[Transcription copyright © Pat Newby]
BINHAM, 5 miles S.E. by E. of Wells, and 3 miles N.E. by E. of Walsingham, is a parish and large village in Walsingham union, Fakenham county court district, North Greenhoe hundred and petty sessional division, Hindringham polling district of North Norfolk, Walsingham rural deanery, and Norwich archdeaconry. It had 478 inhabitants in 1881, living on 2242 acres, and has a rateable value of £3021. Thomas Truesdale Clarke, Esq., of Uxbridge, is principal owner and lord of the manor, in which the copyholds are on the tenure called 'smockhold,' noticed above (page 138 [which is the entry for Barney]). Binham had a charter from Henry I. for a weekly market on Wednesday, and a fair on the Vigil of St. Mary and three following days; and the latter is still continued on July 26.
This village is noted for the extensive ruins of its once splendid PRIORY, forming a highly interesting and picturesque object, in the vale of the river Stiffkey, and founded towards the end of the 11th century, by Peter Lord Valoines (a nephew of the Norman Conqueror), and Albreda, his wife, for a prior and eight monks of the Benedictine order, as a cell to the abbey of St. Albans, but subject only to the yearly visitations of the abbot, and the yearly payment of a mark of silver. The priory was not finished till the beginning of the reign of Henry I., when Roger, the son of the founder, confirmed what his father had given, and was himself a considerable benefactor.
Others of the same family contributed to support and augment the establishment, which was granted at the Dissolution to Thomas Paston, Esq., fifth son of Sir William Paston, Kt. In the reign of John, Robert Fitzwalter claimed the patronage of this priory, and besieged it, in order to reinstate Thomas the prior, who had improperly been deposed by the Abbot of St. Albans; but he was frustrated in his design by the forces which the King had sent to oppose him.
The ruins of the priory are still very considerable, but are gradually mouldering away. Scarcely anything of the domestic buildings remains, though the foundations may still be traced; and of the once spacious conventual CHURCH (St. Mary) only the nave, with the chief part of the grand western front, and fragments of the aisles, transepts, central tower, and chancel remain. Excepting the west façade, the whole is in the Early Norman style of architecture, and doubtless constituted part of the original structure. The nave has probably always been appropriated as the parish church, and to this circumstance may be ascribed its preservation. It consists of seven bays, with massive square piers having shafts in the nooks at the angles; the outer arch moulded, the inner plain.
The triforium arches are the same as the lower ones; and the clerestory windows have each small arches on the sides with bold detached shafts; the centre arch stilted with small shafts in the angles on the caps of the large ones. Some few of the westernmost arches of the triforium and clerestory are, however, of the Early English period. The west front is an elegant specimen of Early English architecture, its lower portion having a rich arcade with perforated panels in the spandrils and under the side arches, and a grand central doorway with fine mouldings and varieties of the enriched tooth ornament. Over this arcade is a magnificent window, now mostly bricked up, but originally consisting of two principal lights and a foliated circle in the head, each light subdivided in a similiar manner. There are also lateral doorways in the ends of the aisles, with tall two-light windows over them, singularly divided at about a third of their height by transoms and sub-arches, and having quatrefoils in their heads.
On the gable is a small bell-cot containing one bell. The font is of the Perpendicular period; it is much mutilated, but its upper panels appear to have contained representations of the Seven Sacraments and of the Trinity, and its lower ones, single figures of saints in niches. Some of the old seats remain, with poppies and perforated backs, but the church is mostly filled with pews. There are also a few good Perpendicular stalls.
The discharged vicarage, valued in the King's Book at £6 13s. 4d., was augmented with £800 of royal bounty, from 1767 to 1800, and £200 given by T.T. Clarke, Esq., the patron and impropriator, in the latter year. These sums were laid out in the purchase of 36 acres of land at Bodham. In 1839 the rectorial tithes were commuted for £200, and the vicarial for £100 per annum. The incumbent is the Rev. R.C. Cavell. The vicarage house was erected in 1866, partly by subscription, and partly by a grant and a loan of £400 from Queen Anne's Bounty.
The Primitive Methodist Chapel was erected in 1868. The National School, with master's house attached, was built in 1815, and is attended by 60 children. At the east end of the village is the lofty shaft of an ancient cross, where the market was formerly held.
The Town Estate comprises two cottages, the Chequers public house, and 16A. 3R. 26P. of land, mostly received at the enclosure, in exchange for land given by two maiden ladies. The rents amounting to £41 5s. a year are applied in apprenticing poor children and in a distribution of 7 chaldrons of coal. The rent of 7A. 2R. 30P. of land in Hindringham, left by Nathaniel Hooke in 1693, and now let for £10 10s., is distributed in duffel for coats among poor married labourers. The poor widows have divided equally amongst them £7 yearly, as the rent of 3A. 2R. 23P. of land, left by Christopher Ringer in 1678.
POST OFFICE at Mr. Robert Harmer's. Letters arrive at 8.30 a.m. and are despatched at 2.50 p.m., viâ Wells. Walsingham is the nearest Money Order Ofice.
Cavell Rev. Robert Corry vicar Clubb Charles farmer, Westgate farm Copeman William cattle dealer Curson Edward Thomas watchmaker England Miss The Cottage England Richard, Esq., J.P. and farmer, Hindringham Fox Miss Maria shopkeeper Gotts George H. vict. Chequers Grange Thos. Chas. vict. King's Arms Harmer Robt. grocer and postmaster Harris Richard farmer Hook Thomas tailor Horner George gamekeeper Howard Robert farmer Langley Thomas blacksmith Massingham Head blacksmith Middleton Hugh farmer Nelson John baker and confectioner Overton Rd. Kirby grocer and draper Papes George & Son joiners, builders and bricklayers Papes John parish clerk Peacock Henry ironfounder Pointen Henry pork butcher Purdy John Surgeon butcher, and at Wells and Blakeney Ramm James bootmaker Smith Robert beerhouse Watson Arthur John saddler; h Little Walsingham Winfield Mrs Caroline schoolmistress
See also the Binham parish page.
Copyright © Pat Newby.