The Priory Church of St Mary and the Holy Cross,
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White Directory 1845
North Greenhoe Hundred [p 668]
Is of an irregular oblong figure, extending nine miles in length along the sea-coast, and averaging seven miles in breadth from north to south, - being bounded on the east by Holt Hundred; on the south by Gallow; and on the west by Brothercross. The soil is generally light, but well cultivated, and the face of the country is beautifully diversified, and seen to great advantage from Great Snoring church, where the prospect to the north is highly picturesque, and is terminated by the ocean. A substratum of fine marl is found in almost every part of it, and the whole district abounds in all sorts of game. It is watered by the river which flows through a fertile vale from Snoring to the ocean, near Stiffkey. Its name is supposed to be a corruption of Green-hill, - the Hundred court being anciently held on such an eminence. The royalties of the whole Hundred, with the lordship of Wighton, were possessed by the crown in the reigns of Edward the Confessor, and William the Conqueror, but were subsequently granted in fee to various families, though a court of the Queen's Duchy of Lancaster is still held at Wighton. Petty Sessions are held at Little Walsingham, on the first Monday of every month; and at Wells on the nearest middle Monday of every month. The magistrates' clerk is Mr. Thos. Garwood, of Wells. Little Walsingham has also Quarter Sessions. The whole Hundred, except Cockthorpe and Field Dalling, is in the Deanery of Walsingham, and comprises sixteen parishes of which the following is an enumeration, shewing their population in 1841, the annual value of their land and buildings, as assess to the County Rate in 1843, and their territorial extent, is assessable acres:-
Note; Great Snoring included 81 persons in the Union Workhouse; Little Walsingham, 50 in the House of Correction; and Wells, 49 in Vessels. From Hindringham, 63 had emigrated to Canada since 1831.
The Annual Value of the Hundred, as assessed to the Property Tax, was £37,102 in 1815; and £45,413 in 1842.
Walsingham Union [p669]
Comprises all the 16 parishes in North Greenhoe Hundred; 24 parishes in Gallow Hundred, and 10 parishes in Holt Hundred, which see. These 50 parishes extend over an area of 121 square miles, or 72,493 acres; and had in 1841, 20,960 in habitants, of whom 10,121 were males, and 10,839 females. Their average annual expenditure from 1832 to 1835, was £21,497; but since the formation of the Union, it has been reduced to about half that sum. The Union Workhouse is at Great Snoring, and was finishes in 1838, at the cost of £5,903. It has room for 300 inmates; but had only 81 in July, 1841, and 169 in January, 1845. Mr. John Overton, of Fakenham, is Union Clerk and Supt. Registrar ; and Mr. Robt. Platten is master of the Workhouse. The relieving officers are - Mr. Henry Scales, of Fakenham; and Mr. Thos. Webb, of Wells. The Rev. R. Leeder is chaplain. Several surgeons are employed by the Union, and among them the three following are Registrars of Births and Deaths, viz:- Mr. G. Damant, for Fakenham District; Mr. C. Adcock, for Walsingham District; and Mr J Young, for Wells District.
5 miles S.E. By E of Wells, and 3 miles NE by E of Walsingham, is a parish and large village with 502 inhabitants and 2,241a. 1r. 3p. of land, of which, Thomas Truesdale Clarke, Esq., is principal owner and lord of the manor, in which the copyholds are on the tenure called "Smockhold", noticed above.
Binham had a charter from Henry I for a weekly market on Wednesday, and a fair on the Vigil of St Mary and three following days; and the latter still continued on July 26th. This Village is noted for the extensive ruins of its once splendid Priory, forming a highly interesting and picturesque object, in the vale of the river Stiffkey, and founded by Peter Lord Valoins, a nephew of the Norman Conqueror, and Albreda his wife, for Benedictine monks, as a cell to the Abbey of St Albans, but subject only to the visitation of the abbot, and the yearly payment of a mark of silver. The priory was not finished till the beginning of the reign of Henry I, when Roger, the son of the founder, confirmed what his father had given, and was himself a considerable benefactor. Others of the same family contributed support and augment to the establishment, which was granted at the dissolution to Thomas Paston Esq. In the reign of John, Robert Fitzwalter claimed the patronage of this priory and besieged it in order to reinstate Thomas the prior, who had been deposed by the Abbot of St Albans; but he was frustrated in his design by the forces which the king sent to oppose him.
The ruins of the priory are still very considerable, but are gradually mouldering away. If the once spacious conventual church, only the nave, with the chief part of the grand western front, and fragments of the transepts, remain. Excepting the west facade, the whole is of the early Norman style of architecture, and most probably constituted part of the original structure. The nave is appropriated as the parish church. Its interior elevation shows three tiersof seven arches on each side; the two lowermost of which are semicircular, whilst those in the top row are partly of that shape, and partly pointed. The exterior of the western front is wholly in the pointed style, and is a beautiful specimen of the ecclesiastical architecture of the 14th century. In the lower part are displayed a grand central and two lateral doorways, with blank arcades between them. Over the former is a large centre window, which was originally ornamented with five upright columnar mullions, and three circular compartments of tracery mouldings. This, and the great north window, are now closed with bricks and plaster; and here is now only one bell, hanging in a spiral turret over the west front.
The benefice is a discharged vicarage, valued in KB at £6 13s 4d, and augmented with £800 of royal bounty, from 1767 to 1800, and £200 given by T. T. Clarke Esq the patron and impropriator in the latter year. The £1,000 was laid our in the purchase of 36 acres of land at Bodham. The Rev. Wm. Upjohn AM, of Field Dalling, is the incumbent. In 1839, the rectorial tithes were commuted for £200, and the vicarial for £100 per annum.
A National School was established here by subscription in 1815; and T. T. Clarke Esq supports a school in which about 25 girls are educated and partly clothed. At the east end of the village is the lofty shaft of an ancient cross, where a market was formerly held, and where pilgrims counted their beads in their approach to the priory.
The Town Estate comprises a house occupied by paupers; the Chequers public house, and 16a 3r 26p of land, mostly received at the enclosure, in exchange for land given by two maiden ladies. The public house and land are let for £41 5s a year, which is applied in apprenticing poor children, and the distribution of 4 or 5 chaldron of coals. The rent of 7a 2r 30p of land in Hindringham left by Natl. Hooke in 1693, and now let for £10 10s, is distributed in cloth for coats and waistcoats, among poor married labourers. Twenty poor widows have £3 15s yearly, as the rent of 3a 2r 23p of land left by Christopher Ringer in 1678.
Marked * reside in Westgate
Coe Richard butcher