MIDDLETON is a pleasant village on an elevated part of the Swaffham road, 4 miles S.S.E. of Lynn. Its parish comprises the scattered hamlets of Fair-green, Tower-end, Blackborough-end, and Hollow-end, and contains 867 inhabitants, and about 3,000 acres of land, rising boldly from picturesque vales of the Esk rivulet on the north, and the river Nar on the south. It is well enclosed and drained, (partly under acts passed in 1814 and '15,) and has in one part a quarry of fine large car-stone.
Thomas Wythe, Esq., of Middleton Cottage, near Fair-green, owns the greater part of the soil, and is lord of the Manor of Middleton, in which are many copyholds, subject to arbitrary fines. He is also lessee lord of the Bishop of Norwich's Manor of Blackborough, in which the land is leasehold for 21 years, renewable every seven. L.W. Jarvis, Esq., is the manor steward.
The CHURCH, (Virgin Mary,) has a square tower with one bell, and in its windows are some fragments of the arms of Lord Scales, in stained glass.
The living is a vicarage, valued in the King's Book at £7, and now possessing about 12 acres of glebe. The Very Rev. Peter Scrimshire Wood, LL.D., Dean of Middleton [sic, see note below], in Yorkshire, is patron and incumbent, and also impropriator of the rectorial tithes, which were commuted for £432 2s. 5d. per annum, in 1840. At the same time the vicarial tithes were commuted for £313 9s., and the Notley Tithes for £99 18s. per annum. The latter belong to the rector of North Runcton, and arise out of the Notley Estate, which contains 470A., and adjoins the Pierpoint drain.
The vicarage-house is near the church; and at a short distance is the handsome modern seat of Edward Everard, Esq., at the head of a beautiful lawn, sheltered with thriving plantations.
In a valley, more than a mile to the N.E. of the village, stands MIDDLETON TOWER, a lofty and massive brick pile, with stone quoins, forming the only remains of the Castle, which was long the chief seat of the Lord Scales, who obtained the manor in marriage with the heiress of Jeffery de Lisewis, in the reign of Henry II. They were seated here till the reign of Edward IV., when their heiress married Earl Rivers, from whom the estate passed through various families to its present owner, T. Wythe, Esq. The tower is of excellent workmanship, 17 yards long, 9 broad, and 18 high; flanked with four octagonal turrets, which are embattled, and rise several feet above the central tower. Near it is a high mound, overgrown with bushes.
In the vale of the Nar, more than a mile south of the village, is the site of BLACKBOROUGH PRIORY, which was founded in the reign of Henry II., for Benedictine Nuns, and endowed with considerable revenues by the Lord Scales and other families. After its dissolution, it was granted to the Bishop of Norwich. Some remains of the priory and its church may still be seen in the outbuildings of the adjacent farm-house.
In digging among the foundations, in 1834, three stone and two wood coffins were discovered in a vault, containing perfect skeletons, all blackened by time, except the teeth, which retained their white enamel. One was supposed to be the skeleton of a man seven feet high. At the same time, a number of tessellated pavements, a gold seal, and other antiquities were found, and are now preserved by T. Wythe, Esq., who, about 12 years ago, pulled down the dilapidated building called Middleton Hall.
In the parish is a Wesleyan, and also a Primitive Methodist chapel; the former built in 1840, and the latter in 1844.
The Fuel Allotment, 10A., was allotted at the enclosure. The poor have 6s. a year, out of the Notley tithes, left by the Rev. Thos. Hopes.
In the following Directory, those marked 1 reside at Blackborough-end; 2 Fair-green; 3 Hollow-end; 4 Tower-end; and 5 in Middleton.
3 Aaron John parish-clerk 5 Curle John auctioneer, &c. 5 Everard Edward, Esq. 5 Pearson Rev. Saml. incbt. of Bilney 5 Walker George vict., Crown Matthews Rt. miller; h. East Winch 5 Wood Very Rev. Peter Scrimshire, LL.D. dean of Middleham 2 Wythe Thomas, Esq. Middleton Cottage Bakers. 1 Drew John 1 Raynor James Beer Houses. Bricklayers. 2 Bardell Ann 3 Abray John 1 Bardell B. 3 Allflat Charles Blacksmiths. Butchers. 4 Chilvers Chas. 1 Gamble Wm. 3 Drew James 1 Pidgeon Mrs 1 Waugh John 5 Curtis Henry FARMERS. 1 Alterton Robt. 1 Jarrad John 1 Back John 3 Lancaster Jno. 1 Baker James 2 Potter Thomas 1 Balls James 4 Simons Abel 4 Cole Robert 4 Sugars John 3 Gamble Wm. 2 Taylor George 5 Hill Thomas 2 Wall Edward 1 Howse Thomas Joiners, &c. Shopkeepers. 3 Bardell John 4 Buxton Robert 4 Chilvers Edw. 1 Rust Abel 3 Drew John 1 Shin David 1 Driver Thomas Shoemakers. Wheelwrights. 1 Creed Edwin 4 Chilvers Chas. 1 Roofe Robert 5 Wicks John 4 Smith Robert
Wood, Peter S. D.C.L. Dean of Middleham, Rector of Littleton, Middlesex, and Vicar of Middleton, Norfolk.
Copyright © Pat Newby.