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St Mary the Virgin, Worstead, Norfolk

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posted by alias Jelltex on Sunday 22nd of October 2017 01:25:34 PM

I could see the tower of a church from the main road. I saw it from a good two miles away, towering over the mature trees of a wood. It must be one heck of a church I thought, turning down the lane leading to it, to find the lane lead to Worstead. Worstead: that explained it. A village so associated with wool, a type of woolen cloth is named after it. Beside the church is the market square, lined with fine buildings, and to the west, St Mary. A huge cathedral of a church. After snapping the village, I walk to the porch on the south side and go in, smiling. I was met by a warden who saw the look of delight on my face, and took me on a grand tour. How lucky was I? ------------------------------------------ In the reign of Edward the Confessor, the lordship of this town belonged to the abbot of St. Bennet of Holm, with 2 carucates and an half of land, 8 villains, 30 borderers, 2 carucates in demean, 3 among the tenants, 8 acres of meadow, paunage for 16 swine, a mill, and 3 socmen, valued at 60s. and at the survey at 4l. There were 2 churches with 28 acres, valued therein, and was for the provision of the monks. At the survey, Robert, an officer of the cross-bow-men, held it of the abbot; it was one leuca long, and half a leuca broad and a perch, and paid 18d. gelt. St. Bennet's abbey held also in the said town, in King Edward's time, a carucate of land, with 2 villains, 10 borderers, one carucate in demean, and 2 among the tenants and 2 acres of meadow, &c. valued at 40s. (fn. 1) Odo, son of Robert, the cross-bowman, assumed, according to the custom of that age, the name of Warsted, from this his town and lordship; he held it of the abbot by one knight's fee, being the gift of King Canute to the abbey on his foundation of it. (fn. 2) This Odo. and Robert his son, gave lands to the abbey, and the mill at Bordestede. He was father of Peter, whose son Philip held one fee in the 20th of Henry III. Nicholas son of Philip de Wursted, gave to the abbot all his lands here by deed, dated in the 2d of Edward I. Henry being then abbot. Richard de Worstede was also a son of Odo, and had by Margaret his wife, daughter of Robert de Manteby, Sir Robert de Worstede, who died sans issue.—This Sir Robert and Sir John de Worstede, were witnesses to a deed of confirmation, of Jeffrey, son of Bartholomew de Glanvile, to Bromholm priory. The temporalities of the abbot in 1428, were 3l. 12s. ob. q. This came at the Dissolution, to the see of Norwich; and in the 3d and 4th of Philip and Mary, was farmed of the Bishop, at 41s. and 3d. per ann. by Bertram Themilthorp. The prior of Pentney had a lordship, granted to that house by John de Worstede, containing a messuage, a carucate of land, a mill, 50s. rent, 10 acres of wood, with the whole pond of Worstede and Crowbeck, and the whole alder carr, regranted by Simon the prior, to John for life. In the year 1328, the temporalities of this prory were valued at 8l. 10s. 4d.—On the Dissolution, May 22, in the 36th of Henry VIII. it was granted to John Spencer. The prior also of Hempton had a manor, valued with a mill, &c. at 4l. 8s. 11d. which on the Dissolution was granted as above, to John Spencer. Leonard Spencer and Catherina his wife, sold both these lordships to Robert Paston, and Thomas Thimblethorp, with their appertenances in Sloley, Westwick, &c. on June 3, in the 8th of Elizabeth; and after they are said to be aliened to — Utber, and so to — Mitson. Matthew de Gunton had a manor here which he granted to William, son of William de Stalham, on his marriage with Isabel his daughter, being 49s. 3d. rent. This came to Sir Jeffrey Wythe, by his marriage with the daughter and heir of Sir William Stalham. In the 9th of Edward II. Nicholas de Salicibus or of the Willows, and Elen his wife, conveyed to Jeffrey Wythe, and Isabel his wife, the 5th part of 28 messuages, 114 acres of land, 5 of turbary, with 27s. and 8d. rent here, in Dilham and Smalburgh, settled on Isabel; and Wynesia, widow of Sir Oliver Wythe, released to William Dunning of this town, all her right of dower in this town, and Westwick. After this it came to Sir William Calthorp, by the marriage of Amy, daughter and heir of Sir John Wythe, and was sold by Edward Calthorp, Esq. of Kirby Cane, December 8, in the 21st of Henry VIII. to Leonard Spencer of Blofield, Gent. for 40l. in hand paid, and 40 marks more on full assurance being made. John Spencer was lord in the 2d of Edward VI. and Leonard Spencer in 1572. Erpingham and Gaines's manor in Irstede, held by John Gross, Esq. at his death in 1408, which he left to his widow Margaret, extended into this town. John Skarburgh, Gent. had a prœcipe to deliver it to Miles Bayspoole, Gent. in the first of James I. Before this, in the 17th of Elizabeth, William Chytham conveyed it to William Tymberley. The Grosses were early enfeoffed of a lordship under the abbot of Holm. Reginald le Gross was lord in the reign of Henry III. and had a charter for a weekly mercate on Friday. Sir Oliver de Ingham held here and in Ingham, a knight's fee of Robert de Tateshale, in the first of Edward I. This came afterwards by the heiress of Ingham to the Stapletons; and in the 2d of Richard II. Sir Roger Boys, &c. trustees, aliened to the prior of the Holy Trinity of Ingham, a messuage, with 84 acres of land, 3 of meadow, one of pasture, in Worstede and Scothow, by license. Thomas Moore, &c. aliened to the said convent, in the 16th of that King, 8 messuages, 221 acres of land, 22 of meadow, 4 of moor, and the rent of 11s. 11d. per ann. in this town, Ingham, Walcot, &c. held of the honour of Eye. In the 3d of Henry IV. the prior's manor, late Sir Oliver de Ingham's, was held of Sir Constantine Clifton, of the barony of Tateshale. The prior of Bromholm had also a lordship. In the 3d of Henry IV. the heirs of William Smalburgh held here and in Barton, &c. half a fee of the prior, with William Sywardby, and they of the Earl of Suffolk, as part of the honour of Eye, in 1428. The temporalities of this monastery were 104s. 2d. ob. After the Dissolution, on May 26, in the 6th year of Edward VI. it was granted to Henry Grey Duke of Suffolk. William Gillet, son and heir of William, had a messuage, a garden, 100 acres of land, 6 of meadow, 20 of pasture, and 2 of wood, called Fenn's and Skitt's, in the 23d of Elizabeth. John Kempt aliened it September 1, in the 7th of King James I. to Edmund Themilthorpe. Thomas Seive of Worsted, had land here by the marriage of Margarel, one of the daughters of Sir James de Ilketeshale, Knt. of Suffolk, in the reign of Henry VI. she dying about the 30th of that King, left 3 daughters and coheirs; Cecilia, married to John Ovy, who left his lands here by will, in 1472, to Thomas his son, &c. by Emme his wife. Jane, a daughter and coheir of Seive, married William Smith; and Margaret, the 3d, Thomas Jeffrey. The tenths were 14l. 10s. ob. q Deducted 1l. 19s. 1d. ob. The town is seated in a flat country, and has a weekly mercate on Saturday Worsted stuffs are said to have taken that name from their being first manufactured here. I find them mentioned in the 2d year of Edward III. and the weavers and workers were then by parliament enjoined to work them up to a better assise than they had done; and an enquiry was to be made after the behaviour of Robert P - - - the alnager for these stuffs. Many privileges were after granted to the workers of them, Ao. 1 Richard II. &c. the merchants came into England, as appears in the 37th of Edward III. to purchase them. The Church is dedicated to St. Mary, has a nave, 2 isles, and a chancel covered with lead, and a square tower with 6 bells, and was a rectory in the patronage of the family of De Worstede. Sir Robert de Worsted, son of Richard de Worstede, gave by deed, (fn. 3) sans date, to the priory of Norwich, the patronage of this church, about the beginning of the reign of King Henry III. to which Sir John de Wirstede, Bartholomew de Reedham, Eustace de Berningham, &c. were witnesses; and by another deed, he gave to them the chapel of St. Andrew, in this town: witnesses, Sir G. de Bocland, John de Wirstede, Jordan de Soukeville, then an itinerant justice in Norfolk, which was confirmed by Pandulf Bishop of Norwich. He also gave them lands with certain villains, the abbot of Holm also confirmed it. Sir Reginald le Gross quitclaimed all his right in the aforesaid church and chapel, to Simon the prior, and the convent of Norwich. Thomas de Blundevile Bishop of Norwich, also confirmed to them the said church, to take place on the decease of John de Wurchestede, and Adam de Wurchestede, who then held it in 1226; and in 1256, on the 8th of the calends of August, a vicarage was settled on the appropriation of the said church to the monks of Norwich, when a manse or house was given to the vicar, with an acre of land, by the chapel of St. Andrew with all the altarage of the church, (except the tithes of the mills) and the rents of assise belonging to the said chapel, and the oblations thereof; but if the oblations and profits of the said chapel exceeded 5 marks, the remainder was to go to the prior and convent, and the vicar was to repair the said chapel, and to find all ornaments, &c. The vicar was also to have tithe of flax, hemp, and all other small tithes, it was appropriated to the prior's table, and to the cellarer of the priory; but after this, in the first of April following, it was appropriated entirely to the prior's table, and the church of Hemlington in Norfolk, appropriated to him instead of this. In the reign of Edward I. there belonged to the appropriated rectory, a house, with 27 acres and a rood of land, and the church was valued at 25 marks, the vicarage at 5l. Peter-pence, 12d. and the portion of Kerbrook preceptory was 3s.—The prior had also a manor, Edward I. in his 35th year granting him free warren. Vicars. 1256, Warin de Festorton, instituted vicar, presented by the prior and convent of Norwich. John occurs vicar in 1299. 1304, Edmund Johnes, vicar. Peter de Reynham, vicar. 1346, William de Aldeby. 1353, Oliver de Wytton. 1355, Roger de Felthorp. 1357, John de Massingham. 1365, John de Kynneburle; in his time, Ao. 2d of Richard II. the chancel of this church was new built; the prior granted 13 oaks out of Plumsted wood, and timber also out of St. Leonard's wood; and the expenses in money were 24l. 4l. 4d. 1386, Edmund Martyn, vicar. On the dissolution of the priory, the manor belonging to it, with the rectory, and the patronage of the vicarage, were granted to the dean and chapter of Norwich; and the vicarage is valued at 10l. per ann. Mr. Henry Aldred, vicar. In 1603, William Fleming, vicar, returned 296 communicants 1730. 1660, Edmund Wharton, (fn. 4) occurs vicar. Mr. William Berney. Richard Oram, by the dean and chapter of Norwich. 1762, Ephr. Megoe. On a gravestone in the chancel, Hic lapis in pannis Spicer tenet ossa Johannis Qui Quadringentesimo pius XL et iii - - - - Anno. Hic jacet D'ns. Johs. Yop. quo'da' Rector. Ecclie de Boton. ¶Sir Robert Camownde, priest, was buried in 1482, in the chapel of St. John, of this church, and wills that all the said chapel be paved with marbyll stone, and to the gravestone of John Ovy, with his goods. (fn. 5) —Richard Watls buried in St. John Baptist's chapel 1509, and I will have a prest to sing and pray 6 years in the church except the Fryday in ev'ry week, in the chapel of St. Andrew of Worsted. Agnes Watts, his widow, buried in the said chapel, 1529, and benefactrix to the guilds of our Lady and St. Thomas, and to the repair of St. Andrew's chapel, and gives meadow land to find two lamps in the church for ever, if the King's laws will permit, otherwise to be sold and to buy cattle for that purpose. Here was also St. John Baptist's guild. In the church were these arms; Gules, on a fess, argent, three flowers, azure, between three popinjays, borne by—prior of Norwich. Argent, a cross, sable, the priory arms. Calthorp and Stapleton. www.british-history.ac.uk/topographical-hist-norfolk/vol1... -------------------------------------------- As a measure of how civilised East Anglia is, it is a simple and cheap matter to explore the region by train and bicycle. There is a flat rate of nine pounds a day for unlimited travel between stations in Suffolk, Norfolk and East Cambridgeshire. You can take a bike on any train for a pound, although in reality conductors rarely charge for this service. This practice dates back to pre-privatisation days, and Anglia Railways and One Trains have continued to honour it, for which I am mightily grateful. The Suffolk and Norfolk Churches sites would not be so extensive without it. I left Ipswich at twenty to eight. It was a thinly bright April morning, the sun without power beyond dazzling through the haze in the eastern sky. I was glad of my jacket, but also glad I had sun glasses with me - it was going to be a perfect day for a bike ride. As the train plodded through Ipswich's monotonous northern suburbs, I examined the ordnance survey map. I flicked through Pevsner and Mortlock, as industrial units gave way to green fields, copses and the winding Gipping. Restless, I gazed out the window. A swan awoke on a lake near Needham Market, stretching itself and beating its wings into life. Crows raided a skip on rubble near the Stowmarket paint factory. Then we were really in the countryside, rushing headlong through the sleepy fields beyond Haughley and Mendelsham. Near Finningham, a large female deer cowered silently in the hedge, not ten metres from the track. A few minutes later, and a wise old hare huddled in a furrow, flat-eared, patient. The train pulled into the gathering surprise of Norwich. I hauled my bike a couple of platforms over to the Sheringham line. Other people out for the day got on, including a couple dressed in vintage railway costumes. I assumed they were bound for the steam line at Sheringham. Again, the monotony of another city's suburbs petered out into agricultural business, this time in bright sunshine, and so it was that just after nine o'clock we arrived at Worstead station. I was the only person to get off. "See you later" called the conductor cheerily as I rode off of the platform into the lane, and of course he was right. There is only one train that shuttles back and forth along this line all day, and he was in charge of it. I cycled from the station up into the village, a distance of about two miles. I didn't pass anyone, and here in the large village there was nobody about, just a fat cat lazily rolling in the village square. The sun was cutting the haze, the sky wide and blue. It was like being in France. The church is absolutely enormous, and hemmed in a tight little graveyard. My resolution to take more distant shots went right out the window. Like Salle, and Southwold in Suffolk, St Mary was all built in one go, pretty much. This happened in the late 14th century. As at Salle, it is reflective of a large number of bequests from different people over a short period rather than anyone fabulously rich doing it on their own, and the money, of course, came from wool. Worstead is still the name of a fabric today. I said it was pretty much built at one go, but there was still plenty of money about in the 15th century to raise the clerestory and install a hammerbeam roof. This seems to have been such an ambitious project that flying buttresses had to be installed on top of the aisles to hold the top of the nave up, an expedient measure that has left the building both interesting and beautiful. Inside, I feared another Happisburgh, but it was gorgeous. Stepping out of the sunlight into the slight chill of a vast open space, I wandered around feasting on this stunningly lovely building. As regular users of the sites will know, I don't always warm to big churches, but St Mary is so pretty inside that it is hard not to love it. This is partly helped by the removal of all pews and benches from the aisle. Those that remain in the body of the church are lovely 18th century box pews, quite out of keeping with the medieval nature of the rest of the building, but quirky and oddly delightful. The great tower arch is elegant, and is thrown into relief by the towering font cover. The ringing gallery under the tower is dated 1501, and is reminiscent of the one at Cawston. The tower screen below it takes the breath away, and you find yourself looking around to see where it could have come from. In fact, it is almost certainly a work of the Victorians, but it is pretty well perfect. The paintings in the dado are apparently copies of windows by Sir Joshua Reynolds at New College, Oxford. Worstead is rightly famous for its screen, but this is more because of its height, elegance and completeness than it is its authenticity. The figures on the dado have been repainted so recklessly that it is rather hard to see who some of them were ever meant to be. As at Woolpit in Suffolk, the Victorians appear to have repainted them more with an eye to enthusiasm than accuracy. I stood there, fantasising, making up stories, until, alongside familiar figures like St Peter, St James and St Matthew, I had identified St Lassitude, the patron Saint of a quiet night in, depicted reading his book. Other Saints, identified by their symbols, include St Quirinus with his hamster, and St Obligamus with his golden pineapple. Or so it seemed to me. Not much less odd are the two figures on the extreme right. The Victorians do not appear to have repainted them. The first shows a man holding three nails, and is probably St William of Norwich, more familiar from the screen at Loddon. The second shows a figure crucified, arms tied to the spans. This may be the infamous Uncumber, the bearded lady of early medieval mythology - she grew a beard to fend off unwanted suitors, although you can't help thinking there'd be a niche market for that kind of thing somewhere on the internet. Later, she was crucified, probably upside down. This figure is probably a woman, so nothing seems to fit better, although she isn't bearded as far as I could see. Situated on the extreme right, she is reflected by a crucified Christ as the Man of Sorrows on the extreme left. Across the top rail, a dedicatory inscription winds, mysterious and beautiful. Either side of the chancel arch and screen, the two aisle chapels are both in use, which is unusual and lovely. Both have small screens, each with just four figures. That on the north side is particularly lovely, and is where the blessed sacrament is reserved. The four figures are St Peter, St Bartholomew, St John the Baptist and St John the Divine. At least three of these are also on the rood screen, suggesting that either the images there are wholly Victorian, or these aisle screens came originally from elsewhere. The south aisle chapel is simpler - it is here you enter the church through the priest door. The screen features another St Bartholomew, along with St Lawrence, St Philip and a Bishop. St Mary is a building to wander around in, a place to enjoy for its great beauty rather than to interrogate for its medieval authenticity. As you turn corners, vistas open up; the view from the font to the south door, for example, or that back to the west from the chancel. All perfect, all stunning. The high church nature of the modern furnishings chimes perfectly with these architectural treats. And there are other significant medieval survivals - a fine brass of a Catholic priest, scraps of wall painting beside the chancel arch, and so on. As at other churches in this benefice, the war memorial is complemented by photographs of all those commemorated. What a splendid idea, and what a labour of love. Also in common with other churches around here, St Mary has a second hand bookstall. As I explored the Worstead area, I found myself buying more and more of them, until by the time I got back to Ipswich station that evening, my rucksack was laden down with a dozen or more. Simon Knott, April 2005 www.norfolkchurches.co.uk/worstead/worstead.htm



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