THE MEDIEVAL PERIOD
Ashby is not mentioned in the Suffolk Domesday.
The first documented information comes from the time of Henry II (1154-1189 AD) with mention of lands held by Robert le Pene, Alice Smethe, and Osbert, and in the time of King John (1199-1216 AD) and Henry III (1216-1272 AD) by Henry Smethe, Alan de Rus, Henry and Margaret de Steyngat, Geoffrey Sibilie, Warrin Stubbelle, Geoffrey de Hil, Eldred Leman, Ralph de la Dale, William le Neve, Robert del Bures, William le Rede, and Robert de Fretun (Fritton ?). Other interesting names from 1290 onwards are Edward Bee, Richard Crystmes, Thomas Bryd and Silliam Sygoo.
Mention is made of the members of the Askeby family who held the Manor - Geoffrey (c.1210), John (c.1241) Jordan, and john. There is reference in 1270 to the grant of lands near 'Gunildes Mere' (Fritton Lake). Copinger, that exact recorder of Suffolk Manuscripts, also mentions a number of grants of lands by John de Askeby, son of Jordan de Askeby in the period 1270-1280AD. There is an interesting record of a grant of land by Stephen, son of William de Askeby, clerk, to John, son of Robert de Manetorp, and Thomas his son, of land in Manthorpe C.1280 AD. This area, which till the early 17th century lay S.E. of Somerleyton Hall, gave its name to Manthorpe Green, in Somerleyton. It has now disappeared from the map, and is only preserved in the name of Green Farm, Somerleyton.
In 1280 Geoffrey, son of John de Askeby, made grants of lands, a mill, in Ashby, Somerleyton, Belton, Lound and Leystoft, to John de Inglose, his nephew - a relationship which carries us over from the Askeby family into the Inglose family.
And so, in 1269, the Lord of the Manor was John de Askeby or Ashby, granting commons to Alice Bond. A few years later, his son Jeffrey received certain lands with the rights of commonage in all the commons of Ashby, a right extended to Jeffrey's heirs. In 1292, Jeffrey found himself at the centre of a dispute with a certain Robert over a fold-course erected at Ashby, which had been done without permission. The result was that Jeffrey was to be paid half-a-mark for which Robert retained his foldage.
By the time of Edward II (1307-1327 AD) the Manor of Ashby had passed to the Inglose family - originally of Golosa, near Loddon. The Inglose family (a corruption of Golosa) had anciently held lands under the Albiny family, Earls of Arundel. In 1209 William de Inglose was Lord of the Manor of Golosa, and was succeeded by Hervey, then by Martin his son c.1250, then by Reginald his son by Deed sans dare. In 1275 Reginald's son, John, held not only Golosa but also Castle Rising. Although John de Askeby Knt was in 1290 described as 'Lord of the Manor of Ashby', by 1312 John de Inglose is presenting to the Church of Ashby in 1312, and by 1335 his son Robert is granting lands with free foldage in Ashby. This same Robert may be the one buried in St. Margaret's Church, Lowestoft, and dated 1365 but the date is inaccurate, as Joan his wife was a widow in 1361 AD and enjoying lands in Ashby at that time.
For some unknown reason - unless it be that the Inglose family, always great military men and great fighters, were involved in the baronial in-fighting during the latter years of Richard II and early years of Henry IV, there being a lull in the French Wars - in 1397 the capital message (i.e. Ashby Manor) was in the holding of a Nicholas Wychingham who in that year leased it to John Atte Grove with church lands. In 1400 it was held by Thomas Ashman, but in 1402 it was reported to be held by Anna, wife of Henry Inglose. Presumably Henry had married in the meantime, but was still tilting his lance in the battle field.
In 1414 Henry Inglose who held Ashby, took a libel action against Sir John Tiptoft in the court of the Earl Marshal. Tiptoft had retained Henry with 16 lances and several archers but he refused to pay him for his services. Henry, in true character, declared he was ready to prove his cause in the lists, by the help of God and St. George, by the law and customs of arms. Seven years later, Sir Henry was serving in the French Wars and was taken prisoner at the Battle of Beauge le Viel, in which battle the Duke of Clarence was killed when the English forces were defeated by the combined force of French and Scots under the Earl of Buchan. In 1427 Henry acted as proxy for Sir John Fastolf when Henry VI bestowed the Knight of the Garter on him. He died in 1451 AD after marrying Ann (second wife?) the daughter and heiress of Robert Gyney of Haverland in Norfolk and through her inherited the Ashby Manor. By his will dated 20th June 1451, he devised his manors of Dilham and Loddon etc to Henry his son and heir, but it was his second son, Robert Inglose, who became lord of the Manor of Ashby to which church he presented in 1458 AD. His daughter, Catharine, married Richard Blundeville, and they both lived at Ashby.
The fortunes of the Inglose family were now coming to an end. In the time of Henry VIII, c.1510 AD, we find the Manor House leased by Elinor Jenny to Peter Nabbys. In 1515 AD Ralph Blomvyle and his wife Constantia of Ashby Manor sold out to Edward Jernegan who actually died 6th January 1515, so the sale was probably to his son. We find recorded, a "Capital Messuage, with 40 acres, 6 acres of meadow, 6 of pasture, 40 of briery, 8 shillings in rent and the advowson of the church". Edward's great-grandson John in 1575 was in possession of the "Fish-house at Ashby, two ponds, lying on the East of the Manor, and the whord called the 'old whord', all of the manor of Ashby", together with several waters in Ashby called Fritton Fen. In 1577 he leased to one Godfrey all his fowling rights on Firtton Fen, and also on the Commons. An average year produced 100 brace of teal, and two brace of mullards. In the following year he leased out certain premises in Ashby excepting hunting, hawking, fishing and fowling. The canons, rarely more than 6, from St. Olaves Priory, had freedom to fish in Fritton Decoy and to use the (two) fish ponds or stews. In 1378 AD they already held two messuages (houses with yards), 42 acres of land, 2 acres of meadow, 3 acres of marsh, which were occupied by Edmund de Castleton and others. In 1534 AD a Deed was drawn up for a proposed marriage between George Jernegan son of John Jernegan, son of Edward and Elizabeth the daughter of Sir John Spelman, with a settlement of lands. A year later, John Jernegan granted lands in Ashby to Sir Thomas Bedyngfeld Knt in connection with this marriage.
In 1587 John Wentworth of Darsham purchased the Manor of Ashby with 4 messuages, 3 gardens, 50 acres of land, 20 of meadow, 40 of pasture, 10 of wood, 200 of furze and heath, 10 of marsh, and 10 of alder, with free foldage in Ashby, the advowson of the church, and 40 shillings a year from rents.
It was about this time that great changes took place in the siting of the village - from remains thrown up by the plough, there is sufficient evidence to suggest that the medieval village lay round the church, with the Green on the east. Tiles have come to light in the field south and east of the church. To the east of the Church there is a row of some 5 pits, heavily wooded now and with water in the bottom two. At the turn of the century fish were being caught in them and it was thought at one time that these were fish ponds - in addition to the Fish stews on the south shore of the Decoy. However, they are more likely to have been marl or clay pits, in medieval use for the building of the houses round the church. Later they filled with water, and maybe then, they were in use as fish ponds.