Saint Peter South Elmham.
The manor, forming parcel of the lordship of South Elmham, has passed with that
demesne from the see of Norwich to Sir Robert Shafto Adair, as already shown. It is
a small village, containing only 571 acres, 1 rood, 30 perches of land, whereof 25 acres,
2 roods, 28 perches, are glebe; with a population of 91 souls, according to the census
of 1841. It is chiefly remarkable for an ancient mansion called St. Peter's Hall, which
stands about two hundred yards to the north of the church. As the estate on which it
is situated was the property of the Tasburghs, as early as the reign of Edward III., and
continued to be the place of their residence till the beginning of the sixteenth century,
when they removed to Flixton Priory, there can be no doubt as to the family of its
founder. I have sought, in vain, for a specific document to identify the period of its
commencement, but from the analogy of its architecture to that of buildings whose date
is ascertained, I should ascribe its erection to John Tasburgh, the father of the grantee
of Flixton Nunnery. This gentleman died in 1509. In his will he desires his body
to be buried in the church-yard of St. Peter's, towards the west, under the steeple:
leaves "3s. to the parson out of Styland and Rokewood medow;" and further
bequeathes v marks to the erection of a new rood-loft.
A small portion only of St. Peter's Hall is standing to attest its former importance,
which, following the fate of all old mansions, is converted into a farm-house.
The mansion, when entire, formed a quadrangle, as usual, of which stables and
offices made up a part. The domestic and ecclesiastical styles are singularly combined
in this building, though the latter seems to predominate; and the occasional discovery
of old floor-stones, of a sepulchral character, intimates that the projecting porch led to
the chapel of the dwelling, not into the hall; and yet the ceilings of the chambers,
where the two large and upper windows are observed, on the right hand of the porch,
are flat, divided into small squares by the girders above, and covered with plastered
mouldings in the manner usually seen in dwelling-houses of an early period. The
interior, however, has been divided into its present arrangements, with portions of the
demolished part of the house, and the antique character of these greatly deceives a
modern investigator, and creates much confusion. It is very remarkable, that although
the exterior is rather profusely ornamented with escutcheons, not a single shield is
charged with an armorial cognizance. Surely the Tasburghs must have been "gentlemen
of coat-armour" long before the fifteenth century. The building is cased with the finest
squared stone, but appears, notwithstanding, to be in a very crazy and dilapidated condition. Part of the moat, of very unusual width, shuts in the south side of the premises.
The St. Peter's Hall estate passed from the Tasburghs into the hands of the
Barnardistons, from whom it went to a Mr. Price, of the city of London; of which
gentleman it was purchased by William Adair, Esq., soon after his acquisition of the
manor of South Elmham. (fn. 1)
comprises a nave and chancel only, with a good square tower of flint-work: it is of
Norman construction, but evinces a total neglect of architectural purity in its later
embellishments. The tower, which contains three bells, opens with a fine arch into the
nave, over which is laid a good oak roof. The door to the rood-stairs, a broken piscina
and sedilia, are remnants of papistical observances, happily gone by.
There are a few old floor-stones without legends, but no modern memorials, in the
interior. Against the north wall of the chancel is the lower part of a sculptured altartomb, which, probably, covers the remains of one of the Tasburghs, though their burialplace was in a north aisle or chantry; which, falling into decay, has been recently pulled
down. John Tasburgh, Esq., by his last will, dated 1473, desires to be buried in the
chapel of our Lady Mary Virgin, on the north side of the church of St. Peter, before
the image of our Lady. He gave the "glasses" of a window, at the west end of the
steeple: a table of alabaster for the said chapel; and further wills "that William
Rust have 3 acres of land, called Hillys land, and the hows thereon builded: and after
the decease of the said William, I will that the foreseyd hows go to poor folks to dwell
in without end; and the land to go to his heirs to repair the same hows." (fn. 2) Margery
Tasburgh, his widow, by her last will and testament, dated February 16th, 1484,
leaves her body to be buried in the chapel of the blessed Virgin Mary, in the parish
church of St. Peter, near the body of John Tasburgh, her late husband. (fn. 3)
In the year 1819, while the writer was visiting this parish, collecting the materials
which form the matter of the present notice, a person of gentlemanly address drove up
to St. Peter's Hall, tenanted by the late Mr. Alden, the then churchwarden, inquiring
if the church contained any brass effigies, as he was travelling through the country
collecting such records of ancient families, with a view to their cleaning and restoration,
promising to return them shortly to their original places. St. Peter's church afforded
nothing to add to his collection, having been already stripped by some earlier iconoclast.
The writer remembers that the applicant's gig-box was half full of brass effigies, which
it is vain to hope ever found again their respective matrices. The observation is simply
recorded to expose a system of plunder once recklessly pursued, and to warn all churchwardens to repulse applications of a like nature.
Thomas Tubbing, Rector of St. Peter's, by his last will, proved May 29th, 1504,
desires to be buried in the chancel of his church. (fn. 4)
The registers of this parish commence in 1678.
This parish participates in the Smith's charity, mentioned in St. Margaret Ilketshall,
page 165: the sum received is generally from £ 6 to £10 per annum, which is distributed
among poor persons.
Rectors of St. Peter South Elmham.
|Joēs de Ulflet||1328||The Bishop.|
|Johannes Wynch||1343||The King; the See being vacant.|
|Robert Marlewar||1349||The Bishop.|
|Robert Morleword de Multon||1349||Id.|
|Thomas de Welyngton||1364||Id.|
|Richard de Claythorp||1367||Id.|
|Edmund Burton||1554||Edward, Lord North.|
|Richard Arton||1605||Dorothea, Lady North.|
|John Birkenshaw||1625||Sir John Tasburgh, Knt.|
|John Woolmer||1677||Robert Woolmer, Gent.|
|John Woolmer||1684||Thomas Baxter, Gent.|
|Thomas Ibbott||1717||Wm. Clayton, Clk., and Jane Clayton, widow.|
|John Kerrich||1732||Daniel Sayer, Gent.|
|Peter Routh||1753||Grace Britten, widow.|
|Charles Jeffryes Cottrell||1802||Alexander Adair, Esq.|
|Edward Adolphus Holmes||1833||Id.|
Estimatur ad xii marc.—Domesday.