This village is called Hildeburhwella in the survey, being
seated on the decline of a hill in a springy ground, being sometimes
wrote Hildeburghworth, near the joining of two rivers, the word worth
signifying a nook of land in such a site.
It was held by Osmund in the time of the Confessor, William
de Manerijs was lord of it by the gift of the Conqueror, and William Earl of Warren held it of him; here were then 4 carucates in
domain, 120 sheep, 17 goats, pannage for 20 hogs, was half a mile and
two furlongs long, and 7 furlongs broad, paid 8d. gelt, was valued in
King Edward's time at 6l. at the survey at 7l. (fn. 1)
Soon after the survey the Kaillys or Caleys (fn. 2) held this lordship of
the Earl Warren. (fn. 3) In the second year of King John, a fine was
levied of lands here, between Alice de Kailly and John de Kailly. In
the 3d of Hen. III. Adam de Kailly held in Hildeburghworth, a
knight's fee of the Earl Warren; and in the 34th and 41st of the
said King, Osbert de Cailly had view of frankpledge, assize of
bread and beer, weyf and free-warren; about this time we find this
extent of this manor, viz. rent of assise per annum 6l. 17s. 5d. qr.;
boscage this year 10d.; (fn. 4) fee-farm 4l. 16s. 6d.; farm of the watermills
per annum 6l. 13s. 4d.; of the rabbits of the warren and heath,
2l. 13s. 6d.; perquisites of courts this year, 6l. 8s. 6d.; farm of dovehouse, 3s. 4d.; of rents and works sold off this year, 2l. 6s. 9d; of 24
quarters and a bushel of barley 2l. 6s. 9d.; of the domain lands at
2s. 4d. per quarter. 24 acres in the lord's hands at 2d. per acre.
In 1806, Sir Thomas Cailey had livery of his mother's lands,
Emme daughter and coheir of the lord Tateshale; (fn. 5) and in 1310, he
and Eleanor his wife had this manor settled on them and their heirs; (fn. 6)
and in 1825, he was found to have held it of the manor of Castleacre,
by the service of one knight's fee, being valued at 26l. 17s. 4d. per
annum; there was then a capital messuage, two watermills, &c.
belonging to it, and Adam son of Sir Roger de Clifton was his
In 1331, the said Adam was lord, and impleaded several persons
for fishing in his waters here, (fn. 7) but Margaret, (relict of Sir Thomas
Cayley,) then wife to Robert Ufford Earl of Suffolk, held
some dower here, as appears by her presenting to this rectory.
In Sir John Clifton's time, I find the rents of assize were per
annum 18l. the park, 8l.; a mill, 6l. 13s. 8d.; the rabbit-warren,
30l.; foldage for sheep, being 900, 40s. 4d.; foldage for 100 cows, &c.;
the mill called Erles Myln, 10l.; when Sir William Knevet of Bukenham Castle was accused as an adherent of Henry Earl of Richmond, (fn. 8)
against King Richard III. he was obliged to convey it to Sir James
Tyrrell, Richard's great favourite; but on the accession of Henry VII.
had it restored. In this family it remained till it was sold to
Robert Rich Earl of Warwick, in the reign of King James I.;
and from that family to the Hares, Sir John Hare of Stow Bardolph
presented as lord to the rectory in 1635; he left it by will to Hugh
Hare, Esq.; his 3d son, who dying unmarried, it came to Sir Thomas
Hare, Bart. who gave it to his 2d son, the present Sir Thomas Hare,
Bart. who sold it to James Nelthorpe, Esq. of Linford, whose
son now enjoys it.
The church, is a small but regular building, dedicated to all the
Saints, having its nave, north and south isles, and chancel built of flint,
&c. and covered with lead: the nave is in length about 42 feet, and
the breadth with the isles 41 feet; the roof of the nave is supported
by pillars forming 6 arches, 3 on a side, with windows over each arch.
On the head of a seat in the nave, on the right side, is a shield with a
shepherd's crook in pale, between four annulets; near the west end,
on the pavement lie two small marbles with brass plates thus inscribed: (fn. 9)
Orate pro anima Domine Oswine walshm, Sancte Monialis
cuiu anime propicietur Deus Amen.
Drate pro anima Domine Anne Sefull, Sancte Monialis cuius
anime propicietur Deus Amen.
At the east end of the south isle, which is longer than the nave by
9 feet, is an ascent, where was an altar; on the pavement lie two
large marble gravestones, without any arms or inscription; one of
these is probably for Richard Duplake of this town, who by will in
1516, desired to be buried here, and bequeathed to the reparation and
making up of the south isle of this church, and to the making a new
porch there, 20 marks sterling.
This porch is a neat one of flint, covered with lead; about the water
table is the letter M and swords with their points erected and crowns
over them, as in Cressingham-Magna, this isle being probably dedicated to St. Michael.
In the upper window of the north isle, is azure a cross compony or,
and gul. Cockfield; and at the east end is an ascent as to an altar.
The chancel is divided from the nave by an old screen; it is in length
about 30 feet, and in breadth about 18, and there is an ascent of two
steps to the communion table. On the pavement lies a marble with
this shield, Barry, of six arg. and gul. Wace, impaling arg. on a
fess sab. three flowers-de-lis or, Pattison, and thus inscribed;
Hic jacet Corpus Amiæ Uxoris Edmundi Wace, Rectoris
hujus Ecclesiæ obijt 12° Aug. An Dni. 1717, Ætatis 63.
Here has been a vestry, now in ruins. In the east window are the
remains of two shattered old shields, azure two trumpets, their labia
meeting in the base point, crusuly of cross croslets, or, Trumpington,
and Clifton; and in the same window not long since, were to be
seen the arms of the East Angles, of St. Edmund, Tatshall, Narford and Knevet: at the west end of the nave stands a neat strong
four-square tower of flint, with quoins of free stone and embattlements,
and four carved pinnacles, in which hang five modern bells. At the
west side of this tower are two large niches for statues, one on each
side the great door; and on the right side of the arch of the door is the
effigies of a man in armour; his hands are by length of time decayed;
on the left side, the effigies of a savage or wild man, bearing in his right
hand the head of a man couped, and in his left hand a ragged staff or
battoon, all carved in stone; over the arch of the door is the shield of
Clifton, supported by two antelopes, or rather ibex's, sejant, and on
an helmet a plume of feathers. These are the insignia of John de
Clifton, who flourished in the reign of King Edward III. and was
summoned to parliament, as a Baron then and in the beginning of
King Richard II. and was no doubt the founder of this church, and
died at Rhodes, in that King's reign: the being heirs to the Kaillis
or Caleys assumed most likely their arms, using only a bend by way of
distinction; and the Caleys, it is probable, being dependants, and near
attached to the Earl Warren, assumed his coat; changing only the
colours, a practice very frequent in ancient days.
Thomas de Kaylli, rector.
1315, Michael de Cayly, presented by Sir Thomas de Cayly,
Knt. (fn. 10)
1325, Richard de Hassene. Sir Robert Ufford, by the marriage
of Margaret, relict of Sir Thomas de Caley. He had been rector
of Narburgh mediety, and exchanged with Cayly. In
1328, Richard de Crerk, rector here, was licensed to go a pilgrimage
to St. James at Compostella.
1335, Edmund de Shelton. Lord Robert de Ufford.
1342, John Edrich. The Lady Margaret Countess of Suffolk
and Sir Peter de Ty, attorneys general to Robert Ufford Earl of
Suffolk, then beyond the sea.
1343, Peter Lacy; he was rector of Selsey in the diocese of Chichester, and exchanged with Edrich; he held after this the chapel of St.
Margaret in this parish.
1351, Richard Clanylle. Robert Earl of Suffolk. He was rector
of the first portion in the church of Diseley in Worcester diocese, and
exchanged with Lacy.
1365, Thomas Grace. Robert Earl of Suffolk. He was rector
of St. Nicholas in Abindon in the diocese of Salisbury, and exchanged
with Clanylle. He held also the chapel of St. Margaret here.
1404, Roger Rawlyn.
1413, Peter Parsey, ob. John Drew, rector of Harpley. Richard creyk, and Roger Rawlyn, by virtue of a feoffment of the
manor of Hilburgh, with the advowson, from Constantine Chfton,
1458, John Pert, A. M. ob. John Heydon, Gent. feoffee of this
manor for Sir John Cliffton, Knt.
1460 Richard Sechythe, buried in the chancel in 1471, and gave
legacies to the gilds of St. Margaret, and the Trinity here. John
Heydon. (fn. 11)
1471, John Williamson, in dec. baccal. resigned William
1509, Thomas Cook, A. M. He was also rector of Cranwich.
Robert Ledall of Hilburgh, by will dated 1514, gives to the
beme the which the rode shall stand on 2s.
1534, John Fowle, on the resignation of the last rector. Christopher Jenney, Esq. serjeant at law, by grant from Edward Serplaw.
John Methwold, died rector.
1554, James Glover, (fn. 12) ob. Christopher Cook, Esq. and the lady
Ann Knevet his wife.
1562, Richard Coggell, ob. Ditto.
1576, Thomas Cross. The Queen.
1581, John Pratt, A. B. The Queen, in right of the wardship of
the heir of Sir Thomas Knevet, Knt. deceased. In his answer to
King James's Quæries, he says there were 115 communicants here in
1630, Richard Potter, A. M.
1635, 23d April, William Prettiman, ob. Sir John Hare.
1681, Edmund Wace, A. M.; he was rector of Bodney, educated at
Caius College Cambridge, ob. Lancaster Topcliff, clerk, hac
vice. These two last incumbents held this rectory an hundred years.
1734, Edmund Nelson; he held it united to the vicarage of Sporle,
with Palgrave-Parva consolidated, and at his death was succeeded, in
1747, By his son, the Rev. Mr. Edmund Nelson, the present rector,
who was presented by Mrs. Mary Nelson, patroness in full right,
and holds it united to the vicarage of Sporle, with the rectory of
Little Pagrave annexed.
This Rectory is valued in the King's Books at 13l. 6s. 8d. but
being returned of the clear value of 49l. per annum; it is discharged
of first fruits and tenths, and is capable of augmentation.
The synodals are 2s. archdeacon's procurations 7s. 7d. ob. Bishop's
visitatorial procurations 3s. 4d.
St. Margaret's chapel, at the north-west end of the town of Hilburgh, in a grass close, stands the chapel of St. Margaret, built of
flint and boulder, in length about 36 feet, and in breadth about 20
from out to out; the arched windows at the east and west are now the
only windows remaining; it is a low plain pile, and has the face of
On the founding of this chapel it was ordained, that if the patron
did not present in 40 days after a vacancy, that the Bishop should
collate. It was founded by Sir John de Kailli and Margery his
wife, who was remarried in 1207, 9 of King John, to Michael de Poynings; their son, Sir Adam de Caily, confirmed it; and his son, Sir
Osbert de Caily, Knt. who married Emma, daughter and coheir of
Robert Lord Tatshall, was a great benefactor; and by deed in Henry
the Third's time, in honour of Christ and the Blessed Virgin, and
all the Saints, and for the souls of his father, Adam de Cailli, Mabell
his mother, and Margery his grandmother, and all his family deceased;
he settled on Hervy de Brokedish, chaplain, and all his successours
in St. Margaret's chapel at Hilburgh, for their performing divine
service there, the whole furlong or went of land called Flitwong in
Hilburgh-Field, joining to that land that he had before settled on the
said chapel, Sir Adam de Cailly, his son, Sir Thomas and Simon de
Cailly, Edmund de Illeye and others, being witnesses.
To this deed hangs a large round seal circumscribed,
Sigillvm: Osberti: De: Kailli:
He is represented on a horse running full speed, in armour, with a
close helmet, his drawn sword in his hand, a shield of his arms, chequy
only, and the trappings of the horse are also chequy. The reverse
hath only a plain chequered shield circumscribed. SIGILLVM SECRETUM.
This seal being somewhat remarkable, I shall here add a word or
two on that subject.
Whether the Norman nobility brought the use of large seals into
England, or found it here, is not very certain; but certain it is, that
they used them soon after their arrival; the most usual impresses being
an armed man or knight on horseback with a drawn sword, and the
bearer's name round him; perhaps the large territories, wherewith the
Conqueror rewarded their services, induced them to believe themselves
to be advanced to so many principalities, and this conceit might incline
them to rival their Sovereign himself, in the grandeur of their publick
instruments. Sometimes, instead of the horseman, we have a lion,
leopard, greyhound, bird, or other device, part of the arms of the
family, but always the person's own proper name, encircling his paternal coat, or whatever other impression he was pleased to fancy.
Seals as this of a round form generally betoken something of royalty
in the possessor, and a more than ordinary extent of temporal jurisdiction, whereas great ladies, under coverture, and bishops and
abbots, &c. commonly made use of oval and oblong ones; if the
grantor's quality was mean, and his family too inconsiderable to bear
arms, the conveyances were usually ratified under the authentic seal
of some public officer or corporation, the reason being assigned,
"Quia sigillum meum penitus est ignotum, sigillum officialis de &c.
apponi procuravi." Nobility and other persons of rank and family
had also their larger and less seals, the former giving the impression
of their ancestour's coat, and the latter oftentimes any little device
without a scutcheon.
It has been a prevailing opinion, that no seals (on wax) were used
here, till the Normans taught us this fashion; but Sir Edward Coke
gives instances of grants, passed by some of our Saxon princes, sub
proprio sigillo; but to this it may be replied, that the Crosses were
anciently styled indifferently Signa et Sigilla. And as it is plain that
sealing was in common use, soon after the Conquest, so it is certain
that there were several conveyances, which (even as low down as the
reign of King Edward III.) were admitted as good and legal when
well attested, though they had no seals ever affixed to them, being
the grants of such as still adhered to their old Saxon modes, and so
retained the ancient subscriptions of names and crosses. There were
other transgressions of the common rule and practice, as when Edward III. fancifully gave,
The Norman the Hunter, the Hop
And the Hop-Town,
With all the Bounds upside down,
And in Witness that it was Sooth,
He bit the Wax with his fong Tooth.
And to Aubrey de Vere's conveyance of Hatfield, a short black
hafted knife was affixed instead of a seal, &c.
Many effectual ancient conveyances of right, were anciently made
without writing, seizin being then only taken, by delivery of a sword,
helmet, horn, spur, bow, arrow, &c. But even in those times, the
more cautious thought it safest to convey their lands in scriptis, hence
the [Gethrite Landboc], Telligraphum and Chirographum of the Saxon
Chaplains of the free-chapel of St. Margaret.
Hervy de Brokedis, occurs about the beginning of the reign of
King Edward I.
1315, William de Pagrave, presented by Sir Thomas Caly. 1335,
John de Pagrave. 1338, Robert Wright. 1345, William Sherman.
1347, Robert Wych or Wyth. 1349, Adam de Fyncham. 1349,
Roger Wardebene; all these six were presented by Sir Adam de
1351, Peter de Lacy; he had been rector, and resigned for this, and
resigned this again. 1368, Thomas Grace, the King, as guardian to
the heir of Sir Adam de Clifton. 1402, John Arundel, the King.
1404, Adam Mynte or Myns, Sir Robert Knolles, John Drew, rector
of Harpley, James de Billyngford, Richard Gegge, and Roger
Rawlyn, rector of Hitburgh. 1415, John Prentys. Richard Bowyer,
chaplain. 1465, Thomas Eyr. 1465, William Botivant. William
Welly. These five were presented by the King. 1494, John Williamson, on the death of William Wellys. Sir William Knevet.
John Collet occurs in 1508; he was then D. D. dean of St.
Paul's London, rector of Denynton in Suffolk, &c. The income of
this free-chapel is then said to be xxx. l. per annum, as appears from a
rental of the Dean's estate, spiritual and temporal; which was a very
considerable sum in that age, and almost equalled that great living
(as Dr. Knight in his Life of this Dean calls it (fn. 13) ) of Dennington, which
is there said to be xxxi. l. per annum.
It is likely he succeeded Williamson here, and was presented by the
Knevets, as he was to the rectory of Dennington, his mother being of
This Chapel being dissolved by King Edward VI. was in the
fourth year of his reign, given with 60 acres of land to Thomas Reve,
and Giles Isham, and their heirs, to be held of the manor of East
Greenwich in Kent.
At this day it is called by the neighbouring people, the Pilgrim's
chapel, being visited most likely by them in their way to Walsingham,
which lies through this town from London; there are said to have
been above an hundred acres of land in the fields of Hilburgh belonging to it, and no doubt was very nobly endowed, being formerly accounted a manor, and lands in the said fields were held by the tenure
of finding of wax-tapers, &c. for the chapel, as appears from an old
field-book in the hands of Mr. Wace, the owner, who used the chapel
to lay his hay in.