ASHWELLTHORPE, 9 miles S.W. of Norwich, has a station on the Wymondham and Forncett branch of the Great Eastern Railway, and is in Depwade union, Wymondham county court district, Norwich bankruptcy district, Wymondham polling district of South Norfolk, and Depwade hundred and petty sessional division, Depwade rural deanery, and Norfolk archdeaconry. It had 371 inhabitants in 1881, living on 979 acres, and had a rateable value of £1548.
It was anciently in two parishes, called Ashwell and Thorpe, and was held for a long period by the family of De Thorpe, from who the manor passed to the Bouchier, Knyvett, and Wilson families. Lady Berners, the head of the latter family, is the present owner. Here are many copyholds, subject to arbitrary fines.
The Hall, a handsome brick mansion of Elizabethan architecture, was mostly built in 1831, on the site of the old hall, which had a moat and drawbridge, and of which a small part still remains. A new wing and porch were added in 1845. It has long been the property of Lord Berners.
It was one time the residence of that distinguished officer, the late Major-General Sir Archdale Wilson, of Delhi, Bart., K.C.B., who was born at Kirby Cane Hall, in 1803, and was son of the Rev. George Wilson, rector of Didlington. He entered the East India Company's service in 1819; and on September 14, 1857, his troops stormed and captured the ramparts of Delhi, for which he was promoted to the rank of Major-General, created a Baronet and K.C.B., and voted a pension of £1000 a year by the East India Company. He also received the thanks of Parliament, and in 1858 was appointed Colonel of the Bengal Artillery.
It is now the seat of Sir Henry Tyrwhitt, and is occupied temporarily by Walter Scott, Esq. Some years ago a curious chess-piece was found in the garden of the hall. It is formed of the tusk of a walrus, and elaborately carved, apparently being the work of a Norman French artist of the 12th century.
The CHURCH (All Saints), an ancient fabric, comprising nave, chancel, porch, north chapel, and square tower with five bells, was thoroughly restored, and furnished with open seats in 1861, at a cost of about £500. There is a piscina in the chancel, another in the nave, and a third in the chapel; and in the porch is a holy water stoup. The font is octagonal, with carved shields, and was given by Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Knyvett. The north chapel contains several mural monuments of the Wilson family, and has three stained glass windows, with the arms of the Thorpe, Bouchier, Knyvett, and Wilson families.
Between the nave and chapel is a handsome white marble altar tomb, bearing recumbent effigies of Sir Edmund de Thorpe and his lady. He was slain at the siege of Lover's Castle, in Normandy, but was interred here, and is represented in armour with his feet resting on a greyhound or talbot. There are two small dogs at the feet of the lady, and at her head is a figure of an angel kneeling. The sides of the tomb are also embellished with angels bearing shields. Under the south-east window of the chancel is a stone coffin without inscription, and near it is a slab to Philip de Thorpe, who died in 1298.
The massive antique communion plate bears the following inscription:- 'Deo Sacrum ex dedicatione Johannis Knyvett militis Balner 1671,' and consists of chalice, flagon, paten and almsdish.
Lady Berners is patron of the rectory, valued in the King's Book at £6 13s. 4d., and now at £740, with that of Wreningham annexed to it, in the incumbency of the Rev. Arthur Wilson Upcher, M.A., who resides at Wreningham, where the Rectory House is situated. The tithes of Ashwellthorpe were commuted in 1842 for £340, and those of Wreningham, in 1837, for £400 per annum.
The Fuel Allotment, 1A. 1R. 31P., awarded at the enclosure in 1814, adjoins 10A., which were enclosed from the waste for the use of the Workhouse, 75 years ago, and the whole is let for £21. The Workhouse was sold after the formation of Depwade Union.
Here is a National elementary School, established in 1841, and attended by 66 children.
WALL LETTER BOX cleared at 6.30 p.m. week days only. Letters via Wymondham, which is nearest Money Order and Telegraph Office.
Bilham James blacksmith Brown Charles Brown John woodman and hurdle mkr. Brown Thomas cattle dealer and vict. King's Head Clarke Robert S. farmer Dawson John shoemaker Day Robert grocer, draper, baker, saddler and beerhouse Dewing William frmr. Yew Tree farm Elliott Mrs Eliz. vict. White Horse Hoare James stationmaster King George baker and shopkeeper Ling Arthur blacksmith Locke James parish clerk and sexton Mays William joiner and wheelwright Moore William Carr frmr. Church frm Rix George bricklayer Rix Henry farmer Scholding Miss H. Nat. schoolmistress Scott Mr. Walter The Hall Shearing James market gardener Taylor Rev. George Richard, M.A. curate of Ashwellthorpe Utting Henry farmer Whitehead Jas. tailor, Shrubland villaCARRIERS from Forncett, New Buckenham, and Carlton Rode pass through to Norwich on Mon. Wed. and Sat.
Copyright © Pat Newby.