabeth his wife, granted by fine to Henry Smith, &c. the lordship of Noers, with a messuage, 62 acres of land, 34s. rent also the rent of 5 hens, and 15 days works in autumn, from the heirs of Elizabeth.
Roger Martin, of Long Melford in Suffolk, Esq. in the 9th of Elizabeth, by deed, dated November 29, granted to Roger Bozoun, of Studday in Norfolk, Esq. the manor and demeans of Nowers, alias Hedges, Dunham, Bowers, Smith's, sometime Richard Martin's, Esq. his great grandfather's, with the quitrents, &c. and Roger Bozoun, by deed, dated June 1, in the said year, sold it to Richard Franklyn of North Elmham, butcher.
In the 40th of the said Queen, Edward Coke, Esq. then Attorney General, appears to be lord of it, and so it was united to the capital manor, as it now remains.
The tenths were 7l. 10s. Deducted 13s. 4d.
In this town lived the ancient family of the Taverners. Ralph le Taverner held lands here in the year 1272, and Waryn le Taverner, his son, in 1300; William le Taverner, his youngest son, was of Dunwich in Suffolk, and had a corrody in the abbey of Sibton, in the 10th of Edward II. Sir Nicholas the eldest lived here, and had John le Taverner, living in the year 1393, and by Cecilia his wife, daughter of Gelham, had John Taverner, who signalized himself at the battle of Agincourt; and Henry, the eldest son, counsellor at law, who had lands here at his death, in the 6th of Edward IV.
Nicholas was his son and heir, who married Margaret, daughter of Thomas Dethick of Wrongey, in Norfolk, by whom he had John Taverner, and died in 1492.
John his son married first, Alice, daughter and sole heir of Robert Silvester of Brisley, Gent. from whom the Taverners of Essex, Oxfordshire, and Bedfordshire, descend.
By Anne, his 2d wife, daughter of —Crowe of East Bilney, he had Thomas, alias James Taverner, and dying in 1548, was buried in Brisley church.
Thomas, alias James his son of North Elmham, married Grace, daughter and heir of John Russel, of Wighton in Norfolk, relict of Edmund Beding field, Esq. and was living in the 18th of Elizabeth, and had by her, Thomas Taverner, living in the year 1636, whose wife, Anne, survived him, and was living in 1659; she was then taxed to the militia rate for lands here, at 80l. per ann.
Charles Taverner, Gent. was buried here in 1683, and Anne his wife in 1682, and Charles Taverner, Gent. his son, in 1682.
Their arms were argent, a bend fusillèe, sable.
Here is a fair kept annually, on the annunciation of the Blessed Virgin, and the profits of it are said to have been given to the priory of Norwich, by Herbert the Bishop.
In a close, called Broom-Close, about half a mile or more from the town, lying on the west side of the road from Elmham to Beteley, of a dry sandy or gravelly soil, on a rising ground, a river running in the valley, have been found many urns of a coarse earth, the work rough and uneven, but generally well burnt, some of them indented and some plain, some of a blue, and some of a yellow colour, without any covers; the size various, some holding a quart, some two or three quarts or a gallon, very tender, (as most urns are,) when first exposed to the air; some are found very near the surface of the earth, others two or three spit deep, containing many small pieces of bones, turned black with burning, others full of ashes, with some pieces of coarse glass run, and sticking to the bones, and in the ashes; some with pieces of brass melted, and unmelted, also with pieces of iron, so decayed with rust, that their figure or use does not appear; some with small knives eat up with rust, also with small pincers or nippers, commonly of brass, perfect and good, which demonstrates the great antiquity of the place.
A penknife found in one about 4 inches and an half long, with a wrought handle. A bodkin of the same size. A dagger about one foot long, with a wrought handle, hilt and bar, found in a ditch. A green glass in form of a cone, about 4 inches long, and three inches diameter at the bottom, and one at the top, probably a lacrymatory, found in an urn.
In February, 1711, some labourers repairing the fence on the south side of this close, or in raising a new ditch, dug up about 30 urns, but found little valuable or curious in them, only ashes and dust; this moved other persons to make further trial, who found several near to one another.
One person employed in the search is said to have taken up about 120, yet the compass of the ground that was thus turned up did not exceed a rood of ground; some coins however have been found here.
In a piece of ground, about two furlongs south of the town, in the road to East Derham, (where old wells and foundations of houses are to be seen,) a countryman digging to sow carrots, about 60 years past, is said to have dug up the quantity of a pint and an half.
These silverones (as I take it) were found in this last mentioned place: Vespatianvs. Avg. the reverse the image of the goddess Peace, seated, with an olive branch in her right hand.
Cæsar. Divi. F. Domitianvs. Coss. VIII. The reverse, Princeps. Jvventvtis.
Diva Favstina. Reverse, standing as a goddess with a wand in her right hand.
Lvcilla. Avgvsta. Antonini. Avgvsti. Filia. Reverse, Concordia. seated.
Constantivs. Nob. CÆsar. Reverse, Roman trophies between two soldiers, Gloria. Exercitvs. This is of brass.
Here was also found a silver Roman ring, the impress, an eagle with a thunderbolt in his beak.
These coins prove this to have been a Roman station.
Dr Plot, in his History of Staffordshire, observes that neither the Saxons or Danes, after their arrival into this island, ever burned their dead, whatever they might do before; (fn. 9) and in his History of Oxfordshire, that they made their works so indistinguishable from the Romans, (otherwise than by the Roman money found under them,) that they can scarce be known asunder; so that whatever of their fortifications, called Barrows, abusively, have no money found near them, must be concluded (as he thinks) either Saxon or Danish, Saxon if square, Danish if round; the first called Falkmotes, places of meeting on approach of an enemy, or the hundred meeting courts, or Danes raths.
But that the Danes did anciently burn, before they invaded England, appears from Odinus, an ancient Danish King, who enjoined the dead to be burned, and ordered his own domesticks to burn him when dead: and so they continued for a long time after, and it seems not to be discontinued till the time of Charles the Great, the Emperor, about the year 800, who converting many heathens to the Christian faith, and being styled the Most Christian King, forbad this practice, and that if any one should burn the bodies of the dead, he should be put to death for so doing.
The Saxons also, (after the Danish manner,) in Germany, used to burn their dead, and to erect a tumulus over their burnt ashes; and the said Emperor commanded the bodies of Christian Saxons to be brought to the churchyard, and not to the tumuli of the pagan Saxons.
Yet I am persuaded, that this practice was used at this time in England, and after, to the days of King Alfred.
It appears that here was, in the Conqueror's and King Edward's time, a church, well endowed with 50 acres and a carucate of land. Herbert Bishop of Norwich is said to have new built it, in the reign of King William II. being so enjoined by the Pope, for his simony, and appropriated the rectory of this church to the priory of Norwich, founded by him; and held by Richard Warner, Esq. of the dean and chapter of Norwich.
In the 3d year of the pontificate of William de Raleigh, the vicar's portion was settled, and a house was granted to him by the church, on the west side, with 10 acres of freehold arable land, by the consent and agreement of Simon, the prior, and convent of Norwich, with all offerings, oblations, and small tithes, and of pease and beans in the parish; also all the tithes as well great as small, issuing out of 500 acres of land ploughed, and from the freehold which the prior and convent held in demean, at the time of the taxation of the vicarage; also all the great and small tithes issuing out of 9 acres of arable land in divers pieces, with all the tithe of hay, turf, and the mills. (fn. 10)
A dispute arising in 1277, between the prior and convent who had the rectory, and Robert, then vicar, concerning the repair of the chancel, and the ornaments thereof, as well within as without, it was determined by William Bishop of Norwich, that considering how amply it was endowed, it should be repaired by the vicar: dated at Thorp by Norwich, the 11th of October, 1277.
The appropriated rectory was taxed at 30 marks before the Dissolution, and the vicarage at 15 marks, and was not visited by the archdeacon, &c. being then the Bishop's manor.
The present valor of the vicarage is 13l. 14s. 11d.
Robert occurs vicar in 1277.
1305. Walter de Blackolvesle collated to the vicarage, by the Bishop of Norwich.
1311, Richard de Aysham. Ditto.
1312, John de Stanhow. Ditto.
1328, Richard de Keneshale. Ditto.
1344, Edmund de Chevsele. Ditto.
John de Cressingham vel Frettenham, vicar.
1354, Roger de Felthorp. Ditto.
1355 Oliver Wytton. Ditto.
1356, Allen Ategar. Ditto.
Thomas Wentebryg, vicar.
1358, Robert Percy. Ditto.
1361, George de Howden. Ditto.
Henry de Dunston, vicar.
1367, Richard de Blithe Ditto.
1410, John Curteys. Ditto.
1412, Walter Eston. Ditto.
John in the Meadow occurs vicar in the 8th of Henry V.
1427, William Matton. Ditto.
1447, John Boole, or Bull.
1449, Symon Cozyn. Ditto.
1489, Hugh Kesteen. Ditto.
1502, Richard Cooper. Ditto.
1523, Richard Sylvestre. Ditto.
1541, John Peche, by James Underwood, by a grant of the next presentation from the Bishop.
1549, John Fysher, by Richard Fulmerston, Esq. assignee of William Bishop of Norwich.
Edmund Denny, vicar.
1585, Thomas Smith, by Henry Lord Cromwell.
1631, Nathaniel Ducket, by Sir Edward Coke.
1659, William Wells, by John Coke, Esq.
1680, John Read, by Robert Harvey, Esq.
1704, Thomas Newson, by John Harvey, Esq.
1723, James Athill by Richard Warner, Esq.
1741, Thomas Gregory, by Richard Warner, Esq. the present vicar.
The Church is dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Here was a church built new, (as I have observed,) by Bishop Herbert, but the present does not appear to be of that antiquity: it is a large regular pile, consisting of a middle, north and south isle, supported by 6 pillars on each side, forming 7 arches on each side, with a chancel, all covered with lead.
On the belfry are the arms of Richard Warner, Esq. Warner and Whitehull, quarterly, impaling Hastings and Lomb.
At the west end stands a lofty four-square tower, with a shaft or small spire covered with lead, with 5 bells and a clock.
In this church were the guilds of St. Mary, Corpus Christi, and St. James.
On the pannels of the chancel door have been painted the four doctors of the church; St. Augustine, St. Gregory, Ambrose, and Jerome, and
Orate p. a'i'ab; Robi Pynning et Margarete uxor. sue et omniu' benefactor. ej; qui hoc opus pingi fecerunt.
On the pavement are gravestones,
In memory of Edward Harvey and Phillippa his wife: he died in 1685, aged 48, she in 1704, aged 64.
In memory of Amy, wife of John Spooner, who died 1677, aged 72.
Hic jacet Tho. Smith, pastor hujus ecclesiœ, qui obt. 7 Sept. 1631.
John Read, vicar, obt. March 11, 1703.
Hic jacet Gul. Turner legis peritus, vir invicti laboris et industriœ, certavit enim cum loquentis lingua, scribentis manu, et ex utrisq; amplissimum cepit fructum, favente numine mirum in modum ditatus obt. 13. id. Jan. ao. œtat. 45, abi lector et disce Deum omnia rendere laboribus.
In memory of Charles Turner, senior, gent. and Elizabeth his wife: he died 1681, aged 83, she in 1683, aged 79.
In the the east window, the arms of Bishop Spencer and Sir Edward Coke.
In the vestry, or chapel, on the south side, a gravestone with the arms of Taverner.
In memory of Anne, daughter of Charles Taverner, gent. and wife of William Harvey, gent. lineally descended from the antient family of the Taverners of North Elmham, who died March 15, 1712, aged 32.
On a grey marble,
Orate p. a'i'a. Johan. Fyttcher, cuj. &c.
In the east window the arms of the priory, now the deanery of Norwich, argent, a cross sable; also a gravestone In memory of Barthol. Snetting, senior, gent. who died January 12, 1682, aged 61.
At the east end of the south isle hangs an achievement, ermine, on a cross, sable, 5 martlets, or,—Veysie, impaling gvrony of eight, or and sable, on a chief of the 2d, two leopards faces of the first, Crowe.
The height of the tower, with its lantern and weather-cock, is 119 feet, length of the church, 157 feet; breadth from out to out, 66 feet.
Simon Dethick, of North Elmham, Gent. by his will, dated January 10, 1542, gives legacies to his sons, Richard, Thomas and Christopher, and his daughter by Rose his wife, and had lands here, in Beteley, Bittering, East Derham and How, and was buried in the chapel of St. James in this church. (fn. 11)