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History of Herringfleet and St. Olave's
part 5: The Medieval manors


There were two manors in Herringfleet:-

i. The Manor Loudham and Titshall (the site of the present Manor Farm) at the

south-east end of the parish.

Ii The Manor of the Priory of St. Olaves at the North-west end of the parish.


This was on the site, and grew out of, the earlier Manor of Saxon-Viking times, and is a site with a long history. Since we know that from 1275AD to almost the end of the 16th century the manor was in the possession of two families, the de Loudhams and Jennys, it may be an intelligent guess to say that the name of Titshall associated with this site was before 1275AD. Coppinger mentions that a John de Tityshall or Titshall was lord of the manor, and in Reeves' notes there are listed agreements between the incoming Roger de Loudham and John Tetyshall who held lands from Roger for which he paid 6 shillings a year - this gives a holding before 1275AD. A rent of this size would suggest a considerable area and it may be that the Titshall family, the one-time holders of the manor had by now fallen on comparatively bad times. Certainly by 1631AD the manor was consolidated to include the Titshall area and was styled 'the manor of Loudham and Titshall'. Suckling records that in the time of Henry III (1216-72) when the Fitz Osberts were lords of the manor of Somerleyton, Roger de Loudham was granted a hamlet in Herringfleet adjoining Somerleyton - in due course Roger de Loudham became lord of the manor of Herringfleet. The Loudhams were an ancient Suffolk family. The arms of the Fitz Osberts and Jarnegans (sic) were at one time on the Rood Loft of Titshall St. Mary Church but are now lost. It may be that there is a connection here with John de Titshall, the post-Conquest lord of the manor, responsible for the raising of the second stage of the tower and the building of the Norman chancel - a predecessor of Roger de Titshall.


John de Loudham

1275 Robert de Loudham - a 'Justice of the Jews' and probably builder of the second manor

house on the site

c.1300 John de Loudham

1318 Roger de Loudham

? Roger de Loudham

? Roger de Loudham

1346 Sir Roger de Loudham (ob.s.p.)

1357 John de Loudham (brother of the above) and Isabel his wife

1400 John de Loudham (nephew of the above)

1430 Sir William Jenny

1483 Sir Edmund Jenny (son and heir of the above)

1522 Francis Jenny

1542 Robert Jenny

1559 John Jenny

Thomas Jenny (ob.1590)

1590 John Ufflet

1631 John Ufflet, son of the above. He conveyed the manor to John Hammond and it now

includes Bramstons. Ufflet was then living at Ditchingham

1632 Richard Hammond, son and heir of the aforementioned John Hammond also of


1650 Thomas Medowe, Alderman of Great Yarmouth

Included in this conveyance to Medowe were the Fishery in Jenny's Ham, one swan mark, warren, and the passage over the rive Waveney from St. Olaves to Haddiscoe Dam. We know the extent of this manor - 290 acres, with the capital messuage of the Manor House and yards. In 1651, Henry Rede of Weston, Suffolk, and Edward Rede of North Cove released all their rights in the manor to Thomas Medowe - this probably relates to the Reedens shown in the 1724 map as lands opposite the manor house, over the road, and adjacent to the present site of St. Margaret's house. The 'readings' contiguous to White House Farm relate to Edward Reading of Hammersmith who married Judith the daughter of Thomas Medowe. White House Farm is next to Great and Little Readings (9 acres) and Readings Grove - possibly Edward Reading built the original White House in Herringfleet enclosing the land next to the house. The triangular piece of land in front of this house was once common land across which the parish boundary was said to

run by the early Ordnance Surveyors, but through the researches of Dr. Smith Wynne, this view was corrected for all future O.S. maps - the Herringfleet boundary runs along Market Lane.


Sir Thomas Medowe took over the ancient manor of Loudham and Titshall in 1650AD. His father, also Thomas, was elected bailiff of Yarmouth in 1617 and again in 1629. His son Thomas in his younger days showed a distinct sympathy with the Parliamentary cause, unlike his father, and in 1634 came out in strong opposition to the Ship Money, being sent to Norwich and London to organise resistance to it. But within a year he had changed his mind, and Charles I overlooked his previous radicalism by naming him in a Royal Warrant as Commissioner for the levying of the ship money. In 1635 in this capacity he attended Sir John Wentworth, his close friend at Somerleyton, and High Sheriff, at the King's Head, Norwich and paid over to him ?1,000 which was part of the rate from the citizens of Yarmouth. His true sympathies also emerged later in 1643 when Lord Grey wrote to the bailiffs requesting 80 Dragoons immediately for the defence of Cambridge against the king's forces, although Yarmouth had officially declared itself for Parliament. Medowe proved sluggish in his response - he pointed out to Grey that the Yarmouth folk were but poor fishermen, who would "cut a sorry figure on horseback" apart from the poverty rampant in the town. In due course Medowe's house (which he had only just built on Fuller's Hill, Yarmouth) was requisitioned by the Parliamentary forces under Col. Russell, who much to the dismay of the Yarmouth folk, was also appointed military governor there.

Medowe's true colours were revealed in 1648 when he and many others stoutly "declared openly that they would stand for the King and Parliament according to the National Covenant" - they refused to allow any large numbers of Parliamentary solders under Fleetwood to enter the town and in no uncertain terms stated that they "would not allow any drum to be beaten, nor suffer him (i.e. Col. Fleetwood) to exercise any power or authority whatsoever in the town". In July 1648 Medowe failed in his attempt to stop Col. Scroope entering the town but he did prevent Scroope from raising his commission of 600 foot and 50 horse from the town. Medowe said that the Yarmouth folk were quite capable of defending themselves. In August 1648 he was at Somerleyton Hall, waiting upon Cromwell's son-in-law Commissioner Ireton who was then a 'guest' there, but unfortunately for Yarmouth Medowe was unable to prevent Ireton's solders from going through the town every sabbath and entering "all inns, alehouse, taverns, and tipling houses, and all persons found therein or about the town and absenting themselves from the service of God" were dragged before the bailiffs for punishment. This, together with the burden of billetting the Parliamentary solders, the arrival in September 1648 of Lord Fairfax and his large retinue, followed by Col. Barkstead's regiment, garrisoned in the town, proved too much, too embarrassing for Medowe. He did allow his name to go forward as Bailiff at Michaelmas 1648 but in February 1649 having received a letter from Miles Corbet "forbidding them to proclaim Charles Stuart Prince of Wales or any other to be King (Charles I had been beheaded on 30th. January 1649)" Medowe now registered his disgust at the way the revolution had gone, and although he did not retire from the Bailiffe's office, he did retire from the business of the Corporation, and took no more active part in Yarmouth affairs till after the Restoration.

It was in this period, 1650 on, that Thomas Medowe took over the Herringfleet manor of Loudham and Titshall - the manor house bears the date of his restoration work (1655) in iron clads on the west wall, three years after his restoration of the Tithe Barn

(1652) which bears the date in stone of the south end of the barn. Since the Hammonds had been absentee landlords from 1632 on, the house and barn probably needed a great amount of repair and attention.

At the Restoration of 1660 Medowe emerges with his convictions justified - he again entered the Corporation and headed a deputation from Yarmouth to Charles II carrying propitiatory offerings in the form of arrears of the fee farm rents due to the Crown, previously appropriated by the Parliamentarians. He was knighted the 16th. Of August 1660 and chosen High Sheriff of Norfolk in 1661, his estate at that time being ?2,000 p.a. In 1662 he was elected Bailiff and in the full flush of confidence, the triumphant royalists now disowned Lord Henry Cromwell as High Steward and elected in his place Hyde, the Lord Chancellor and Earl of Clarendon to whom Medowe sent a "tun of claret". The Corporation followed with gifts of 3 barrels of whiting and 2 barrels of red herring. Medowe was instrumental in raising funds to enable solders to return home, but he had his local enemies - Smith, a local butcher, declared stoutly that Medowe was a fool and that he "had killed many a bull of 30 shillings price with more brains than Sir Thomas had" - he was fined ?10. In 1671 Medowe was again Bailiff, by now reimbursed for his losses. Further terms of office followed, as Bailiff again in 1682, and then as Yarmouth's first Mayor under the Charter of Charles II dated 22nd. July 1684 when the form of government was changed from that of the two Bailiffs to a Mayor. George Ward was the last co-Bailiff and he retired from that office Oct. 18th. 1684 and Thomas Godfrey commuted the Bailiff's offices to that of Town Clerk, leaving Medowe in sole charge under the new Charter. Medowe died in 1688 under arbitrary dismissal from his alderman's place by James II, with 16 other members of the Corporation. His wife had died two years before and is buried in the chancel of

Bardwell Church. They had four children. Thomas who died an infant, Judith who inherited Herringfleet, Anne of Somerleyton who died at the age of 42 and was buried at Bardwell - she was unmarried - and Frances who died in 1727 having married Thomas Hayes of Cradfield. Though entitled to bear arms Sir Thomas frequently preferred to seal with his merchant's mark.

1686 Judith Medowe

1706 Margaret Deeds - to whom the manor was mortgaged; she later foreclosed the mortgage

and by her will dated 24th. March 1718 devices the manor to Thomas Bramston.

1718 Thomas Bramston, of Screens, Essex.

In 1731 because of debts, Bramston had to indenture the manor to Sir Robert Abdy.

It was restored to Bramston 3 years later together with the sheepwalk, the Ferry at St.

Olaves (sic) the swan mark and the fishery rights.

1743 Hill Mussenden - in December 1733 he had already purchased the Priory Manor, so from

now on both manors descended together.

In his Will proved 30th. November 1772 Hill Mussenden Leathes charged the estate with an annuity to Edward Mussenden his natural son for life, and an annuity of ?25 for life to Jane Fuller the mother of Edward - this was probably the origin of the Leathes

branch of the family which had a long run at Normanston Lowestoft. (The house has recently been demolished). The name Mussenden came into the Leathes family when John Mussenden (ob.1700) married Jane Leathes daughter of Adam Leathes in conformity with his uncle William Leathes' Will.

1773 Carteret Mussenden (Leathes) of Bury St. Edmunds - devices to by the Will of his

brother Hill Mussenden Leathes who died s.p. in 1772. He was MP for Sudbury and

Harwich 1727-1740.

1778 John Leathes of Reedham, son of Carteret. Died 1787 s.p.

1787 Elizabeth Leathes, wife of the above. Married Merry 1803.

Anthony Merry, born in the parish of St. Laurence Pountney in London on the 2nd. August 1756 entered the British Foreign service in 1783 and was Consul at Majorca in the Balearic Islands - an appointment which cost almost all his fortune. He was proficient in Spanish and had considerable knowledge in the commercial field. In June 1787 he became Consul General at Madrid and as charg? d'affaires acted with great ability in the dispute between Britain and Spain over the Nootka Sound in N. America (Vancouver Island). He remained at Madrid as Consul General till 1796 when Spain and France declared war with Britain. In April 1799 he became Consul General to Denmark, Prussia, and Sweden with his consulate at Copenhagen, and in Oct. 1801 proved invaluable to the diplomatically inexperienced Cornwallis who headed the British embassy sent to Amiens to negotiate peace with France. After a short time as British Minister in Paris, in 1802, in which he distinguished himself by his observations on the

rising aggressive moves of Napoleon, he was appointed on the 29th. Jan. 1803 (8 days after his marriage to Elizabeth Leathes) as His Britannic Majesty's envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary to the USA and held the post till 1806. Punningly known as 'Toujours Gai' he was "most perfectly adapted for the posts he held - a grave, reserved man with a great talent for business and meticulous attention to detail, a plain unassuming practical and sensible man". Elizabeth accompanied him to America

and the story is excellently told by Prof. Malcolm Lester of Davidson College N. Carolina, in a recent book on Merry, who after the death of Elizabeth in 1824 went to live at Dedham House near the village of Dedham in Essex and died there in 1835.

During his stay at Herringfleet 1806-1824 he did many improvements to the Hall - for which Elizabeth was later to reimburse him in her Will.

Elizabeth was a charming hostess and good conversationalist with a scholarly interest in botany. At times overbearing she was not immune to flattery. Jefferson thought she disturbed the harmony of Washington (female) society but the loudness of her voice was probably due in part to the fact that she never lost her Suffolk dialect. She didn't have it all her own way in Washington - Professor Lester recalls the occasion of the arrival of the President's daughter, Martha Jefferson Randolph at Washington, when Elizabeth wrote to her asking if she wished to be treated as the wife of a congressman or the daughter of a President. The reply came - "I wish to be treated with no other distinction than that accorded any stranger". Elizabeth was thought to be rather masculine, but she proved herself adequate to the challenge of American society. She roundly criticised the American women for reading only 'foolish novels' and exasperated the ladies by appearing at a ball in a brilliant fantastic outfit. Vice-President Burr, no mean judge of women, described Elizabeth as "tall, fair, and pleasantly plump, with grace, dignity, intelligence, an amicable and interesting person".

1824 John Francis leathes

1848 Henry Mussenden Leathes (brother of the above)

1864 Lt. Col. Hill Mussenden Leathes (ob. 1915)

On the 15th. January 1919 the estate was bought from Major Herbert de Mussenden Leathes by Sir Savile Crossley, first Lord Somerleyton, and grandfather of the present Lord Somerleyton.


The roof timbers date from the time of the Medowe restoration i.e. 1652 - there are adze marks on the wall plates and it has continued to be thatched, now in the care of thatcher Mr. Davis of Mutford. Note the ventilation slits and the tall doors both sides, with the short side on the right (for winnowing) and the long side on the left (for storing sheaves or stooks). Carts would enter from the road side with the unthreshed corn which was deposited on the long side of the barn, and the carts would be driven through the further doors to make clearance for the next cart. The corn would be threshed form the long side to the short side, the stubble removed, and the storeof grain mounting on the short side. Slits in the walls provided ventilation and openings are to be observed as 'owl holes' - for the catching of mice.

The upper course of the walls are in alternate brick and two flints, in chequered pattern; the lower course has a diamond or diaper pattern in brick. Appearances led to the conclusion that Medowe raised the height of the walls and put on a new roof, keeping the original ground plan. There are indications that the Tithe Barn before 1652 did not have such a high ridge - so with the raising of the ridge height the diaper pattern was not continued up, but replaced by the chequered pattern. Medowe held extensive lands in Somerleyton, Blundeston, and Ashby - he needed bigger barns.

The Dutch gabling on Manor House Farm was probably the work of Dutch builders operating from Beccles, which abounds with this kind of building. They also worked on Blocka Hall Farm and on the new Wentworth Somerleyton Hall (c. 1610) - it may be that Wentworth advised Medowe on this work, to hire the same builders.


At the time of Edward the Confessor c. 1020AD there was a small manor under a man called Ulsi, a freeman. In due course this was held by Catherine Fitz Osbert at the time of Domesday on the evidence of Copinger and it was in the time of Roger Fitz Osbert

(ob. 1239) that the Augustinian Priory of Black Canons was founded near the ancient ferry of St. Olaves, on level ground, on the Suffolk side of the river Waveney. This was probably 1216AD and the original dedication was to "St. Olave, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and St. Edmund, King and Martry" - a composite dedication emphasising a popular dedication (the BVM) a regional dedication (Edmund K.M.) and a local dedication (St. Olaf, King of Norway - the parish owed its name to a Viking).

Suffolk has no other dedication to St. Olaf, since Creeting St. Olave was pulled down, but there are some 20 dedications to him in England, two in Norwich, two in London among them - mostly near rivers or the sea, with only one inland dedication at Frittwell (Oxfordshire) but here the English Chronicle states that the area was overcome by Danes in the early 11th. Century. Olaf was born c. 995AD the son of a Norwegian jarl, Harald Grenske, and at a precociously early age was allowed to join the marauding bands of Vikings - in the course of his adventures he fought for Richard of Normandy and Ethelred II in England against the Danes. In 1016 he made himself ruler of Norway having recently been baptised, and he brought in Christian clergy, perhaps from England. The fierceness with which he Christianised Norway aroused hostility and he was killed in the battle of Stiklestad on the Trondheim Fiord in 1030AD in a last bid to retain his crown. But in due course he became the national hero-saint of Norway, and his death regarded as that of a martyr, his name standing for Norwegian independence. His body was enshrined in what became Trondheim Cathedral. The Norwegian Saga presents 'Olaf the Thick' as he was known. As middlesized in height, very stocky, and of great strength. In a broad face were piercing eyes which aroused fear when he was incensed. He was abrupt in conversation, highly intelligent, and beloved by friends and followers.

To the new Priory was given the lordship of that part of Herringfleet which did not form part of the Herela/Loudham manor. The monks may have come from Leiston Abbey. In 1225 the Priory, which was always a small one, was granted the right to hold an annual fair on St. Olave's Day, the 29th. July, there already being a Wednesday market at St. Olaves established by Roger Fitz Osbert who had endowed the Priory with 40 acres of land and tithes in Tibbenham - he was buried in the Priory Church in 1239. Peter, his son, added to the endowments with advowsons eg. Witlingham, and he was also buried in the Priory Church, in 1275, as was his wife Beatrix in 1278. Later John Jernegan with his wife were buried in St. Mary's Chapel within the Priory Church in 1470.

The Priory also possessed the advowson of Burgh St. Peter but in 1403 it was resigned to the Bishop of Norwich. This raises an interesting point - did the Rector of Burgh St. Peter at the turn of this century know this? For Canon Venables, according to Dr. Smith Wynne writing in 1904, acknowledged the right of the present Lord of the Manor of Herringfleet (Leathes) to the 'legal right of Prior of St. Olaves' and paid Col. Hill Mussenden Leathes the annual quit rent of ?1.4s! The Priory also possessed the advowsons of Herringfleet St. Margaret, Hales, and had incomes from Cringleford, Raveningham, Thorpe, East and North Tuddenham, Thurveston, Haddiscoe,and Mautby. Though the principal benefactors were the Fitz Osberts, and after them the Jernegans, there were others - Osbert de Dagworth, Roger de Burgh (1296), Ralph de Chedgrave and Emma his wife (1275), Ralph son of William le Ferya, Stephen de Astley (1300), Roger Fitz Osbert (grandson of the founder), Sir George Fellbrigge (1372), Edwin Bacon, Roger de Loudham, Alan de Hekyngham, Roger Rogers (1392), Joan, wife of Sir Thomas de Loudham (1399), Roger Betts (1456) and John Reppys (1473).

The farmery was built between 1216 and 1251.

By 1291 the Priory's income was only ?26.17.6 p.a. from 13 parishes in Norfolk and 14 in Suffolk, and by 1536 it was just over ?49 p.a. and the inventory of goods then reveal a total of only ?37 which included standing corn estimated at ?11.13.4 and cattle and implements at just over ?12. By then it had passed its prime and was in decline. The furniture was old, the only silver articles listed were a pyx and two chalices, a ship (boat for incense) two censers, and a salt container (for exorcism of the holy water for the stoup and for admission to the catechumenate when salt was placed on the tongue recalling the verses 'ye are the salt of the earth'). William Dale, the last prior had taken over one of the guest chambers for his own use - which might indicate the success of the Bell opposite as a hospice.

The extent of the Priory within the precinct walls was about 10 acres - the ruins are very much reduced now by the demolitions of 1784 and the removal of much of the boundary wall for making up the new road and Blocka Lane. It was at this time that the Henry Jernegan Elizabeth Mansion was cannibalised to erect Abbey Farm (54 acres) but enough remains to indicate an unusual plan of the church on the south side of the cloister, with domestic buildings, the frater, and refectory on the north, where water was more readily obtainable and drainage easier. The flint church measured 74ft long having transcepts; the northern one contained an alter to the Blessed Virgin Mary, the southern one an alter to St. Peter, and there was a Quire. It originally contained no aisles but there are indications that a south aisle had been added by 1251 when the chapel to St. Peter is mentioned. The west wall measured 36ft long and contained doorways to the nave and south aisles. Remains of glazed tiles suggests that the floor was originally paved with yellow and black tiles in chequered pattern. The canons' cementery was on the S.W. side of the church. Several burials have been discovered. The cloister measured 68ft square and the perimeter walks were paved with glazed tiles and measures 10ft in width. The east walk lies under the path to the farm. The vaulted undercroft beneath the frater or refectory is of great interest for it involved the use of bricks in its 14th./15th. Century development - an early example, and one of the very few completely brick buildings still in existence from that time. It is becoming clearer that brick-making was a feature of 14th/15th. Century England of which little has been known till recently. In 1495 Edward Jernegan ordered 260,000 bricks from Mutford.

Across the farmyard, the barn has been thought to be the originally Infirmarium. Till c. 1830 this contained a fine carved timber roof with pendants and bosses which probably indicate the Banquetting Hall of the Jernegan Mansion in Tudor times. The brewhouse and bakehouse of the Priory were in the present farmhouse range and the kitchen and pantry with the 'guest chamber against the hall' were in the west wing of the Frater. The Priory fishponds were between the boundary wall of the Priory and the River Waveney bank, at a lower level than the river and therefore liable to intended flooding.

Between 1493 and 1532 there were five official Visitations of the Priory, the Bishop of Norwhich being the Official Visitor. The First Visitation was on 3th. January 1493 by the Bishop's deputy, Nicholas Goldwell, with Thomas as Prior and five brothers.

Each was examined singly and there appeared to be three complaints; - that one of the brothers was consistently quarrelsome and ill-tempered, that the Prior did not publish his accounts and that the brothers did not have enough to live on.

The Second Visitation was in person by the Bishop of Norwich, Richard Nikke, part of the general visitation of the deanery. The new Prior, William Dale, did present his accounts annually before the brethren. It would appear that he was a good business man for he had added lands to the annual value of ?10 to the Priory income, an increase of some 25%, but again there was the complaint that the brothers did not have enough to live on. The Sub-prior, William Starys, was apparently a stickler for discipline - he complained that matins at 5 am always started late. The Bishop advised them to keep the silence on Fridays in the cloister - otherwise 'all is carried out in a proper and praiseworthy manner'.

The Third Visitation was on the 25th. June 1520, by the Suffragan bishop of Chalcedon, John, accompanied by Nicholas Carr, Doctor of Civil Law, and Thomas Cappe, Doctor of Cannon Law - a formidable trio for such a small company of canons. Worse was to come - the sermon had as its text "Watch ye", a somewhat ominous theme for the Prior, William Dale, Sub-prior William Sherying, and brothers John Mike Saint, John Bigott, John Castleacre, and John Westacre.

The Fourth Visitation was by Bishop Richard Nikke on the 11nd. June 1562, and again revealed restricted means.

The Fifth Visitation arranged for the 18th. March 1532 was postponed to June, with Richard Nikke as Visitor. John Make is now sub-prior, brothers Sheryng and John Mike Saint have disappeared, the others remain, with the addition of John Dale (alias Massingham). There were mutterings of "all is well" but not for long for on the 20th. August 1536 there arrived at the Priory the Commissioners for the Dissolution Sir Humfrey Wyngefeld, Richard Southwell, and Thomas Myldemays. On the 16th. January 1546 the site of the dissolved Priory was made over by Henry VIII to Henry Jerningham and Frances his wife of Somerleyton for a consideration of ?92.8.6 though Copinger in his Manors of Suffolk gives the sum of ?992.8.6 which is probably nearer the mark. Dugdales' Monasticon gives the augmentation certificate for the Priory with the value of lead and timber etc. and a description of the site. The Suffolk Survey of the Dissolution under St. Olaves gives us some idea of the two Guest Chambers - one was hung with old 'steyned cloths' (a non-euphemistic description of painted cloth) and had a bed, table, settee (settle), two old chairs, two old chests, and a bench. The other chamber had a bed, an old chair, and hangings of 'old painted cloth' - obviously

second class accommodation - the lot valued at 3s 9d. Beneath these two rooms the parlour was furnished in the same Spartan fashion. There was another guest chamber next to the Hall, a small room with two beds and bedclothes "all old and near worn". The general impression is one of the impoverishment and relict furniture.


1273 William 1370 Roger de Haddiscoe
1300 Bennedict 1391 John de Hanewell
1303 Thomas de Norwich 1401 John de Wylughy
1309 William Dale 1430 John Wells
1329 John de Tybenham 1460 William Bugal
1341 Philip de Herlingland 1468 William Beverley
1354 John de Surlingham 1480 Thomas Baget
1541 William Dale. Dissolution. Dale received a pension of 10 marks p.a.

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This page first posted on 20 April 1999