Towne Family Tour 4th – 12th September 2012

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Towne Family Tour 4th – 12th September 2012

Day 1 (Tuesday 4th September)

Arrival at Holiday Inn Hotel (Bath Road/Sipson Way) Heathrow Airport for overnight stay. Meal in Holiday Inn Restaurant from 6pm not covered by TFA

Day 2 (Wednesday 5th September)

Breakfast (included) is served from 6. 00. Coach arrives at Holiday Inn Hotel by 7. 30 to load for 8. 00 departure to Suffolk for our first stop at Holiday Inn Hotel, Hadleigh Road, Ipswich, to pick up our Tour Guide Charles Farrow. Then to:-

Burstall St Mary’s Church

Why we are here: -

On 9th April 1552 Christopher Eastie was baptised here, father of Jeffery and grandfather of Isaac Eastie who married Mary Towne. His brothers Thomas (1548), Jeffery (1550) and William (1558) were also baptised here, before their father Jeffery moved to Hintlesham.

St Mary’s Church consists of square west Tower, nave, 15th century wooden south Porch, north Aisle, and Chancel, all of the early 14th century. In a Will made in 1466 13s 4d was left to the “ele” (aisle) of the Church, which suggests that further work was being carried out on the north Aisle. This building is a fine example of a medieval country Church, comparatively unspoilt by Victorian restoration, and a perfect introduction to the English Parish Church.

What to look for:-

As you enter the Churchyard, take a look at the windows in the north Aisle.

As we come round to the south side, take a moment to get your bearings. To the left (west) the square Tower, ahead the Nave with wooden Porch and to your right (east) the Chancel. Look at the Perpendicular woodwork of the Porch as we go in.

Inside take in the beauty of the arcade between the Nave and north Aisle. Look up at the Perpendicular hammerbeam roof, contemporary with the Porch. Notice the beautiful Decorated windows in the north Aisle.

In the plain contemporary Font the Eastie children were baptised.

Dividing the Nave and Chancel is the bottom half of the Perpendicular rood screen, whilst the North Aisle has an Decorated Parclose screen of great beauty.

Hintlesham Hall

Why we are here:-

To have Lunch, then tour the gardens and some rooms of this fine Elizabethan House, home of the Timperley family, which was standing when the Esty family lived in the Parish. The present Georgian facade was added in the 1720s. Hintlesham Hall has a name for fine dining and has been a first class Hotel for many years.

Hintlesham St Nicholas’s Church

Why we are here:-

From the 1568 Subsidy payment, we know Jeffery Estie lived here, and his Will made in 1592 proves this. The loss of the earliest Parish Register denies us more information about baptisms, marriages and burials. Nonetheless, such services must have taken place here for members of this family.

The Manor of Hintlesham was held by Archbishop Stigand in the time of Edward the Confessor, and there was certainly a Church here at the time of Domesday in 1084. What we see today is a larger and later Church than that one, but clearly on the same site. Today it consists of square west Tower, Nave with north and south Aisles, wooden south Porch, and Chancel with north Vestry. Here we have a basically Early English Church, with later windows in both Decorated and Perpendiclar styles. Whilst the outside looks later, inside Early English arcades divide Nave from aisles, and in the Chancel are two lancet windows on the north side. In 1375 a Will mentions building stone in the Church, which indicates work was being done, whilst in 1500 payment was made to all who had wrought (worked) in the Church, although there is no indication what this work may have been.

What to look for:-

The good Perpendicular style Tower was apparently rebuilt in 1899.

Note how the Early English arcade piers not only alternate round and octagonal west to east but also north to south. Further signs of this period are the lancet windows in the Chancel north wall and the Y tracery windows in the aisles.

The Perpendiclar clerestory windows, and below on the north side remains of a painting of St Christopher.

Although a fine Perpendicular Font, it does not belong here, having come from the redundant church at Shipmeadow many miles away. It replaced a font made in 1827, so what happened to the original one is unknown.

The organ gallery at the west end with two Hatchments

Staircase to the rood loft in an unusual position in Chancel.

Unusual Timperley memorials in the Chancel.

Squint from Vestry, proving this must have been a Chantry Chapel
Suffolk Record Office Ipswich Branch

Why we are here:-

To look at the Parish Registers of Burstall and Freston, and the Wills of Thomas Towne of Lound, Thomas Arnold, Avyse Arnold, Christopher Eastie and An Eastie all of Freston, Edmond Estye of Hintlesham and John Felgate of Stonham Aspall. Please leave bags in the coach, handbags must be placed in the lockers, any notes in pencil only, documents must not be touched and no photography is allowed. If you would like to have copies of the entries in the Parish Registers, this can be arranged, and copies of other documents can be made.
Freston St Peter’s Church

Why we are here:-

This is where Chrstopher Eastie came to marry An Arnold in 1586, and where they eventually settled and were buried. An’s family had lived here for several generations, and here Jeffery Eastie brought his wife Mary and baptised Isaac.

Although St Peter’s church is a medieval fabric, much of what we see today is the result of a very vigorous 19th century restoration and partial rebuilding. If one ignores the highly quirky stair turret and decorative buttresses, much of the Tower is original. The Porch, Vestry, windows and buttresses are all Victorian, and much of the stonework has been renewed. Freston has never been a large village, and what we see is a typical country church of square west Tower, Nave with South Porch and Chancel, in size and layout such as the Eastie family would have known.

What to look for:-

The fine Perpendicular Font in which Isaac Eastie was baptised.

Victorian eccentricities around the outside.

Unusual figure in the churchyard.

Maid’s Head Hotel, Norwich

Why we are here:-

To enjoy your stay in the oldest Hotel in Norwich, in the very heart of this historic City. It was recommended in the famous Paston Letters in 1472. Over the centuries it has expanded, taking in adjoining properties.

Day 3 (Thursday 6th September)

Board coach to leave by 8. 45 for:-

Norfolk Record Office at The Archive Centre

Why we are here:-

At 9.00 we will view the Exhibition “Norfolk’s American Connections”, which includes the Salem Witches. 9. 30 Dr John Alban the Norfolk County Archivist will welcome us to the Green Room to view the Parish Registers of Belton, Blundeston, Caister, Somerleyton, Walcott and Great Yarmouth, Wills of Roger Arnold, John Fox (1559), Jeffery Esty and John Fox (1630), Inventory of the goods of Jeffery Esty, and Visitation Records of the Bishop of Norwich and Archdeacon of Norwich.
Please leave all bags on coach and place handbags in lockers. If you wish to make notes, please use pencils only. Photography is at discretion of Record Office. Copies can be supplied of most documents, which can be ordered through Charles Farrow.

Lowestoft St Margaret’s Church

Why we are here:-

Although relationship with John Towne cannot be established, we know that there was a Towne family resident here in the 16th century, who are connected to the Townes in Lound.

Lowestoft was an important port, and a bitter rival of Great Yarmouth. It did not have a river quayside like Great Yarmouth, boats being launched from the beach. Away from the bustle of the modern seaside resort and what is left of the port created by Sir Morton Peto in the 19th century, lies the great Parish Church of St Margaret. Now in the middle of a housing estate, it must always been somewhat aloof from the town it served. This enormous Church of Nave with aisles, Chancel, square west Tower crowned by a wooden copper covered spire, and south Porch presents an almost uniform late 15th century rebuild, only the Tower remaining from the earlier building. Although no early stained glass survives today, in 1529 Richard Jetour from Wyberton in Lincolnshire left £14 for glass in the windows on the north side to be made after the same work that his father caused to be made in the windows on the south side. In 1877 the South Aisle had to be rebuilt because it had become dangerous, but the work is a faithful reproduction of what is shown in earlier views of the Church.

What to look for:-

Outside admire the flushwork panelling which creates a chequer board appearance around the base and turns each buttress into a pattern book of tracery. Look at the highly decorated entrance to the South Porch and inside look up at the rib vault with bosses.

Inside the Church the lofty arcades lead the eye up to the clerestory windows and the beautiful roof which was recoloured in 1899, following the traces of medieval colouring which had survived.

The badly damaged Font must have been very fine originally, and in it Towne children were baptised.

The great brass eagle Lectern is medieval.

In the Chancel note the painted glass in the window on the south. Painted in 1819 by Robert Allen, who until it closed in 1803 was painter at the Lowestoft china factory, it was originally in the east window.

Somerleyton Hall

Why we are here:-

For Lunch, followed by a conducted tour of this superb Victorian extravaganza built for Sir Morton Peto, and to enjoy the gardens. Board the Coach at 2. 45 to go to:-
Somerleyton St Mary’s Church

Why we are here:-

Here John Blyssynge married Joan Preaste in 1569, and baptised their daughter Julian in 1571. The relationship to Jone Blessing has not been established, but will be considered in a future article in “About Towne”.


Apart from the Tower, the Church we see today is mainly the work of John Thomas, builder of the Hall. Unlike his masterpiece, this is a very sober country Church of square west Tower, Nave with south Porch, and Chancel, part of which is also medieval. The original plans by Thomas for an extravaganza church to match the Hall were dropped, possibly in the face of local opposition, or more likely at Peto’s order to restrict the cost. Inside there are items from the medieval church, as well as memorials to earlier owners of the estate.
What to look for:-

The Perpendicular Font.

Rood screen with 16 painted panels, reading from the north 1 St Michael the Archangel 2 St Edmund 3 St Apollonia (?) 4 St Lawrence 5 female saint 6 Thomas of Canterbury 7 St Anne 8 St Andrew 9 St John the Evangelist 10 St Mary Magdalen 11 a Bishop 12 St Petronilla 13 St Stephen 14 St Dorothea 15 Edward the Confessor 16 St George

In the Chancel the earliest monument to Sir Thomas Jernegan within the altar rails, and on the walls the monuments to Sir John Wentworth with busts of him and his wife, and to Sir Thomas Allin with his bust.

Stained glass panels said to come from St Olaves Priory in north Nave windows.

As you leave look above the doorway at the panel with signs of the four Evangelists, which may have formed part of the medieval Reredos.

Blundeston St Mary’s Church

Why we are here:-

In 1597 William Towne’s parents, John Towne & Elizabeth Clarcke, were married here. Elizabeth had been baptised here in 1571, and her parents, John Clarke & Rose Fenne, married here in 1563.


Here we have a Church consisting of a round west Tower, Nave with south Porch and Chancel. Although the date 988 has been suggested for the Tower, it seems more likely from the evidence that it is Norman, with an Early English top. More evidence of the Norman church is found in the north doorway and the reused shafts (upside down) in the south doorway. The Tower is extremely slender, and is not in the centre of the Nave west wall, the south wall of the Church having been rebuilt much further south in the 14th century. From a Will we know that work on the Church was underway in 1441, although there is no indication what this was. The Nave’s great width gives it a barnlike feeling. The Chancel was rebuilt in 1851. Blundeston features in the first Chapter of the novel “David Copperfield” by Charles Dickens, a famous classic.
What to look for:-

The Font which was originally a square Norman one, but later cut into octagonal form.

The tiny round window to the right of the Tower arch.

The poppyheads on the bench ends against the wall, which are medieval.

Rood screen with painted panels like Somerleyton, but here having angels of the Passion rather than saints.

As you leave look above the door at the Royal Arms of Charles II.

Lound St John the Baptist’s Church

Why we are here:-

From the Will of Thomas Towne made in 1563, it is clear that there was a Towne family established here. The Manor Court Rolls and Subsidy Returns confirm this. Although there is no early Parish Register surviving, from the proximity to Blundeston where John Towne married, it is reasonable to suggest that John was a member of this family.

This was a simple Church consisting of a Norman west round Tower, Nave with south Porch and Chancel, both Decorated but much restored. What is inside is a riot of mock medieval slendour, which has earned the name “Golden Church”, and all dating from 1914. Between them the then Rector, Father Booth Lynes, and the architect, Sir Ninian Comper, have recreated what a Church might have looked like before the Reformation. We can be sure that Puritan William Towne would have thoroughly disapproved of these Romish and idolatrous paintings and images. What his father John Towne might have thought is less clear, but it is possible that this was the Church where he was baptised. We will never know for sure.

What to look for:-

Another round window to the right of the Tower arch.

Perpendicular Font, with an inscription of its gift in 1377, and crowned by Comper’s golden cover.

The jolly St Christopher on the north wall with Comper driving his Rolls Royce and an even more recent addition of an aircraft.

14th century Rood Screen much renewed and added to and richly gilded, with a new rood loft.

In the Chancel note the fine Piscina and Sedilia.

The Coach returns to Maid’s Head Hotel, but there is an optional Norwich Walk for those who are interested, alighting outside:-
St Julian’s Church and Shrine of Julian of Norwich

Brief history:-

This is a classic small Norwich Church, but a very ancient one. It consisted of a round west Tower, Nave with north Porch, Chancel and on the south side a Cell for an Anchoress. Sadly it was badly bomb damaged and parts had to be completely rebuilt, although not the Tower, which is now only a stump. However, the north wall with 2 Anglo Saxon circular windows, and possibly the remains of a third one, survived. In the rebuilding the Anchoress Cell was added on the site of the original one, and as an impressive entrance to it from the Nave, the beautiful Norman doorway from the destroyed St Michael at Thorn Church was erected.
Born in 1342, Julian of Norwich (we do not know her real name, since she took the name of the Church, and is sometimes called Dame Julian) was a Nun at Carrow Abbey, further along King Street, and came here as an Anchoress in 1373, after receiving visions during an illness. Here in her Cell, which she never left, she wrote Revelations of Divine Love, a classic text which is as popular today as when it was first written.
What to look for:-

Anglo Saxon windows in Nave north wall

Beautiful Perpendicular Font decorated with Saints, brought here from All Saints Church

Norman doorway to Shrine of Julian of Norwich

We will then walk down the St Julian’s Alley to King Street and nearly opposite is Dragon Hall, a 14th century hall house, to which additions along the street were added probably by Robert Toppes who purchased in 1450. On the first floor is one long room the length of the building, with a wonderful roof decorated with a carved and painted dragon – hence the present name. Further along is a small medieval arch in the wall, which is all that is left of the Augustinian Friary. On the left is the Church of St Peter Parmentergate, rebuilt between 1486 and 1512 another of the many smallish Churches which punctuate every street. Crossing the top of Rose Lane we pass Greyfriars Road, serving as a reminder that when we reach the top of Prince of Wales Road and look down it, we are looking across the site of the Greyfriars Church. Crossing into Upper King Street we are quickly on Tombland, with St Ethelbert’s Gate of 1316 – 1320, leading into The Close, and the Maid’s Head Hotel ahead of us.

Day 4 (Friday 7th September)

Board the coach to leave at 9. 00 for:-

Blickling Hall and Gardens

Why we are here:-

For a conducted tour of this wonderful house built between 1618 and 1629 for the Hobart family. Often cited as the home of Anne Boleyn, the earlier Hall on this site was owned by her father, and it is now very clear that Robert Lyminge, the designer of the present Hall, incorporated much of the house owned by the Boleyns into his building. Despite subsequent alterations and additions, the Hall is a flagship for The National Trust, to whom it was bequeathed in 1940 by the 11th Marquess of Lothian. The House Tour ends at about 11. 30, and you can enjoy the Gardens, Gift Shop and Book Shop. Board coach at 12. 45 to travel to Aylsham Station:-
Bure Valley Railway and Broads Cruise

Lunch at Whistlestop Cafe at 1. 00, then explore the Gift Shop and Steam Engine workshops. 2. 10 board the steam train for a nostalgic journey along the Bure Valley to Wroxham, the heart of the Norfolk Broads, where the coach will transfer us to the River for an hour long Broads Cruise. The Coach will then take us to:-

Walcott All Saints’ Church

Why we are here:-

Both Jacob Towne and his wife Catherine Symonds were baptised at Great Yarmouth, but Catherine’s parents, John Symonds and Ruth Fox, married in Ruth’s home Church here in 1624. The Fox family go back a long way here, Ruth’s grandparents being married here in 1559, and her great grandfather John Fox buried here in the same year. We also know there were even earlier members of this family in Walcott, but it has not been possible to precisely relate them

There was a Church here with 20 acres of land valued at 20d in the Domesday Book (1084), but what we see today is a total rebuilding in a concerted campaign. In 1427 the Nave was being built, in 1453 the square west Tower, and in 1467 the South Porch. Since the Chancel is in the same Perpendicular style with the odd ogee arch as a throwback to Decorated, it too must have been built in this campaign. A restoration in the 19th century saw the insertion of the present east window, but on the whole the church is unspoilt.

What to look for:-

The stately Tower with decorated battlements.

Huge windows which flood in light into the Nave.

Font of Purbeck marble of the 13th century, from the earlier Church.

Contemporary Rood Screen.

Jacobean Screen to the Tower.

Day 5 (Saturday 8th September)

Board coach to leave at 9. 00 for:-

Caister Holy Trinity Church

Why we are here:-

This must be regarded as the Blessing Church, since here Jone (Joanna) Blessing was baptised in 1595, along with her siblings Margaret and John. Here also little John was buried, leaving no other sign than the entries in the Parish Register.

Caister was a strategic point for the Romans, who built a Fort here overlooking what was then a wide estuary. There was no sign then of the sandbank on which Great Yarmouth was built. What is left of this Fort is just west of the Church, which was built outside the defences much later. Of the Church we see now, the earliest feature is the Nave with one narrow lancet window on the north, pointing to early 13th century work. The square west Tower is probably contemporary but has no unrestored datable features. The South aisle was added around 1300, and although the arcade of four arches and octagonal piers was rebuilt in 1894, from a description in 1832 appears to reproduce the original. Notice there is no Clerestory here. The Chancel is contemporary with later additions. In 1330 there was a contract for a new roof for the Nave, but sadly this roof was replaced in 1785. The 1894 restoration has left its mark on the Church. In this Parish is Caister Castle, built by Sir John Fastolf, from whom the famous Paston family inherited it. Here they wrote many of the Paston Letters. By the Castle are the ruins of another Church, St Edmund, now known as West Caister, whilst the rest of Caister is now known as Caister on Sea.

What to look for:-

The lovely quatrefoil window in the west wall of the South Aisle.

Although a beautiful 15th century Font, of very large size, this is not the one in which the Blessing children were baptised, since it was brought here from Eye in Suffolk. No-one knows what happened to the old Font from here.

In the Chancel the Decorated Piscina and Sedilia, and the Crowe monuments, that to William being by C G Cibber.

Belton All Saints’ Church

Why we are here:-

Young William Towne must have spent at least a year of his life here. In 1602 his sister Agnes was buried here, and in 1603 his brother John baptised, before they returned to Great Yarmouth.

What was undoubtedly the earliest feature of this Church, the west round Tower, had to be rebuilt in 1849. Nave and Chancel are beautiful Decorated work, to which a Perpendicular south Porch was added. In recent times a modern church centre has been added on the north side, but because of the failure of the heating system and other problems, the Church was largely abandoned, services being held in the School nearby. However, in 2011 permission was give to make alterations in the church furnishings and put in a new heating system, so that once more this Church is used for the purpose for which it was built.

What to look for:-

Beautiful ogee headed doorways.

Purbeck marble Font is not the original one, for in 1864 it is described as new, and reference is made to the old square Norman Font lying disused in the Chancel.

Wall paintings of a genuine St Christopher, as well as St James, and the story of the Three Quick and Three Dead, all now very faded.

Contemporary Decorated Rood Screen.

Tomb recess in Chancel with ogee head.

Great Yarmouth Walking Tour


Great Yarmouth is nothing more than a sandbank which arose in the estuary where the Rivers Bure, Waveney and Yare empty into the North Sea. When the Romans were here there was nothing, but as silt built up this sandbank became attached to the northern shore, and settlement started. By the Domesday Book of 1086 there was a Chapel here with 70 burgesses and 24 fishermen. In 1101 the Bishop of Norwich founded the Priory and Church of St Nicholas, which was completed by 1119. In 1208 the town became a free borough, and in 1261 the King gave permission for a wall and ditch, although the Town Walls were not started until 1285. These walls defend the town on the north, east and south only, for the River on the west side was considered sufficient defence. In any case, the River, not the sea, was the focus of the town, since all its trade and it fishing went out to sea from the Quay on the river. Not until the 19th century, when sea bathing became fashionable, did the town expand outside the walls to the east, on what was sand dunes. The prosperity of the town depended on the harbour, and the constant silting meant that a number of different outlets to the sea were constructed over the centuries, to ensure ships had free access to the Quay. In 1334 Great Yarmouth provided 3 times more sailors than London for the attack on Calais. So important was the port nationally, that when the harbour silted up in 1398 the King’s Carpenter Hugh Herland and King’s Mason Henry Yeveley were sent down to report. The fishery in particular was vital, since salted fish was a staple of the diet. The recurring problems with the Harbour were not resolved until the early 17th century.
Called Great Yarmouth to distinguish it from the small port of Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight, the town prospered with the great herring fishery, whose shoals moved down from Scandanavia to the coastal waters of Norfolk and Suffolk. This continuing prosperity led to fine buildings being erected, particularly by the Merchants, on the South Quay. The town has a unique feature, The Rows, some of which still survive, despite devastating bombing in Worl War 2. As it was a very long town from north to south, but quite narrow from east to west there were only two streets and the Quay which traverse the entire length, and a shorter street in the widest part. Connecting these streets and the Quay from east to west were 145 very narrow alleys called Rows, along which houses were built on either side. They were so narrow that special carts were built which could negotiate them. Although a few Rows were named, such as Market Row and Broad Row, most were merely given a number. The houses were likewise very narrow, one room to each floor, but extended back from the Row. The earliest reference to a Row house is in 1198, but it was during the 13th and 14th centuries that they expanded across the town, reaching the full extent in the 16th century when the herring fishery boomed.
It was not until the 19th century that the town began to expand beyond the medieval walls. The Naval Hospital was built from 1800 to the south of the town, and down in what was then the Racecourse the Nelson Monument was built in 1817. On the seafront, only the Jetty had existed since 1560, where fish were landed until the Fish Wharf was built in 1869. A Bath House was built in 1759, but it was only in the 1840s that the area around the Jetty began to be built up, with the Royal Hotel where Charles Dickens wrote parts of David Copperfield. Two Piers, Wellington and Britannia, were built in the 1850s. The coming of the Railways and the building of 3 Stations, Beach, Southtown and Vauxhall, all outside the walls and two on the far side of the River, brought about the boom in the holiday trade. Tens of thousands travelled from the Midlands to Beach Station every year, whilst the other Stations received many more from London and other parts of the eastern counties. Now only Vauxhall remains, serving the two lines which connect to Norwich. Yarmouth is still primarily a seaside holiday town, but no longer a fishing port. The Scottish fishergirls who came down each year to cope with the massive catches of herrings are, like the herrings themselves, seen no more. A much trumpeted outer harbour built recently has not produced the glut of jobs and economic prosperity that was promised. Tourism remains the largest employer, and since that is seasonal and poorly paid, economic prosperity seems to have eluded the town. A massive Casino has been much talked about, but comes to nothing.
What we will see:-

We start at The Fishermen’s Hospital, founded in 1702, completed in 1726 and still occupied as Almshouses. Today we have a rare opportunity to go into the inner courtyard and look inside one of the cottages. Look for the Boards recording the Regulations and Benefactions, and in the middle of the inner Courtyard the remarkable painted lead statue of Charity.

As we are by the Market Place, we will then have traditional chips (French fries) for our lunch, eaten out of the paper in true Yarmouth style. The great Market Place has been spoiled by the insensitive dual carriageway which cuts across the northern end, partly destroying Church Plain, into which it had imperceptably merged. Now the Parish Church and the Church Plain houses are marooned. Turning into Market Row and then Broad Row we reach Hall Quay, where we see the River Yare, no longer so filled with fishing vessels that one could walk across to the far bank over their decks. Passing the Victorian Town Hall we walk along South Quay, described by Daniel Defoe as the finest Quay in England, to stop outside The Elizabethan House. Half the group will be going in here to what is now a Museum. The other half will continue on down South Quay to Yarmouth Way, turning left to Tolhouse Street, to visit the other Museum, The Tolhouse. The two groups will meet up on the corner of Yarmouth Way and South Quay to change over, and when they have each finished their visit will again meet at this junction.

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