[Transcription copyright © Pat Newby]
DEREHAM (WEST) parish has a scattered village, 4 miles S.E. by E. of Downham, and contains 544 inhabitants, and about 3,500 acres of land, mostly the property of G.S. Kett, and William Bagge, Esqrs. The former is lord of the manor, which was once celebrated for its splendid ABBEY, standing about a mile south of the village, environed with wood and water, and founded in 1188, by a native of this parish - Hubert Walter, Dean of York, and successively Bishop of Salisbury, Archbishop of Canterbury, and Lord Chancellor, in the reign of Richard I. This abbey was dedicated to God and the Virgin Mary, for monks of the Premonstratensian order. Its annual revenues were valued at the dissolution, at £252 12s. 11½d., and the site granted to the ancient family of Dereham.
The old Gate-house or entrance tower, is still standing. It is a lofty square embattled pile of brick, having at each corner an octangular tower, quoined with freestone; and over the arch is a shield bearing three bucks' heads, cabossed, the lower one pierced with a crosier staff. On each side of this elegant gateway, Sir Thomas Dereham, Envoy to the Duke of Tuscany, in 1697, erected a wing, with a cloister on the south, which contained many stately apartments, fitted up in the Italian style. It was afterwards the seat of the Earls of Montrath, but has been long unoccupied.
The CHURCH, (St. Andrew,) is an ancient fabric, with a short round tower, surmounted by an octagonal turret. It was re-pewed and repaired in 1843, and has several handsome monuments to the Dereham family, and one beautifully designed in marble and alabaster, has a fine statue of Colonel Edmund Soames, of Dereham Grange, who died in 1706.
The living is a curacy, certified at £17 13s. 4d., and valued in 1831 at £74, being augmented from 1752 to 1817 with £700 of Royal bounty, besides a yearly rent-charge of £18, given by the Bishop of Ely and S. Jenyns, Esq., in 1756, and another annuity of £15, given by the former, in 1817. The Bishop of Ely is appropriator of the tithes, which are leased to the Rev. Geo. Leonard Jenyns, M.A., prebendary of Ely, who is also patron of the curacy, now enjoyed by the Rev. E.J. Howman, M.A., of Bexwell. The tithes have recently been commuted for £220 per annum.
The Rev. Thos. Catton, B.D., F.R.S., &c., late senior fellow, and one of the head tutors of St. John's College, Cambridge, was born here, in 1759, and died in 1838. He was a distinguished astronomer, and succeeded Mr. Ludlow in the management of the Observatory at St. John's College. In the church is a neat tablet in memory of his parents, who resided at Barsale House, in this parish.
In 1701, Gregory Lovell left £500 to be laid out in land, the rents and profits thereof to be distributed among the poor, except 40s. a year, for three sermons, on St. Thomas's, Lady, and Midsummers days, when the doles are distributed. The estate purchased with this legacy consists of 43A. in Upwell, let for £80 a year. The Town Close, held of the manor of Curfels [sic], contains 2A. 3R., and is let for £4 a year, which is distributed among the poor.
Here is a Free School, supported by the principal parishioners and land owners.
Brooke Leonard victualler, Chequers Dent Wm. smith & vict. White Horse Frettwell Thomas beer seller Porter Thomas victualler, Bell Press Geo. Latham gent, Manor House FARMERS. Germany John Lock James Ollett James Reeve John Stebbings Wm. Long Dereham Grange Thorold Daniel
See also the West Dereham parish page.
Copyright © Pat Newby.