Erpingham: References listed



C.C.R. 1333-37                    = CALENDAR OF CLOSE ROLLS, EDWARD III 1333-37

C.C.R. 1349-54                    = CALENDAR OF CLOSE ROLLS EDWARD III 1349-54

C.C.R. 1386-1399               =   9 RICHARD II, 1386

C.C.R. 1399-1402              = CALENDAR OF CLOSE ROLLS HENRY IV VOL I, 1399-1402

C.C.R. 1402-5                       = VOL II 1402-5;

C.C.R. 1405-9                      = VOL. III 1405-9;

C.C.R. 1413-19                   = CALENDAR OF CLOSE ROLLS HENRY V, Pt 1, 1413-19,

C.C.R. 1419-22                   = Pt 2, 1419-1422

C.F.R. 1413-1422               = CALENDAR. OF FINE ROLLS vol. XIV, 1413-1422

C.F.R. 1422-                        = CALENDAR. OF FINE ROLLS vol. XV, 1422-

C.P.R. 1416-22                    = CALENDAR OF PATENT ROLLS, HENRY V 1416-22




BLOMEFIELD, F. Topographical History of the County of Norfolk, William Miller, London, 1805-10, vol. iv.


DUKINFIELD, Astley HJ. Memorials of Old Norfolk. London 1908.

FARRER, E. Church Heraldry of Norfolk, three volumes,; Norwich, 1887.


GARDINER, J. & WENBORN, N. The History Today Companion to British History. London, 1995.

HARROD, H. Harrod’s Gleanings in Norfolk. Norwich 1857.

HAYWOOD, S.  in Digging under the Doorstep. Norfolk Museums Service, 1983.

EAST ANGLIAN ARCHAEOLOGY REPORT No. 37, Excavations at St Martin-at-Palace Plain, Norwich. Norfolk Museums Service, 1987.

HUDSON, W.   AND TINGEY, J. C. (rev). Records of the City of Norwich Vol. I, 1906, Jarrolds, Norwich: p. 273.

JAMES, Mrs Herbert: Some Norfolk Worthies, Jarrolds, London 1899

JOHN, T. Sir Thomas Erpingham , East Anglian Society and the Dynastic Revolution of 1399, Norfolk Archaeology, 1970, vol. 35, pp. 96-108.

JOHN, T Unpublished MA Thesis: ‘The Parliamentary Representation of Norfolk and Suffolk, 1377-1422, Nottingham 1959

KIRKPATRICK, J. History of the Religious Orders and Communities and the Hospitals in the County of Norfolk. Yarmouth, 1845.

MYERS, A.R. (Ed). Chronique de la traison et mort de Richard Deux, roy Dengleterre, 1327-1485, ed. B. Williams, 1846, in English Historical Documents, Vol. IV. London, 1969.

NICHOLAS, Sir N. H.(ed.). The Controversy between Sir Richard Scrope and Sir Robert Grosvenor in the Court of Chivalry; 1832

RYE, W, 1)  General History of Norfolk. London 1829.

RYE, W. 2)   Some Rough Materials for a History of the Hundred of North Erpingham; Norwich 1883.

RYE, W. 3)   Norfolk Families, Norwich, 1913.

SMITH, L.T. Expedition to Prussia and the Holy Land made by Henry Earl of Derby (afterwards King Henry IV) in the years 1390-1 and 1392-3, Camden Society, 1894.

THORNE, J.O. & COLLOCOTT, T.C. Chambers Biographical Dictionary. Edinburgh, 1984.





Soon after returning to England, the king gave Erpingham the position of constable of Framlingham castle, with the manors of Framlingham, Earl Saham and Kelsale in Suffolk, and Southfield, Framingham and Hanworth in Norfolk. These were part of the Mowbray estates which had reverted to the king during the minority of the heir of Thomas Mowbray, the late 1st duke of Norfolk, who died in 1400. The king received £321 8s 10d a year from Little Framlingham manor, and £350 from Southfield; Erpingham probably received twice that amount. Three more manors were given next year, with £40 to cover the costs of the constableship. Norfolk’s son Thomas objected to losing the title, which was withheld on the grounds that Richard’s parliament had no right to confer it; he joined the rebellion of Scrope, Archbishop of York but was arrested and beheaded without trial at York in 1405. His brother John succeeded on his majority , and obtained livery of the estates, and Erpingham surrendered them in 1406., except the manors of Little Framyngham and Southfield, which he held till 1410.[1]

With five others, Erpingham held most of the estates of Roger Mortimer, the late earl of March, from 1399 until 1401. The king received 200l. from the estates, which was probably about one third of their value. Two years later, he was appointed keeper of some parks on the Mortimer estates in Suffolk, with the castle, manor and town of Clare, with almost all of the remaining estates in Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex, until 1409, when he gave them up.[2] He sold 120 cattle and 4 bulls in Essex.[3], so was presumably farming actively; this may have been on two manors he acquired from Sir Andrew Botiller.[4]

The tenement called “The Newe Inne”, near Paul’s wharf, was granted to Erpingham for life, shortly after Henry IV’s accession, possibly so that Erpingham had a town house in London readily accessible to court. It went to his heir, Sir William Phelip, on his death[5]. He had 100 marks annually from the manor of Saham, Cambridgeshire, another 100 marks from Cambridge for life from the death of Sir Nicholas Dagworth who had previously had that fee[6], £80 a year from Norfolk and Suffolk, and £40 from the fee-farm of Norwich, all given by the king. Another 20l. came from the manor of Gimingham in about 1422. The king gave him 50 marks from the manor of Newton Longville in 1400. The constable of Cardigan castle and Andrew Lenne were ordered to deliver in 1403 the king’s gift to Sir Thomas Erpingham or Howell Brentelees his attorney a barge which had belonged to Thomas earl of Worcester.[7] There is no evidence of his having used it, but this appears to have been another significant mark of esteem.

Thomas Erpingham, Edmund Oldhalle, Nicholas de Wychyngham, Ralph Bateman and Stephen Bastwyke jointly possessed the manors of Upton and Canteley with wards, marriages, escheats, courts leet, villeins and profits, purchased from Hugh lord Burnell. The Cantley manor came to Phelip, as is shown by the arms in the spandrels of the doorway. Similarly, Erpingham jointly with William Phelip the younger, John Wynter and Nicholas Wychyngham, and others, had part of the manors of Horsforde, Great Hautboys, and Burgh in Flegge (and parts of others in Suffolk) from Hamon Lestraunge, with the associated advowsons.[8]

Thomas Erpingham and Robert Berney bought Blickling manor from Eleanor widow of Sir Nicholas Dagworth for a rent of 25 marks to her due for life. This was of course long before the present magnificent Blickling Hall was built. Dagworth’s brass remains in Blickling church; he too had been in Richard’s party, and was imprisoned in 1388. Erpingham had 100l for life from the estates.[9]

Sir Thomas Erpingham bought from Sir Hamon de Felton’s grand-daughter in 1408 the manor of Nethirhall in Lucham (Litcham) and the advowson of the church, and six years later disputed with Thomas Earl of Arundell the ownership of two crosses found on Lycheham common[10].

He bought with Simon Felbrigg and Robert Berney a manor in Norwich called ‘Tolthorphalle’, from Katherine Brewes in 1410. He was required to give Katherine a yearly rent of 20l., from Eye, and of 50l to be taken of the fee farm of Kyngeston upon Hull. It was recognised by the king that he had held Weybread manor all his life[11] .

He held the estates of Alexander, the bishop of Norwich when he died in 1413, paying rents of 200 marks to the Exchequer,[12] and all lands late of Thomas Bardolf, until his son and heir came of age

He was a feoffee regarding dispositions of manors to the son of Thomas lord Morley, Marshall of Ireland. with Michael de la Pole, earl of Suffolk and he with others had the care of the castles, estates and fees of the earl of Suffolk in 1416, and had to give manors, hundreds, and the castle, town and manor and honour of Eye to Eleanor, wife of the earl’s son.[13].

The manor of Walsoken with appurtenances in Walsoken, Walton and Wallope, Norffolk, came to him in 1420. He had to pay to Henry archbishop of Canterbury, Henry bishop of Winchester, Thomas bishop of Durham, Thomas duke of Exeter, Ralph earl of Westmerland, Henry Fitz Hugh, Walter Hungerford knight John Wodehous and John de Leventhorp esqs. 100l. a year from the manor and soke of Kirton in Lyndesey[14].

Erpingham was given the king’s permission in 1421 to purchase “the priories of Toftes and the manors of Toftes, co. Norfolk, Wermyngton, co. Warwick, Spectebury, co. Dorset, and Aston, co. Berks, the manor of Wychyngham called Longevyles parcel of the possessions of the priory of St Faith Longevyle, and the manor of Horstede, co. Norfolk, parcel of the house or priory of Caen in Normandy, alien.”[15]. He held lands and tenements in Saxlingham from the prior of Walsingham. From Rouen the king licensed him to grant two manors and a fishery to Anne, widow of Thomas lord Morley.[16]


Thus he held at least 41 manors during his life, though not all permanently; in addition he had 40l from the fee-farm of Norwich, 80l fees from Norfolk and Suffolk, 100l from Cambridge and 100 marks from Saham; 50 marks from Newton Longville, and the care of estates of the earl of Suffolk, Lord Bardolf, and Mortimer’s estates in Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex worth probably several thousands of pounds a year. This was in addition to his royal appointments at Dover and the Cinque Ports and at Framlingham, and his positions within the household and on commissions from the king and council.

He had inherited two manors or properties from his father, and during the next twenty years acquired another six. including Erpingham conferred again by Gaunt.. The biggest group of 13 manors came to him in 1399, 8 of them being given by the king, Henry IV. He bought another five in the next ten years (five in 1401), but the giving of individual manors had stopped; though he had the Clare manors in 1403.

The care of the estates of Bishop Alexander Totingham followed in 1413, and the estates of Michael de la Pole, earl of Suffolk, in 1414. He was required to give Katherine, Michael’s wife, a yearly rent of 20l., from Eye, and of 50l to be taken of the fee farm of Kyngeston upon Hul.

Interestingly, it seems as though he bought every one of the twelve manors that he acquired over the period 1410-1421, the date of his last acquisition. It might have been expected that his leadership at Harfleur and Agincourt would have been rewarded by Henry V; but this does not appear to have been so. His KG had been given by Henry IV in 1400, a reward for his support in seizing the throne. Henry V assumed the throne in 1413; but even the care of the bishop’s and the de la Pole estates are not due to his military service.

It must be that Erpingham had his share of the spoils and trophies of was from his crusades in eastern Europe and the Middle East (such as the chasuble mentioned earlier); we have no evidence of other acquisitions. But Erpingham was rich enough to build the gate, which must in present-day terms have cost over a million pounds; it is doubtful whether his manors alone have been sufficient to fund the construction, which must have been started early in the century.   He had also in 1419 glazed the great east chancel window with eight panes with 82 coats of arms inserted, in St. Michael at Conisford church of the Austin Friars, itself a costly undertaking.   The window was late enough to be helped by the revenue from his care of the major estates.

Prior to his death, Sir Thomas Erpingham gave 300 marks to the prior and convent of Norwich to found a chantry for a monk to sing daily mass for him and his family for ever, at the altar of the Holy Cross in the cathedral, and to keep his anniversary before the whole chapter.  He died on 27th June 1428, and his will, made the previous year, was proved in the prerogative court. Sir William Phelip, Sir Andrew Butler, Knights, William Bambergh, Richard Gegge, Esquires, and others were executors.   Bishop Alnwyk was supervisor. Sir Simon Felbrigge, Sir John Clifton and Sir Thomas Kerdiston, Knights, were witnesses. Writs were issued to the escheators of Berkshire, Norfolk and Suffolk, Warwick; Dorset., Lincoln and London after his death to discover the extent of his lands and possessions there.[17] The manor of Horstede was committed to Sir William Phelip, the keeping of the priory and manor of Toftes to Sir John Fastolf.[18]   In his will he gave 10M to the high altar (of the cathedral?); to every monk 6s 8d; to Erpingham and Litcham churches 40s. each; to the altar of St Martin at Palace-gate, where his town house was, 26s 8d.; to Norman’s spittle (St. Paul’s hospital) 10M; to the prisoners in the castle and guildhall 40s. each place; to Julian Lampit, a recluse at Carhoe, 10s. [19]   This strangely lacks evidence of great wealth.


[1] C.C.R. 1405-9 p. 145 17 July 1406.

[2] C.C.R. 1405-9   p. 427, 1409; C.C.R. 1413-19, p. 91, 20 Feb. 1410.

[3] C.C.R. 1399-1402 p. 128; 24 Mar 1400.

[4] C.C.R. 1399-1402 p. 392: 9 June 1401.

[5] C.F.R. 1422p. 248, 1 Nov. 1428.

[6] C.C.R. 1399-1402 (1402), p. 460.

[7] C.C.R. 1402-5 p. 226.

[8] C.C.R. 1399-1402 p. 305 26 Jan. 1401; C.C.R. 1399-1402 p. 332 13 Sept. 1401.

[9] C.C.R. 1405-9   p. 279 18 April 1407.

[10] C.C.R. 1405-9   p. 462 24 Oct. 1408. C.C.R. 1413-19 i, p. 146 28 July 1414.

[11] C.C.R. 1409-13 p110, 12 March 1410 .

[12] C.F.R. 1413-22 p. 12, 13 June 1413.

[13] C.C.R. 1402-5, p. 152;   C.C.R. 1413-19 i, p. 264: 1 Feb. 1416.

[14] C.C.R. 1419-22ii, p. 107 14 May 1420;   C.C.R. 1413-19i, 343. 27 Feb., 1417.

[15] C.P.R. 1416-22   5 June 1421.

[16] FEUDAL AIDS    p 57;   C.P.R. V 7 Feb. 1420.

[17] C.F.R. 1422 p. 189: 1 July 1428; C.F.R. 1422 p. 189: 16 July; C.F.R. 1422 p. 190: 1 July;   C.F.R. 1422 p. 235, 1 Nov.;  C.F.R. 1422 p. 236, 26 Feb. 1429.

[18] C.F.R. 1422 p. 247: 1 Nov.: 1428; C.F.R. 1422p. 242, 1 Nov. 1428.

[19] RYE W. (2).




Erpingham was “guardian of the peace in Norfolk” in 1401. At Erpingham’s instigation, Henry IV gave Norwich its new charter in 1404. This made the city and suburbs “The County and City of Norwich”, extinguished the office of the Bailiffs and enabled the citizens to elect a Mayor and Sheriffs. During the next years he served frequently on commissions both locally[1] and nationally. His reputation was high; although the parliaments complained of royal extravagance, Erpingham was specifically exempted from criticism and commended his services to Henry and the country. He was appointed to the king’s council; Lancastrian supporters looked to him for leadership

Many land and other transactions involved him as a witness or feoffee. Edmund Wynter’s proposal to ensure his mother Eleanor’s interest in the manor of Townberningham, left by William Wynter; John Wynter’s will, and the associated quitclaims, were just some of many items witnessed by him[2].

Raising funds for the king was a recurring problem. In 1407, a proclamation called “all knights, esquires, yeomen and others of the king’s retinue…. {to be} ….at the house of the friars preachers of London… before Henry bishop of Winchester…” and other including Sir Thomas, “… to treat and agree touching the form of their retainer to sail with the king to the foreign parts to which he has thought fit to repair”. Fees were collected the next year from Norfolk and Essex; and he and Bishop Alexander in 1410 had to collect by tenths and fifteenths from Norfolk, 766l. 13s. 4d. which they had lent to the king “for the defence of the realm in his present need”; a task repeated in 1421. A number of Norfolk men were given a commission “to treat among themselves about a loan to be paid to the king for the resistance of the malice of his enemies and the conservation of the rights and safe-keeping of the realm”.[3]

At the Great Assembly held in the Guildhall of the City on 5th of February 1414 Thomas Erpingham was among many present[4], and at the First Assembly of 24 July 1422, he and Simon Felbrygg persuaded the City to grant letters testimonial under the common seal of the City to testify concerning the life of Robert son and heir of John de Clifton who had died in the service of the King in Normandy.

As already mentioned, he was building the gateway which bears his name during the years up to 1420, and he was a benefactor of the cathedral in other ways; there are carved shields on elbows and misereres of Choir Stall, on the Dean’s side[5]. The portraits of his wives were also in glass adjacent to the tombs, now lost, and the pillars on either side were decorated with figures and inscriptions[6] and were recorded by Sir Thomas Browne. A fragment of glass, possibly from these portraits, in the east window of the presbytery, reconstructed by Mr. King, has Erpingham’s motto “YENK ” (“Think” or “Remember”) on four of the petals of a forget-me-not. His tomb, and that of his two wives, is on the north side of the nave, adjacent to Queen Elizabeth’s seat, where a banner has been raised (1996) to commemorate this great knight; the brass inscription has been lost. Blomefield records the word “BEWAR” as being carved on one corner of the tomb. [Why “Beware”, or “be on guard against”, there? This, like “yenk”, is one of those mystery words associated with Erpingham. Are they Old English? Neither German nor Dutch has many words beginning in “y”, so it seems unlikely that they were words of particular significance derived from his travels in the Crusades to eastern Europe].     During the vacancy of the See at Norwich in 1413, he was entrusted with the temporalities (Alexander Totington, Despencer’s successor, died in April 1413).

A fire destroyed much of the city of Norwich in c. 1414, including the convent of the Friars Preachers; it is believed that Erpingham’s brother (?) was one of the friars there. Erpingham rebuilt the Blackfriars church, now called St Andrew’s Hall, where there is a row of Erpingham’s arms in stone between every second window of the clerestory of the nave on the south side.[7]   The chancel is now called Blackfriar’s Hall. There was a hexagonal tower between the two, but that fell in 1712. St. Andrew’s Hall was acquired by the City corporation and has been used for many purposes before becoming the present concert hall; the chancel became for some years the “Dutch Church” for the use of Dutch people who settled in the city and developed the cloth trade.

The tower of St Mary’s Church, Erpingham, has the arms of Sir Thomas Erpingham on one face as patron; plus a number of other arms. The tower and church were begun in his time and at his expense, and were roofed by his heir, Sir William Phelip, Lord Bardolph and his lady, who have their arms on the roof.[8] (Phelip’s arms are also found above the doorway at Cantley, quartering Erpingham)[9].

Another church that appears to have been given his patronage is Wymondham Abbey, where his arms are still to be found in the roof of the nave. The sheriff of Norfolk and six others including Erpingham were appointed in 1410 to hear the grievances of the Prior of Wymondham against ‘evildoers’, and he may have been persuaded then to help the church financially.     Erpingham’s arms are also to be found in Heckingham church in glorious coloured glass, with another shield of Winter: Gules on a chevron Argent three cross-crosslets fitchy Or impaling Erpingham (the cross-crosslets should be Gules).[10] John Wynter of Barningham was one of his great friends; he was his first deputy at Dover Castle, and became steward of the duchy of Cornwall, “by advice of the Duke of Lancaster”, possibly prompted by Erpingham. Later he moved to the service of Henry of Monmouth, controlling his household, then returned to be the steward of the Lancastrian properties in Norfolk and Suffolk.

At Banham, Erpingham’s arms are in a window of the chapel;[11] he held the manor there at some time.   Rye records that there were further traces at Gunton which came to Sir Robert Berney in 1398[12], in the chancel window (Erpingham also presented to the living in 1396): Vert a scochion and an vrle of m’les argent; and at Overstrand: Erpingham impaling Clopton: “Arpingham in his coate armore on the southe syde of the churche his timber and creste a plume of fethers argent oute of a crowne goulis”.[13]

His arms were also in the window of Cromer church [14], and in the chapter house at Canterbury, [15]presumably in further gratitude for donations; Blomefield also records that his arms were in Blickling church, Somerton, Calthorp (Erpingham impaling Calthorp, and Erpingham impaled by Felbrigg, which may indicate other branches of the family;), Sculthorp (with Gaunt), Hilgey, Happesburgh, Hempstead, Cley, and Honing churches, and his arms were on the gateway of St. Benet’s Abbey, Horning, along with other benefactors such as Arundel, Hastings, de la Pole, Beauchamp, Clare, and Valence earl of Pembroke.[16]

At Kimberly,Sir Edward de Wodehouse, who owned lands in Kimberley in 1378, married into the Erpingham family, though this is likely to have been a collateral branch, not a daughter and co-heir as Blomefield has it, since it seems that Sir Thomas had no children. Old verses tell us:

” The Erpingham’s bear, Argent, a Scutcheon, in

An Orle of Martlets, in a Field of Green”:

and                                                                 “That he

Married an Erpingham, who fell to be

An Heir, and Litcham brought to the Familye,

Which still remains in their Posteritye”.[17]

Sir John Wodehouse is said to have been awarded a silver cup presented by Henry V to commemorate his services at Agincourt; they bear the device of “Agincourt” on their shield.[18]

In 1419 the grand East chancel window of St Michael’s Church in Conisford, the Convent of the Austin Friars[19], was glazed by Sir Thomas Erpingham, with eight panes containing 82 coats of arms, with an inscription in Latin; translated:

Sir Thomas Erpingham, Knt., made this window in honour of GOD and all the saints, in remembrance of all the Lords, Barons, Bannerets, and Knights, that have died without male issue in the counties of Norfolk and Suffolk, since the coronation of the noble King Edward the IIId. which window was made in the year of our Lord 1419.

A note in Blomefield says that after this time, 25 more knights and esquires with more than 100l per annum, dying without heirs male, had their arms put up in the church. Perhaps Sir Thomas’s own lack of children prompted this sad remembrance of mortality without continuance.

The “king’s knight Thomas Erpingham” was given in 1421 a licence “to build a bridge across the water between the counties of Norfolk and Suffolk where the king has a passage a ferry called ‘Saint Tholaves ferry alias Seynt Olcoff ferry’ (St. Olaves) or elsewhere to the relief of the adjacent county for the safety of the king and himself and Joan his wife and for their souls after death….” [20] [It is difficult to imagine where Sir Thomas and his lady might have been going to when they crossed the Waveney there; none of his manors or possessions seem to be in that area. Even Framlingham Castle had been relinquished long before, and it was hardly the most direct route thence.]

        Erpingham held the title of “the king’s knight” from 1401[21] to 1421; though John de Stanley, the king’s lieutenant in Ireland, was also recorded as holding it in 1404.[22]

Erpingham’s second wife, Joan Walton, died in 1424.


[1] C.C.R. 1409-13, (1410) p. 39 re complaints by the prior of Wymondham Abbey.

[2]   C.C.R. 1409-13 (1411) pp. 226, 229, 234; C.C.R. 1405-9, (1409), pp. 522, 524.

[3] C.C.R. 1409-13, p. 53;   C.P.R. 1416-22, 26 Nov. 1419; p.422; (11 May, 1421).

[4] Hudson , W. p. 273.

[5] Farrer. III, p. 5.

[6] Harrod, H. p. 297.

[7] Kirkpatrick, J. p. 28.

[8] Blomefield. VI, p. 410.

[9] Farrer. I, p. 233.

[10] Farrer I, p. 104.

[11] Blomefield. I, p. 356. also Marshall, Bardolph, Ufford, Brotherton, Clare; and Morley, Kerdeston, Cailey, Bavent, Tirrell,              Bassingbourne, Gawdy; Marshall impaling Tirrell; Clare impaling Plantaginet (sic).

[12] Blomefield VIII, p. 120.

[13] Rye W. (2) pp. 5-6.

[14] Blomefield VIII, p. 107.

[15]DNB, Suppl. II, p. 190.

[16] Blomefield VI, pp. 406, 470, 521; VII, pp. 177, 372; VIII, pp. 107, 123; IX, pp. 301, 311, 379; XI, pp. 46, 56.

[17] Blomefield. II, p. 543.

[18] Jones Mrs H. p. 227.

[19] Blomefield, F. vol. iv, p. 86.

[20] C.P.R. 1416-227 June1421, Dover.

[21] C.C.R. 1399-1402 p. 334 25 March, 1401;   C.C.R. 1413-19   i, 343, 27 Feb. 1417,; C.P.R. 1416-22   7 Feb.; 1420, Rouen Castle; C.P.R. 1416-22 11 June, 1420;   C.P.R. 1416-22 5 June 1421, Dover.

[22] C.C.R. 1402-05, 1404.


Sir Thomas Erpingham: THE RETURN TO ENGLAND


        John of Gaunt died in February 1399 and King Richard seized his estates, which increased the people’s hatred of him and incensed Henry Duke of Lancaster, his son, so that he immediately opposed him. He was openly solicited to expel Richard, with many of the principal towns including Norwich declaring for the Duke.

Erpingham had witnessed on 17 June 1399 a secret treaty of mutual support and defence between Henry and Louis the Duke of Orleans. He returned to England with Henry, landing at Ravenspur with just a few hundred men in July 1399.   They did, however, have the decisive support of the Percys, and the archbishop of Canterbury.   Richard was in Ireland.; Edmund, Duke of York, was Governor of England in his absence. Edmund tried to assemble an army, but no-one wanted to serve against Lancaster. Edmund, with Bishop Despencer of Norwich, Lord Berkeley and others went to meet Richard at Berkeley castle. They were besieged by Henry, and being unable to resist him, came out and were arrested and taken into custody.[1]

Richard, lacking support and betrayed by his friends, was ambushed by a party of the Earl of Northumberland’s men led by Sir Thomas Erpingham, while on his way from Conway to Fife to meet Henry. Richard was consigned to the Tower, in the charge at first of Erpingham, and was persuaded to renounce his claim to the throne. Erpingham was one of the commissioners appointed by the parliament on 29th September to whom Richard II surrendered his crown.   Parliament confirmed the deposition on 1 October, the commissioners taking the news to Richard.

Bolingbroke became Henry IV and had himself crowned; Erpingham carried the king’s sword before him on his procession to Westminster[2]. Erpingham was made Chamberlain and soon after, Warden of the Cinque Ports, in addition to his immediate appointment of Constable of Dover castle, a vital task for the safety of the realm, as France was hostile to Henry.[3]

A minor rebellion by the “duketti” in January 1400 was nipped in the bud by Henry with Erpingham in the forefront of the army. Two of the rebels, Sir Thomas Blount and Sir Benedict Cely, were executed, with Erpingham in charge of what was reported to be a grim and violent affair. He was one of eleven who petitioned the king that Richard should be executed. Richard died after a failed rescue attempt, probably of starvation after hearing of the beheading of the Earls of Salisbury, Gloucester and Huntingdon, in Pontefract Castle the next February (though some reports said that Sir Peter Exton was sent with seven men by Henry to murder him there; and that his body was exhibited at St. Paul’s Cathedral for two days to convince the populace of his death[4]).

Bishop Henry Despencer of Norwich was firmly on Richard’s side; he sent for four or five knights and others when he heard of the attempted rebellion. He claimed later that it was merely to exhort them to be loyal to Henry, but with his past loyalty to Richard that was a bit too much to swallow. Erpingham laid the facts before parliament in 1401, supported by the city of Norwich and many of its important citizens. The bishop backed down and declared his acceptance of God’s will in the new rule. Erpingham is said to have procured the bishop’s release from prison.[5] The king commended Erpingham before parliament for his actions, rebuked the bishop, and then made them shake hands in friendship.   In fact, it seems as though true friendship did develop.

Perhaps Despenser slyly got his own back by making Erpingham build the Erpingham Gate to the cathedral, completed in 1420, “in penance” for his support of Lollardy. Joan Erpingham, his first wife, had been a strong supporter of Wycliffe, and Sir Thomas seems to have been inclined that way himself, and was a friend of Sir John Oldcastle (a noted supporter); though in 1400 he had advocated decisive action against them to the king[6]. Rye says that Erpingham was arrested and committed to prison for his activity in supporting Wycliffe, and that the he was forced to build the gate as atonement and as public recognition of the power and predominance of the church, but this statement seems unsupported by references.[7]

However, the whole story of “penance” seems to have been made up by Blomefield to account for the word “pena” said to be inscribed in many places on the gate; and the kneeling figure of Sir Thomas which was said to be asking for forgiveness.. If this word is indeed Erpingham’s motto “YENK”, the story becomes suspect; more so, because the figure was a later addition, possibly replacing a Trinity[8]. Furthermore, Despencer died in 1406. We do not know when the gateway was begun; but the arms of both Erpingham’s wives appear on the gate, so the decoration at least must have been after 1409, the date of his second marriage.

In 1400 Erpingham was made a Knight of the most noble Order of the Garter (on the death of the Earl of Warwick), and was present with the Duke of Bedford and Humfrey Duke of Gloucester, lieutenants to Henry V at Windsor, at the feast of St George. He was recorded as having attended Garter ceremonials in 1419-21.


In November, 1401 he was selected to accompany Henry’s second son Thomas duke of Clarence to Ireland, as one of his two “wardens” or guardians. They landed in Dublin on 13 November and he remained there until Thomas’s return in Sept. 1403. He appears as a member of the Privy Council in 1403-4, and also remained chamberlain until February 1404, when he became steward of the king’s household; and in October he was appointed as acting Marshall of England – his seal is still extant.

Erpingham’s had his friends Sir Andrew Botiller and Sir Robert Berney as his lieutenant as Constable of Dover castle and Warden of the Cinque Ports; on about six occasions the constable was required to cause the election of two barons to represent the ports in parliaments. Ships which were arrested on suspicion of carrying out illegal trade with the king’s enemies came under his jurisdiction; as were other malefactors[9], and he was instructed to survey the defects in castle and its contents, including the arms and armour[10], and to improve the neglected fortifications of Sandwich when war threatened “as by divers plagues and other losses…the said town is become so empty and weak that the inhabitants are not able to defend it against attacks…[11].” He had to summon the barons to sail with 57 ships, seamen and provisions to Newcastle upon Tyne to support the king’s expedition to Scotland in 1400[12], and the same numbers to Southampton in 1402 “for the safe conduct of his consort Joan daughter of the king of Navarre and duchess of Brittany to his presence for solemnisation of matrimony between them…” Later in June 1402, he had to call “all lieges and allies of the king who feel aggrieved concerning attempts made by land and sea in Picardy and Normandy contrary to the truce made between the late king and the king’s cousin of France…[to] make deposition of their complaints before the king’s commissaries there…”[13] All ships were called to the Isle of Wight for survey by the king’s admiral’s “for the safe guard of the sea and safe passage of the navy of the realm to foreign parts for the vintage…”.[14] He was also concerned with illegal immigration.[15] Erpingham stayed as constable of Dover castle and Warden until February 1409, when Prince Henry replaced him.

On 11 July 1407 he was selected as one of commissioners to treat with France. Negotiations lasted from 25 July to 28th, when an armistice was agreed to last until 8 Sept. A further truce was negotiated with French envoys to England in December, to last three months.

When Henry took war to France, Erpingham crossed to Harfleur with 20 men-at-arms and 60 mounted archers in his retinue, and after assisting with the siege and capture of Harfleur, marched with Henry towards Calais. He was, as other articles herein describe, in command of the English archers at Agincourt on 25 October 1415. and gave the signal for the start of the battle. His nephew and later his heir, Sir William Phelip, then aged about 32 years, was also there; he too was later made a KG, and subsequently Lord Bardolf.

In July 1416, went with John Wakering, bishop of Norwich, and welcomed the Duke of Burgundy, John the Fearless, to English territory and thence to Calais and Beauvais to treat with the king of France; this was his last important engagement abroad, although in 1420 there was a “Commission to the king’s brother Humphrey, duke of Gloucester, constable of the Castle of Dover and Warden of the Cinque Ports, and his lieutenant there, to take two ships in the liberty of the Cinque Ports for the passage of the king’s knight Thomas Erpingham and others in his company to the king’s presence in Normandy and deliver them to the Sir Thomas or his deputy before the octaves of Midsummer[16] “. There is no evidence that Sir Thomas undertook this journey.

John Wodehouse, the Bishop of Norwich, and Sir Thomas Erpingham were the three commissioners whom the Lords of the Council sent In 1418 to persuade the gentlemen of the county to go to serve the King with arms and equipment into France, but who returned without success, because “the stoutest men were already in the army, and those that remained claimed poverty or infirmities.”[17]

In 1419 there was a “Commission of array for defence against the king of Castile and Leon, who has prepared a great armada of ships and vessels of Spain with no small number of the king’s enemies and proposes shortly to send it to do harm to the king and his and burn and destroy the ships and shipping of the realm (and especially the king’s ships at Suthampton and Portesmuth (sic)) and invade the realm.” This was repeated in another time of alarm in 1421.[18]


[1] Blomefield.   III, p. 523.

[2] John, T. Sir Thomas Erpingham , pp. 96-108.

[3] C.C.R. 1386-1399 p. 521, 19 August 1398.

[4] Chronique de la traison et mort de Richard Deux, roy Dengleterre, ed. B. Williams, 1846, in English Historical Documents, Vol. IV, 1327-1485, Ed. A.R. Myers, London, 1969.

[5]DNB Suppl. II, 190.

[6]DNB, op. cit., p. 189.

[7] Rye, W. ( 1), p. 1053.

[8] Sims, T.

[9] C.C.R. 1399-1402 pp. 341, 546; C.C.R. 1402-5, pp. 69, 407, 455;   C.C.R. 1405-9 , pp. 6, 27.

[10] C.C.R. 1399-1402, p. 335.

[11] C.C.R. 1402-5, p. 412, (17 Feb. 1405).

[12] C.C.R. 1399-1402, p. 170, (24 July, 1400).

[13] C.C.R. 1399-1402 (March 1402)   pp. 468,   571.

[14] C.C.R. 1402-5 (1403) II, p. 186.

[15] C.C.R. 1402-5 (1402) II p. 33.

[16] C.P.R. 1416-22 11 June,  1420.

[17] Blomefield. II, 547. 1418.  C.P.R. 1416-22, p. 199.

[18] C.P.R. 1416-22, p. 210. (1419).



Thomas Erpingham had already gained some military experience during service in Salisbury’s retinue during Richard II’s expedition into Scotland in 1385.   In 1386-7 he accompanied John of Gaunt, duke of Lancaster, who was exiled by the king and went into Spain so that the duke of Lancaster could pursue his claim to Castile and Léon[1]. Gaunt had been high steward, and the richest and most powerful of the king’s council; but Richard feared his possible claim on the throne; in addition, Gaunt supported Wycliffe and opposed the clergy.

In March 1386, Erpingham obtained the king’s letters of protection and general attorney [2] and they sailed from Plymouth on 7 July . He was at the relief of Brest, the capture of Santiago de Compostella, and the invasion of Castile. Having failed to defeat his rival, Henry of Trastamare, even with the assistance of Portugal, Gaunt renounced his claim to the Castile throne in the treaty of Bayonne, which gave him £100,000 and an annual pension.[3] and he returned to England. in 1389 even richer than before (his first wife, Mary Bohun, had had a very large fortune).

In 1390 Erpingham joined the personal entourage of Gaunt’s son, Henry Bolingbroke, Earl of Derby. on his first expedition to Lithuania; and on 20 July 1392 sailed from Boston with Henry on a second crusade there. Before they departed, “Nicholas Luke, a merchant of the fellowship of the Guinigii dwelling in London. [was given a] Licence to make a letter of exchange to his fellows dwelling in foreign parts for 100l payable to Thomas de Erpingham.”[4] They fought alongside the Teutonic knights at Danzig, Konigsburg and the siege of Vilna, and saw action in Prague and Vienna.. The volunteer knights came to Prussia to take part in the Reisen with the Teutonic Knights in the order’s crusade to enforce by whatever means, usually extremely violent, the adoption of Christianity by the pagan Lithuanians. Sir Roger Felbrigg had died and been buried in Prussia in 1380 during an earlier reysa, as the brass on his monument in Felbrigg church records.

Henry had sent most of his followers back on 23 September, but Erpingham remained with him, and accompanied him on his adventurous journey across Europe to Jerusalem, Cyprus, Rhodes, Venice, Padua, Verona, Milan, Turin and Paris. He did not forget the king’s loyal soldiers afterwards, either. In 1399 he reminded the king of his promise to give to John Sutbury of Crowmere the king’s serjeant 4d. a day during his life, from the issues and profits of   the petty custom of the port of Great Jernemuth, and this was confirmed.[5]

It may be that the chasuble which bears his arms, now in the Victoria and Albert Museum, was a trophy from these travels, as the material of the vestment was made in Tuscany or North Italy, probably in 1380-1400. Was this a souvenir, bought at the time, or a trophy of war, “liberated”, as the modern phrase has it, by Erpingham? The orphreys and arms were an English panel added later; it seems most likely that Sir Thomas (or one of his wives) was responsible for this, since he left no children; his heir, Sir William Phelip, was too young to have gone on the crusades with him, and William regarded the Bardolf arms, seen in the first and second quarters of his arms at Cantley church, as more important than the Erpingham arms, in the third.

In his evidence to the Court of Chivalry on the controversy between Sir Edward Hastings and Reginald Lord Grey of Ruthyn, Erpingham said that he said he had seen the arms of Hastings at the House of Our Lady in Prussia as well as on the expeditions to Brest and Spain[6].

In 1398 Henry Bolingbroke himself was sent into exile in Paris amid charges of treason, despite his having earlier supported Richard against his brother the Duke of Gloucester. Erpingham loyally went with him.

Froissart records, with no date, that “Sir Thomas Harpyngham” fought five courses in tournament with a French knight, Sir Johan of Barres, at Moustreau “in so goodly maner, that the kyng and all the others were well content with them” [7]. This may have been during this stay.


[1] Thorne J.O. & Collocott T.C.

[2] Nicholas, Sir N. H., p. 194.

[3] Gardiner J & Wenborn, N. p. 438.

[4] C.C.R. 1392-6. 9 July 1392.

[5] C.C.R. 1399-1402 p. 246

[6] Nicholas, p. 195.

[7] Froissart, p. 619.


Sir Thomas Erpingham: The early years

These papers on Sir Thomas Erpingham were published in part in the year 2000, in a book edited by Anne Curry and published by TEMPUS: Agincourt 1415.  This was the result of a symposium organised by the Norfolk Heraldry Society on Sir Thomas Erpingham and held in Norwich Cathedral in October 1996. Erpingham’s banner, stitched by Penelope Knee, was raised in the cathedral over his tomb to mark the event.

The book also has much more information about Sir Thomas, his gate and the chasuble bought home from Italy, the heraldry at Agincourt and the battle and weapons used there, particularly the longbow. Additional background material has a discussion of Henry V’s life and reign, chivalry, and Shakespeare’s Agincourt. There are many illustrations.

References are listed at the end of each chapter, and the sources and bibliography are listed in the file called “References”.



Sir John Erpingham, who was bailiff of Norwich in 1352 and 1360[1], spent most of his life there and owned a house “on the west side of the street against Rose-Lane” in 1370, possibly earlier. Blomefield’s map[2] shows it located on the corner of Cattlemarket Street and Conisford Lane, which is now called King Street. Presumably his son Thomas was brought up in part here, possibly was even born here in about 1357-8; their next door neighbours were the Reppes, distant cousins, and just along Conisford Lane was St. Michael at Conisford where Sir Thomas was later to erect a memorial stained glass window (see below); the church had been absorbed and recently rebuilt by the Austin Friars.

Sir John died on the first day of August, 1370, when his son was about thirteen, and was buried in Erpingham church, where his tomb with its lateen effigy of a knight in full armour survives; his own father had been buried there only a short time before. The Erpinghams had held the manor of Erpingham since about 1234, and Sir John had shared a grant in Intwood, with the advowson there, with another bailiff, Bartholomew Appleyard[3].

Thomas entered the retinue of the second Earl of Salisbury and Captain of Calais, William de Montacute, in 1379, and must have attracted attention by his appearance, education or prowess for in 1380, by an indenture dated 13 September, he joined the retinue of John of Gaunt (with whom Salisbury had recently served), the greatest landowner in Britain, and King of Castile from his marriage in 1371 to Constance, daughter of Pedro the Cruel (Peter I) of Castile. He became one of the duke’s knights bachelor (presumably the duke knighted him) with a retainer of 20livres a year in peace and 50 marks in war for himself and a servant[4].

The duke granted him the Erpingham manor in 1386[5], confirming this for life in 1396 Gaunt had acquired the manor of Aylsham from the king in 1372, when it became the principal town of the Duchy of Lancaster in Norfolk.   He helped to build the church there; his arms are in the porch and of the east side of the font pedestal; adjacent on the south side of the pedestal are those of Erpingham (recently renewed), which suggests a close relationship with his lord, and that the pedestal was made either during Gaunt’s possession of the manor or, less likely, by Erpingham as a memorial to Gaunt afterwards. After reverting to the crown on Gaunt’s widow’s death, Aylsham was granted to Erpingham until 1414, when it went to the king’s feoffees along with several other manors and the hundreds of North and South Erpingham, and Gallowe and Brothercross.

Sir Thomas had acquired “a messuage in Gresham called Manclerks, and two inclosures in Susted”, with others, from one John Leverich of Susted in c. 1383[6]. Erpingham was soon becoming involved in business and obligations in the city and county, for in 1384 he granted his manors at Banham, shared with the bishop of London, Robert Braybrooke, and others, to the widow of Sir Thomas de Felton., with Thomas de Morlee, marshall of Ireland, guaranteeing payment of 200l; Sir Thomas paid a yearly rent of 20l.[7] Earlier that year he had, with 13 others, agreed by charter to hold the lady’s manor of Fordham, Cambridgeshire, during the lives of herself and her daughter, a minoress of the Abbey of St Clare without Aldgate.

In 1391, with Robert Offorde, Ralph de Schelton, Thomas Jenye, knights, John Gurnay, Roger Davy, John Payn, Richard de Creyke, and Nicholas Berry of Holm, Sir Thomas received a charter of “the manor of Hunstaneston and all lands thereto belonging [in] Holm, Totyngton, Sneterton, and Estwynche, all rents, marshes etc.”, from Sir John le Straunge (Lestrange) of Hunstanton[8].

Not all his lands remained his. The tenure of manors seems frequently to have been given “for life”, and as frequently removed and given to others well within that lifetime. In 1398, the king ordered “the escheator in Sussex… to give Katherine wife of John lately duke of Aquitaine livery of the castle and lowry of Pevese, the manors of …..the hundreds of Northerpyngham, Southerpyngham granted to John and his wife and his heirs, and the reversions of the said wapentake or hundred which was held for life by Ralph de Ipre knight, and of the said hundred of ‘Southerpyngham’ which was held for life by Thomas de Erpingham knight and his heirs….[9]

And the same year, Erpingham entered a quitclaim, or formal renunciation of claim, “of the manors of Erpingham and Wyckmere, and of all lands , rents, services, villeins with their villeinages etc. there and in all other towns in Norfolk sometime of Robert Erpingham knight”, renouncing them to Miles Stapleton, Simon Felbrigge, William Clopton, Walter Clopton, Robert Berney, and John Strange, knights, John Gurnay, John Wynter, John Yelverton, John Thorp parson of Erpingham, and others.[10]   Lordship was often multiple; the apportionment of revenue, rights and obligations remains indistinct.

Lands, rents and services in Little Glenham came to Erpingham, Simon Felbrigge, knights, William Phelipp and Julian his wife, and to their heirs and assigns from John Glenham in 1399.

Sir Thomas was married sometime before 1389[11] to Joan, “the beautiful daughter” of Sir William Clopton, of Clopton Green in Suffolk; winning a lady whose beauty was of great renown suggests that his military skills and reputation was matched by physical comeliness..She died in 1404; Clopton manor descended through her to him   Presumably they lived at the family home off Conisford Lane.

He married in 1409 his second wife, Joan Howard, widow of Sir John Howard of Fersfield, and daughter and heiress of Sir Richard Walton, and it seems that he then acquired a house in Norwich built by the Berney’s (and called Berney’s Inn) in the early 14th Century, on World’s End Lane. [The identification of this with Hall House at St. Martin’s-at-Palace[12] seems to be entirely false, and the bay window ascribed to his house and re-erected at No. 10, St. Martin-at-Palace, comes from Hall House, now lying under the Law Courts.]

Erpingham’s house was even further east over towards the river, mostly under the site of the westernmost of the two gas-holders built there in the nineteenth century.   It was very substantial, with a small central courtyard surrounded by the main blocks and by two wing running north-south; the site was large, and the house set well back from the road.   It must have housed and supported a number of people, since one of Erpingham’s servants, John Middleton, left legacies to 17 people, including his lord’s butler, his personal servant, cook, barber, five stable hands, a skinner and five poor people living there. The house went on Erpingham’s death to his niece, who sold it in 1446 to Sir William Calthorpe, MP, together with much of the furniture and equipment, for 350 marks. His son Sir Philip Calthorpe’s widow lists a great chamber, a gallery, and a wardrobe, as well as other rooms, some hung with tapestries; and in 1858 it was said that the banqueting room with carved chestnut panels, measuring 35′ by 17′, and with a ten-foot window on the south side, could still be discerned, as well as the external stairway faced with stone, probably roofed, leading to it.[13] Set in spacious gardens, on the banks of the Wensum, it must, as Druery says, “have been a n ornamental and handsome residence”.

Just across the river to the east was the Lollards pit, where only three months after Sir Thomas’s death, a follower of Wycliffe, a priest called William White, suffered “death by by stake and faggot”, according to Henry IV’s statute DE HERETICO COMBURENDO of 1401, as had many of his persuasion and belief.


[1] Rye, W. (3).

[2] Blomefield, F. vol. iv.

[3] Rye., op. cit.

[4]DNB. Supplement II, p. 189.

[5] Blomefield, vi, p. 240.

[6] Rye, W., (3) p. 73.

[7] C.C.R. 1381-85 (1384), pp. 563, 596.

[8] C.C.R.1386-1399: 21 April, 1391. The entry for 1393, on p. 237, about “the manor of Ledene Rothyng with appurtenances in the manors of Loftehalle, Olyvers, and Belhous in Great Orsete, Gt. Staneweye and Leyre del Haye” held together with the earl of Oxford, Walter Clopton, the bishop of London, et. al., probably refers to the Thomas Erpingham who was rector of Hindercley, Suffolk.

[9]   C.C.R. 1386-1399 =   p365, 9 March, 1398.

[10] C.C.R. 1386-1399 =   p399, 17 Sept., 1398.

[11] Kirkpatrick, J. p. 262-7

[12] Haywood, S. p. 22 et seq.; V. Nierop-Reading, personal communication.

[13] East Anglian Archaeology Report No. 37. pp. 148-50.   Also Druery  J.H., pp143-7


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 does any other source help. Can anyone assist?

September 2014

Mr W H Franklin of Waverton, New South Wales, Australia, has kindly sent me a letter – as well as adding a Comment below – giving a full explanation: his wife is a midwife. He writes:

“The Coat of Arms of The Royal College of Midwives consists of a blue shield surrounded by a black and white border bearing on it an eight pointed star supported by a pair of hands. The crest is a pomegranate tree, its trunk encircled by an Ancient Crown, and the Supporters are Juno Lucina and Hygeia.

“Blue is traditionally the colour for the midwife; this colour signifies chastity, loyalty and fidelity. The black and white border represents night and day, as the midwife’s work is never done. The star is the Morning Star or Star of Bethlehem, the sign of birth, surrounded and supported by the hands of the midwife.

“The pomegranate tree is an ancient symbol of fertility, and the Crown encircling it signifies that we are a Royal College.

“Juno Lucina was the Roman goddess of Light, and the protectress of womanhood, marriage and childbirth. She is often depicted (as here) holding a sheaf of white lilies in one hand and a young child in the other. Hygeia was the goddess of physical and mental health, and was one of the six daughters of Aesculapius, the god of Medicine. She is depicted with a serpent entwining her left arm. Not only was the serpent the sign of wisdom and knowledge, but it was the sign of eternal life, as it appears reborn when it cats its old skin.

“The motto of the Royal College of Midwives is “Vita Donum Dei” – “Life is the Gift of God”.

He adds a scan of a page from the Midwives Chronicle and Nursing Notes of August 1960 (page 289) showing the Letters Patent sealed by Garter Principal King of Arms, Clarenceux King of Arms and Norroy King of Arms, noting that Grants to Corporate bodies are sealed with all three, rather than the usual two seals.

Thank you, Mr Franklin!

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