The Priory Church of St Mary and the Holy Cross,


Parish & Community Building & History Other Churches in the Group


An Essay towards a Topographical History of the County of Norfolk...

by the Late Rev. Charles Parkin, A. M.

Volume IX, London, 1808 pages 408 - 411



William De Beaufoe Bishop of Thetford was lord in his own right, and held it as a lay fee at the survey, on the deprivation, or death of Guert, brother of King Harold, who was slain with that King at the battle of Hastings, who had 4 carucates of land, 31 villains, 4 borderers, and 5 servi; there were 4 carucates in demean and 8 carucates, with 8 acres of meadow among the tenants, a mill &c, and 17 socmen held 80 acres of land, and 4 carucates: here were two churches, with 16 acres, valued at 16d. valued formerly at £8 at the survey at £20 was one leuca long, and one broad, and paid 2s. gelt; 60 acres were taken from this manor, and possessed then by Peter de Valoins.
It takes its name from its length, a Long-Ham; and after we find this lordship divided into two towns and manors.



Pope Alexander the Third, in 1176, confirmed to John Bishop of Norwich the rectory of this church. Herbert the bishop of Norwich had before this granted a portion of tithe out of it to the prior of Norwich, which was valued at £3 10s. per ann. And John Bishop aforesaid, gave to Ralph Hindolveston, chaplain, (or vicar,) two parts of the tithes of his demean, with all the small tithe of his hall or palace, saving the monks portion.

In the 6th of Henry III. Pandulf, bishop elect, gave a fine to have a mercate here weekly, (till the King came of age) and Walter, the Bishop in the 35th of that King, had a charter of free warren in his demeans. The Bishop of Norwich, in the 15th of Edward I claimed the assize, view of frank pledge, a gallows, and a weekly mercate on Thursday; and it seems he had a castle here.

It remained in the see till the exchange made between King Henry VIII in his 27th year, and Bishop Rugg, of lands and manors, when it came to the Crown, and was granted on January 21, in the 2d and 3d of Philip and Mary, to Thomas Gresham, Esq.; by the marriage of his natural daughter, it came to Sir Nathaniel Bacon, Knt. Second son of Sir Nicholas Bacon, lord keeper, and by his eldest daughter and coheir, Anne, to Sir Roger Townsend, Bart. In which family it remains, the right honourable Viscount now possessing it.
The tenths £3 16s. – Deducted £1 4s.

The Church is a vicarage dedicate to St. Andrew, and being anciently a rectory was valued at 30 marks. Peter-pence 10d. ½. And the vicarage at 4 marks; the present valor is £4 10s. 8d.; the Bishop of Norwich has the impropriated rectory, and the advowson of the vicarage.


1318 William de Burgh Instituted vicar, collated by the Bishop of Norwich
1340 Robert de Tweyt Ditto
1344 John Geyst Ditto
1350 Edmund Athelwald
Robert Fulbeck Vicar
1371 Richard Otehith
Walter de Spendlove Vicar
1377 Thomas Burgeys
1386 Thomas Moretoft
1431 Reginald Bryd
1432 John Ellesmere
1434 Robert Gybbys
1452 Thomas Bonet
1462 Thomas Salmund
1469 Richard Hadylsey
1487 William Hakon A canon regular
John Buck Succeeded by
C 1600 James Pearson Vicar, about 1600
1722 John Stone By the Bishop
1727 John Springold By Jos. Ward, clerk, hac vice.
1758 Henry Bryant By the Bishop of Norwich

Bishop Reynolds in his lease of this impropriate rectory, reserved £20 per ann. to the vicar.



Was held of the fee of Norwich, by the family of De Melton, of Melton Constable. Jeffrey de Melton, Peter de Melton, or De Constable, his son, and Jeffrey his son, were lords. On the death of Geffrey, it was , on a division of the estate, in the possession of the Cockfelds, and Astleys, by the marriage of two of his sisters and coheirs, as may be seen in Melton and Blakeney.

Sir John de Cokefeld presented to the church in 1305 and 1310, and the lady Cecilia de Cockfeld in 1322.
Soon after the interest of the Cockfelds was conveyed to the family of Bacon, and Sir John Bacon held it in 1340 and Sir Bartholomew Bacon presented to the church in 1378, and his widow Joan in 1397, and Sir Thomas Astley held his part or right herein, in the 5th of Richard II. Sir Bartholomew Bacon’s sister and heir brought it my marriage to Sir Oliver Calthorp, and his second son Richard Calthorp Esq was lord of it, and of Cockthorp, and so descended to his heirs as may there be seen, Sir Henry Calthorp of Ampton in Suffolk dying lord of it, and patron in 1637, and James was then found to be his son and heir. Astley’s part remained in the family till sold in the 31st of Elizabeth, by Isaac Astley Esq to James Calthorp of Cockthorp, who conveyed it to Sir Henry Calthorp, whose descendant James Calthorp Esq was lord in 1697 and in that family it now remains.

The Church is a rectory dedicated to St Mary; ancient valor was 5 marks. Peter-pence 2d; the priory of Norwich had a portion of tithe valued at 10s. The present valor is £3. 6s. 8d.


1305 Oliver de Kirkeby Instituted, presented by Sir John de Cokefeld Knt
1310 Edmund de Cokefeld Ditto
1322 Peter de Walton By Lady Cecilia de Cockefeld
Robert Wyleby Occurs rector in 1335
1378 John Michel By Bartholomew Bacon
1383 Nich. Halles Ditto
1397 William Tillere By Joan, relict of Sir Barth. Bacon
1398 Jeff Coke Ditto
1401 John Myterpyn Ditto
1416 Godf. Mayster Ditto
1417 Steph. Schirreve Ditto
1437 William Herbald By Richard Calthorp Esq
1468 John Sherwyn By Robert Mekylfeld and Margaret his wife
Thomas Palmer Occurs rector in 1503
Ralph Same Occurs rector and was succeeded by
William Simson Who was rector in 1606
1622 Robert Pearson Instituted rector

Mr Calthorp patron in 1742