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Norfolk: Winfarthing

White's History, Gazetteer, and Directory of Norfolk 1883

[Transcription copyright © Mike Bristow]

WINFARTHING, a pleasant village and parish, 4 miles N. of Diss, is in Guiltcross union, Diss hundred, petty sessional division and county court district, Ipswich bankruptcy court district, Diss polling district of South Norfolk, Redenhall rural deanery, and Norfolk archdeaconry.

It had 604 inhabitants in 1881, and comprises an area of 2583 acres of land. The rateable value is £4241. The Earl of Albemarle is lord of the manor, in which the fines are arbitrary. The manor has all the privileges of ancient demesne, and remained in the Crown till Henry III. gave it to Sir William Montecaniso, or Munchensy, in consideration of his military services against the French. The son of this knight had a large park here, well stocked with deer, and had liberty to keep dogs to hunt the hare, fox, and wild cat in his wastes and forests. So late as 1604 the park abounded with deer, but it was afterwards enclosed by the Earl of Arundel. It now belongs to Thomas Betts, Esq., Jas. Mann, Esq., Kensington, and the Rev. Richard M. Phipson, and comprises 1000 acres of cultivated land, of which 656 acres are tithe-free.

The CHURCH (St. Mary the Virgin), is a plain structure, comprising nave, chancel, south aisle, and a fine square tower containing a peal of five good bells. In the interior are two old brasses, a fine Norman font, and some good windows. There are sedilia for two priests and a piscina in the chancel, and another piscina in the aisle. This church was, in the superstitious and corrupt age of monachism, in high repute among the ignorant for a certain sword preserved in it by the monks, under the name of the 'Good Sword of Winfarthing,' said to possess such virtues in effecting the wishes of devotees, that pilgrims came to it from all parts, with large gifts and offerings, 'vow-makings, crouchings, &c.' The sword had previously belonged to a thief, who had taken sanctuary in the church.

The Earl of Albemarle is patron of the rectory, valued in K.B. at £12 , and now in the incumbency of the Rev. George Keppel, M.A. The rectory house is very ancient. The tithes were commuted in 1840 for £571 per annum, and here are 33 acres of glebe.

The National School is a good building in the Elizabethan style, erected by subscription in 1854 at a cost of £280. The Wesleyans and the Primitive Methodists have each a chapel here.

The celebrated 'Winfarthing Oak,' probably the largest in England except the one at Cowthorpe, in Yorkshire, stands near the Lodge farmhouse, and is a grand and picturesque old ruin. It measures 70 feet round at the roots, and 40 feet in the middle of the main stem, and must have been at one time a magnificent spreading tree, with enormous arms. It is traditionally said to have been called the 'Old Oak' in the time of the Conqueror, and is usually considered to be more than 1200 years old. It is now a mere shell, bleached snowy white, and capable of containing a large number of persons in its interior. It still retains vitality on its south side, and three years ago a rook's nest was built in its branches.

The Town Estate, part of which anciently belonged to a religious fraternity, or guild, was mostly acquired in the reigns of Henry VIII. and Elizabeth, and now consists of six tenements let for £11, and 42 acres of land let for £76 10s. The rents are carried to the maintenance of the school and church repair account,except a sum of about £7, which is distributed among the poor not receiving parochial relief, in bread, pursuant to the will of John Alden. At the enclosure in 1781 an allotment of 39A. 3R. 20P. was awarded to the poor, to whom it is let in small allotments at low rents, producing about £52 10s. per annum, which is distributed in coal.

POST OFFICE at Miss Mary Howlett's. Letters from Diss, which is the nearest Money Order Office, arrive at 8.20 a.m., despatched at 5 p.m. New Buckenham and Diss are the nearest Telegraph Offices.

Bateman      David             victualler, Oak
Betts        Thomas            farmer, cattle dealer & landowner,
                               Park farm
Bird         Charles           farmer
Catchpole    Mrs Elizabeth     farmer
Catchpole    John              farmer
Driver       Robert            wheelwright
Eaton        Geo.              farmer; h Coney Weston
Everett      Joseph            farmer
Filby        Edmund            farmer
Gardner      James             shopkeeper & butcher
Garrard      Allen             farmer & butcher
George       Samuel            farmer
Harper       John              grocer
Hart         Albert            farmer
Hart         Tacon             farmer, quartermaster
                               4th Rifle Volunteer Corps
Holmes       David             bricklayer
Keppel       Rev. George, T.A.K.C.L.  rector
Mapes        George            farmer
Mason        Richard           farmer, Short green
Morley       Edward            farmer
Morley       James             parish clerk
Murton       Charles           farmer
Palmer       Henry             farmer, Lodge farm
Phoenix      John              farmer
Reeve        Robert            blacksmith
Reeve        William           thatcher
Reynolds     William           farmer
Roper        Edward            farmer, Short green, overseer,
                               assessor, and colr. of taxes,
                               agent to the Liverpool, London &
                               Globe Insurance Co.
Salter       Robert            bootmaker
Saunders     Henry             farmer
Scarfe       Robert            farmer
Sharman      Charles           farmer, Church farm
Spurdens     Batson            tailor and farmer
Tommis       Rev. John         curate
Turner       George            farmer
Warnes       Robert            farmer
Witton       Joseph            blacksmith & farmer
Woodrow      Mr Edward
Woodrow      William           miller & farmer
Wright       Mrs Maria         victualler, The Fighting Cocks
Youngman     John              farmer, surveyor of highways

CARRIERS from Old and New Buckenham to Diss pass through on Frids.

See also the Winfarthing parish page.

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Copyright © Mike Bristow.
January 2001