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place, praying that they may likewise ship and land Coast goods there,
and that they may also be aliow'd liberty to ship corn for Holland and
other foreign ports, and having consider'd the same, we direct you to
suffer the Traders at Cromer to ship or land com and other British
goods Coastwise at that place. Provided t>^ persons who shall lade
any such goods do first take out Sufferances from you Directed to the
Riding Surveyor at Sherringham, under whose inspection they are to
be executed by indorsing theron the Goods w»» are actually ship*d in
like manner as is directed by your (sic) letter of the 9th December last
with regard to Goods, Coastways, and that the sufferances be then
retum'd to you, in order to the Masters takeinge out Cocquetts or other
proper Dispatches according to the nature of their ladings, and that
before the unloading of any goods bro* Coastways, the master of tie
respective ships and vessells do Deliver their Cocquets to you, and
take out Sufferances Directed to gt said officers for Discharge thereof,
and that both in lading and Discharging of their goods they comply
with the Requisites of Law, and you may notwithstanding our Orders



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72 CROMER, PAST AND PRESENT.

of the 9th of Dec. last, suffer com to be ship'd for foreign ports at Cromer
by special sufference on every Entry Directed to the Searcher and the
s4 officer, who must attend ye Shipping thereof, and be paid by the
merchants for their extra attendance, in the same manner as was
directed with regard to gruff (?) goods by our letter of the 14 ult.

We are,

Your Loving Friends,
Custom Ho, London, B. Fairfax,

5th Octr., 1732, J. Hanley,

To the Coll. & Compr of the Robt Bayles.

Customs at Bla. & Clay.



Gentlemen,

The Commissi observing that the Coal meters in several of
the out ports have not been duly Visited by the proper officers when
they are metting of Coals, nor care taken that they Diligently attend
and Faithfully Perform their Duty, in order to prevent the like for the
filter.

The Commissi* direct that you give it in strict Charge to the Sur-
veyor that he constantly Vissitts the Coal meters while they are metting
thier Coals, to se* that they Carefully Perform thier Duty as they
ought to doe. And if he observe any Irregularitys he is to acquaint
you therwith, in order to your Laying the same before the Conmiis-
sioners for their Directions.

And you are to take Care this Letter is entred in your Books of
Orders, and signify the receipt thereof to the Board in a Poscript to
some Letter, which is what I have in Command to signify to you.

And am. Gentlemen,
Custom House, Your most hbl serv^

London, April Charles Carkesse.

20, 1738.

In 1733, Richd. Ellis, whether as manager of the Pier Company,
or as Steward of the manor, I do not know — probably, however, in
the latter capacity, seems to have granted licenses to erect " lobster
coys " off Cromer, as appears by a mem°* in the collection before-
mentioned. In 1735, a formal document was drawn up and signed
on the same subject as follows : —

" April 19th, 1735. Mem** it is this day agreed bettween Richd.

• The spelling is terrible.



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THE OLD TRADERS AND TOWNSMEN. 73

Ellis of the one part and the several persons hereunder named as
follows, that is to say, the s** Ri. Ellis doe agree that those several
persons under written shall have free liberty to Erect a Coy (for
their own use only) on the sea shore to the westward of the Pier
head in Cromer, and allso shall have free liberty to land and lay
their several boats on the Banc to the westward of the Bason (but
not to ride in the Bason), paying each for the above-mentioned
liberty unto the above-named Richd. Ellis, or his order, the sum of
two shillings and sixpence p' year over and above three days
work to be done by each man, yearly at such time and place as
the s** RL Ellis shall apoint This agreement to continue in force
for three years, and to comence from Midsumer last
" Witness our hands,

"RiCHD. Ellis* Robert Rook.

John Susson.* Peter Collins.

Christopher Payne.* Mathu Swan.

Robert Webb.* Henry Swan.

Henry Ransom.* J. Hurst.*

Philip Allen.* Wm. Swan.*

Philip Paul."
* Those with an asterisk sign — the others make their marks.

In 1748, Thos. Wyndham, esq., lord of Ufford's Hall in Cromer
and of Beeston, granted his formal license to Richd. Ellis, to land,
lay, and let lay, and put to sea again on and from the sea shore
within his manors, all such ships or vessels as he might think
proper. As most of my readers will probably be startled to hear
that such a license was necessary, and are unaware that they have
no legal right to land on any part of the sea coast — in fact are
trespassing when shipwrecked or swimming ashore — I subjoin it at
length : —

To all Christian People to whom this present writing shall come I,
Thomas Wyndham, Esqs Lord of the several manors of UfTord^s HaU
in Cromer, and of Beeston next the sea, in the County of Norfolk, send
greeting. Whereas, Richard Ellis, of North Repps, in the said county,
has for some time past carried on the business of a merchant by land-
ing and putting to sea again smaU ships or vessels, on the sea shore,
in the said Parish of Cromer aforesaid, within the limits of my said
several Manors or one of them, and thereby importing and exporting
Coals, Deals, Com, and other goods and marchandize, for the doing

K



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74 CROMER, PAST AND PRESENT.

and management of which several anchors, posts, and other machines
have from time to time been put down, fix'd, and used on the said sea
shore, within the limits of my said Manors or one of them, and must
be continued to be done so long as the said business shall be there
carried on. Now know ye that I, the said Thomas Wyndham, as well
for the encouragement of an undertaking in my Judgment so beneficial
to the Country in the Neighbourhood of Cromer aforesaid, As also in
Consideration of the Yearly rent herein after mentioned, do for myself
and my Heirs hereby give and grant unto the said Richard Ellis, his
Executors, and Administrators, and his and their agents and servants
full and free hberty, leave, and license as well to land, lay, and lett lay,
as to put to sea again on and from the said sea shore within the limits
of my said several mannors, or either of them in the Parish of Cromer
aforesaid, all such ships or vessels as He or They shall think necessary
and proper for the carrying on the said business of merchandizing
there, and to load and unload the same, and abo fix and put down on
the said sea shore within the limits of my said several Mannors, or
either of 'em within the Parish of Cromer aforesaid. All such anchors,
posts, and other machines, as he or they shall also think proper for the
carrying on the said business of Merchandizing within the Parish of
Cromer aforesaid from time to time, for so long as he the said Richard
Ellis, his Executors, or Administrators shall carry on the said business
there, He or they paying me therefore the yearly rent of 5 shillings
upon every Feast Day of St Michael the Archangel, which shall be
during the carrying on the business aforesaid. But if default be made
in payment thereof that then this my present Leave and Lycense to
determine and be absolutely void. In Witness whereof I, the said
Thomas Wyndham, have hereunto set my hand and seal this twenty,
seventh day of June, 1748.

Tho. Wyndham.
Seal'd and delivr'd ) S. Freeman.



in the presence of us.



i



In 1765, his widow, Mrs. Wyndham, issued a notice, in which
she recited that it had been for two years the practice to go over
the lands at Cromer with horses and carts, &c, at a place called
the Gangway, on a part of the estate late of John Wyndham,
formerly Smiths, called the Cleft meadow, now the property of her
son, Geo. Wyndham. She called on all persons claiming lawful
right to go over the said land to produce it, and warned all others
to desist (12 Oct, 1765).

Very soon, however, the fear of a French invasion and of tres-
pass of a graver sort, gave the inhabitants something more serious



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THE OLD TRADERS AND TOWNSMEN. 75

to think about than the manorial rights, and the Cromer Loyal
Volunteer Artillery were soon enrolled, and practising from the
** platform on the edge of the cliff," as we learn from the report of
an accident to Corporal Richard Cook, who, on the 4th June, 1799,
was nearly blown over the cliff from the explosion of a cartridge
which he was ramming into a carelessly-sponged gun. As it was,
he received at least fifty wounds from the head of the rammer,
which splintered.

We get further glimpses of the coast defence from the diary of
William Wyndham, the statesman, whose memory will ever remain
green to book lovers, for did he not practically lose his life through
trying to save a neighbour's library. He notes under the date
of 21 Sept, 1803, that he went to Norwich, and consulted General
Money.* On the next day he surveyed the cliff beyond Run ton
to Cromer, and on the 23rd the cliff from Cromer to Mundesley.
On the 2nd October, he wrote to Lord Chatham, describing both
Yarmouth and our situation in respect of the coast

On the 1 6th, he came back to Felbrigg for volunteers, and was
at a meeting on the 22nd, where a letter from Head Quarters of
the previous day was read, saying that the expense of internal
beacons would be defrayed. These, from Sir J. Craig's letter,
would seem to have been furze fagots with a pitch barrel added.

On the 5th November, inspired perhaps by the anniversary, he
resolved to recommend the completion of the line of signal-fire
stations to Lynn, and received a letter from the Government that
night lights should be appointed to stations mentioned by Lord
Townshend as most necessary, viz., from Yarmouth to Blakeney
inclusive. On the 8th was the inspection day, when there were
eighty-six present and three serjeants,"f- and on his way to Norwich,
on the nth, he saw part of Mr. Harbord's company.

The next year gun practice went on regularly from the Battery,
and unluckily caused another accident, told thus : —

" Feby. 4. As the Sea Fenciblcs at Cromer were exercising and
firing the battery guns at a target on the sands with canister and
grape shot, a diverging ball struck their Capt Tremlett, R.N. (who
was exercising them), on the foot, forcing part of his boot into it,
and also shattered the leg of Mr. John Smith, surgeon, of Cromer,

* Of balloon ascending celebrity.

t He mentions Colonel Metzner, who was probably the inspecting officer.



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76 CROMER, PAST AND PRESENT.

SO as to render immediate amputation necessary. A handsome
subscription (upwards of ;f 500) was made for the latter during his
confinement*'

I expect the battery was the present Coast Guard Station, but
the older map shows a gun battery at the end of Jetty Street

Not daunted by this accident, the Sea Fencibles (under Capt
Tremlett) with three companies of the 4th Norf. Battalion of
Volunteers (under Lieut-CoL Geo. Wyndham), and the Cromer
Battery Volunteers, had a grand sham fight on the king's birthday,
4 June.

The lifeboat was established at a meeting held on the 31 Oct.,
1804, upwards of ;f 500 being then and there subscribed.

On the 4 Aug., 1810, Capt Manby made an experiment on the
beach, throwing his newly-discovered grapple shot attached from
a line to a mortar, for the purpose of giving relief to vessels in
distress on a lee shore, the Cromer Lifeboat Committee and Lord
Moira, who had just arrived for the sea bathing, expressing their
approbation of his plan.

The necessity of such inventions was soon after sadly emphasised
by two terrific gales on the 2 and 10 November, 18 10, when it is
said the coast between Yarmouth and Wells was covered with
wrecks and dead bodies washed ashore.

On the 17th April, 1821, the new Jetty was begun.

Somewhere after 1823, a distant cousin of mine, George Hubert
Rye, R.N., who had served with some distinction in the war
having been in several cutting out expeditions at Quiberon Bay
and the Isle of Rh6, was appointed Chief Officer of the Preventive
Service here, and carrying his old instincts into his new duties,
surprised some smugglers* to the west end of the town, and in the
affray shot one dead.

The newspaper report of the period thus describes the incident: —

" A Smuggler Killed.— Monday the 17th inst., an affray took

• The smuggling had been going on for years. Here b a reprint of a newspaper cut-
ting of 28 December, 1801. A desperate afiray at Horsford between two excise officers,
assisted by two privates of the 3rd Dragoon Guards, who had seized a large quantity of
smuggled goods at Cawston with thirty armed men, who shot one of the soldiers ; seyeral
of the smugglers were desperately wounded, two died of their wounds. The smugglers
succeeded in retaking only a small part of the contraband goods.



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THE OLD TRADERS AND TOWNSMEN. 7/

place at Cromer, Norfolk, between one of his Majesty's Lieutenants
of the Preventive Service and a gang of smugglers. Just as the
Lieutenant was retiring to bed, information was given him that
many carts were below the cliff, to the northward of the town, with
an expectation of taking a cai^o of smuggled goods ; and that if
he went to a certain spot, it could not be long before they passed.
He instantly hastened to the place alone, and there watched the
arrival of the expected prize ; he did not remain long before one
of the carts made its appearance. He directly pushed for the
head of the horse, and desired the party to stop, being seven or
eight in number, telling them who he was. One of them made use
of some coarse language, and threatened to murder him on the
spot ; he instantly drew his pistols and shot the man ; the smug-
glers picked him up directly, put him into the cart which was
empty, and drove off instantly."

His brother was Dr. John Rye, of Half Moon Street and Bath,
who founded the Shipwrecked Mariners' Society; and I cannot
help thinking that the urgent necessity of such a society was im-
pressed on him while staying here with his brother.

In the memoirs of Lord Suffield (Norwich, 1838), reference is
made to a terrible storm which scattered the east coast with wrecks
in November, 1823, and to Lord Suffield and Mr. Buxton passing
the night on the beach near Cromer, and aiding in saving the
crew of a vessel off Bacton. Mr. Bacon, the author of these
memoirs, states that Lord Suffield sent off the next day to the
Lord Lieutenant, Mr. Coke, and Mr. Edmund Wodehouse, pro-
posing to institute "An association for preserving the lives of
shipwrecked mariners on the whole line of the coast of Norfolk."
This may be so, and yet Dr. Rye may have been the first to
suggest it Anyhow, he has always had the credit of being the
founder of the Society.

In 1824, a project was set on foot by which it was proposed to
create a novel sort of port in the adjoining village of Overstrand,
by laying down one of " Morgan's Slips," which was to project
sufficiently far into the sea to receive the keel of a vessel during
high water, which is then drawn by a capstan beyond the reach of
the tide, where it can be unloaded " high and dry."

It came to nothing, however, for reasons set out in the memoir
of Lord Suffield (p. 220).



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78 CROMER, PAST AND PRESENT.

Shortly before this (1822), the inhabitants, whose sea front had
been cruelly cut up by the terrible storms of 1799 and 18 10, began
to see the absolute necessity of some defensive work, and the jetty
was built at a cost of ;^ 1,200.

It was soon tested, for the memorable storm of 17 and 18 Feb.,
1837 — when the Bath House was swept away, a man being drowned,
and two South Shields ships were ashore at the same time, one at
each end of the town — must have strained and knocked it about
considerably, and in 1845, another storm washed it right away.

Under a private Act of 1845, the present facing walls and jetty
were erected at a cost of ;^6,ooo, the rate on property facing the
sea being 20s. on the yearly value. The engineer was a Mr.
Wright, whose work does him credit

Of late years the trade of the town dwindled away to nothing,
a little timber and coal being imported by beaching the ships
and carting away their contents at low tide; but this is quite
extinct now that the railways have been opened. The only real
business the natives now do is to attend to those who visit it as
a watering place.



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CHAPTER IV.

^^e ^isfor^ of f^e g^urc^ or gt^wrc^cs.

Sfs "^rescnf $fafe — t^c ^^isior^ of t^e ^bvowBon

anb t^e Rectors anb Wicaxs.

" A goodly church stands on these brittle grounds,
Not many fairer in Great Brittain's bounds ;
And if the sea shall swallow it, as some fear,
Tis not ten thousand pounds'*' the like would rear.
No Christian can behold it but with grief,
And with my heart I wish them quick relief."

{Toy lor i the Water Poet, on Cromer in 1623, seepage 64).

It is tolerably clear there have been three churches, viz., one
now out to sea, another on which the present church is founded,
and the third which is now standing.

By the entry in the " Norwich Domesday" referred to on p. 122,
it appears there was a church of some importance standing at
Shipden in the time of Edward I. (1272, &c.), but of its earlier
history we know nothing. Even at the time it is so mentioned,
its foundations could not have been very secure, for less than half
a century afterwards — in 13 17 — the greater part of the churchyard
had been wasted by the encroaching sea, and in 1337 the church
itself threatened to fall from the same cause.

In the latter year it was found by an Inquisition,"f- dated April,
ID Edward III., that the old churchyard had been wasted by the

* Very true. Master Taylor. We are messing away about that amount in mending
the tower and rebuilding the chancel alone.

t Inq. *'post mortem" (really an inq. ad quod dam.)> 10 Edward III., No. 29,
second numbers.

L



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8o CROMER, PAST AND PRESENT.

sea for twenty years ; that John Broun proposed to give as a site
for a new church a piece of land held by him of the manor of
North Creyk of Hugh de Saxham, who held it of Earl Marshall
by military service; and that John Broun had sufficient land at
Totington to satisfy all services &c, due by him. Soon after, the
King, on the petition of John de Lodbrok, then rector, of the said
John Broun, then patron, and of the parishioners, granted a license
in mortmain, dated 15th April, 10 Edward III.,* setting out the
above facts, and giving the patron license to grant such land (an
acre with its appurtenances) in Shippedene to build a church
thereon de navOy and for a churchyard. Whether the expression,
"pro quadam ecclesii in eadem terra de novo construenda,"
implies the building of a new church on the site of an old one may
be questioned ; but I am inclined to think it does, as the present
church, as I shall hereafter show, is undoubtedly built on the
foundations of an earlier edifice. It may be that the Shipden
which was soon after submerged by the sea, was the "Shipden
juxta mare," as it is sometimes called, and that the new church
was built on the site of an old church at *' Shipden juxta Fel-
brigge." Both affixes appear in early documents, and may refer
to two different places.

The old church of St Peter of Shipden doubtless soon fell a
victim to the rapidly encroaching waves, and, according to the
general opinion of the inhabitants, now lies under water about four
hundred yards out to sea, reckoning from a little to the east of the
end of the jetty. At this spot is still a mass of squared flints,
joined by mortar and partly covered by seaweed, which the fisher-
men call the "Church Rock," and which stands out above the
water at very low tides, especially when the water is driven off the
shore by a wind from the land Some few, however, assert that
the lost church lies out to sea half a mile further to the west, where
blocks of similar masonry may also be seen.f

The new church, which was dedicated to St Peter and St Paul,
instead of St Peter only, was a most magnificent building, and it
is difficult, looking at the insignificant village now surrounding it,
to imagine how the vast expenditure for its erection could have

* Patent Roll, 10 Edw. IIL, a 26.

t Smaller blocks of square flint-work can be seen every low tide not for from the end
of the jetty and a little to its west.



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THE HISTORY OF THE CHURCH OR CHURCHES. 8 1

been met,* especially as (with one exception) it must have been
built at one time, and by one architect

The work was probably continuous, but long on handf The
site was obtained in 1337. In 1388, John Gosselyn, then vicar,
left a legacy to make a window at the east of the chancel, and
refers to two chapels, while in 1391, Simon Chylde left six marks
by his will for glass for one of the south windows ; but these two
are the only bequests of any consequence I can find, though gifts
of smaller sums to the fabric, &c, are numerous. Kerrich, in his
very valuable notes on this church,t calls it a noble 4 cento church,
and thinks nothing now remains as early as 1396, the date for-
merly ascribed to it On the other hand, the door of the south
porch before it was " restored " (the original is still in existence), is
identical with work dated by Rickman, 1371 — 1382.

Whether the builders thought the site for the churchyard too
small, or the vicar wished his own premises increased, I do not
know, but in 1393, Geoffrey de Somerton granted to the Prior and
Convent of the Carthusians a piece of land, 200 ft by 60 ft,
adjoining the Rectory.||

Whatever this was for, it obviously could not have been as
Blomefield surmises, for the site of the present church, the mere
walls of which cover a greater area. Blomefield also makes a
strange mistake in ascribing the gift of this land to Sir William
Beauchamp. The same license in mortmain which permits the
Carthusians to take the grant from De Somerton of this slip of
land at Shipden, also allows them to receive a gift from De
Beauchamp of some land in London, and I suppose this is how the
confusion arose.§

The coat armour in the church windows and elsewhere must
have been very interesting. The best record of it is to be found
in Robert Kemp's Notes on the Arms in Cromer Church, " made
in 1575 " (Harl. MS., 901), [but dated 17 January, 1500?].

* The lost port of Shipden^now far oat to sea^was a great and populoos place, filled
with thriving and opulent merchants. For sonie notes of its trade, vide iifiie chapter iiL

t There are two old wells in the churchyard, now filled up^ which are said to have
been dug for the use of the workmen when the church was built.

X Add. MS. Brit. Mus., 6756, and vide 6738 and 6758, also contain Cromer sketches.

I Patent Roll, 16 Ric II., part i, m. 3.

§ It b sad to see this error religiously perpetuated to this day by the local guide books.



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82 CROMER, PAST AND PRESENT.

He describes them thus : —

1. Erpingham. Vert a "scutcheon simple" and an "urle" of

" merles " arg. This (his ?) timber and crest in a crown
gu., a plume of feathers arg.

2. Felbrigg, Or, a lion saliant gu., his timber and crest on a

crown gu., a plume of feathers erm., the loppe (? top) of
the plume broad.

3. Drayton, Gu. on a chev. arg. 3 roses gu., his crest set on a

torce or and az., a ram's head arg. horned or and az.

[Blomefield says, whence I know not, that the arms of
Sir Robert Knowles were in the church, and these are
much the same arms as those ascribed to Knowles of
Aylsham, (Codex A., 95*.)

The Knollys family held land in Shipden, see a Fine
of Michs., 29 Henry VHI. (N. E., p. 560) ; but I cannot
trace that any one of the name of Drayton ever had to
do with this place.

Probably on the strength of this mistake of Kemp's,
the compiler of Codex B., has in No. 152, ascribed this
coat to Drayton, though in No. 151, he gives the old coat
of Drayton, viz.. Per pale indented G. and B., a lion ramp,
or, an error which, of course, has been followed in Burke's
Armoury].

4. [? Scott\ of York. — W. R.] Arg. 3 Katherine wheels sa.

5. Ufford. Sa. a cross engrailed or.

6. Wootton impaling Brampton, Gu. a chevr. an between 2 cross

crosslets and one annulet or " gouHe " (? meaning) impaling
Gu. a saltier between 4 crosses fitchy botonny arg. [This


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