Norfolk: Hunstanton


William White's History, Gazetteer, and Directory of Norfolk 1845

[Transcription copyright © Paul Beesley]

HUNSTANTON is a pleasantly situated village, on an eminence, with a declivity to the east, opening into a fine valley, and terminated on the north west by that lofty sea cliff called Gore, or St. Edmund's Point,- being distant 10 miles W. of Burnham-Market, and 17 miles N. by E. of Lynn. Commanding an extensive view of the ocean, and having a firm sandy beach, with much beautiful scenery in its vicinity, it offers many temptations as a bathing place, though it has yet only two or three private lodging-houses, and one public house.

Its parish contains 527 inhabitants, and 2,005 acres of land, including the decayed parish of Barrett Ringstead, and belonging to Henry L'Estrange Styleman Le Strange, Esq., the lord of the manor, who, in 1835-6, completely renovated Hunstanton Hall, which is seated in a beautiful park, and has for many ages been the seat of the distinguished family of L'Estrange, who held the manor on condition that they should send two soldiers to defend Rising Castle; but their estates were divided between the two sisters of the last baronet.

The present owner of Hunstanton is the son of the late Henry Styleman, Esq., and has recently assumed the sirname (sic) of Le Strange. As lord paramount of Smithdon Hundred, he claims all royalties appertaining to the sea and the shore.

Sir Roger L'Estrange, who died in 1506, and to whose memory there is a fine brass in the church, built the greater part of the hall; but the noble entrance gate-house was built by another of the same name, in the reign of Henry VIII.

Sir Roger L'Estrange, Kt., born in 1616, espoused the Royal cause in the civil wars of Charles I.; and in 1644, he intended to surprise the town of Lynn; but his plans being divulged by two of his associates, he was seized, tried and condemned to death, but this punishment was commuted for imprisonment in Newgate, where he escaped in 1648, and fled to the continent.

After the Restoration, he became a great political writer, and established a newspaper called, "The Public Intelligencer and the News;" but this was given up to make room for the London Gazette, commenced Feb. 4th, 1666. By way of compensation, Sir Roger was appointed "licenser of the press," a post at that time of some trust and profit; but he was not knighted till the accession of James II., whose queen anagramed his name into "Strange lying Roger." He died in 1704 in his 88th year.

Hunstanton Cliff, which rises to the height of from 60 to 100 feet above the beach, is commonly called St. Edmund's Point, from a tradition that Edmund the martyr landed here, when he was brought from Germany to be crowned King of East Anglia. He is said to have built a tower here, in which he resided while he committed to memory the whole book of Psalms, in compliance with a previous vow. Some remains of an old chapel on the cliff, dedicated to St. Edmund, probably gave rise to this story.

A well in the parish also bears the name of the name of the Royal martyr; but is sometimes called the seven springs.

The LIGHT HOUSE, which was built on the cliff, by the late Edward Everard, Esq., was a wooden structure, but has given place to a larger and more durable structure, erected about 8 years ago, by the Brethren of the Trinity House, London, and rising 49 feet to the focus of the light, which, by means of dioptrical reflectors, casts a bright red hue across the broad Wash. The stupendous cliff, on which it stands, commands an extensive view of the ocean and the Lincolnshire coast, as far as the floating light and Boston church. The sea comes up against it with great force, and is said to have gained upon it more than ten yards during the last 60 years, though its stratification consists chiefly of white chalk, hard red clunch, dirty yellow coloured stones, with an exceedingly hard rock of iron-coloured carr-stone at the base.

On certain great refluxes of the tides, called a dead neap, about the end of September, persons may walk or ride about two miles down the sands to a place called the oyster sea, where, in the season, are caught skaite, oysters, lobsters, turbots, bredcocks, sandlings, soles, maids, plaice, salmon, trout, hornpikes, and, occasionally, smelts.

The coast, on each side of the cliff, is secured against the incursions of the ocean, by immense sand heaps, called meales, and abounding in rabbits. Here is no harbour, but coal vessels unlade their cargoes on the beach.

Hunstanton CHURCH (Virgin Mary,) is a large regular pile, with a square tower and one bell, at the west end of the north aisle. It has a handsome south porch, and an antique Norman font; also several fine brasses in memory of the L'Estranges, and one to Edmund Green and his wife, dated 1490. The vicarage, valued in the King's Book at £12, and in 1831 at £184, is now enjoyed by the Rev. Samuel Cross.

The Bishop of Norwich is patron and appropriator of the great tithes, which are held on lease, by H.L.S. Le Strange, Esq., who contributes liberally towards the support of the Free School, which was built here in 1842, at the cost of £300, bequeathed by Henry Stocking, in 1826; but not paid till the termination of a long suit in Chancery.

Pursuant to an agreement made in 1707, the lord of the manor of Hunstanton, for the use of 16A. of land left by Robert Gibson, in 1591, pays yearly the value of ten coombs of barley, one half for the use of the church, and the other for the relief of the poor.

         Le Strange  Henry L'Estrange  Hunstanton Hall
                       Styleman, Esq.
         Beloe       William           (schoolmr. at Lynn)
         Callaby     Ezekiel           blacksmith
         Edwards     Rev. Edw., M.A.   (& Lynn)
         Hall        John              lodging house keeper
         Hamerton    Miles             druggist & earthenware dealer,
                                         Post Office
         Hammond     Wm.               assist. light keeper
         Harrison    John              vict., Le Strange Arms
         Hogge       Lieut. Edward     commander of the Coast-Guard
         Howard      Saml. Lee         light house keeper
         Miller      William           builder
         Rippingale  John              gardener
         Rouse       Mrs. & Misses     seminary
         Rumble      John              parish clerk
         Russell     George            grocer and draper
         Scott       Joseph            Free School master
         Taylor      Robert            bricklayer
         Wassell     Mary Ann          boarding house
         Wicks       John              butcher
         Willoughby  Fras.             butcher, (lodgings)
         Willoughby  Francis, jun.     butcher
         Carter      John Thos.        (& land agent)
         Hunn        John
         Spanton     John              Lodge
         Chapman     Thomas
         Cook        William           beer house
         Hamerton    Miles
         Scarfe      William
         Taylor      John
         Burgis      William
         Collison    William
         Wales       Charles

Thos. Wales, to Lynn, tu. & thu.

MAIL to Wells, 9½ morning; & to Lynn, ¼ before 5 evening.

See also the Hunstanton parish page.

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Copyright © Pat Newby.
September 1999