[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.