CRANWORTH church has a great deal of heraldry, mostly of the Gurdon family who lived at Letton Hall.

A tablet in the north aisle with eight coloured shields, for Brampton Gurdon of Letton, died 3 November 1769, aged 62  The inscription is confusing, but the descent is:
John Gurdon of Assington, Suffolk (whose mother was presumably a Sexton), married Amy the daughter and heir of William Brampton of Letton. Their only son was Brampton Gurdon of Assington, who married twice, first not mentioned, secondly Muriel Sedley, daughter of Martin Sedley of Morley. Their third surviving son  was Brampton Gurdon of Letton, who married Mary, 2nd daughter of Henry Polsted of London; died 12 August 1679, aged 71.

Their eldest son, this Brampton, (died at Letton 3 November 1669, aged 62 and is buried at Southburgh in the chancel, q.v.)  married Elizabeth, eldest daughter of Francis Thornhagh, who was son and heir of Sir Francis Thornhagh of Fenton, Nottinghamshire, Kt.

Thomas, the second son, was a London merchant, who died unmarried 3 May 1680.
Brampton and Elizabeth’s issue were Thornhagh John, Brampton, and another Brampton who like his sister Elizabeth died in infancy.

Quarterly of nine: 1 and 9, GURDON; 2, SEXTON; 3, BRAMPTON; 4, Chequy Or and Gules a Bend Ermine – CLIFTON; 5, Argent on a Fess Gules three Annulets Or – BARTON 1; 6, Paly of six Argent and Azure over all a Fess Gules  – BURGATE; 7, Argent issuing from the chief three Piles wavy Gules over all a Fess Azure –*BARTON 2 3; 8, Azure a Chevron between three Escallops Or – *BROWN 4.     Crest: A Goat climbing a Rock, issuing from the top a sprig of Laurel all proper – Gurdon.

The shields surrounding the main arms are each suspended by a strap;  below:
Sable three Leopards’ faces jessant-de-lys Or a mullet Argent  for difference – GURDON, impaling Argent fretty Sable – POLSTED (POLSTROD)5. For Brampton Gurdon’s marriage to Mary Polsted.

On the left: GURDON, without the difference, impaling a blank shield; presumably for Thomas the brother who died unmarried.

Quarterly: 1 and 4, GURDON, 2 SEXTON, 3,  BRAMPTON,  impaling Chequy Argent and Gules – *VAUX 6. ?For a child of Brampton and Muriel Sedley.


On the right:
GURDON quartering SEXTON impaling BRAMPTON. For the marriage of John Gurdon to Amy Brampton.

GURDON quartering SEXTON and BRAMPTON, impaling Azure a Fess wavy between three Goats’ heads erased Argent – SEDLEY7. For Brampton Gurdon’s marriage to Muriel Sedley.

Below, to the left:
GURDON a mullet Argent  for difference  impaling Argent two Annulets linked together Gules  between  three Crosses patty Sable – THORNHAGH. For the fourth son Brampton Gurdon’s marriage to Elizabeth Thornhagh.

On the right:
Sable three Leopards’ faces jessant-de-lys Or a Mullet charged with a Crescent in chief for difference – GURDON,  impaling  a blank shield. Presumably for a Gurdon who died in infancy.

To the right of the east window of the north aisle, eight shields:

For Sir William Cooke of Broom Hall, Bart, MP,  died 1708 aged 78. His wife Jane (Stewart) died 1698 aged 63. At the top: Or a Chevron engrailed Gules between three Cinquefoils Azure on a chief Gules a Lion passant guardant Argent with the baronet’s badge – COOKE; impaling Or a Fess chequy Argent and Azure – STEWART-2. Crest: Gurdon.
On the left:

Cranworth021B  Or three Bars gemel Gules on a Canton Argent( five Lozenges Gules in saltire) – HIRME 8, impaling COOKE, without the baronet’s badge.

GURDON impaling COOKE.


On the right:
STEWART-2 impaling COOKE.Cranworth022

Above: Sable three Lozenges Or – ALLEN? Below:  Chequy Or and Gules a Bordure Ermine – WARREN? impaling COOKE.

GURDON impaling COOKE.

And in the centre below, a shield quarterly of twelve impaling one quarterly of twenty-four:


Quarterly of twelve: 1 and 12, Or a Chevron engrailed Gules between three Cinquefoils Azure on a chief Gules a Lion passant guardant Argent with the Baronet’s badge – COOKE; 2, Or a  Cross Gules –*COCKERELL9; 3, Gules eight Martlets Or 3-2-3 a crescent for difference – BOHUN; 4, Vert nine Fleur-de-lys Argent – DALLINGHOWE; 5, Argent  a Fess Vert between three Crescents Sable – UNIDENTIFIED 01; 6, Argent on a Fess Azure between three Unicorns’ heads couped Sable  as many Fleur-de-lys Or – *LEE 1 10; 7, Argent a Fess between three Leopards’ heads Sable – *LEE 2 11; 8, *CAWSSE – *Sable  a Chevron Or between  three Fleur-de-lys Argent.12; 9, Azure  a Cross Or – SHELTON; 10, Argent  a Chief indented Gules – BROME; 11, Or a Fess chequy Argent  and Azure – STEWART-2, impaling
Quarterly of twenty-four: 1 and 24, Or a Fess chequy Argent  and Azure – STEWART-2; 2, Or a Fess chequy Argent  and Azure on an escutcheon of the second a Lion rampant Gules  debruised with a Bend raguly Or – STUART-3 13; 3, Argent a Lion rampant Gules  debruised with a Bend raguly Or – STEWARD; 4, Vert  three Boars’ heads couped Argent – BURLEY; 5, Argent  a Lion rampant Sable – WALKFARE; 6, Argent  a Chevron Gules between three Hurts Azure – BASKERVILLE; 7, Gules a Fess Ermine  with  in chief a label of five – WALLIS OR WALES; 8, Gules  a Fess chequy Argent  and Sable  between six Crosses fitchy14 molines Or – BUTLER; 9, Quarterly Argent  and Azure  on a Bend Sable  three Martlets of the first 15 – LE GROS; 10, Argent  on a Cross  Sable  a Leopards’ head Or – BRIDGES 16; 11, Gules  a Fess  between  three Escallops Argent – PITCHARD; 12, Azure  a Fess between  three Chessrooks Or – BODENHAM; 13, Or a Chevron  Sable – WIMONDSELL; 14, Argent a Griffin segreant Sable – *MORGAN 17; 15, Per pale Sable  and Gules a Lion rampant guardant Argent crowned Or – BESNEY? 16, Or a triple-towered Castle Sable – UNIDENTIFIED 02 18; 17, Gules  a double-headed Eagle Argent crowned and armed Or – UNIDENTIFIED 03; 18, Argent  a Cross flory Sable  between  four Cornish Choughs proper – SPENDELOW; 19, Argent nine Fleurs-de-lys Sable – UNIDENTIFIED 04; 20, Azure three Lions passant guardant in pale Or – UNIDENTIFIED 05 19; 21, Argent  a Lion rampant within a Bordure engrailed Sable – *HARPER 20; 22, Azure  a Chevron between three Leopards’ faces Or – FROYK; 23, Argent  a Griffin segreant Sable –  *MORGAN.

Another coat of arms on the west wall is for Robert Thornhagh Gurdon, eldest son of Brampton and Henrietta Gillingham; born 18 June 1829, married first 4 September 1863 to Harriott Ellin, 6th daughter of Sir William Miles, Bart., she died 9 April 1864, leaving one daughter Amy Harriott, who married first Lionel Clark Drummond, who died 5 March 1891, and secondly, Alfred Bayley Ridley, who died 26 March 1898.

Robert married secondly 27 July 1874 Emily Frances, third  daughter of Rev. Robert Boothby Heathcote; their children were:
1.    Bertram Robert, born 20 May 1875, died 27 June 1875;
2.    Muriel Charlotte, born 17 April 1876;
3.     Bertram Francis, born 13 June 1877, who succeeded to the family estates.

Robert Thornagh Gurdon of Letton and Grundisburgh  represented South and Mid Norfolk as an MP, and was created baron Cranworth in 1899; he was Chairman of the Norfolk Quarter Sessions 1868-1901, the first Chairman of Norfolk County Council 1889-1902.  He died 13 October 1902 at Letton Hall.


As a peer, Baron Cranworth had supporters to his arms, and he chose the Goat from the crest, each with double golden collars.

Quarterly 1 & 4, GURDON, 2 & 3, BRAMPTON, impaling  Azre a Chevron Ermine between three Lozenges Argent each bearing a Fleur-de-lys Sable – *MILES, impaling Ermine three Pomeis bearing a Cross Or – HEATHCOTE.  Supporters: Goats.  doubly wreathed on either side.     Crest and Motto: Gurdon.

Royal College of Midwives

Rodney Chapman has kindly drawn my attention to an armorial window in the Chapel at Beetley. It has a delightful coat of arms, in memory of Gillian Mary Barnard, who lived from 1937 to 1986. Within a flowered border, it has two midwives as supporters, the dexter one cradling an infant and with a bunch of lilies in her arms as well; the sinister one has what appears to be a brick of gold (not to my mind a very likely description!) in her left hand; her right rests on the arms. These have, within a border quartered Argent and Sable, on an Azure field a silver elongated star between two gloved hands – the symbolism being the delivery of a new hope. Above the arms, a helm right-facing, surmounted by a wreath Azure and Argent from the mantling, and above, a golden coronet. The motto on a scroll above the arms says VITA DONUM D.E.T, presumably “this work given by D.E.T”.


In heraldic terms, the blazon appears to be: Azure an elongated Estoile Argent between two Gloved Hands as thoughreceiving the delivery, within a Bordure quarterly Argent and Sable. Mantling: Azure and Argent, with a wreath of the colours surmounted by a Coronet Or from which arises a leaved stem prpoer bearing three Fruits Or. Supporters: two Midwives, the dexter bearing a new-born babe and holding inher arms a group of Lilies, the sinister holding oin her left hand a golden block (?brick).  Motto, on a scroll above: VITA DONUM DET (or DEJ?).

The Royal College of Midwives website shows only a modern logo of two outlines of figures, with no mention anywhere of an heraldic coat of arms, nor doea any other source help. Can anyone assist?

Tittleshall – Sir Edward Coke

Sir Edward Coke was a Norwich Grammar school boy who went to Cambridge, and was called to the bar. He was involved in Henry Cromwell’s libel case, and in a defining precedent in land law. He built Godwick Hall and took his bride there.

William Cecil, first minister to Queen Elizabeth, took him under his wing. Coke became MP for Aldeborough in 1589, and four years later was elected Speaker, skilfully preventing the Commons from interfering in church affairs, as Elizabeth desired. He became Attorney General, prosecuting the earls of Essex and Southampton, Sir Walter Raleigh, and the perpetrators of the Gunpowder plot in treason trials. In 1606 he was made Chief Justice of the Court of Common Pleas. He defied King James, stating that the common law was supreme even where the king claimed power to withdraw a case from the courts or wanted to act as judge or change the law. James was furious, but Coke ‘s position was strong; he was respected and beyond corruption.

Francis Bacon, despite having clashed with Coke earlier, persuaded James to appoint him to the Privy Council and as Chief Justice of the King’s Bench, partly to look after royal interests. But Coke maintained the overall supremacy of common law against all except parliament. Only the Court of Chancery was too strong; he lost a battle with the Lord Chancellor when the court interfered with a common law decision; and his hints of scandal in the Overbury murder trial offended. He disobeyed the king’s orders in another case. Bacon had him charged, and he was dismissed, but gradually returned to influence. His outspokenness led to nine months in prison, but nothing was proved against him. At 76, he developed ancient liberties into the Bill of Rights. “He was one of the most eminent lawyers that ever presided as a judge in any court of justice” said Judge William Best in 1824.

On the north wall of the chancel, the Coke Monument has an effigy and nine coloured shields. “Sir Edward Coke, Kt., a late reverend Judge, borne at Mileham in this county of Norfolk. He had two wives. By Bridget, his first wife, one of the daughters and co-heiresses of John Paston, Esq., he had issue seaven sonnes and three daughters. And by the Lady Elizabeth, his second wife, one of the daughters of the Rt. Honble. Thomas, late earl of Exeter, he had issue two daughters. He crowned his Pious life with a Pious and Christian departure at Stoke Poges in the County of Buckingham, on Wednesday, the third day of September, in ye yeare of our Lord MDCXXXIIII and of his age LXXXIII” (3 September 1634, aged 83).

Sir Edward Coke

Quarterly of eight: COKE, CRISPIN, FOLKARD, SPARHAM, NERFORD, YARMOUTH, KNIGHTLEY and PAWE. The crest is broken, but Farrer says it was: On a chapeau Azure, turned up Ermine, an ostrich Argent, holding in its mouth a horseshoe Or, – Coke. The motto reads PRUDENS QUI PATIENS – He who is patient is prudent.

Coke’s arms

Across the monument below the white marble figure of the bearded Sir Edward COKE dressed in his Judges robes, richly decorated and with a chain around his neck. His long-fingered hands are at prayer, his hair confined by a skull cap; and he rests on a tasseled pillow. The effigy was carved by John Hargrave, the rest of the memorial was made by Nicholas Stone. The figures on the arched pediment represent the cardinal virtues – Justice, Prudence, Temperance and Fortitude.

Effigy of Sir Edward Coke

Below the effigy are three shields, all showing deterioration; from the left:
COKE:Per pale Gules and Azure three Eagles displayed Argent impaling PASTON: Argent six Fleurs-de-lis Azure a chief indented Or;


COKE, and
COKE impaling CECIL – Barry of ten Argent and Azure six Escutcheons three two and one Sable each charged with a Lion rampant of the first.



A monument by the north wall of the chancel, with a kneeling figure and three coloured shields, for “Bridget, daughter and one of the hears of John Pastan Esqre, (sic) of Huntingfield Hall, Suffolk, first wife (married 1582) of Edward Coke, Esqre, Attorney Generall; died 27 June 1598. Had issue, Edward, Robart, Arthur, John, Henry, Clement, Anne, and Bridget.” They had their main residence at Godwick Hall, near Tittleshall.

Bridget Coke

Above, a shield within a circle; any crest has been lost.
Quarterly: COKE, CRISPIN, FOLKARD3 and PAWE impaling Quarterly of Seventeen:
1, Argent six Fleurs-de-lis Azure a chief indented Or, – PASTON;
2, Argent a Fess between two Chevronels Gules a Bezant for difference, – PECHE;
3, Ermine on a chief indented Gules three ducal Coronets Or, – LEACH;
4, Or on a Chevron between three Lions’ heads erased Gules as many Bezants, – SOMERTON;
5, Argent on a Chevron Gules three Fleurs-de-lis Or, – PEYVER;
6, Gules an Escutcheon within an Orle of Martlets Argent, – WALCOT;
7, Argent a Chevron between three Bears’ heads couped Sable muzzled Or, – BERRY;
8, Argent a Fess between six Cross-crosslets fitchy Gules, – CRAVEN;
9, Gules a Saltire engrailed Argent, – KERDESTON;
10, Argent a Fess in chief two Crescents Gules, – WACHESAM or SOTHERTON;
11, Azure a Lion rampant guardant Or, – HETHERSETT;
12, Ermine on a chief Gules three Lozenges Ermine, – CHARLES;
13, Chequy Or and Gules a chief Ermine, – TATSHALL;
14, Argent a Chief indented Gules, – HENGRAVE;
15, Sable a Fess between two Chevrons Or, – GERBRIDGE;
16, Azure a Cross Or, – MAUTEBY or MAUTBY;
17, Azure a Cross moline Or over all a Bendlet Gules, – BASINGES?*

The other two shields, in the pediment above the kneeling figure of Bridget, are those of COKE and PASTON.

Arms above

Burnham Overy

Lest you think all heraldry is on monuments and in windows, I am adding a few ledger slabs.  This one is interesting, with three coats of arms:

Mary Mott, daughter of Robert and Ann Blyford of Burnham Overy.  She married first, John Thruston, by whom she had two children, Mary and John;  and second, Edmund Mott, Doctor of Physick, having three more children, Edmund, Mary, and John.  She died 24May1702, aged 40.

Mary Mott, with three coats of arms

In the centre, On a Bend three Mullets with a Crescent for difference. – BLYFORD; Crest: A demi-Lion rampant. – Blyford.

On the dexter side, Three Buglehorns stringed (Or garnished Azure). – THRUSTON, impaling BLYFORD; Crest: A Heron (Argent). – Thruston of Hoxne.

On the sinister side, Sable) a Crescent (Argent). – MOTT, impaling BLYFORD.  Crest: A Mullet of six points. (Mott: A Mullet of eight points Argent.)

The Hastings Brass at Elsing


                In 1408, a remarkable occasion took place in Elsing Church.  Sir Edward Hastings, great-grandson of Sir Hugh Hastings, was defendant to a suit by Reginald, Lord Grey of Ruthin in the Court of Chivalry, sitting in the Guest Hall of the Priory at Norwich, and concerning the title of  Lord Hastings.  He asked the Commissioners to adjourn to the church to see evidence on his ancestor’s tomb and in the windows which could not be brought to the Court without great damage being done to them.  This they agreed to do, resulting in a unique and detailed description of the memorial brass as it was in those days, written in Norman French, with the evidence and depositions being nearly 800 pages long.

Four generations later, it was Sir Edward Hastings who, on his uncle John’s death, claimed the title of Baron Hastings.  The Lord Grey of that time disagreed.  The Court of the Constable and Marshall, or Court of Chivalry, considered the matter, and found for Reginald Lord Grey, awarding him “971lbs 17s” costs, a fearsome amount of money in those days.  Edward refused to pay, still styled himself Lord Hastings and Stoteville, and was consigned to the Marshalsea prison, where here stayed, stubbornly refusing to give away his heir’s claim to the baronies, for twentyone years until his death.

It was Sir Edward’s son John, who was not knighted, who built (or re-built) Elsing Hall, a handsome moated mansion of flint and red brick, as evidenced by the arms that were in the porch, of Hastings quartering Foliot and impaling Morley – (Argent) a Lion rampant (Sable) crowned (Or);  his wife Anne was the daughter of Lord Morley.

The Brass

The brass itself was “rubbed” in 1781 showing many elements now lost.  A reconstruction has been made for rubbing and is at the back of the church.  The original was displayed in the “Chivalry” Exhibition of 1987, and afterwards was carefully restored and placed in a surrounding stone frame.  As before, it lies in the centre of the chancel, the founder’s place.  Its design was taken from the Earl of Pembroke’s tomb in Westminster Abbey.

The central figure of Sir Hugh stands within a canopy,with his body slightly flexed to the right (a French trait  which accords with the continental origin of the engraving;  King Edward, Lawrence Hastings and Ralph Lord Stafford show a similar sway to one side).  His hands are elevated before him in prayer.  The brass was gilded, and the coats of arms were coloured; the pommel of Sir Hugh’s sword has another small Hastings coat of arms,  In the corners there were shields of glass, two with his own coat and two with his wife’s coat, Gules a bend Argent,  but these have been long gone.

On the jupon, on the shield, and repeated on the sword pommel, are his arms:  (Or) a Maunch (Gules) with a label of three – Hastings.  The crest is on the finial over the central figure:  a Bull’s head erased – Hastings.

Two angels hold Sir Hugh’s eight-cornered diapered and tasselled pillow; two more angels above his head  assist the rise of his soul heavenwards in a napkin .  Within the upper part of the canopy, St. George attacks not a dragon but the devil.  On the finial is Hasting’s crest of a bull’s head erased; to either side, on brackets, the coronation of the Virgin Mary.  One upper corner has another angel with a censer; the other is missing.

     The surrounding inscription has gone as well, but according to an old record it read:

“Hic iacet humatus Hastynges Hugo, veneratus Y modum fari potuit, petijt tumulari Luce ter x mense Julij mors hinc terit ense Anno fertur in M. ter C quarter x. quoque septem Vos qui transitis Christum rogitare velitis, Hunc ut saluet a ve Finis sit cum pater Aue.”

“Here lies interred the revered Hugh Hastings;  He wanted to be buried in the style in which he lived.  On the thirtieth day of July 1347 death took his sword. You who pass by ask God to forgive his trespasses; pray for him with an Ave and an Our Father”.

There were eight panels of “weepers”, in this instance Sir Hugh’s relatives or companion in arms from his warrior days; six remain.  There is no evidence that these individuals actually attended his funeral.  Two shields have been lost from the panels; the edges remain smoothly turned in, and are free of the damage which might have been evident had enamel been cut from the brass there.  They were probably also inserts of coloured glass.  The whole must have looked spectacular.   The brass of Sir Hugh and the attendant figures provides a very rare record of the development of the armour of the day.

In each side pillar are four canopied panels showing the commanders and colleagues with whom he fought in France. On the dexter side, KING EDWARD III heads the “weepers”, his arms Quarterly France Ancient and England.  Below him, THOMAS BEAUCHAMP, EARL OF WARWICK, with Gules a Fess between six Cross-croslets Or.

Next was Sir HUGH LE DESPENSER, THE 3RD BARON DESPENSER, bearing Quarterly Argent and Gules Fretty Or over all a Bendlet Sable, though this panel is missing on the original. At the bottom is SIR JOHN GREY OF RUTHIN, with Barry of six Argent and Azure in chief three Torteaux a label of three points Argent.

On the sinister side, HENRY PLANTAGENET, KG, later DUKE OF LANCASTER is at the top; his arms are Gles three Lioncels passant guardant Or a label of three points Azure each charged with as many Fleurs-de-lis Or. Next, LAWRENCE HASTINGS, 4TH LORD HASTINGS AND ABERGAVENNY, and later EARL OF PEMBROKE, bearing Quarterly 1 and 4, Or a Maunch Gules – HASTINGS, 2 and 3, Barry Argent and Azure an Orle of Martlets Gules for VALENCE.

Third is RALPH DE STAFFORD, KG, LORD STAFFORD, with Or a Chevron Gules. Lastly, ALMERIC LORD ST. AMAND Or fretty Sable on a chief  Sable three Bezants.

Six of the “weepers” were related to Sir Hugh Hastings; Henry Lancaster was also the superior lord of the Foliot manors at Elsing and elsewhere.

Three of the figures bore shields which have been removed – it is likely these were also of enamel. The whole would have been one of the most magnificent memorials and works of art of the fourteenth century.

What were almost certainly Sir Hugh’s bones were found under a stone just to the east of the brass, where the founder’s tomb would be expected to lie. It showed recent damage to his jaw and teeth. Sir Hugh was sent home from the siege of Calais to deal with a riot in Lincolnshire. He received wounds, probably a sword blow across his face, and died near London from them. His will is still extant.

[This image is from a document in the Norfolk Record Office, probably drawn by Thomas Martin; it has been coloured by the author.]

There used to be an east window with Sir Hugh and Lady Margery kneeling before a church, bearing the Hastings and Foliot arms on their robes, and with the bull’s head crest between them, and with more shields of arms in four lateral lights, but these have all been destroyed.


Horatio, Lord Nelson

The village famous for being the birthplace of Horatio Nelson; he was born in 1758, the fifth child of a family of nine, when his father was rector here. His mother was Catherine Suckling, sister to Maurice Suckling, Captain in the Royal Navy, who took the young Horatio into his ship’s company when he gained command of the ‘Raisonnable’, a 64-gun ship of the line. The captain lived at Woodton Hall and had no children of his own; his wife was Mary Turner, grand-daughter (or great-niece) of Sir Robert Walpole of Wolterton, the first Earl of Orford, and he was thus related to many of the most eminent families of Norfolk, including the Wodehouses of Kimberly, Townshends of Raynham, Bullens of Blickling, and the Durrants of Scottow Hall. When his sister Catherine died in 1767, Maurice assisted her family in many ways.

Horatio Nelson entered the Navy in 1770 after attending the High School at Norwich; by 1797 he was Rear Admiral. He was invested with the K.B. in 1797 after losing an arm in a fight off Tenerife, soon after the Battle of Cape St. Vincent in which he also fought, and he was installed in that order in 1803. He commanded at the Battle of the Nile off Aboukir in 1798, and as well as receiving the thanks of Parliament he was created Baron Nelson of the Nile that year.

For his part in restoring King Ferdinand of Naples to his throne, the king made him a Knight Grand Cross of St. Ferdinand and Merit of Naples, and also created him Duke of Bronte in Sicily in 1801, giving him a large estate there. This award had to be approved by the English King and he obtained a Royal licence for himself and his heirs to hold this dukedom later that year.

At the Battle of Copenhagen in April 1801 he heavily defeated the Danish Fleet, and was rewarded by being made Viscount Nelson of the Nile and of Hilborough (Norfolk). It was this title which in the event of his failing to produce sons was specially remaindered to his father and his male heirs, then to the male heirs of his sisters, Susanna, who was married to Thomas Bolton, Esq., and Catherine, married to George Matcham, Esq. There were no children from Horatio’s marriage to Frances Nisbet; his daughter was born to Lady Hamilton in 1800, by which time his marriage had broken down.

Viscount Nelson

It was his brother, the Rev. William Nelson who succeeded Horatio; his elder brother Maurice had died unmarried in 1801, and a younger brother Edmund even earlier. William was created 2nd Baron Nelson of the Nile and of Hilborough, and also Duke of Bronte; and in view of the remarkable victory in 1805 of Trafalgar where Horatio had died, William was also created Viscount Merton of Trafalgar and of Merton (in Surrey), and also Earl Nelson of Trafalgar and of Merton, with the same special remainder, as well as an annuity of £5000 p.a. and a gift of £90,000 for him to buy an estate. He died without surviving male issue in 1835; of his three peerages, the Dukedom passed to his daughter, Baroness Bridport, but the Earldom and Barony was inherited by Thomas Bolton, the only surviving son of Nelson’s sister Susanna.

 Nelson’s heraldry.

                 Nelson was granted, in 1797, as a mark of his distinguished service, the arms of the Nelson family of Lancashire which were registered in the Visitation of Lancashire in 1664. The Heralds, Garter and Clarenceux, recorded that he was descended by tradition from that family, though he was unable to produce evidence of any connection with them. The arms were: Or a Cross flory Sable over all a Bend Gules.

On top of this red bend was another Bend engrailed Or bearing three Bombs fired proper, given by the enthusiastic heralds of the day. This was augmented by A Chief undulated Argent thereon Waves of the sea from which issues a Palm tree between dexter a disabled Ship and sinister a ruined Battery all proper, given by the King to mark the Battle of the Nile. All this was within the circlet of the Order of the Bath with its motto ‘TRIA JUNCTA IN UNO’ – ‘Three joined in one’. He had supporters granted because of his membership of this Order: on the dexter side, A Sailor armed with a cutlass and a pair of pistols in his belt proper, the outer hand supporting a staff bearing a Commodore’s flag Gules; and on the sinister side, A Lion rampant reguardant proper, in his mouth a broken flagstaff bearing the Spanish flag Or and Gules.

Lord Nelson

Further embellishments were piled on to this extravaganza, which was surmounted by a Viscount’s coronet. There were two crests: dexter, on a Naval Crown Or, the Chelengk or Plume of Triumph presented to him by the Grand Signior; and on the sinister, above a Peer’s helmet and a wreath of the colours, the stern of a Spanish Man of War proper inscribed thereon ‘San Josef’. ‘San Josef’ was the name of one of the battleships captured in the battle off Cape St. Vincent in 1797, when Nelson’s commander was Admiral Sir John Jervis. The ‘Grand Signior’ was the Sultan Selim III.

A second augmentation was added after his death: A Fess wavy charged with the word “TRAFALGAR” Or. It seems that the supporters were augmented at the same time by two additions: on the dexter side, the Sailor grasped a palm branch proper in his left hand; and on the sinister, the Lion grasped a palm branch in his dexter paw and broken staffs bearing the Tricolour and the flag of Spain in his mouth. The palm branch refers to his motto, which read ‘PALMAN QUI MERUIT FERAT’ – Let he who merits the palm bear it. This illustration shows a ribbon suspending the Knight Grand Cross of the order of St. Ferdinand and Merit, which King Ferdinand of Sicily created specially for Nelson in June, 1800; above is a smaller unidentified medal. The arms are ensigned by the coronet of the Dukedom of Bronte, and over that, the coronet of a viscount.

[i] According to the pedigree in the College of Arms: see Wagner, A., p. 91).

[ii] Much of this information comes from Wagner, A: Historic Heraldry of Britain. London, 1939; and from Nelson and Associated Heraldry, a guide written by R. C. Fiske for The Nelson Society, 1983.

Sir William Calthorpe

A grand brass in the chancel, with full-length portraiture and two shields, for William Calthorpe, Knight, one-time lord of the manor and Patron of All Saints, Burnham, the son of Oliver Calthorpe, Kt.

He died 24 December 1420; and he has the Collar of SS with a pendent Forget-me-not flower, the Lancastrian Order of Knights, around his neck; he may have been a founder member of that Order.  His first wife preferred to be buried next to her first husband at Beeston St Lawrence.  Isabel his second wife, was daughter and heir of Sir Edmund de St. Omer.

There are two shields alongside the canopy: Chequy (Or and Azure) a Fess Ermine. – Calthorpe; and the second shield has: (Azure) a Fess between six Cross-crosslets (Or) with an annulet for difference. – St. Omer. Two falcons with jesses[i] hold scrolls in their beaks, bearing the motto in Norman French: PENSEZ DE FYNER. – Contemplate infinity(?). His feet rest on hairy dogs, possibly indicating that he died at home.

[i] ‘Jesses’ are thong or cords attached to the hawk’s legs.

East Barsham Manor

A splendid Elizabethan manor in red brick, with carved red brick coats of arms, sadly deteriorating with the acid rain and time.  It lies in  a hollow, screened by trees, on the road to little Walsingham and appears magically as one drives past the local inn.

The Fermor family apparently came to this parish around 1390, when William Fermor was vicar. Sir Henry Fermor, “a man of great worth and dignity”, first married Margaret, the widow of John Wode who held the manors of Wolterton and Waldegrave and these manors in Norfolk were settled upon him on payment of £35 each to Elizabeth Wode and her husband Sir James Boleyn, to Alice, a second daughter, and her husband Michael Mackerel, of London, and to Dorothy, a third daughter, and her husband William Whayte of Tittleshall. The manor of Wolterton included what we now know as East Barsham; St Martin’s, or East Hall, manor had been merged with Wolterton’s manor when it passed from Sir John Tuddenham and John Heydon’s hands to the Wode family in about 1352; Rochford’s manor was joined to Wolterton manor later, in 1571.

Henry married secondly Winifred Dynne of Heydon.

Henry was knighted, and became High Sheriff of Norfolk in 1533; and later that year made his will, leaving his wife her furnished lodging in the east wing of the manor during her widowhood, with two maids and a man to look after her, and “meat and drink” with “a bason and ewer of silver, a nest of gilt goblets, a dozen of silver spoons, two goblets, two salts, and a pleane piece” (? a plate) for life, along with sundry pewter pots pans and candlesticks, etc.  He probably died in 1534.

The house has Henry VII’s ROYAL ARMS with the greyhound and griffin supporters; on the gatehouse, the supporters are a lion and a griffin; the change in use can be dated to about 1527. Here as with most of the coats of arms, there has been severe deterioration over the last 25 years. 

It was Sir Henry who, about 1520-1530, built the magnificent manor house with its embattled south-facing façade, twisted chimneys and eight polygonal turrets. Above the front door was carved in the soft red Norfolk brick the ROYAL ARMS OF HENRY VIII: Quarterly, 1 and 4, (Azure) three Fleurs-de-lis. – FRANCE MODERN, 2 and 3, (Gules) three Lions passant guardant (Or). – ENGLAND, – though the supporters used were those of his predecessor Henry VII (who had died in 1509), the Griffin bezanty and the Greyhound. Above the arms is a Royal Crown, below it a Tudor Rose, and in each upper corner is a Portcullis apparently surrounded by a chain.

The gatehouse was evidently constructed afterwards, for here the ROYAL ARMS have supporters which Henry VIII adopted in 1527, the Lion bezanty and Griffin.

To the side of the royal arms here are more carved brick coats: to the right (west), FERMOR: (Argent) on a Saltire (Sable) between four Lions’ heads erased (Gules) a Martlet (Argent) between four Bezants on a chief (Azure) an Anchor between two Pallets (Or) impaling (Argent) three Pales (Gules) - ?;

and on the left,  FERMOR impaling (Argent) a Lion rampant (Gules). – STAPLETON. Why this impalement isn’t Knyvet is unclear.

On the inside of the gatehouse is a Tudor rose within a crocketed canopy. This canopy is flanked by two coats of arms on shields suspended from hands emerging from ornate cuffs. The coat on the left is very badly damaged; on the right it has (Argent) on a Saltire (Sable) between four Lions’ heads erased (Gules) a Martlet between four Bezants on a chief (Azure) an Anchor enclosed by two Pallets (Or).Fermor, impaling quarterly of six, i. (Argent) a Bend within a Bordure engrailed (Sable). – KNYVET; ii, a Bend a Chief  ; iii, Chequy  on a Chief three Fleurs-de-lis ; iv, ? ; v, (Argent) three Pales (Gules); vi,  three Bends within a Bordure .


Henry and Margaret’s son William married Catherine Knyvet, daughter of one of the most illustrious families of Norfolk; but they had no children and the estate devolved to his brother’s heirs, one of whom wasted much of the family wealth.

William Fermor, Henry’s son, was knighted and was made High Sheriff in 1541; he died without issue in 1558 and his nephew Thomas inherited. His father, William’s brother Thomas, had been killed by the Norfolk Rebels at Castle Rising. The son married Mary Fromond of Cheam, Surrey; it seems to have been this Thomas who spent the estate; his brother Nicholas tried minting counterfeit coins but was attainted; he is said to have died of drowning in the Thames. It was Thomas’s son William who had only a daughter Mary, and it was she that brought the estate and the manor house to the Calthorpe family.

The picture of James Calthorpe (the final ‘e’ seems variable) shows naked men with clubs in the left hands on either side of a Boar’s head couped on a wreath; and Blomefield describes how two wild men or giants, armed with clubs, stood in niches on either side of the gate as janitors. The niches are still evident below the brick coats of arms, but the figures are gone. These were Calthorpe supporters, rather than acquired through marriage to Mary Fermor.

The manor passed again in the female line to the Le Strange family.

Around the main house there are two rows of terracotta tiles, both about the level of the ceilings of the rooms behind. There are also tiles facing the risers of the battlements and in another row below these. Tiles are also inserted into brickwork decoratively but occasionally; these are usually of a formalized tree pattern, or four leaf-shaped indentations radiating from the centre into the corners. These are best seen rather than described, and they (most probably later copies) are shown in the photograph of the tower to the right of the main doorway.

The upper row are mostly of similar pattern, both both the rampant lion and the saltire between four ?caltraps can be seen, together with some heads, in plain tiles.

The lower row have more decorative tiles. Mostly the shields are set within an excavated pattern resembling an engrailed bordure; but the shields are outlined on rectangular centre-pieces. There are two coats of arms: – A Lion rampant crowned -, and – a Saltire couped between four ?Caltraps. (see picture). In between these are two sorts of be-hatted head and shoulder images. {Are these of one of the owners?]. There are also Tudor roses occupying some of the tiles.

The first coat of arms is almost certainly (Argent) a Lion rampant crowned (Sable). – for STAPLETON. The second seems to be Argent a Saltire between four Staples Sable – WOOD (WODE) .

East Barsham

St Mary’s Church

A splendid monument on the south wall has five coloured shields.

“James Calthorpe dedicates this monument to the pious memory of Mary, his wife, (daughter and sole heiress of William Fermor, Esq., and Ann his wife, daughter of Robert Brook, late Alderman of London), by whom he had issue 2 sonnes who all, in this chancel, lie together interred, who died 12th May 1640, aged 28”.

Ann Fermor   Febrva: J:

William Fermor  Nove: 24: 1625

Fermor Calthorpe SER died March 2nd 1635 aged 5days.

Fermor Calthorpe JVR Decem.:J; 1637 18 days”.

Above:  Quarterly, 1, Chequy Or and Azure a Fess Ermine. – Calthorpe, Gules on a chief Argent two Mullets pierced Sable. – Bacon; 3, Argent three Chessrooks Sable. – Rookwood ; 4, Argent a Lion rampant Sable. – Stapleton.  Crest: : A Boar’s head couped at the neck (Azure) bristled and tusked (Or)-  Calthorpe.  Motto: Arise and Come to Judgment.

Centrally, above the representation of Mary: Calthorpe impaling (Argent) on a Saltire (Sable) between four Lions’ heads erased (Gules) a Martlet between four Bezants on a chief (Azure) an Anchor enclosed by two Pallets (Or). – Fermor.

To the dexter:  Fermor.

To sinister: Fermor impaling Brook: Gules on a Chevron  Argent a Lion rampant Sable crowned Or.

Below:  Calthorpe.

Holkham (3)

A monument on the south wall of the south chapel, with kneeling figure and coloured shield: For: Miles Armiger, Gent., second son of William Armiger and Anne Mansure;  died unmarried 10May 1639, aged 64; Quarterly: 1 and 4,. Azure two Bars Argent between three close Helmets Or – Armiger, 2 and 3, Vairy Argent and Sable a Bend Gules with a crescent for difference – Mansur.  Crest: On a ducal coronet Or, a Tiger sejant Gules  – Armiger.


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