NARFORD is a parish and village, on the south side of the river Nar, 2 miles E. of Narborough station, and 5 miles N.W. of Swaffham. It is in Swaffham union and county court district, Lynn bankruptcy district, South Greenhoe hundred and petty sessional division, Swaffham polling district of West Norfolk, Cranwich rural deanery and Norfolk archdeaconry. It had 141 inhabitants in 1881, living on 2396 acres, and had a rateable value of £1613.
The parish belongs to Algernon Charles Fountaine, Esq., J.P., the lord of the manor, who resides at the Hall, a handsome stone mansion in the Italian style, which has extensive pleasure-grounds and a richly wooded park, containing a large artificial lake well stocked with trout and other fish, and frequented by wild fowl. This house was built by the father of Sir Andrew Fountaine, who was knighted by William III., and took the oaths at the installation of the order of the Bath for the Duke of Cumberland, then an infant. He received a patent for supporters to his arms in 1726, at which time he was vice-chamberlain to the Princess of Wales. He travelled for a considerable time in various parts of Europe, and made an extensive and valuable collection of antiquities and curiosities in art and learning, which are still deposited at Narford Hall; and amongst them are many fine paintings, coins, bronzes, and antique vases, and a great quantity of Majolica ware, painted from the designs of Raphael, D'Urbino, &c.
Mr. Franks, of the British Museum, states that M. Benjamin Fillon discovered a few years ago that the so-called Henry II. ware was made at the Château d'Oyron, near Thouars, at a private factory, established about 1524 by Halere de Hangest, widow of Arthur Gouffier, "gouvernais" of Francis I. She employed a potter named François Cherpentier, who was assisted by her librarian, Jehan Bernart, whence the ornaments took their resemblance to the stamps or bindings. After her death in 1537 her son, Claude Gouffier, a great friend of Henri II., continued the factory for a time, when it came to an end. About forty or fifty pieces only are known.
Sir Andrew Fountaine secured rare coins, among them the twelve Cæsars, ancient statues, and pictures by the great masters. The walls of one spacious apartment are covered with frescoes of classic subjects, the other apartments contain pictures by Rembrandt, Ruysdael, Vandyck, Teniers, Andrea del Sarto, Rubens, Carracci, Guido Reni, N. Poussin, Salvator Rosa, Hogarth, &c. The library, with inlaid floor, frescoed ceiling, contains rare books and MSS., the shelves being surmounted by portraits of notables in art and literature who flourished previous to the 18th century. In 1727, Sir Andrew was appointed Warden of the Mint, which office he held till his death, in 1753. He was an eminent virtuoso, and an intimate friend of Pope, Swift, and other literary luminaries.
Brigg Fountaine, Esq., who died in 1825, in his 82nd year, was well learned in the ancient and modern languages, and passionately fond of music. In 1805 he published a translation of Don Quixote. For many years he amused himself with astronomy, having built an observatory in the park, near the hall, where numerous Roman bricks and other antiquities have been found, and a large urn was dug up in the courtyard, when Sir Andrew was altering the house.
Narford village is said to have been a mile in length in the Conqueror's time; and in the reign of Edward III., Sir Thomas de Narford obtained for it a market and two fairs; but they have been long obsolete.
The CHURCH (Virgin Mary) is a neat building of the Decorated period, comprising nave, aisles, south porch, chancel, and square tower. The latter had a wooden spire, which was taken down in 1857 by the lord of the manor, who placed a new parapet and pinnacles upon the tower, with an inscription on each side to the memory of his deceased wife. The discharged vicarage, valued in the King's Book at £6 13s. 4d., is annexed to that of Narborough. The rectorial tithes belong to the Bishop of Ely, and the vicarial tithes have been commuted for £145 per annum.
A chapel, dedicated to St. Thomas-a-Becket, formerly stood on the hill, opposite Westacre Priory, to which it was granted by Edward IV.
Mr. Jacob Finch, of Swaffham, farms the parish.
POST LETTERS through Swaffham. Narborough is the nearest Money Order Office.
Finch Jacob farmer, Hall farm; h Swaffham Fountaine Algernon Chas. Esq., J.P. Narford Hall Reeder Thomas parish clerk Sooby Rd. farm bailiff to Jacob Finch
Copyright © Pat Newby.