Estates Records: Norfolk

Caston Hall, Coltishall, Docking, Hindringham, Horstead, Lessingham, Morley, Toft Monks, Walsingham, West Wretham and Woodton.

Related documents can also be found in the College's Abbey of Bec records. The catalogue for these can be viewed online at ArchiveSearch or downloaded in Word format.

If you are interested in viewing any of the documents from the estates records, please contact the Archive Centre to arrange an appointment.

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Some of the College estates were held by the College as Lay Rector, also known as having the patronage or as holding the advowson. This usually meant the College collected tithes from the estates, an early form of property taxes, and had the right to appoint the vicar, who was supported from the tithes.

In 1888, 12 of the College's 35 advowsons were in Norfolk or Suffolk.

Surveys of land ownership were used to determine fair tithing.


Along with two other Norfolk estates, Horstead and Toft Monks, Lessingham was transferred to King's College from the ownership of Eton by Edward IV in 1462.  This was to compensate the College for the seizure of much of its property following the deposition of Henry VI.  A former cell of the Abbey of Bec in Normandy, Lessingham remained under the College's ownership until the twentieth century.  The original grant also included the advowson of Lessingham rectory.  The College sold the Lessingham land, along with nearby Haddiscoe, in 1921.

It is particularly poignant that in 1645 the Lessingham parishioners petitioned for a gifted minister because it was precisely for that purpose, about 150 years later, that Kingsman Charles Simeon established his Trust: to discourage sinecures and to ensure that, at least in the Simeon Church advowsons, the vicars were true spiritual leaders. However this particular petition may have had more to do with Lessingham wanting to lay down its marker in the first English Civil War (1642-6).

Text of the petition:

To the Right Worshippfull the Provost and fellowes of Kinges Colledge
in Cambridge the Humble Petticion of the Inhabitants of lessingham in Norff[olk]
Junii the 21th [in the year] 1645
Humblie wee intreat yower worsh[i]ps in a tender care of Gods Honnor and our precious
Soules yow wilbe pleased, nowe att the Avoydance of our parsonage by the death of
Mr Nathianaell Vincent our late Minnister, to Improve yower interest in the choice of one
for us whom we maye Joyfullye Imbrace, and under whose ministerye we may
Comfortablye sett downe, a man gifted and indeed with ministericall graces and sanctified
for the great worke of the savinge and buildinge up of mens soules
a ffreinde and furtherer of the Reformation, a Cordiall and che[e]rfull complyer with the
Parliament and Assemblye in theire tendencie that way, and such a man as for his
piety and paines may have the Attestation of godly devines and discerninge christians
and the Approbation of the Reverend Assemblie of divines, so shall yower worshipps
oppon an Hopefull waye to Advance the Kingdome of Jesus Christe amongst us,
praye for yower worshipps Health, and everlaystinge Happiness.


King's College began buying land in Coltishall, including the land attached to the advowson, in 1478. The Coltishall advowson remained attached to the College after the lands were sold in the 20th century, by which time the tithes had been redeemed and so were no longer payable or attached to land. King's still has patronage for most of the estates it held as Lay Rector.


The only record in the estates papers relating to Walsingham property is this agreement between William Lowth (Prior of Walshingham), Richard (Bishop of Norwich), and Robert Hacombleyn (Provost of King's College), granting a chantry to Roger Lupton, Provost of Eton. Sometime between 1509 and 1529.

Related Information

Please note: the Microsoft Word version of the catalogue is not kept as up-to-date as the ArchiveSearch version.

See below to download the MS Word catalogues or for links to:

  • Catalogues of the Bec or estates records on ArchiveSearch
  • Norfolk Record Society
  • Norfolk Family History Society
  • GENUKI UK and Ireland Genealogy: Norfolk Listing
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