This is a depopulated village, and consists only of a manor-house,
a farm-house adjoining, and a poor rectory-house like a cottage, at the
east end of the churchyard; it lies on the east side of a little rivulet
that runs by Cressingham-Magna, and thence southwards to this
In Domesday Book, it is wrote Bredeneia, (fn. 1) and so takes its name
from its site, a dwelling or abode on the water.
From the general survey of the Conqueror we learn that Bond (a
Saxon) held it in the time of the Confessor, but Hugh Montfort was
at that time lord; there were then in demesne three carucates of
land, and three amongst the freemen, pannage for 100 hogs, one mill
belonging to this lordship, and the fourth part of another. It was
one leuca wanting two furlongs long, and four furlongs broad; and
was valued then at 5l. at the survey at 3l. per annum, and paid 8d. to
William Earl Warren held at the same time by exchange one
carucate, which three freemen held in the time of the Confessor, then
and now valued at 20s. per annum, (fn. 2)
Ralph de Toenio, or Tony, had also four socmen who held one
carucate of land, but the soc and sac was in the King. (fn. 3)
By this it appears that the chief lordship in this town was in the
Conqueror's time held by one of the Norman chiefs and barons, Hugh
de Montefort, and was enjoyed some considerable time after by his
descendants, for in the year 1179 Hugh de Montefort gave the tithe
of his mansion-house here to the abbey of Bermondsey in Surrey; (fn. 4)
but soon after, about 1190, Peter de Pelevile was lord. In the 24th
year of King Henry III. Thomas de Belhouse held this lordship by
the fourth part of a knight's fee, of Henry de Pelevile, the capital
lord, who held this town and Bilney in Norfolk, of the honour (as
it is then said) of Haughley; (fn. 5) and in the 38th of the said King, Peter
de Pelevile was found to have died seized of the same, held by the
service of half a fee, and 5s. per annum ward to Dover castle, and
that William de Gyney and Sir William de Wichenston, alias Wiston,
were his next heirs; (fn. 6) but in a roll of the Pipe-Office it is said that
the aforesaid Peter died in the 56th of the said King Henry, and
that then William de Gysney (son and heir of Joan, sister of Peter,)
one of his heirs, paid 50s. for the moiety of a fee here and in Bilney,
and that William de Wiston (son of Emme, the other sister of Peter)
paid as much for the other moiety. (fn. 7)
After this, in the 3d of Edward I. Richard Belhouse was found to
hold the lordship of Sir William de Gyney, and to have the assise of
bread and beer here: (fn. 8) and in the 18th of that King was sheriff of
Norfolk and Suffolk, and died in the 13th of Edward II. Thomas, his
son and heir, and Sarah, his widow, then paying relief for his lands.
Upon an inquisition taken in the 31st of Edward III. the jury find
that Sir Richard de Belhouse died seized of this manor, and lands in
Bilney, held of the castle of Dover by one knight's fee, and paying
10s. per annum castle-guard, and doing suit to the King's court or
manor of Haughley, that his father purchased it, that his widow was
endowed with the 3d part of this manor, and that Richard, his son
and heir, was aged 9 years; (fn. 9) but by the escheat-rolls in the 10th of
Henry VI. Sir Richard is said to have died in the 36th of Edward III.
and to have left two daughters and coheirs; Emme, married to —
Oldhall, by whom she had Sir Edmund Oldhall, father of Sir William
Oldhall, aged 30, in the 10th of Henry VI. and lord of this manor;
and Maud married to William Bozun of Wissingset in Norfolk, (fn. 10) father
of Richard, aged 30; this Sir William seems to have given this lordship to the prior and convent of St. Mary at Thetford, (fn. 11) on certain
terms and conditions; for in the 27th of Henry VI. on the 13th of
March, license was granted to the said prior, to purchase lands, tenements, &c. to the value of 20l. per annum; and on the 12th of May,
in the 31st of the said King, the prior, by virtue of the said license
purchased of Richard Waller, Esq. Robert Boorle, Esq. John Bertram, Gent. and William Norwych, junior, this manor; and the King,
on the 23d of June, in the said year, confirmed the said purchase,
with 100 acres of land here, late Sir William Oldhall's, which they
had some time past purchased, and gave license to the said Richard
Waller, Esq. &c. feoffees of the said manor, to assign and convey it.
On the general dissolution of abbies, it came to the Crown, and
was given to the Duke of Norfolk, who was lord in the 37th of
Henry VIII. and in that year the said Duke had license to alienate it,
with the appurtenances in Langford, Hilburgh, Cressingham-Magna
and Parva, to Robert Hogan and his heirs; and in the 1st year of
King Edward VI. Thomas, son and heir of Robert Hogan, (who died
the 4th of March in the said year,) had livery of it. (fn. 12) In the 1st of
Queen Mary license was granted to this Thomas to alienate it to
James and Robert Downes, at which time Thomas Duke of Norfolk
had a yearly pension out of it of 2l. 1s. 4d. which is paid by the present lord to the Dukes of Norfolk; and accordingly, in the 1st of
Queen Elizabeth, James Downes was lord, and Robert his son and
heir, in 1571, held this manor with the appurtenances, 4 tofts, 1000
acres of land, 60 of meadow, 100 of pasture, held of the Queen in
capite, and died about the 37th of the said Queen. In the 12th of
James I. Thomas Downes, Esq. was lord; and by Elizabeth, daughter
and heir of Downes, it came (by marriage) to Sir Edward Mostyn of
Flintshire, and was sold from that family to Cressy Tasburgh, Esq.
second son of Sir John Tasburgh of Flixton-Hall in Suffolk, by
his wife Lettice, daughter and sole heir of Sir James Cressy; the said
Cressy Tasburgh married the Lady — Philips, widow to Sir —
Philips; (fn. 13) and dying sans issue, left this manor to his brother, John
Tasburgh, Esq. fourth son of the aforesaid Sir John, which John
married Mary, 4th daughter of Sir John Braumont of Gracedieu in
Leicester's, and relict of Sir Edmund Williams, and had by her, JohnBeaumont-Tasburgh, who marrying Elizabeth, daughter of Sir George
Blount of Sodington in Worcestershire, Baronet, had by her Francis
Tasburgh, Esq. the present lord, who married Mary, daughter of
Sir Simon Dewes, Bart. of Stow Langtoft in Suffolk.
The manor-house stands near the church, and is a large convenient old house built of clunch, stone, &c. with good gardens and
walks adjoining to the river side.
That part of this township held by William Earl Warren at
the survey, continued under the said fee for several ages, and was held
about the reign of Richard II. and Henry IV. (fn. 14) of Thomas Holdich,
Esq. and his parceners.
The other part held by Ralph de Toenio or Tony, was land
belonging to his lordship of Cressingham-Parva, extending into this
town; but both these were united (by purchase or otherwise) to the
capital lordship about the reign of Henry V.
In the reign of Queen Elizabeth, the tenths of this village were
4l. 11s. 1d. clear of all deductions, there being 16s. 11d. deducted on
account of the revenues of the religious here, they being taxed by
In the reign of Henry VI. the Prior of Wirmegay was taxed for
his temporalities in this town at 16s. 6d. The Abbot of Wendlyng
5s. The Prior of Shouldham 6s. 8d. The priory of Westacre of
a portion of tithes 1 mark. (fn. 15) These coming to the Crown at the Dissolution, were granted to the Duke of Norfolk, (as I conceive,) and from
hence proceeds the pension paid to him as I have mentioned.
The church is dedicated to St. Mary, (fn. 16) it is a single pile of flint,
pebble stones, &c. standing on a rising ground near the hall, in
length about 31 feet and 18 in breadth; at the east end is the chancel,
of equal elevation and breadth, and about 20 feet in length, and separated only from the body by an arch of stone. On the summit of the
west gable is a small stone-arch, wherein hangs the bell, the rope
coming through the roof into the church, which bespeaks the antiquity
of the church, being built (as is most likely) in the Saxon age, and
the whole is covered with thatch. In the windows there were formerly these arms: Arg. three pales wavy gules—Downs.
Quarterly arg. six mullets gul. pierced sable in a bordure of the
same, in the 1st and 4th, and sab. two bars and three annulets in chief
arg. in the 2d and 3d quarters, Tilles and Curson. And in the
great window of the hall of the manor-house, are the said arms of
Downs quartering Tilles and Curson as above. Crest, a fox's head.
Motto, parle bien ou parle rien. (fn. 17)
In the year 1279, Hugh de Montefort gave (as I have observed) the
tithes of his mansion-house to the abbey of Bermondsey, and Peter de
Pelevile, lord, in the reign of King Richard I. gave to the prior and
convent of Westacre in Norfolk the patronage of this church; for in
the 3d of King Edward III. that prior was impleaded on account that
this advowson was given without the King's license, and the prior's
plea was, that at that time it was lawful for any one to alienate without his license, it being before the statute of mortmain; and in the
beginning of Edward the First's reign we find the prior of Westacre
to be patron, and the rector to have a mansion-house endowed, with
30 acres of land, the rectory being valued at 12 marks, and paid
Peter-pence 5d. ob. (fn. 18)
Peter de Romayn, rector about 1260.
Ralph de Wykes, about 1270.
1307, Robert de Howton, presented by the Prior and Convent of
Westacre, as were all the following rectors.
1314, Ralph de Pagrave. Ditto. This Ralph was rural dean of
Cranwich, rector of Sudburn cum Orford, and in 1311, chancellor of
1320, Jeffrey de Clare, on the resignation of Pagrave, who exchanged with him for Sudburne with the chapel of Orford.
1334, Robert de Brockford; he exchanged with Clare for a mediety in the church of West Walton.
William de Dunston, rector. In
1349, William de Bergh; he exchanged with Dunston for the
church of Strumshale.
1349, Ralph Rands,
1376, William Portflory of Westacre.
1392, John de Wygenhale.
1395, Thomas Bulwer, he exchanged with Wygenhale for the
church of East Walton in Norfolk.
1421, Thomas Dykkes; he was rector of a mediety in the church of
Narburgh in Norfolk, and exchanged with Bulwer.
1456, John Hervy, alias Leanpet.
1474, John Wulterton; by his will dated the 3d April 1499, (fn. 19) he
gives legacies to Trinity gild in this church, to the torches and the
1500, Thomas Patrick, on the death of Wulterton, by &c.
1529, John Methelwold, by William Prior of Westacre.
Rectors presented by the Crown.
1554, William Rixe, on the death of the last rector, presented by
King Philip and Queen Mary (fn. 20) ob.
1571, Richard Wennington.
1581, John Ashley, on the death of the last rector; he was also rector of Langford.
1596, John Mapted, A. M.; he was also rector of Langford; in his
answers to the Queries of King James I. in 1603, he observes that
there were then 25 communicants in this parish.
Samuel Hill, S. T. B. occurs rector in 1604; ob. (fn. 21)
1611, Stephen Haxbie, A. M.
1620, Thomas Adams, A. M. ob.
1643, James Reeve.
1656, Simon Canon, A. M.; he was presented by Oliver the Protector, (fn. 22) and admitted by the commissioners at Whitehall, appointed for
the approbation of publick preachers during the Rebellion. He was
also rector of Cressingham-Parva.
1680, Thomas Felstead, A. M. on the death of Canon.
1690, Edmund Wase, on the resignation of Felstead; he was succeeded at his death by.
Thomas Pigg, who was presented by the King, and held it
with Watton vicarage, and on his taking South Pickenham rectory it
was voided, and the
Rev. Mr. Edward Chamberlain holds it, with the rectories of
Great Cressingham and Scoulton.
This rectory is valued in the King's Books at 6l. 7s. 3d. ob. and
being in clear value 45l. per annum, is discharged of first-fruits and
tenths, but pays 18d. synodals and 6s. 8d. procurations, and is capable