The building now
known as Hockwold Hall seems to have started life in the late 15th
century, being then known as Poynings. Like all such 'manor houses', it was the
centre of a large estate based, of course, on agriculture. The possession of
land was all-important for wealth and social acceptance. After the restoration
of Charles II, the estate came into the king's hands and he gave it to certain
royalist supporters. They quickly sold it on, and it came into the hands of the
Clough family who also acquired large amounts of land in Feltwell and Methwold.
The last male of
the line was Cyrill (sic) Clough who died at Feltwell Hall. He left his
property to be split amongst his three unmarried daughters. One of these, Catherine,
married the Rev. William Newcome later in 1808. He did very well out of the
marriage, but he was no nobody, being the son of the Archbishop of Armagh.
William and Catherine lived at Hockwold, and their son, Edward Clough Newcome
inherited another third of Cyrill Clough's fortune from his unmarried aunt,
Pleasance Clough. William survived to 1845 and held several livings. He was
never Rector here, but was the incumbent of a string of parishes including
Belaugh, Mundford, Langford with Ickburgh, and ending with Sutton, near Ely.
One suspects that he may have employed a curate to do the actual work.
There was an Act
of Parliament in 1815 called the 'Hockwold Enclose Act' which is invaluable for
detailing the ownership of all the land in the parish, and one version at the
Norfolk Record Office contains a superb hand drawn and tinted map of the
village and surrounding lands. In the schedule is a long list of the property
owned by William, and in White's Gazetteer of 1836 William is recorded as the
principal landowner, followed by Gonville and Caius College. In the 1883
edition, the role had passed to Lieutenant Francis D'Arcy Newcome, and the
Newcome family continued to own the estate at least to 1917.
Last year, the
then owners of the Hall arranged for a sale of various items by Sotherby's
which took place in April 2001. No doubt as part of the preparations for this,
the owners came upon a large safe that did not seem to have been opened for at
least a century. Inside was a mass of documents - deeds, accounts, indentures -
all relating to William Newcome's estate, both property he possessed through
his wife, and other land which he had bought in 1810 and 1838. The earliest
documents date back to 1674, and include the Letters Patent granted to his
father as Archbishop by George III.
The material is
now in the Norwich Record Office and fills ten boxes (current reference
NRO/ACC/2000/281). On the whole, and on the face of it, the papers are very
boring, being lists of lands, tenants, values and rents. However, patient
reading starts to reveal some fascinating facts. One document is a beautifully
written book prepared in 1808 and it meticulously records all the property of
the late Cyrill Clough who died in 1805, and its division between his three
daughters. It is not clear what provision was made for his widow, but the net
total amount is staggering, coming to well over £85,000. Historical monetary
values are always hard to define, but in 1808 this was a sum that makes the
lottery look trivial. Catherine's share was nearly £26,000 and was made up of a
great chunk of Hockwold. Sister Pleasance received much of Feltwell (later
inherited by Catherine's son), and Rebecca had her third share in Methwold.
records start in the 17th century (there is the will of a Wilton man
called John Sutton from 1645), to start with, I have only looked at the
documents relating to the end of the 18th century and the first
years of the 19th. These records are packed with Hockwold names and
places. There are references to Whistler, Thickpenny, Cock, Brundish, Sharpe,
Barnard, Grimmer, Waddington, Gower, Hevengham and several others. Topographic
items include the Mill and a Lime Kiln. There are pieces of land with names
such as Lammas Meadow, Windmill Plantation, East Fen, Upper Moor, New Close,
Calves Acre, Marriot's Close, The Wash, Bank Went and there is the site of the
Hockwold parish workhouse sold to William by the new Poor Law Commissioners in
Up until modern
times, there was no idea of an 'address' for a property. In these records,
fields and buildings are identified by 'abutments', that is, by a description
of the other properties joining onto them.
There was a Manor of Hockwold cum Wilton at this time, (my own house deeds
have many references to the Manorial Court,) but the position was not
straightforward there being at least four manors in the combined parishes. To
illustrate this, and the question of abutments, the following is the
description of a piece of Hockwold land. It come from a documents which, like
all the legal documents it is written in paragraphs of a single sentence with
no punctuation -
In the Manor of Carles in Hockwold . Seassum otherwise Seafen next Lammas Lode containing by estimation 9 acres
abutting upon Carles Drove towards the south upon a drove called Sluice Drove
towards the north upon land belonging to Thomas Tompson towards the west and
upon land belonging to the said William Newcome towards the east.
Anyone know where that is? There is a great deal of local
information in these papers, anyone fancy giving me a hand sorting it out?