St Mary the Virgin, Blundeston, Suffolk
Many places like to wear their connections with Charles Dickens visibly, but I find it hard to believe anywhere does it more completely than Blundeston.
Blundeston is mentioned in David Copperfield, and there has been a strong movement by the local parish planners to ensure that most street names now have a Dicken connection. I know this a a colleague of mine resisted the overtures to name their new dwellings something Dickensian, but stuck with the family name after all.
I also have family connections with Blundeston, and indeed a distant relation is on the war memorial, but he is one of the branch that has an extra D in their name, the first one I have ever seen. My name is very mis-spelt, and the double D variation the most common.
Anyway, late one afternoon, I arrive in Blundeston to visit the church, and see, or notice the pound for the first time. Situated on a road junction, the brick-built circular enclosure was once used to corral livestock. It is a rare survivor, and the first time I had noticed it.
It is a fine round-towered church, with plenty of interest inside, and the medieval (I guess) glass in the porch the first of many. Some unusual tessellated tiling in the chancel, but the sanctuary is now a book shop and the altar brought forward.The font, at least to my eyes, looks Norman, and is impressive, as is the arts and crafts window, but I guess this is where Simon puts me right on many points.....
"I was born at Blunderstone, in Suffolk. There is nothing half so green as I know anywhere, as the grass of that churchyard; nothing half so shady as its trees; nothing half so quiet as its tombstones. The sheep are feeding there, when I kneel up to look out. Here is our pew in the church. What a high-backed pew! With a window near it, out of which our house can be seen.
I look up at the monumental tablets on the wall, and try to think of Mr Bodgers late of this parish, and what the feelings of Mrs Bodgers must have been, when affliction sore, long time Mr Bodgers bore, and physicians were in vain. I look to the pulpit, and think what a good place it would be to play in, and what a castle it would make, with another boy coming up the stairs to attack it..."
- Charles Dickens, David Copperfield
Blundeston is these days a very pleasant outer suburb of Lowestoft, although wise planners have kept a cordon sanitaire between it and the rampaging new estates of Oulton and Gunton. Everything here is very trim and polite, although St Mary itself has a rather more primitive air about it. Its narrow, tapering tower rises up sharply beside the steeply banked roof of its nave, for all the world like a Cornish tin mine or Derbyshire mill. This is an ancient building. The tower, at least the lower part, is clearly Saxon, and here inside there are some other ancient details.
You step into a church which is much bigger than it might appear from the outside, with a gentle High Church feel to it. The nave was widened in the late medieval period, and although there is no aisle or arcade, the tower has been left offset. The font dates from the 12th century, a plain, octagonal bowl set on 8 relief legs. The tower arch is earlier, and beside it there is a very curious detail. A circular squint hole, about 12 inches across, about 5 feet from the floor in the north-west corner. It is obviously intended to line up with something outside the church, but what, exactly? There is one exactly like it, in the same position, two miles away at Lound. They do not align with each other, though. Perhaps an outdoor Easter sepulchre? or to enable an internal sepulchre to be seen on Good Friday, when the church was out of use?
Above the south door, the arms of Charles II are very curious. They have been reused as a hatchment at some point, but the overpainting has faded to reveal the true origin. An altar against the north wall is dedicated to St Andrew, in memory of the nearby former church at Flixton, which was destroyed in a storm early in the 18th century. The font in the churchyard here comes from Flixton, too.
And the memorials? Well, I'm afraid there is no 'Mr Bodgers, late of this parish', and probably never was. The high-backed pews are all gone, and although the pulpit would certainly make an excellent castle, it post-dates Dickens's (and Copperfield's) time. The grass is still lush and green in the churchyard though, and much wilder than the neatly trimmed lawns of the very pleasant houses that surround it.
Simon Knott, June 2008
There are two manors here—those of Blundeston Hall, and Gonville's. The former was held by a family which took their name from the place, and retained it, with the patronage of the church, till the end of the reign of Edward III. In the ninth of Edward I., Robert de Blundeston was lord; (fn. 1) and in the twenty-third of Edward III., in the year 1348, there was a conveyance from Osbertus, Rector of the church of Blundeston, and Oliverus de Wysete, to William, the son of Robert de Blundeston, and the heirs of his body, of the manor of Blundeston, with all the lands and appurtenances in Blundeston, Oulton, and Flixton; together with the advowson of the church of the village of Blundeston, with the appurtenances; all which were formerly of Robert de Blundeston; to hold to the said William and the heirs of his body lawfully begotten. From this family the manor and advowson passed to that of Yarmouth; Henry Yarmouth, of Blundeston, presenting to the church in 1438. Humphrey Yarmouth, his descendant, on the 1st of December, 1570, conveyed to William Sydnor the manor of Blundeston, cum pertinentibus, and all other his manors, tenements, liberties, swanmarks, and hereditaments in Blundeston, Corton, Lound, Somerleyton, Flixton, Lowestoft, and Gunton, or elsewhere, and all other his manors and hereditaments, in the said towns, in fee. The manor, &c., and the messuages, were found to be holden of Sir John Heveningham, of his manor of South Leet, in soccage. (fn. 2) The said William Sydnor, by deed indented 6th of October, twenty-sixth of Elizabeth, 1584, in consideration of a jointure to Elizabeth, late wife of Henry Sydnor, his son, and heir apparent, did enfeoff John Read, and others, and their heirs, of a house called Gillam's, and 90 acres of land in Blundeston and Flixton; a meadow of 12 acres in Flixton; a marsh called Wrentham's, and 41 acres of land in Blundeston; two other messuages and 9 acres of land in Blundeston; a house called Chamber's, and 104 acres of land in Henstead. And of the manor called Blundeston; and the manor of Fritton with the appurtenances, to their uses; viz., as to the manor of Blundeston with the appurtenances, to the use of the said William for life; and after to the use of the said Henry, and his heirs male by the said Elizabeth, his wife; and after to the right heirs of the said William. The marriage between the aforesaid Henry Sydnor and Elizabeth was solemnized on the 1st of February, twenty-seventh of Elizabeth. He died during his father's lifetime, in December, 1611. William Sydnor, the father, died on the 26th of August, 1612. By his will, dated the 26th of March, in the same year, being "then of Christ's Church, but late of Blundeston," he gave to the poor of Blundeston, Henstead, Fritton, Belton, Conisford at the Gate (Norwich), Berstete St. John's, 20 shillings to each parish, and to Trowse on this side the Bridge 10 shillings. He desired "his body to be buried in the chauncell of the parishe church of Blundeston." He gave unto Dorothy Sydnor, his daughter, £ 200 of lawful English money, some furniture, and £10 in gold, to be paid within fourteen days; a cup of silver with three feet, and a cover. To Alice Goldsmithe, his daughter, all her mother's apparell, and £10 in gold, &c. Among other bequests, he leaves to William Sydnor, his grandchild, some furniture, and a great carved chest which lately came from Blundeston, and his next best salt-cellar. After leaving annuities to his servants, he directed "that his house in Christ's Church in all things be mayntayned and kept as usually he did for the entertainment of his children; and such of his children and servants as would stay and live orderly, and do their service honestly, during the time of their stay; for which they were to have their wages. The charges of such housekeeping to be defrayed by his executors; and he desired that Dorothy Sydnor, his daughter, during the said month should have the government of the said house." (fn. 3)
By an inquisition, held the 30th of August, in the twelfth of James I., when the death of William Sydnor was returned, it was found that William, the son of Henry, his eldest son, then deceased, was his next heir, and of the age of 24 years and more. And that the said William, eldest, was seized in fee of the manor of Blunston, alias Blundeston, with the appurtenances in Blundeston, Corton, Gunton, Lowestoft, Oulton, Ashby, Flixton, Bradwell, Burgh, Fritton, Belton, Herringfleet, Lound, Somerleyton, Hopton, and Gorleston.
On the 13th of February, eleventh of James I., William Sydnor, the grandson, in consideration of a marriage with Anne Harborne, did covenant with William Harborne, her father, to convey to him, Sir Anthony Drury, and others, and their heirs, the manor of Fritton, with the appurtenances, in Suffolk, and all lands, tenements, &c., of the said William, in Fritton, or in the towns adjoining, to the use of himself and his heirs until the marriage, and after the marriage to the use of himself and the said Anne, for jointure, and the heirs male of his body, with several remainders over to Robert, Thomas, and Henry, his brothers, Edmund, William, Francis, and Paul Sydnor, his uncles, and the heirs male of every of their several bodies. And after to the use of the right heirs of the said William Sydnor, the grandfather. And the manor of Blundeston, with the rights, members, and appurtenances, in Suffolk, and all lands, tenements, and other hereditaments, &c., of the said William Sydnor, the grandson, in Blundeston, or in the towns adjoining, or any of them, to and for the like uses, and estates, and remainders as before; omitting only the said Anne, and her estates, for life. In the following year a fine was levied in pursuance, by the said William Sydnor, his uncle, and the heirs of Sir Anthony, of the manors of Fritton and Blundeston, with the appurtenances. By the Office of the ninth of Charles I., after the death of William Sydnor, the grandson, it was found that he died, seized, on the 13th of June, eighth of Charles I., 1632, without issue male. By the same Office, Elizabeth, Anne, Sarah, Mary, Hester, Susanna, Abigail, and Lydia, were found to be the daughters and co-heiresses of the said William Sydnor, and that Elizabeth, the eldest, was, at her father's death, under eleven years of age, and all the rest under fourteen years of age. (fn. 4) On the 3rd of July, in the tenth of Charles I., the King, by ind're under the seal of the Court of Wards, granted to Anthony Bury, for a fine of 200 marks, the custody, wardship, and marriages of the said co-heiresses, to his own use. On the 2nd of July, tenth of Charles, the King, by another ind're, under the seal of the said Court, granted and leased to him, in consideration of £10, the manor of Henstead Pierpoind's, and two acres in Blundeston, during the minority of the said co-heiresses, at the yearly rent of £ 2. 6s. 8d. On the 20th of November, in the same year, this Anthony Bury, by ind're, assigned all his interests to Dr. Talbot, who married the said Anne, mother of the said co-heiresses, to his own use, for £330 paid, besides £100 for Bury, to the receiver of the Court of Wards, for leave of the King's fine. In Michaelmas Term, 1640, there was a decree in the Court of Wards, against Sir John Wentworth, who, in his answer to the information of the attorney of the wards on behalf of the said co-heiresses, denied they had the manor of Blundeston, but confessed they had the manor of Gonville's, in Blundeston, and that their father purchased that of one Jettor. But the Court decreed that the said co-heiresses had the manor of Blundeston, and also the manor of Gonville's. And such possession as the father of the said wards had in Blundeston great water, and fishing, is by the decree settled with the wards during their minority, and until livery sued. And Sir John desired not to fish in right of a tenement in Blundeston, which was his father's. As to the wards' suit as touching an hoorde, some lands in Fritton, and other matters, they are left to trial at law.
Elizabeth, Anne, Sarah, Mary, Hester, Susanna, Abigail, and Lydia Sydnor, the eight daughters and co-heiresses of William Sydnor, of Blundeston, by fine levied, and recovery suffered, and by deed dated the 19th of December, 1651, conveyed the said manors in Blundeston and Fritton to hold to William Heveningham, Esq., his heirs and assigns, for ever.
¶The family of Sydnor, from whom Blundeston thus passed, appears to have originated from — Sydnor, who married a daughter of Sir John Berney, of Reedham, in Norfolk. The following pedigree is derived from an abstract of the title of the estates, sold by the eight daughters and co-heiresses of William Sydnor, made in 1651; except the marriages of the eight daughters, which are added from the abstract continued to 1663, at which time Sarah was married to William Castleton. The other daughters had been all married before that date.
William Sydnor, the purchaser of Blundeston, as appears from bequests in his will, left three daughters, namely, Dorothy Sydnor, Alice Sydnor, who married Henry Goldsmith, and left issue Charles Goldsmith; and Elizabeth Sydnor, who married W. Doans, and left a son, William. Henry Sydnor, who died in his father's lifetime, left also three daughters, Elizabeth, Catharine, and Alice.
William Heveningham, Esq., who purchased the manors of Blundeston and Fritton of the Sydnors, was in the year 1661 convicted and attainted of high treason, as has been already shown under Mutford, &c. By letters patent, dated 28th September, thirteenth Charles II., the King did give unto Brian, Viscount Cullen, Sir Thomas Fanshaw, Sir Ralph Banks, Knights, Edward Pitt, and Charles Cornwallis, Esqrs., among other manors and lands, the said manors of Blundeston and Fritton; to hold to them, the said Brian, Viscount Cullen, &c., and their heirs, for ever. The said Brian, Viscount Cullen, &c., by their deed-poll, dated 3rd October, thirteenth Charles II., made between them, the said Brian, Viscount Cullen, &c., George, Earl of Bristol, Henry, Earl of Dover, and Margaret Heveningham, wife of the said William Heveningham, which was also signed by His Majesty's sign manual, did declare the use of the aforesaid letters patent to be to the intent that the said Brian, Viscount Cullen, &c., should, either by perception of the profits or sale of the aforesaid manors of Blundeston and Fritton, amongst others, raise £11,000 for the said Earl of Bristol, and several other trusts therein comprised: the remainder to be for the use of the said Mary, wife of the said William. The said William Heveningham, and Mary his wife, in Michaelmas Term, thirteenth Charles II., levied a fine, and suffered a recovery of the said manors of Blundeston and Fritton, inter alia. And by indenture, dated 24th of October, thirteenth of Charles II., the said William and Mary declared that the said fine and recovery should be to the use of the said Brian, Viscount Cullen, Sir Thomas Fanshaw, Sir Ralph Banks, Edward Pitt, and Charles Cornwallis, and their heirs, for ever.
In the 10th and 11th of December, 1662, fourteenth of Charles II., appear a lease and release from the Earl of Bristol, Brian, Viscount Cullen, Sir Thomas Fanshaw, Sir Ralph Banks, Edward Pitt, and Charles Cornwallis, unto Sir John Tasburgh, of the manor of Blundeston, and the capital house called Blundeston Hall, and the manor of Fritton, alias Freton Paston's, and all that manor called Blundeston, alias Gunville's, alias Scroope Hall, alias Gunville's Blundeston, with all the rights, members, and appurtenances to the said manors belonging; and the advowson of the churches, rectories, and vicarages of Blundeston and Fritton aforesaid; and courts-leet and view of frank-pledge, &c., to hold to him and his heirs, for ever. Consideration, £4000 in hand, and £4000 to be paid as therein named. On the 27th of December, 1662, the said William Heveningham and Mary his wife did grant, release, and confirm all and every the said manors of Blundeston, Fritton, and Blundeston Gunville's, to the said John Tasburgh, and his heirs, for ever.
These estates next passed to the Allins; for, on the 20th July, 1668, are letters of attorney from Thomas Allin, of Lowestoft, Knt., to Richard London, &c., to receive livery of seizin of John Tasburgh, of Bodney, in Norfolk, Esq., of all his manors, messuages, lands and fruits, and hereditaments situated in Blundeston, Fritton, Corton, or any other town adjoining. Sir Thomas Allin held his first court baron for these manors on the 3rd of November, 1668. (fn. 5)
On the 9th of July, 1712, the trustees of Richard Allin, under a deed authorizing them to sell lands to satisfy his debts, sold a messuage and about 76 acres of land at Blundeston and Fritton, of the yearly rent of £39. 10s., to Gregory Clarke, for £663; and on the 30th of August following, two other pieces of land, containing 13 acres, of the yearly rent of £5. 10s., to the same Gregory Clarke, for £100. These estates were afterwards purchased by Sir Ashurst Allin, Bart., who resided there; and were by him devised to his daughter, Frances Allin, for life. On the 29th of September, 1714, Blundeston Hall-farm, lands and decoy, of the yearly rent of £217. 2s. 6d., were sold to William Luson, merchant, the consideration money being £3691. 2s. 6d., who devised them to Robert Luson, his son, who, by his will of the 1st of May, 1767, bequeathed them to his eldest daughter, Maria, in fee, who married George Nicholls, Esq., by whom this estate was sold to Robert Woods, who, by his will, dated July 4th, 1780, devised the same to his wife to sell, and in 1791, she conveyed it to Thomas Woods in fee. Other estates in Blundeston were by Robert Luson devised to his second daughter, Hephzibah, who married Nathaniel Rix, Esq. An estate at Blundeston, and Corton, and Lound, he devised to Elizabeth, his daughter, who afterwards married Cammant Money, by whom the second property was sold to J. B. Roe, and the first to J. Manship. (fn. 6) The Decoy farm, at Blundeston, was, by the executors of Robert Luson, under the powers in the will contained, sold to William Berners, Esq., of Woolverstone Hall, whose son, Charles, resold it to Thomas Morse, Esq. (fn. 7) The manor of Fritton, and an estate of the annual value of £173, were sold to Samuel Fuller, Esq., for £ 2660. (fn. 8)
The manors of Blundeston Hall and Gunville's united, as will be presently shown, remained with the Allins, and passed with their other estates to the family of Anguish. From the Anguishes they descended to Lord Sydney Osborne, who sold them, in 1844, to Samuel Morton Peto, Esq.
The Manor of Gonville's, in Blundeston,
¶was the lordship of John, the son of Nicholas de Gunville or Gonville, in the fourteenth of Edward III., in the month of March in which year is a "note of time" of this manor between the aforesaid John, who is styled the son of Nicholas Gonvyll, chyvaler, and Johan, his wife, complainants, and William de Gonvyll, parson of the church of Thelnethan, John Gonvyll, parson of the church of Lylyng, Osbert, parson of the church of Blundeston, and Thomas de Kalkhyll, deforcients, of 24 messuages, 332 acres of land, 16 acres of meadow, &c., in Gorleston, Louystoft, Barneby, Little Yarmouth, and Hopton, to John, son of Nicholas and Johan, and the heirs of their bodies; and remainder, after the decease of John and Johan, to the right heirs of John, the son of Nicholas. (fn. 9) The manor remained with this ancient line till it passed, in the early part of the fifteenth century, to Sir Robert Herling, Knt., who married Joan or Jane, the heiress of the Gonvilles, as the subjoined pedigree will show.
Sir Robert Herling, and Joan his wife, held the manor of Gonville's in 1420, as we learn from an inquisitio ad quod damnum, taken in that year. "Robtus Harlyng, miles, et Johanna, uxor ejus, tempore ultimi pascigii d'ni Henr. Regis nunc ad partes Norman: seiziti fuerunt de mn'o vocat Gunvilles manor: cum p'tin: in villis de Blundeston, Olton, et Flyxton, in d'mico suo ut de feodo." (fn. 10) Sir Robert Herling left a daughter and heiress, Anne, who was thrice married; first, to Sir William Chamberlain, Knight of the Garter; secondly, to Sir Robert Wingfield, Knt., who in 1474 settled, amongst divers manors and estates in Norfolk and Cambridgeshire, the manors of Gnateshall, Corton, Newton, Lound, and Blundeston, with Lound advowson, in Suffolk, on themselves and their trustees. He died seized of these in 1480. In 1492, Anne, his widow, married, thirdly, John, Lord Scroop, of Bolton, who died in 1494. (fn. 11) On her death, without issue, the manor of Gonville's went to Margaret, her father's sister, the wife of Sir Robert Tuddenham, Knt. (fn. 12) On the 4th of April, sixth of James I., Robert Jettor conveyed to William Sydnor the site, manor, or member of a manor, called Blundeston, Gunvilles Blundeston, or Gunvilles cum pertin: and a close called Gunvilles, reputed the site of the said manor, containing six acres; another close called the Home-close, in Blundeston, and four several fish-ponds, with several waters and fishings in Blundeston and Flixton, and with covenant to levy a fine thereof to the use of the said William Sydnor, and his heirs. William Sydnor's eight daughters and co-heiresses conveyed it to William Heveningham. Both manors in this parish being thus united, were granted, with the advowson, to Lady Heveningham's trustees in 1661, as already shown.
Early in the seventeenth century, Sir Butts Bacon, created a Baronet on the 29th of July, 1627, possessed an estate and resided at Blundeston. He married Dorothy, daughter of Sir Henry Warner, of Parham, in Suffolk, Knt., and widow of William, second son of Sir Henry Jermyn, Knt., by whom he had three sons, Charles and Clement, who died without issue, and Sir Henry Bacon, his successor. He had also two daughters, Anne, the wife of Henry Kitchingman, of Blundeston Hall, and Dorothy, who married William Peck, of Cove. Sir Butts died in 1661, and his widow in 1679. They lie buried in Blundeston church. Soon after the year 1700, the estate of the Bacons was sold to the Allins of Somerleyton; and in 1770 became the property of Frances, the daughter of the Rev. Ashurst Allin, of whose executors it was purchased by Nicholas Henry Bacon, Esq., the second surviving son of the late Sir Edmund Bacon, Bart., of Raveningham, in Norfolk, who sold it in 1832 to Charles Steward, Esq., an officer in the Honourable East India Company's service, who is the present possessor. He married his first-cousin, Harriet, the only daughter, by his first wife, of Ambrose Harbord Steward, Esq., of Stoke Park, near Ipswich, High Sheriff for Suffolk in 1822, by whom he has an only son, Charles John.
The mansion erected on this estate has been termed at different periods Sydnors, and Blundeston Villa, but is now designated Blundeston House. The spot is more celebrated for the loveliness of its scenery than the grandeur of the residence, which is simply a good substantial house, erected in a style of unpretending architecture. But its verdant lawns and ample sparkling lake bear testimony of a long subjection to the hand of taste, which evidently still controls. The domain was many years the residence of the late Rev. Norton Nicholls. Mr. Mathias, an author well known by his 'Observations on the Character and Writings of Gray,' in a letter to a friend, occasioned by the death of this "rare and gifted man," terms his villa here "an oasis." Speaking of what Mr. Nicholls had perfected at Blundeston, he says, "if barbarous taste should not improve it, or some more barbarous land-surveyor level with the soil its beauties and its glories, (it) will remain as one of the most finished scenes of cultivated sylvan delight which this island can offer to our view." An aged pollard oak, and a summer-house placed at the termination of the lake, are said to have been favourite haunts of Gray, who was an occasional guest of Mr. Nicholls at Blundeston. In 1799, this gentleman entertained here the gallant Admiral Duncan, soon after his return to Yarmouth, crowned with the laurels won at Camperdown. Mr. Nicholls died on the 22nd of November, 1809, aged 68, and was buried at Richmond church, in Surrey. The vicinity of Blundeston House, while tenanted by Dr. Saunders, was some years since the scene of an unfortunate accident, which deprived that gentleman of life. Being in the act of reloading his double-barrelled gun, a favourite dog fawning upon him, sprung the trigger of the second barrel, and discharged the contents into his master's body. Dr. Saunders's melancholy fate is recorded in the 'Suffolk Chronicle' of October the 15th, 1814.
¶The lake, or Blundeston Great Water, as it is called in ancient writings, was the subject of a dispute in the reign of James I., very similar to that recorded at Ashby, as we learn from the following "exemplification of interrogatories to be administered on the part and behalf of John Ufflet, Gent., Henry Winston, Henry Doughtie, and Anne his wife, Thomas Stares, and Anthony Thornwood, complainants, against William Sydnor, Esq., and Henry Sydnor, Gent., deforcients; and of depositions taken at Lowestoft, on the 15th of March, in the seventh of James I., before Anthony Shardelow, William Southwell, William Cuddon, and Benedict Campe, Gents., by virtue of His Majesty's commission out of the Court of Chancery, to them directed. Richard Burman deposed, inter alia, that he knew the great water in Blundeston, called the common fenne, or common water, and the piece of ground called Hempwater green, containing about three acres; that the said water contained about sixteen or seventeen acres. That the messuage wherein Henry Sydnor then dwelt was sometimes of Maister Yarmouth. That the water and green had always been reputed as common. That the inhabitants fished in the water; wetted their hemp therein, and dried it on the green, and fed their cattle thereon. William Pynne deposed, inter alia, that he did not know that the said William Sydnor or Humphrey Yarmouth had any manor in the said towne; nor that there were more manors therein than the manor of Mr. Jettor, called Gunvilles. Robert Jettor deposed that the water is called the common water of Blundeston in a court-roll of the manor of Blundeston Gonville, dated the thirty-first of Henry VIII., and that he did not know that Mr. Yarmouth, or the defendants, had any manor in Blundeston, or that there was any other manor therein than his, called Blundeston Gonvilles. John Wood deposed, inter alia, that the said William Sydnor had obtained the leases from divers owners of sundry messuages or dwelling-houses in Blundeston, of their interests of their fishing in the said great water about twenty years sithence, and that he had before that sued some of the inhabitants of the said towne for having fished therein. That he and another, then churchwardens of Blundeston, did sell the alders growing in or near the said water, and did convert the money to the reparations of the town-house, and that other inhabitants did take poles, splints, and other wood growing there, &c. That he had heard that Mr. Yarmouth did keep courts in Blundeston, and had tenants therein, and that this deponent did hold of Mr. Sydnor, who had Mr. Yarmouth's estate, three acres of land, &c., and that Mr. Jettor had a manor in Blundeston, &c. Interrogatories to be administered to the witnesses to be produced on the part and behalf of William Sydnor, Esq., and Henry Sydnor, Gent., complainants, against Henry Winston, &c., deforcients. Inter alia. Do you know that Humphrey Yarmouth, Esq., deceased, was seized of the manor of Blundeston in Blundeston, and of land covered with water, containing forty acres, and which, on his death, descended to Henry Yarmouth, his son, also dead; who sold the same to William Sydnor; and that they severally held courts-baron, &c. And whether Humphrey Yarmouth, and Henry Yarmouth, his son, and William Sydnor afterwards, did not present to the living on the death or resignation of the incumbents. If the house wherein Henry Sydnor then dwelt was not called Blundeston Hall in court-rolls and writings. Whether, in the twenty-eighth of Elizabeth, in a controversy between the said William Sydnor, lord of Blundeston, and owner of the water, with the inhabitants as to the same being common or not, the dispute was not referred to Sir Edward Coke, then Attorney-General, and afterwards Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, and to Richard Godfrey, Esq. Whether in the thirty-first of Elizabeth there was not a similar dispute, and that it was amicably settled by the said Henry Winston and certain others of the inhabitants agreeing to release their rights of fishing in the water, and that they should have in lieu thereof, a certain driftway thereto from the highway, near the mansion of the said William Sydnor, and a certain piece of land at the end of the said water, containing three acres, for their use, and the feed thereof; and to wet hemp in the water, and dry the same on the said three acres of land, and might dig the soil and carry it away therefrom, and also from Mill Hill, in Belton Heath, and the timber, &c., growing on the said way for repairing the town-house; and whether the said agreement was not carried into execution; and if complainants did not for twelve years quietly enjoy the water, &c., after the execution of the releases. And whether, before the agreement, the inhabitants had a right to take the land, gravel, &c.; and if complainant did not clear the water, and make a bank, &c., for the fowl to breed, &c."
he Church at Blundeston,
which is a rectory dedicated to St. Mary, and now consolidated with the adjoining benefice of Flixton, is valued in the King's books at £13. 6s. 8d. It is a singular edifice, comprising a nave and chancel, with a remarkably high-pitched roof, covered with thatch. The tower, which is circular and small in diameter, rises but little above the ridge of the nave, and looks more like a chimney than a steeple. It exhibits decided marks of Norman erection, and was probably attached to an earlier edifice than the present church, which, apparently incorporating the north wall of the ancient nave, seems raised on a wider ground-plan, thereby bringing the apex of the western gable to the southward of the tower, and producing a very inharmonious effect. The masonry of both nave and chancel is composed of large squared flints, but the walls of the latter bulge outwards in a threatening angle, and foretell a speedy dissolution. The interior is lofty and effective, and very neatly kept; and a carved oaken screen beneath the chancel arch is well deserving of observation. The lower compartments of this screen were in olden days richly painted and gilt, as the accidental discovery of one portion, by the removal of some boards, fortunately evinces. This splendid example of ancient art forms an illustration to the present work, and has been engraved from the faithful pencil of the late Miss Dowson, of Yarmouth. St. Peter pointing to the keys of Heaven and Hell, and an angel with uplifted hands assuring us of our salvation through the passion of Christ, occupy the two compartments of a pointed arch, richly backed by a crimson ground, diapered with gold. There is a stiffness in the attitude of each figure, and a harshness of outline visible here, as in the works of more celebrated artists, even at a later period; but these paintings are, nevertheless, extremely interesting, as illustrating the success of art in England in the fifteenth century. There is a small piscina in the chancel, and some oaken benches in the body of the church of excellent workmanship, and an ancient benetura near the south door. In the tower hang two bells, one of which was brought from the ruinated church of the adjoining village of Flixton. The body of the church, which presents a far less fearful aspect than the chancel, has lately undergone considerable renovation, and is indebted to the zeal of Mr. Steward for the preservation of many of its ancient features.
Reginald Wynstone, by his last will, dated the 14th of April, 1438, leaves his body to be buried within the church of Blundeston, and constitutes William Wynstone and John Wynstone, his sons, his executors. In the Lansdowne MSS. (fn. 13) is a note, taken apparently about the year 1573, of several armorial cognizances which then ornamented the windows of this building. "In the chancel windows. Arg. a lion sable. FitzOsbert and Jerningham. Quarterly, arg. and b. quarterly indented, a bend gules. Arg. a cross engrailed gules. Bloundeville, or and b. quarterly, indented, a bend gules, sided with Gurney. Gules, 3 gemelles or, a canton ermine, billetted sable. Sable a cross sarsele or, betwixt four scallops arg. Sable, a chevron arg. between 3 cinquefoils or."—"In the church, gul. a lion argent. Arg. 3 buckles lozengy gules, Jernegan. Gu. and b. pale, on a fess wavy arg., 3 crescents sab. betwixt three crosses pale or. Blundeville and Inglos. Erm. on a chevron sab., 3 crescents or, syded with Nownton. Sir Ed. Jenney, erm. a bend gul. cotised or, quartering sab. a chevr. twyxt 3 buckles argent. Or and g. barre unde. Castell, gu., 3 castells arg. Sab. a chev. gules, droppe or, twixt 3 cinquefoils pserd ermine. Or and b. checke. Paston, Bolaine, Nawton, and Barney, Nawton and Howard. Or 3 chev. gu., on each 3 ermines arg. sided with Nawton. Sampson syded with Felbrig. Felbrig, on his shoulder a mullet arg. Bedingfeld quartering Tuddenham, and one of Knevett single."
Monuments.—There is an old floor-stone with a cross, but no other ancient memorials, in this church. Among the more modern are the following:
Robertus Snelling, Rector, obt. Sep. 12, 1690, æt. 65. Hic jacet Butts Bacon, Baronettus, Nicholai Bacon, Angliæ Baronetti primi filius septimus, qui obiit Maij 29, 1661. Dorothea Bacon, his widow, obt. Sep. 4, 1679. Arms. Bacon.
Elizabeth, daughter of John Burkin, of Burlingham, died Jan. 26, 1735. She was first married to the Rev. Mr. Gregory Clarke, and after his decease to the Rev. Mr. Thomas Carter.
¶Samuel Luson, died July 7, 1766, aged 33. Luson bears, quarterly, 1st and 4th, az. and gul., 3 sinister hands arg., 2nd and 3rd, erm., 3 roses. . . . Sarah Keziah Thurtell, died May 29th, 1833, aged 18 years. William Wales, died June 8, 1710, aged 63. Gregory Clarke, Christi minister, died 3 Ides of Jan. 1726, aged 45. William Sydnor, Esq., died 1613. Robert Brown, died Sep. 6, 1813, aged 52 years. Mary, his daughter, Aug. 18, 1812, aged 22 years. Sarah, wife of John Clark, widow of the above Robert Brown, died Nov. 16, 1818, aged 59. Elizabeth, second wife of James Thurtell, of Flixton, died June 15, 1823, aged 75 years. Elizabeth, wife of John Clark, died Jan. 28, 1801, aged 28 years. John Clark, died Oct. 7, 1826, aged 57 years. Stephen Saunders, M. D., born 17th Oct. 1777, died 1st Oct. 1814. Timothy Steward, of Great Yarmouth, died 25th of June, 1836. Mary, his wife, daughter of John Fowler, and Ann, his wife, died 22 Jan. 1837. Arms. Steward, quarterly, 1st and 4th. Or, a fess chequee arg. and az.; 2nd and 3rd, arg., a lion ramp. gules, debruised with a bendlet raguly or, impales Fowler, az. on a fess between 3 lions pass. guard, or, as many crosses patonce sable.
The registers of Blundeston commence in 1558. They contain several notices of monies collected by Brief in aid of sufferers by fire in distant parts of England. Among others, "To a loss by fire at ye head of ye Cannon-gate at Edinburgh, in North Britain, Jan. 13, 1708/9, 1s. 6d." The advowson of Blundeston with Flixton was sold in 1844, by Lord Sydney Osborne, to Thomas Morse, Esq., of Blundeston.