Norfolk: Hempstead and Eccles-by-the-Sea


William White's History, Gazetteer, and Directory of Norfolk 1883

[Transcription copyright © Peter Green]

HEMPSTEAD and ECCLES-BY-THE-SEA are two ancient parishes, now forming consolidated (for poor law purposes) but distinct ecclesiastical parishes. They are in Smallburgh union, Happing hundred, Happing and Tunstead petty sessional division, North Walsham county court district, Norwich bankruptcy district, Stalham polling district of North Norfolk, Waxham rural deanery, and Norfolk archdeaconry. The united parish has a rateable value of £2055, and a gross estimated rental of £2307.

HEMPSTEAD is a village 8 miles E. by S. of North Walsham, and 3½ miles N.E. by E. of Stalham. Mrs. Blake, of Bramerton, owns most of the soil, and is lady of the manor. Hempstead and Lessingham both belonged to Godwin, Earl of Kent, the father of Harold. Hempstead eventually came into the possession of the family of De Colekirk.

The CHURCH (St. Andrew) is an ancient thatched fabric, consisting of nave, chancel, south porch, and square embattled tower with three bells, and was restored in 1879, at a cost of £800. The twelve lower panels of the chancel screen have painted figures of saints upon them, and the font is ornamented with the symbols of the Evangelists.

The living is a rectory, valued in the King's Book at £7.2s.6d., and now at £552, with that of Lessingham annexed to it. It is in the patronage of King's College, Cambridge, and incumbency of the Rev. John Eyre Yonge, M.A., who has a neat brick residence near the church, built nearly sixty years ago. The glebe is 47A.3R.34P., and the tithes of Hempstead were commuted in 1840, for £290 per annum.

The poor's pasture consists of nine acres, let for £12, and was awarded at enclosure. The poor have also the interest of £32, and a yearly rent of 3s.4d., left by Mr. A.C. Grey.

ECCLES-BY-THE-SEA, 9 miles E. by S. of North Walsham, is a decayed parish, once a noted fishing town, with a lordship of 2000 acres, but so wasted by the incursions of the ocean, that the inhabitants, in their petition for a reduction of taxes, in 1605, complained that they had then only 14 houses, and 300 acres of land, 'the rest being all destroyed by the sea, together with the church.' It had only 17 inhabitants in 1881, and comprises 253 acres of land divided into two farms, occupied by John Clements and Jeremiah Whittaker. Charles Lombe, Esq., is lord of the manor.

Eccles CHURCH (St. Mary) was destroyed about 300 years ago, as noticed above; but the tower and part of the walls are still standing. The tower is round at the base and octagonal above, and is about 9 feet in diameter. The remains of the walls of the church are about 6 feet high and 3 feet thick, but were entirely covered by the accumulated sand hills, which had been thrown up by the sea and served as barriers against the encroachments of the tides, till the great storm of November, 1862, swept the greater portion of them away.

The benefice, a vicarage, valued in the King's Book at £8, is in the gift of the Rev. H.E. Lombe. The Rev. J.F. Osborn, of Norwich, is the incumbent, and has a yearly rent-charge of £58.10s. in lieu of tithes; but owing to the want of a church, this is a sinecure benefice, and the inhabitants use the church at Hempstead, with which parish they have long been united for the support of the poor.

POST from Norwich, via Stalham.


         Balls      Henry           market gardener,
                                      and at Bradwell, Suffolk
         Bartram    John            farmer
         Ives       George          farmer; h. Bradfield
         Littlewood Charles Fabb    farmer, Hall farm
         Pestell    John            farm bailiff
         Thompson   James           farm bailiff
         Ward       Henry           farmer
         Worts      Thomas          farmer; h. Sutton
         Yonge      Rev. John Eyre  rector, Rectory, and vicar of
                      M.A.            Lessingham; and rural dean
                                      of Waxham, Happing division


         Clements   John            farmer, Hall farm
         Whittaker  Jeremiah        farmer

See also the Hempstead near Stalham and Eccles-by-the-Sea parish pages.

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Copyright © Pat Newby.
April 2001