FERSFIELD is a village and parish, 4½ miles W.N.W. of Diss, 6½ miles from Eccles Road Station. It is in Guiltcross union, Diss county court district, hundred, and petty sessional division, Ipswich bankruptcy district, Diss polling district of South Norfolk, Redenhall rural deanery, and Norfolk archdeaconry. It had 288 inhabitants in 1881, living on 1359 acres, and has a rateable value of £1958. The soil mostly belongs to the Duke of Norfolk, the lord of the manor (on which the fines are arbitrary), and partly to Miss Mortimer, Charles Hoskins, and some smaller owners. The common was enclosed in 1799.
The CHURCH (St. Andrew) comprises nave, chancel, south aisle and tower, and one bell, but there were formerly three; and contains effigies of two of its founders or re-builders - Sir Robert and William du Bois. The chancel was rebuilt in 1844. The rectory, valued in the King's Book at £6 6s. 8d., is in the patronage and incumbency of the Rev. Arthur Braithwaite, who was inducted to the living in 1878, has a good residence, 60A. 2R. 21P. of glebe, and a yearly rent-charge of £375, awarded in 1838, in lieu of tithes.
The SCHOOL BOARD was formed December, 1872, and consists of Messrs. George Eaton (chairman), George Back (vice-chairman), James Greenwood, William Spurdens, jun. and George Punt. Mr. Isaac Vertigen, of New Buckenham, is clerk to the Board. The Board rents the school erected by the late rector, for which they pay him a rental of £12 per annum.
The Church Land, given by Jeffrey Ellingham, in 1493, is 23A. 0R. 2P. (let for £40) for the maintenance of the fabric. There are allotments yielding £2 10s. a year. There is a conditional bequest recorded on the tomb of Mrs. Elizabeth Barker, who died October 2, 1751. Also Jeffrey Ellingham, who in 1493 bequeathed 4 marks and his tenement and lands, to divers uses expressed in his will, with this clause, 'that if such uses should fail' - as it has since happened - 'then the clear yearly profits of the same are to be laid out in repairing, beautifying, and adorning this parish church for ever.'
The Rev. Francis Blomefield, M.A., F.S.A., the great Norfolk historian, was born in this parish July 23, 1705, being the eldest son of Henry Blomefield, gentleman, whose family had long resided here. He entered Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, in 1724, and took the degree of B.A. in 1727. In the latter year he was ordained deacon of the church of St. Giles'-in-the-Fields, London; and in the following year was made a licensed preacher by Dr. Tanner, then Chancellor of Norwich. In 1729 he was instituted rector of Hargham, in Norfolk, on the presentation of Thomas Hare, Esq.; and in September of the same year he became rector of his native parish, his father having purchased the presentation of Lord Rochford, who was then patron of the advowson. He continued to hold both rectories till 1730, when he relinquished Hargham.
Blomefield began to collect materials for his great work, which he modestly called 'An Essay towards the Topographical History of the County of Norfolk,' as early as 1720, when he was but fifteen years of age, and most of his leisure time was spent in travelling to collect notes of churches, &c., and to test the accuracy of the information which he had otherwise obtained.
Finding that he could not get his work printed in the country, in consequence of the want of Greek, Hebrew, and other characters, he finally decided upon the singular and costly task of fitting up a printing-office in his own house, so that he could at all times have the supervision of the press, and see that no stolen copies of his book were issued. He commenced printing in February, 1736, and the first volume was completed December 25, 1739. The third volume was nearly finished when the industrious antiquary was snatched away by death, January 16, 1752, at the early age of 47 years.
His unfinished work was completed by the Rev. Charles Parkin, rector of Oxburgh, who had rendered some assistance to Blomefield in the previous portion, and had himself formed considerable collections. This gentleman finished the third volume, and added two more, which are, however, considered inferior to those by Blomefield. They were published by Mr. Whittingham, bookseller, at Lynn, in 1769 and 1775; the whole forming five folio volumes, since reprinted by Mr. W. Miller, of London, in eleven volumes, royal octavo.
A marble slab with an inscription covers the historian's grave in the chancel of Fersfield Church, and the house in which he was born may still be seen in a remote part of the village; and though now humbly tenanted, and in picturesque decay, it retains the mullioned projecting windows, and some of the pargetting and other ornaments which we associate with the residence of a wealthy yeoman in the olden time.
LETTERS from Diss arrive at 8.30 a.m., despatched at 5 p.m. No Sunday post. Kenninghall is the nearest Money Order Office.
Braithwaite Rev. Arthur rector, The Rectory Brown Chas. jun. frmr. Fersfield lodge Bullock Charles farmer and shopkpr Bunn Robt. Newson farmer; h Bressingham Calton James farmer Crick Walter sexton Dennis Mrs Charlotte schoolmistress Dennis John Thomas carpenter and coach builder Easto Charles farmer; h Diss Eaton George miller Garrood Fuller farmer Garrood Robert farmer Greenwood James farmer Hawes George miller and farmer; h Bressingham Hoskins Charles farmer and owner Hoskins Charles, jun. farmer Howlett Amos cottager Jessup George carpenter, wheelwright, smith, and beerhouse Levis William farmer Levis Samuel farmer Mortimer Miss Juliet Eliza Algar hs Munford John cottager Newstead Frederick cottage farmer Noble Daniel farmer, The Common Punt George blacksmith and farmer Robinson Sarah Ann The Crown Spicer John farmer Wells Alexr. farmer; h Kenninghall Witham Richard farmer Woodcock Horace Robert frmr. Fersfield hallCARRIER - Allen, from Kenninghall to Diss, passes through on Friday
Copyright © Pat Newby.