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in 1389, but was at once rebuilt, and was, with the old abbey, in a
flourishing condition at the dissolution. The gothic windows, a few walls,
and some subterranean passages are all that remain.

In the reign of Edward the Confessor, the prior and convent of Ely
had possessions in Woodbridge, and their successors still hold the manor
of Kingston. Towards the end of the twelfth century, a priory of Augus-
tine canons was founded here by Ernaldus Rufus and others and dedicated
to the Virgin Mary, the revenue of which at the dissolution was valued at
£50 3s. 5d. A house built on the site by one of the Seckford's still
retains the name of the abbey.

Norfolk contained no less than 122 monasteries, including the various
distinctions of abbeys, priories, nunneries, colleges, preceptories, com-
manderies, hospitals for lepers, besides a much larger number of chantries,
guilds, and free chapels. Some of the monasteries were possessed of
exclusive jurisdiction, with peculiar exemptions and privileges ; others
were dependent, and some were still more subordinate.

The Abbey of St. Benedict^s-at-Holme was a famous place on the
marshes near the river Bure, in the north of Norfolk. According to
traditions of the monks, it was given by Horn, a little prince, to a society
of hermits under the rule of one Sunneman in 800. The Danes destroyed
the monastery in 870. Wolfric rebuilt the chapel and houses in the next
century, and he with his companions lived there many years. Canute the
Dane, founded the abbey in 1034. It was so well fortified by the monks
that it resembled a castle more than a cloister. Its revenues were very


great^ derived from many manors iu this part of Norfolk. Holme was a
mitred abbey, and its abbot always sat in the House of Lords. The
Bishop of Norwich is still Abbot of Holme. Some remains of the abbey
are yet visible on a piece of land surrounded by marshes. There is no
part of the ancient structure standing except the gatehouse or entrance on
the north by a causeway from Ludham, the rest having been barbarously
destroyed by the Goths of the neighbourhood, or taken away to build
barns or to mend roads. In the last century, vast piles of buildings were
standing, but now they are all gone, and only a few silent trees are left
sad witnesses of the brutal violence of ignorant rustics.

Walsingham Priory is indebted for its origin to the widow lady of
Ricoldie de Faverches, who founded there a chapel in honour of the
Virgin Mary, in all respects like to the 8anda Casa at Nazareth, where
the Virgin was saluted by the angel Gabriel, in a vision of the Virgm
enjoining her thereto, a pretence generally made use of in like founda-
tions. Sir Jeffrey de Faverches, her son^ soon after the Conquest,
endowed it, granting to Edwin, his clerk or chaplain, this chapel to St.
Mary, with the church of All Saints in the said town, with its appurte-
nances in lands, &c., which the said Edwin possessed on the day when he
went to Jerusalem. This knight seems to have been the first founder of
the priory, built the priory church, and gave the chapel of Our Lady, all
the ground within the site of the church, eight acres of land, with 20s.
rent per annum out of his manor, if the yearly value of the offerings of
Our Lady did not exceed five marks, which grant was confirmed by
Robert de Brucourt, and Roger, Earl of Clare, in Sufiblk. Numerous
grants and benefactions rapidly succeeded the original endowment, con-
ferring stability and opulence on the infant institution.

A minute detail of the several grants made to this once famous priory
would be very tedious and uninteresting to most readers, but would show
the zeal, credulity, and superstition of the age, the people believing that
their welfare here and hereafter in a future state depended on their liberality
to religious institutions. At their dissolution, this fell with the rest in the
thirtieth of Henry VIH., and was then valued, according to Dugdale, at
£391 lis. 7d., and according to Speed, at £446 14s. 4d. per annum.

The priory church was a grand edifice. The length of the nave from
the wpst door to the great tower or belfry in the church was seventy
paces, the breadth of the same, excepting the two aisles, was sixteen
paces ; the great tower or bell tower was a square of sixteen paces, and
the breadth seventeen ; besides this, there was a building, probably at the
east end of the choir, of sixteen yards long and ten broad.

But the chief beauty and glory of Walsingham Priory was the chapel
dedicated to the annunciation of the Virgin. This chapel was a separate


building from the church, and distinct also from the chapel dedicated to
the Blessed Virgin, with which it is confounded by the contiuuator of
Blomefield's work. As this chapel was being rebuilt when William of
Worcester saw it, he calls it the new work of Walsingham, and states its
measurement within the walls to have been sixteen paces in length and
ten in breadth, Erasmus, who was here shortly after William, notices its
disjunction from the priory church. He then proceeds to observe that
" The church is splendid and beautiful, but the Virgin dwells not in it : —
that, out of veneration and respect is granted to her son. She has her
church so contrived as to be on the right hand of her son ; but neither in
that doth she live, the building being not yet finished. In this church
there is a small chapel of wood, into which the pilgrims are admitted on
each side at a narrow door. There is but little or no light in it but what
proceeds from wax tapers, yielding a most pleasant and odoriferous smell ;
but if you look in, you will say it is a seat of the gods, so bright and
shining it is all over with jewels, gold, and silver.^' So great was the
fame of the idol or image of the Lady of Walsingham, that foreigners of
all nations came on a pilgrimage to her, insomuch that the number of her
devotees and worshippers seemed to equal those of the Lady of Loretto
in Italy, and the town of Little Walsingham owed its chief support and
maintenance thereto.

Of the Eoyal visitors Henry III. appears to have paid his devotion to her
March 24th, in his 26th year; his precept being dated here enjoining all
who held lands in cajpite to meet him on the Octaves of Easter at Win-
chester in our expedition into Gascoign. Edward I. was here on January
8th, in his ninth year, as appears by a patent dated here for the repair of
London Bridge, and again in his twenty-fifth year in the Purification of
the Virgin. Edward II. was also here on October 6th in his ninth year.
In the thirty-fifth of Edward II., John de Montfort, Duke of Bretagne
in France, came and had the King^s liberate to the treasurer and
chamberlain of the Exchequer to deliver £9 for the expenses of his
journey here and back to London. In the same year the Duke of Anjou
had a license to visit here and the shrine of St. Thomas a Becket at

David Bruce, King of Scotland, had in the thirty-eighth of the said
King, a protection to come here with thirty horse in his retinue, and his
Queen Margaret made a vow to visit also St. Thomas of Canterbury.

Henry VII. mentions, in his will, that he had ordered an image of
silver and gilt to be made and offered up, and set before the Lady of
Walsingham, and also a like image for St. Thomas of Canterbury.

Henry VIIL, in his second year, soon after Christmas, rode here, and
in the same year. May 14th, 63. 8d. was then paid to Mr. Garneys for


the King's oSering to her, aud a MS. proving payment was signed by the
King's hand at Walsingham.

Queen Catherine his wife, during the King's absence in France in his
fifth year, came here and returned thanks to the Lady for the great victory
over the Scots at Flodden-field, September 9th, 1513.

Queen Catherine, in her will, desired that 500 masses should be said for
her soul, and that a person should make a pilgrimage to our Lady at
Walsingham, and distribute 200 nobles in charity upon the road. The
people were so superstitious, that they believed the galaxy in the sky
called the milky way, shone to point out the particular place and residence
of the Virgin to show them the way to Walsingham.

Walsingham was famous throughout England for pilgiimages to the
shrine of the Virgin Mary; for whoever had not made a visit and a
present to the Lady of this place was looked upon as impious. Here the
priests carried on a lucrative trade by deceiving the ignorant people.
Thousands of all ranks of people went annually to the " Shrine of Our
Lady," as it was called, and they had indulgences granted to them in
proportion to the sums given to the priest. It was not from motives of
piety that so many went thither. On the contrary, says an English
traveller, " we have seen processions of those pilgrims in different parts
of Europe, and without the least exaggeration they may be reduced to the
following classes : Supposing the whole body to consist of fifty of each
sex, twenty couples are generally in love intrigues ; the second twenty are
idle, lazy, vagabonds and harlots ; whilst the last ten couples may be partly
devotees and partly philosophers, who go to laugh at the depravity of
human nature and the barefaced wickedness of the priests."

The College of Walsingham had scarce any revenues but the presents
made to the Virgin. The most valuable gifts only were preserved, the
smaller being appropriated to the maintenance of the poor and convent.
In the church was a little narrow timber chapel, into which the pilgrims
were admitted on each side by a small door. There was only the light
of wax tapers, which had a grateful smell ; but the hght displayed a place
shining all over with jewels, silver, aud gold. Yet, woe to tell ! the very
prince who walked barefoot to present a rich necklace to Our Lady of
Walsingham soon after reduced her and her train to their original value in
bullion !

Castleacre Priory was founded in 1078 by William de Warren a great
warrior, who placed in it twelve monks of the Cluniac order, and endowed
it for their support, but subject to the abbey of Lewes in Sussex. It was
enclosed by a strong outer wall, encompassing an area of 29a. 2e. IOp.
Herbert, first Bishop of Norwich, confirmed the grant of this founder,
and certified that the monks of Hacra had entered the church with his


consent. In the twenty -fourth of Edward I., the revenues of this
religious house, which had been augmented by numerous benefactions,
were seized under the pretence of its being an ahen priory, but they wei-e
subsequently restored. The remains of the priory, with its conventual
church, form perhaps the finest and most venerable ruin in Norfolk. The
church comprised nave, choir, and transepts, of which the west fi'ont, the
south-west toAver, and the north and south transepts present the most
extensive remains. The choir is almost entirely destroyed, and little more
than the foundations are visible. The west front, sixty-four feet high,
presents a beautiful Norman facade, filled with tiers of arches, and
columns enriched with beautiful chevron, billet cable and other mouldings
and tracery, and formerly terminated on each side by elegant towers.

Waborne or Wayborue Priory, in the Hundred of Holt (north) is said
to have been founded by Sir Ralph Maynwaryn, of Cheshire, in the reign
of Henry I. ; but it is more probable that Sir Ralph Maynwaryn, who
lived in the reign of King John, was the founder. This Sir Ralph was
justice of Cheshire and lord of Holt, and married Amicia, a daughter of
Hugh Kivehoc, Earl of Chester, who gave two knights^ fees with her in
frank marriage. This priory was subordinate to Westacre Priory at fi.rst.

In the reign of Henry I., Peter de Valoins or Valeniis, founded the
priory of Binham in Norfolk. This was an extensive pile of buildings,
now in ruins. The possessions of the priory were much increased in
the subsequent reigns of King Stephen, Henry II., Richard I., John,
Henry III., and Edward I. by numerous grants and gifts of land, as
appears from the register of the priory. After these grants, rents, &c.,
there follows in the register an account of the prior's rental in Edgefi.eld,
containing the names of the tenants, the rents, parcels of lands, &c. At
the dissolution, Henry VIII., in the thirty-sixth year of his reign, on
March 3rd, 1545, granted the manor of Binham, with all its appurte-
nances, rights, and privileges to Sir William Butts and his heirs for ever,
with manors and estates in other counties, upon his paying into the
treasury, £762 12s. Gd.

A priory of Benedictine monks was founded at Horsham St. Faith's,
near Norwich, in 1105, by Robert de Cadomo (or Caen), son of Walter
de Cadomo, lord of Horsford, and Sibella his wife, daughter and heiress
of Ralph de Cheyney. Historians relate that they, returning from a
pilgrimage to Rome through France, were attacked by robbers, and
imprisoned, till by their prayers to God and St. Faith the virgin, they
were miraculously delivered. After tliis, they visited the shrine of St.
Faith's at the Abbey of Couches in France, and being there kindly
entertained, they vowed on their return into England to give their manors
of Horsford and Horsham to build a monastery there in honour of God


and St. Faith, whicli they accordingly performed, placing therein two
monks of the Abbey of Couches, to which abbey they gave this house as
a cell in the reign of Henry I. and Herbert, being then Bishop of
Norwich. In 1163, the foundation was confirmed by Pope Alexander HI.

In 1113, William de Glanville founded a priory at Broomholme, near
Bactou, for Cluniac monks, as a cell to Castleacre, dedicated to St.
Andrew, and endowed it with lauds at Broomholme and other places.
The priory became very rich by continual offerings in ages of supersti-
tion. On its dissolution, it was granted to Sir T. Woodhouse, of Waxham.
The remains of this priory are still more entire than most others.
Within the walls which surrounded it, there is now a farm-house, and the
buildings have been converted into offices.

About the year 1 188, the Priory of Shouldham was founded by Jeffrey
Fitzpress, Eai'l of Essex, and dedicated to the Holy Cross and the Blessed
Virgin for a prior, canons, and nuns of the Order of St. Gilbert, of Sem-
pringham, who endowed the said house with the manors of Shouldham,
in Caneham, Wryham, Wrotton, Boketon, Stokesferry, Carboysthorp,
Foston, Stradset, Bekeswell, Fordham, Well, Wygenhale, Seche, Sadlebow,
Clenchwarton, Low, and Wrangle. The founder had these estates in
descent by his wife, whose grandfather married Beatrix, sister to Jeffrey
Mandeville, Earl of Essex. This Jeffrey Fitzpress was a person of great
power and authority, and Chief Justiciary of England, and, dying on
October 2nd, 1212, was buried in Shouldham Priory. He gave to
this priory in pure alms, to find lights in the church of the priory, &e.,
twelve shops, with rooms over them, in the parish of St. Mary of Cole
Church in London.

Langley Abbey was founded by Sir Robert Fitz Roger, Helke or De
Clavering, who was lord of Horsford by the marriage of Margaret,
daughter and co-heiress of William de Cheney, relict of Sir Hugh de
Cressy. On his founding the monastery for canons of the Premonstra-
tensian Order at Langley, in 1198, he gave thegi-eatest part of the manor
to it, to be held by one fee and three-quarters, the other quarter of a fee
being in his own family, also the advowson of the church with the marsh
of Raveness, &c. The founder was Sheriff of Norfolk and Suffolk in the
third and fourth year of King Richard I., and in that reign the abbey was
founded. His descendents assumed the name of De Clavering from their
lordship of that name, in Essex, and had the patronage of this abbey.
The anniversary of the founder was kept on the 18th of the calends of
May. Here was an abbot and fifteen canons of the Premonstratensian
Order, dedicated to the Blessed Virgin and valued as Dugdale, at
£104 16s. 5d. ob. as Speed at £128 19s. Od. ob. King John in his first
year confirmed the grant of the founder, and granted the abbot a fair and


a weekly market in the manor of Langley, with soc, sac, and many otlier

It appears from a rent roll that they had considerable possessions, the
manors of Langley, Thurton, Burgh cum Apton, Mundham, Eavening-
ham, Sisland, Ashby, Winston, Eockland, Poringland, Fraralingham,
Shottesham, Kirby, Trowse, Bowthorpe, Wheatacre, Rushall, Heckingham
cum Rochchage, and Hales ; also lands in many towns in Norfolk and

Mr. Parkin gives us a tedious detail of benefactions devoutly given to
this religious house, which we think would fully employ the clergy of
that day to remember in their prayers.

On January 27th, 1249, the Abbey or Nunnery of Marham in the
Hundred of Clackclose, Norfolk, was founded by Isabel, widow of Hugh
de Albany, Earl of Arundel, for Cistertian or White Nuns, was dedicated
to the Virgin Mary, St, Barbara, and St. Edmund, by Richard de Wiche,
Bishop of Chichester, for the health of the souls of William, late Earl
Warren and Surrey, her father, and Maud her mother, daughter of
William Marshal the elder. Earl of Pembroke, Hugh, Earl of Arundel,
her husband, and all her ancestors deceased, &c.

Many of the Kings of England confirmed the grants and privileges of
this house, as did Richard II. in his ninth year, and in the twentieth year
of that reign they had a patent for founding a chantry in the hermitago
of St. Guthlake in Marham. The abbess had the privilege of proving
the wills of those that died within the precinct or jurisdiction of this
house granted to this order by the popes. This order of nuns had many
large privileges from the popes, probate of wills within their own precincts,
exemptions from pajdng tithes and procurations, &c.

The monastic institutions existing in Norwich before the Reformation
were nineteen in number, the principal being the Benedictine Priory at the
Cathedral founded by Bishop Herbert. He placed sixty Benedictine monks
in the priory on the south side, endowing it with sufficient lands to maintain
it. The same founder established a Benedictine cell on Mousehold Heath,
and dedicated it to St. Leonard. It was much resorted to on account of
a miraculous image of Henry VI. St. Michael's Chapel was near this
priory cell, and it was served by the monks. The Benedictine Nunnery
at Carrow was founded in 1146 by two sisters and endowed by King-
Stephen. It was dedicated to the Virgin Mary, and had a prioress and
nine nuns.

St. Mary-in-the-Fields was founded about 1250 by John Le Brun, as a
monastic hospital, was transmuted into a college for a dean, ten preben-
daries, and six charity priests, was given at the dissolution to Dr. Miles
Spencer, the last dean, and is now represented by a hall, with arms of


the Hobarts, the Coruwallises^ and others. The Augustinian Friary was
founded in the time of Edward 1., by R. Mincot ; acquired much wealth from
a peculiarly privileged chapel called Scala Coeli, akin in character to two
others in England^ and was given at the dissolution to Sir Thomas Heneage.

The Black Friars Monastery was founded in 1228^ and originally built in
St. George^s Colegate, but afterwards removed to St. Andrew's, where
the building was begun about the year 1415, in the reign of Henry V.,
by that celebrated knight, Sir Thomas Erpingham, who died in 1428,
before it was finished. Sir Robert Erpingham, his son, continued the
work till it was completed. He was a friar of the Order of St. Dominic,
and a member of this convent. The Black Friars were so called from
their habit ; they were also called friars preachers, from their office ; and
Dominicans from St. Dominic their founder who died in 1221, and was
canonized in the year 1233.

The first friars of this Order came to Norwich about the year 1226 ;
they then occupied the church of St. John the Baptist (which was after-
wards united to St. George of Colegate), and the site of the convent was
between the churches of St. George of Colegate and St. Clement. In
1307 they were licensed to settle there by King Edward I. Between that
period and the year 1331 they were at different times presented with
sundry messuages in the parishes of St. Andrew and St. Peter of Hungate ;
but in 1413, their house, church and all their buildings in those parishes
were burnt down. This obliged them to return to their original situation,
where they continued till they were burnt out there in 1449 ; they then
returned to the parish of St. Andrew's before the convent was entirely
finished. Their new site extended from St. Andrew's Broad Street to the
river from south to north, and from Elm Hill to the Black Friars Bridge
Street from east to west. The cloister was on the north side of the church
now called St. Andrew's Hall, with a burial place in the middle of it.
The Convent-kitchen was at the north-west corner (converted into a
work-room for the poor in 1625), the dormitory or sleeping-room was
one great room over the east side of the cloister ; the west side was the
freytor ; part of the south side was the infirmary ; the chapter-house
joined to the midst of the east side of the cloister; beyond it and the
library was a long building from east to west, near the north side of the
chancel ; between the nave and choir of the church, there was a neat
sexangular steeple, which had three large bells in it and a clock, and was
a great ornament to the city. It was built about the year 1462, and fell
down on November 6th, 1712. At the dissolution in 1538 Henry VIII.
granted the convent to the city. All that now remains of it is the
church called St. Andrew's Hall, and one side of the cloister, now a
passage to the Commercial School.


The Grey Friars' Monastery was founded in 1226 by John de Hastiug-
ford, and given at the dissolution to the Duke of Norfolk. The White
Friars Monastery was founded in 1256 by Philip Fitzwarrcn ; was given
at the dissolution to Eichard Andrews and Leonard Chamberlayne ; it is
now represented by some remains which give a name to a tavern. The
Monastery of the Friars De Domina was founded before 1290; the
Monastery of the Friars of St. J\lary was of similar date^ and lias been
confounded with the preceding ; the Monast ery of the Friars De Sacco
was founded in 1250; and all these four were small institutions, and either
became extinct, or were united to the larger ones long before the Reforma-
tion. God's House, Hildebrand de Mercer's Hospital, and four lazar
houses were founded in the time of Edward I. and Edward IH. respec-
tively; and they all were poor, having little or no endowed property, and
they disappeared soon after the Reformation. The Hospital of St. Mary
Magdalene was founded by Bishop Herbert as a lazar house. It survived
the Reformation, and was transmuted into an infirmary. St. Giles'
Hospital was founded in 1249 by Bishop Suffield; was given at the
dissolution to the Corporation and it survives as a public charity.

There are some remains of monastic buildings of the Anglo-Saxon
period, as in Norwich, Yarmouth, Lynn, Walsingham, and other places,
but many more in the Norman period, when Norfolk contained 123
monastic institutions : abbeys, priories, nunneries, colleges, and hospitals.
Some interesting ruins still remain, and present curious specimens of
ecclesiastical architecture, especially at Castleacre. Norwich Cathedral
as a Norman edifice has no rival in England. Walsingham Abbey and
Binham Priory are fine specimens of early English architecture, while
noble examples of the decorated and perpendicular period abound in
every direction.


The history of the Eastern district is identified with agriculture, which
is the foundation of its industrial prosperity. The authorities on this
subject are Mr. Copland, the Norfolk farmer, who gave an account of
agriculture in every period ; Mr. Kent, who produced his report on
Norfolk farming last century, before improvements were generally
effected ; Mr. Arthur Young, eight years after Kent's survey, prepared a
report on the farming of Norfolk for the Board of Agriculture. Mr.
R. N. Bacon, editor of the Nonvich Mercury in 1844, published his
elaborate report on the agriculture of Norfolk, and obtained the prize
offered by the Royal Agricultural Society. About fifteen years later, Mr.
C. S. Read, M.P., compiled a paper at the request of the same society on

Online LibraryA. D BayneRoyal illustrated history of eastern England, civil, military, political, and ecclesiastical .. (Volume 1) → online text (page 51 of 70)