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History and antiquities of the county of Norfolk (Volume 9) online

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, Smithdon, Taverham, Tunftead,
Walfham, and Wayland.

Pro me: fi merear, in me.







Hundred of S M I T H D O N.

I T H D O N was originally divided into
S T^ two hundreds, Smithdon and Docking :
they are now united. Smithdon, fo call-
ed from its being interfperfed with hills
and meadows, confilted at the furvey of the follow-
ing towns, Heacham, Hunftanton, Holme*, Thorn-
ham and Gnatyngdon, Ringftead Magna and Parva,
{now united and confolidated into one parifh) Sedge-
ford, Snettiiham, and Ingoldiflhorpe : Docking hun-
dred contained the towns of Brancafler, Stanhoe,
Great Bircham, Bircham-Tpfts, Bircham-Newton,
Chofeley, Barwick Magna and Parva, Shernbourn,
Fring, Southmere and Docking, and the lordfhip of
Titchwell, according to the book of Domefday.

A This

Holme next the Sea, to diftinguifli it from Holm in the hundred
f Clackclofe, and Holm-Hale ia Sowih Grecnhoe,



This hundred is pleafantly fituated, commanding
the Britiih ocean to the north, Lynn channel and the
coaft of Lincolnfhire to the weft : it is bounded on
the fouth by the hundred of Freebridge Lynn, and
on the eaft by Brothercrofs and Gallow. The extent
in length is about ten or eleven miles, and it is much
the fame in breadth, taking it from Ingoldifthorpe to
Jiolme and the Chore, north, and from Stanhoe to
Snettifham and the ftiore, weft.

The foil of this hundred is moftly of a rich clay,
and fertile; the higher grounds are open field or
breck, and thofe in the vicinity of the villages are
well enclofed. There are alfo fome fen lands and
falt-marfh on the coaft of Ingoldifthorpe, Snettifham
and Heacham.

INGOLDISTHORPE, the firft town in the hundred
to the fouth, is about ten miles diftant from the
lea-port town of Lynn, and with the adjacent towns
of Snettifham and Heacham, is wafhed by the fea flow-
ing up the channel to Lynn. The tides rife in com-
mon oppofite to Snettifham and Ingoldifthorpe four-
teen feet, but the higheft fpring tides, by which great
mifchief has been frequently done on the eftates of
Nicolas Styleman, efq. and other gentlemen in the
neighbourhood, have never been known to exceed
eighteen feet. Whole flocks of fheep, and herds of
cattle, have been carried off at times by the violence
of the winds and waters. The ftrongeft banks have
not been able to withftand the force and fury of the
waves : a gale from the north-weft is ever dreadful
to this fhore : to the inhabitants, by the overflowing
of the marfhes on a fpring tide, which, when it
happens, is diftinguifhed by the name of a Marfli
Tide : to mariners, as it forces their veffels on the
fands, with which the channel to Lynn abounds :
this channel is indeed at all times dangerous : the



fands have fhifted greatly within thefe few years, and
the eaftern channel is fo choaked up, that no fhips
can pafs it. There is a pilot-boat conftantly cruifing
or at anchor off the fhore of Ingoldifthorpc, Snetti-
fham, or Heacham, to bring in all veffels bound to
Lynn. The tower of Boflon church"" in Lincolnfhire
is very vifibly diftinguifhed by the naked eye from
the towns abovementioned, being lituated crofs the
channel about the diftance of 20 miles. The va-
riation of the needle in this channel is twenty-two
degrees and a half to the weft.

The fea has been thought to leave this weftern
coafl of Norfolk gradually, and to have gained con-
fiderably on the eaftern fide, particularly at Happif*
burgh ; but this is a miftake, as there is a greater in-
flux of water upon the northern fhore at this time
than was formerly known. This opinion might arife
from obferving the eaftem channel to Lynn to be
choaked up, fo that all fhips are obliged to pafs up
the weftern channel to that harbour: this event,
however, was entirely owing to the fhifting of the
fands, and not to want of water ; for the fea has evi-
dently not retired from this fhore, as may be feen at
Holme, Titchwell, and other villages along the

In the reign of Edward III. diis hundred was
granted by the king to his fon John of Gaunt, duke
of Lancailer, with all the royal privileges belonging
to it; fuch as wreck at fea, aflize, return of writs,
&c. and fo became part of the dutchy of Lancafter.

Nicolas Styieman, efq. of Snettifham in this hun-
dred, is the prefent lord of it, and has all the royal
A 2 privileges

* It is in height 282 feet, and the length of the body of the church is
equal to the height: there are 365 fteps, 52 window*; and 12 pillars,
equal to the days, week*, and months in a year,


privileges confirmed to him : his right of wreck at
fea extends along the coaft from Wolferton to the
end of Snettifham fhore and beach, thence jointly
with fir Edward Aftley, as co-heirs of fir Henry
L'Eftrange, bart. to Hunftanton cliff, north, and as
far as Thornham, eaft ; from Thornham Mr. Style-
man's fole right of wreck extends to Titchwell, in
the whole a fpace of twenty miles and upwards ; and
his right of fporting over all the manors, as lord pa-
ramount, as far as Houghton hall and park in the
hundred of Callow.

The hundred court, or the court of the great ma-
nor of Snettifham, is held at Snettifham ; as alfo the
feveral court-leets of the great manor of / Titchwell,
Stanhoe, Barwick, Bircham and Shernbourn. The
number of freeholders in this hundred that polled
at the great contefted election at Norwich, March 23,
1768, between fir Armine Wodehoufe, bart. and
Thomas de Grey, efq. Sir Edward Aftley, bart. and
Wenman Coke, efq. was as follows :

W. G. A. C.

Barwick l i i i

Birchams 3401

Branc after 5535

Docking 13 13 8 8

Heacham l i 14 14

Holme 0044

Hunftanton 0077

Ingoldifthorpe 0143

Ringftead i i <?

f i r i

oedgeiord o i 5 4

Snettifham 3 11712

Stanhoe 3 3 o o

Thornham 1298

Titchwell 0022

Total 31 33 77 72



Principal feats and houfes in this hundred.

Banvick, Mrs. Glover.

Cobbe hall, Robert Fofter, efq. mayor of Newark,

Docking, Mrs. Henley.
Heacham, Edmund Rolfe, efq.
Holme, John Holley, efq.
Hunftanton, late fir Henry L'Eftrange, bart.
Ingoldiflhorpe, Dixori Hofte, efq.
Mount Amelia, Richard Gardiner, efq.
Mount Ida, Hon. Charles Vane.
Ringftead, Rev. Armine Styleman
Shernbourn, Matter and Fellows of Emanuel college,


Snettifham, Nicolas Styleman, efq.
iStanhoe, Mrs. Allen.
Thomham, Thomas Willis, efq.

BARWICK MAGNA, or in the Brakes. This
manor, which adjoins to Stanhoe in this hundred,
was, in the reign of James I. and Charles I. in die
family of the Townfends, and iir Roger Townfend
died pofleffed of it in 1637. From the Townfends it
came to fir John Chaplin, bart. and from him, by
purchafe, to Robert Glover, efq. whofe widow, Mrs,.
Ann Glover, niece of fir John Turner, bart. is now
in poffeffion of it. This manor of Great Bai \vick,
or Berwick in the Brakes, in the old maps of Nor-
folk, is placed in the hundred of Gallow, but it lies
in Smithdon.

BUCKENHAM PRIORY Manor. This manor alfo
belonged to fir Roger Townfend, bart. and is now
in the polfeflion of Mrs. Glover.

BARWICK PARVA. Little Earwick, or as it
is fometimes called, Balmer, was formerly a parifh,



and had a church, the ruins of which are ftill exifting.
Dr. John Glen King, chaplain to the Englifh factory
at St. Peteriburgh in Ruffia, was prefented to this
vicarage, or finecure, by the king in the year 1760.

BIRCHAM MAGNA. William de Scohies, or
Efcois, was lord at the furvey. He fold this lord-
fhip, with many others, in the reign of Henry I. Co
Walter Giflfard earl of Buckingham : he had a large
fhare of the Conqueror's favours in this county, and
held, as we leam from the book of Doomefday, lord- Iflington, Clenchwarton, Middleton, Rune-
ton, Gay ton, and Maflingham, in Freebridge hun-
dred : Bircham, in Docking hundred, and Ringftead
in Smithdon hundred : Wilby, and Buckenham, in
Shropham hundred: Banham, Kenninghall, and
Harling, in Guiltcrofs hundred : Letton, in Mitford
hundred : Creak, in Brothercrofs hundred ; Shering-
ham, Barningham, Repps, Beeflon-Regis, and Run-
ton, in North Erpingham hundred; Salthoufe, in
Holt hundred ; Reedham, Panxworth, and Fifhley,
in Walfham hundred: Limpenhoe, Burlingham,
Plumftead, and .Southwood, in Blofield hundred :
Winterton and Afhby, in Weft Flegg hundred :
Witchingham, and Weflon, in Eynsford hundred :
Attlebridge, in Taverham hundred: Corpuftey, in
South-Erpingham hundred: Pafton, in Tunftead
hundred : Stokefby, in Eaft Flegg hundred : Col-
ney, in Humbleyard hundred : Tafburgh, in Dep-
wade hundred, and Thirton, in Clavering hundred.

Walter GifFard was earl of Buckingham, and fuc-
ceeded by a fon of his own name, who dying with-
out iflue, in the reign of Henry II. his great inheri-
tance was divided amongft his fifters and co-heirs,
one of whom, Rohais, brought this lordfhip to Ri-
chard Fitz-Gilbert, anceflor to the noble family of
the earls of Clare.* Gilbert


S M I T H D O N. 7

Gilbert de Clare, earl of Clare, on his marriage
\vith Joan, daughter of king Edward I, granted it,
May 27, to the faid king, anno 18, with Walfmg-
ham, Wiveton, Crimplefham, 8cc. who regranted it
to the faid earl and his lady Joan, and their heirs,
the faid earl holding it in capite.

Gilbert, their fon and heir, being flam at the bat-
tle of Bannockburn in Scotland, anno yth Edward
II. and having no iffue, it was affigned to Elizabeth
de Burgh, wife of John de Burgh, fon and heir of
Richard earl of Ulfler.

About this time Edmund Tyb held here and in
Ringftead the fourth part of a fee of the honor of

The claims of the honor of Clare have lately been
received in this and many other hundreds in this
county, and have in moft of them been admitted:
fome lords and proprietors at firft refufed to comply
with the demands made by Mr. Jenney, of Bungav,
in Suffolk, who revived the claim, but it being clearly
afcertained by that gentleman, none have as yet con-
tefted it.

In Trinity term, anno 13th of James I. Henry
Southwell conveyed it by fine to Henry Davy and
Chriftopher Heme. After this it was poffeffed by
feveral lords, who had the patronage, and conveyed it
to Robert Wai pole, efq. who prefented in 1705, and
George earl of Orford is the preient lord and patron.

The church is dedicated to St. Mary. Sir Robert
Walpole, knight of the garter, and afterwards cre-
ated earl of Orford, February 11, 1742, prime mi-
nifter to George I. and II. for 21 years, prefented
twice to the re&ory of this parifh j firft, Henry Bland



in the year 1705, and in the year 1744 Horace
Hammond, on the refignation of Henry Bland,
D. D. then dean of Durham, and provoft of Eton
a l.-ge, near Windfor.

Dean Bland was one of thofe few inftances of
men raifed to great preferment, in any walk of life,
from intimacies at great fchools : he was educated at
Eton college, was elected upon the foundation there,
and cotemporary with fir Robert Walpole, with whom
he contracted a great friendfhip, which fubfifted to
his death : he was a man of great parts and learn-
ing, and had been head mafter of Eton fchool. Sir
Robert firft prefented him to the rectories of Harp-
ley and Great Bircham, then promoted him to the
provoftfhip of Eton and deanery of Durham ; and
as the dean was a man of great ambition, it was
matter of w r onder that, with fo powerful a patron,
he was not raifed to the dignity of a mitre : it has
been conjectured that this was owing to a private
mifunderftanding between him and lord Walpole.
The dean was mafter of all claffical learning ; of
which the following elegant infcription upon the
foundation flone of Houghton hall, wrote by him, is
no mean proof:

Hie me pofuit

Quern tu non nefcies Pofteritas ;

Fundamen et effem domus

In agro natali extruendas

fi4*- die Maij A. D. MDCCXXII,

Faxit Deus
Poftquam maturus 32 vi do minus

Diu Isetatus fuerit abfoluta ;
Incolumem tueantur incolumes

Ad fummam diem
Zt nati natorum, et qui najcentur ab illis.


S M I T H D O N. 9

BIRCHAM-NEWTON, called in the book of
Domefday, Niwetuna, or Newton, that is, not a town
now founded, but a town nigh, or contiguous to
fome water or river ; the additional name of Bircham
was afterwards made ufe of to diflinguifh it from
other Newtons in this county. Bircham fignifies a
town on the hills ; Ber, or Bur, is alfo the name of
a river in Effex, as Burfted.

This town, after paffing through many families,
the regular defcent of which, and the traditions rela-
tive thereto, are very uncertain, " on the death of
Robert earl of Leicefter, defcended to the Walpoles
by the marriage of Edward Walpole, efq. of Hough-
ton, with Lucy, daughter of fir Terry Robfcrt, knt.
fifter of fir John Robfert, knt. and aunt to the lady
Ann Dudley.

" John Walpole, efq. fon and heir of Edward
nforefaid, by his laft will and teftament, dated Fe-
bruary 28, anno 30 of Elizabeth, and proved April
following, gives to his fecond fon, Calybut, this
manor and advowfon, after the deceaie of Robert
earl of Leicefter, which he held for life, and alfo the
fold-courfcs, which he had of Roger Townfend in
this town.

" It appears that the faid John Walpole, efq. be-
ing feifed of the third part of the laid manor, and
that of Sideftem, had enfeoffed Edward Walpole,
efq. his eldeft fon, and Henry Ruffell therein, for
the life of Calybut his brother, and the faid Edward
bting attainted of treafon, May 26, in the ggth of
Elizabeth, faid to be done at Rome, it was forfeited,
and granted by the faid queen, Augufl 3, anno 39,

to Elizabeth Huffey and Goodman, who, in

September following, fold it to Calybut Walpole
B aforeiaid.


aforefaid. In this family it ftill continues, the right
honourable the earl of Orford being lord of it."*

The advowfon of this church, which is dedicated
to All Saints, is in the earl of Orford. In 1719 Mr.
Simon Bagge was prefented to it by Robert Walpole,
efq. afterwards earl of Orford, and was fucceeded by
Mr. Gary in this living as well as that of Bircham-
Tofts, which are now united parifhes, on the pre-
fentation of George the prefent earl, lord lieutenant
of the county of Norfolk, and one of the lords of
the bedchamber to the king. His lordfhip's chief
feat in this county is at Houghton, in the hundred
of Gallow, but not at the diftance of above four
miles from this town of Bircham-Newton, and ftill
nearer to Bircham-Tofts, the plantations running
clofe up to the latter.

HOUGHTON HALL is a rnofl magnificent palace,
and has the fineft and moft valuable collection of
pictures in it that can be found in England. It was
built by fir Robert Walpole, when prime miniftcr
to George I. and II. The foundation ftone was laid
May 24, 1722; but a more particular defcription of
this noble building, by much fuperior to any in this
county, will be given in its proper hundred. Hough-
ton was much admired by his x late royal highnefs
the duke of Cumberland, who frequently honored
the prefent earl with viliting it. It was likewife much
reforted to every year in the time of fir Robert Wal-
pole, the founder, by all the great officers of ftate
and foreign minifters : this annual meeting, which
ufually lafted a fortnight, was called, The Gongrefs.

BIRCHAM-TOFTS, or, as it was called at the
furvey, Stoftftan or Stony Tofts, after different grants
in different reigns, was, according to Pa-rkin, in the



8th of Henry IV. conveyed by William ChafFere,
and Alice his wife, (widow of Roger Davy) and
from her heirs it came, with the advowfon of the
church, to fir John de Ingaldefthorp, knight, fir
Henry Everard, Hamon and John L'Eftrange, efqrs.
thence it pafled into the family of the Southwells r
in 1603 it was in the Cornwallis's, and in 1726 iir
Charles le Grofs poflfefied it, and it was held of the
hundred of Smithdon, and fo of the dutchy of Lan*

The earl of Orford is at prefent the chief proprie-
tor in this town, and patron of the living : on the
death of Mr. Bagge, the late reftor, his lordfliip pre-
fented the Rev. Briggs Gary, fon of John Gary, efq.
alderman and three times mayor of Lynn, to this
church, which is dedicated to St. Andrew.

BRANC ASTER, or as it was called by the Ro-
mans, BRANNODUNUM, is now a fmall country vil-
lage, but was formerly a coniiderable city, and a
garrifon for the Dalmatian horfe under the command
of the Count of the Saxon fhore, at the time that
the Saxons began to infeft Britain. It was built by
the Romans, who gave it the name of Brannodunum,
or a town upon a river. Here are the remains of a
Roman camp, and from die Latin word c ASTRA,
moft probably the town derives its prefent name of
Brancafter. The figure of the camp'" correfponds to
Caefar's defcription of his camp, Commen. de Bello
Gallico, lib. ii. " Caftra in altitudinem pedem xii
44 vallo foflaque duodeviginti pedum munire jubet."

This village looks upon the Britifh ocean to the

north, is diftant from Wells to the weft about ten

miles, is eafl from Hunftanton cliff about feven, and

north-call from Lynn about twenty-one. Many Ro-

B 2 in an

See tht khno^r.iphicnl plap made by U(Ir. Armftrong.


man coins have been at different times dug up here,
and in the camp, which from the remains now vifir
ble, appears to have been a ftation of ftrength, and
place of arms to refift any invaders from the conti-

The great antiquary, Selden, juflly obferves that
this Roman Count or Earl of the Saxon fhore, was
an admiral, and placed againfl the maritime incur-
fions of the Saxons, or thofe of the weft part of
Germany, that were known moft commonly by that
name, the Saxons ; and had for his enfign nine ma-
ritime towns, placed (as the heralds term it) barways
or barry.

One of which was this, Brannodunum, in the
form of a caftle, with lofty walls, 8cc. and near to
thefe the fea is reprefented, fhewing it to be a mari-
time charge, or government ; and in a dexter canton
of "the faid enfign, was a book clafped, and thereon
thefe capital letter?, F.L. INT ALL. COMORD. PR.
which Pancirollus, in his notes on the Notitia, inter-
prets thus, " Faelix liber injunclus notary's Laterculi
" continens mandata principis or primicerij," who
was the mailer or prefident of the clerks of the
crown ; and by this book a parchment rolled up.*

I have feen a filver coin about the fize of a fix-
pence ; on one fide a Janus Bifrons ; reverfe obfcure,
feemingly a trophy, 8cc. One of copper, the fize of
a fhilling, with the head of Claudius, and TI.
CLAVDIVS. CAES. AVG. Reverfe obfcure. A
gladiator naked, in his left hand a fhield, and the
right uplifted.t

This town was given originally to the abbey of
Rarafay, founded in 969 ; confirmed by William the

parkin. f Ibid,

S M I T H D O N. 13

Conqueror and Henry I. who is reported to have
been at this town. At the time of the general ditto-
lution of the abbies, the temporalities were granted
to fir Richard Southwell by Henry VIII. when it
appears that he had court baron, court leet, the ad- %
vowfon of the church, free warren, wreck at fea, a
court of admiralty, efcheats, reliefs, waifs and ftrays,
felons goods, and outlaws, a free port to the fea, &c.
privileges belonging to this lordfhip.

From the Southwells it came to the Comwallis's,
and thence to fir Ralph Hare, of Stowe-Bardolf, and
from the Hares to the Berkeley s.

The lordfhip is at prefent in the dutchefs dowager
of Beaufort, fiftef of the late Norborne Berkeley,
who was knight of the (hire, and lord lieutenant for
the county of Gloucefter; afterwards claimed the
title of Botetourt, and his right to it was acknowledged
and confirmed by the houfe of lords, after feveral
days hearing, in the reign of his prefent majefty :
foon after, he was appointed governor of Virginia in
North America, and died there. Parkin was mil-
taken in faying he was created lord Botetourt.

There was an ancient family of dignity, accord^
ing to Parkin, who affumed their name from diis
place, as John de Brancaftre, who was vice chancel-
lor of England.

" In this town is a very remarkable mahhoufe,
312 feet long, and 31 broad, wherein are fleeped
weekly, in the feafon, 420 quarters of barley, ufeful
and beautiful in its flrufture and contrivance of its
pffices, and clofe to a key or ftaith for fhips'V"'


Parkin ,x


This great malthoufe was one of the mofl remark-
able curiofities in this county, was much admired,
and vifited by all flrangers ; the number of vifitors
was alfo not a little encreafed by its fituation being
fo near to the Roman camp above defcribed; the
country around it is extremely beautiful, command-
ing an open view of the Bridfh ocean from all the
neighbouring hills. . This country, extending along
the fea-coaft from Hunftanton beyond Holt and Fel-
brigge, the elegant feat of William Windham, efq.
may truly be laid to be the garden of Norfolk.'"


* The ride from Warham by Stukey, is through a much more pi<3u-
refque country than is commonly met with in Norfolk ; the road runs on
the brow of the hill looking down on Stukey vale, and commanding, for
fome diftance, a very complete landfcape. The vale, which is compofed
of meadows of the fineft verdure, winds in a very beautiful manner from
out a thicket of woody inclofures, and retires, at the other, behind a pro
jecting hill : an humble flream glides through it, and adds a chearfulnefs,
i which water can alone confer. The hills rife in a bold manner : they are
bare of wood ; but that is compenfated by the thick enclofures in which
the village is fcattered ; forming with its church in a dip of the hill, and
that of Blakeney above it, in a prouder iituation, a moft complete and
pleafing piflure.

Between Stukey and Clcy is the little village of Cockthorp, which con-
tains'but three houfes, and yet has furnifhed Britain with three famous
admirals, Sir Cloudfley Shovel, Sir John Narborough, and Sir Chriftopher

Near Blakeney is another uncommon view, quite different from that at
Stukey : the road winds into a fequeftered valley fhut out from the fea,
by a bold, uncultivated hill. To the right, the grounds {helve from the
road into a narrow vale. In this little woody hollow, 'is a village half
feen among (haggling trees : the fteeple is uncommonly pidurefque 3 half
of it is hid by a rifing Hope, and the church three-fourths obfcured by a
thicket of trees. The oppofite hill rifes very boldly ; it prefents a large
inclofure, under the thick fhade of a noble fpreading wood ; which hangs
to the right into another valley, but is loft behind a regular bare hill of a
conic form ; which rifes from the junflion of the vales, in a very remark-
able manner ; and almofl fcreens a diftant range of rifing inclofures. Im-
mediately to the right, is a Hoping traft of fields, and above them wild
ground, with a white tower rifing from behind it The whole forms one


S M I T H D O N. 15

This great malthoufe was built by Mr. Thurlow,
a merchant at Burnham, on a long leafe from the
crown, and is now in the poffeffion of Mr. Willis,
of Thornham, three miles from Brancafler.

Here is a free fchool, in the gift of fir Edward
Aftley, bart. and Nicolas Styleman, efq. as joint
heirs of fir Henry L'Eftrange, bart. of Hunftanton.
This fchool was built by Robert Smithe, efq. in the
reign of queen Elizabeth: he died in 1596^ and hi3
filler afterwards endowed the fchool with 74 acres of
land. Twenty-four boys are educated in this fchool,
and are taken from the parifhes of Brancafter, Thorn-
ham, Burnham-Depdale, and Titchwell. They are
taught reading, writing, and arithmetic.

The church is dedicated to the Virgin Mary.
There is, among other monuments, one to the me-
mory of Vowel Arford, widow of Thomas Arford,
of Lynn, merchant, daughter of Toby Pedder, efq.
of Hunilanton, who died Sept. 16, 1705. From
this family mofl probably the road, called Pedder s
Road at this day, derived its name. It runs almoft
in a flrait line to Caftle-Acre, and is fabuloufly faid
to pafs in the fame direction through al,l England,
without entering a village or town.

The prefent re&or of this parifh is the Rev. Mr.
Henry Shute. The late lord Botetourt, governor of

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