Eccles-by-the-Sea, 9 miles E. by S. of North Walsham, is a decayed parish, once a noted fishing town, with a lordship of 2000 acres, but so wasted by the incursions of the ocean, that the inhabitants, in their petition for a reduction of taxes, in 1605, complained that they had then only 14 houses, and 300 acres of land, "the rest being all destroyed by the sea, together with the church." It has now only 53 inhabitants, and 253 acres of land divided into three farms, occupied by Cornelius Croxton, George Empson and Robert Thompson.
Edward Lombe, Esq., is lord of the manor, and patron of the vicarage, valued in the King's Book at £8, and now enjoyed by the Rev. Edw. Evans; but owing to the want of a church, this is a sinecure benefice, and the inhabitants use the church at Hempstead, with which parish they have long been united for the support of the poor.
Eccles Church (St. Mary,) was destroyed nearly 250 years ago, as noticed above, except the tower, which is still standing, but is embedded to the height of the former walls of the church, in the accumulated sand-hills which have been thrown up by the sea, and serve as a barrier against the too rapid encroachments of the tides. The lower part of this tower is circular, and the upper octangular. The rector has now a yearly rent of £58. 10s, in lieu of tithes.
Copyright © Pat Newby.