Click a green square to see the Latin text. Click a red square to see a textual note. Click on a blue square to see a commentary note.
ORTH-FOLKE, commonly Norfolke, which is by interpretation People of the North, lieth Northward of Suffolke, from which it is divided by those two little rivers which I spake of, Ouse the least and Wavney, running divers waies. On the East and North side, the German ocean, which is plentifull of fish, beateth upon the shores with a mighty noise. On the West, the greater Ouse, a river disporting himselfe with his manifold branches and divisions, secludeth it from Cambridgeshire. It is a region large and spatious, and in maner all throughout a plaine champion [flatland], unlesse it be where there rise gently some prety hils, passing rich, exceeding full of sheepe and stored with conies, replenished likewise with a great number of populous villages. For beside XXVII mercate townes, it is able to shew villages and country townes 625. Watered with divers rivers and brooks, and not altogether destitute of woods. The soile, according to the variety of places, is of a divers nature: somewhere fat, ranke, and full of moisture, as at Mershland and Flegg; otherwise, but Westward especially, leane, light, and sandy; elsewhere standing upon clay and chalke. But the goodnesse of the ground a man may collect by this (whence Varro willeth us to gather it), that the inhabitants are of a passing good complexion, to say nothing of their exceeding wily wits, and the same right quicke in the insight of our common lawes, in so much as it is counted, was well now as in times past, the onely country for best breed of Lawyers, so that even out of the meanest sort of the common people there may be found not a few who, if theire were nothing else to beare action, are able to fetch matter enough for wrangling controversies even out of the very prickes, title, and accents of the Law. But least, whiles I desire brevity, I become long by these digressions which may distaste, I will turne my penne from the people to the places, and , beginning at the South side, runne over briefly those which are more memorable and of greater antiquitie.
2. Upon the Least Ouse, where Thet, a small brooke breaking out of Sulffolke, meeteth and runneth with him, in a low ground was seated that ancient Citie Sitomagus, which Antonine the Emperour maketh mention of, corruptly in the Fragments of an old Choragraphicall table called Simomagus and Sinomagus, now Thetford, in the Saxon language Theotford, in which remaineth part of the former name with the addition of the English word ford. For like as Sitomagus in the British tongue implieth a Citie by the river Sit, which now is Thet (for magus, as Plinie sheweth, signified a Citie), so Thetford in English betokeneth The Ford of Thet, neither are these two names Sit and Thet much unlike in sound. There are in it at this day but few inhabitants, although it be of a good bignesse, but in times past it was very populous, and beside other tokens of antiquity it hath still to be seene a great mount raised to a good height by mens hands, fensed with a double rampier, and, as the report goeth, fortified in ancient time with walles. which as a Romane work, as some thinke, or rather of the English Saxons Kings, as others would have it, under whom it flourished a long time. But after it was sacked, first by Suenus the Dane, who in a rage set it on fire in the yeere 1004, and six yeeres after, being spoiled againe by the furious Danes, it lost all the beauty and dignity that it had. For the recovery whereof, Bishop Arfast removed his Episcopall See from Elmham hither, and Bishop William his successour did all he could to adorne and set it out, so that under King Edward the Confessour there were counted in it 947 Burgesses, and in William the Conquerours time 720 Mansions, whereof 224 stood void, and the chiefe Magistrate was termed a Consul, which name may intimate that it was a Roman towne. But when Bishop Herbert (surnamed Losenga, for that he was composed of Leasing and Flattery), the third prelate, that by evill meanes and Symonie climbed up to this dignity, had removed his seat from hence to Norwich, it fell againe to decay, and as it were languished. Neither could it sufficiently be comforted for the absence of the Bishop by the Abbay of Cluniac Monkes, which by his meanes was built. This Abbay Hugh Bigod built out of the ground. For so writeth he in his Instrument of the foundation: Hugh Bigod Steward to King Henry, by his graunt and by the advise of Herbert Bishop of Norwich, have ordained Monkes of the Order of Cluny in the Church of S. Mary, which was the Episcopall seat of Thetford, which I gave unto them, and afterwards founded another more meet for their use without the towne. Howbeit even then the greatest part of the City that stood on the hithermore banke by little and little fell to the ground; the other part, although it was much decaied, yet one or two ages agoe flourished with seven Churches, besides three small religious houses, whereof the one was by report erected in memoriall of the Englishmen and Danes slaine heere. For hard by, as our Historians doe record, Edmund, that most holy king, a little before his death fought seaven houres and more with the Danes, not without an horrible slaughter, and afterwards gave over the battaile on even hand, such was the alternative fortune of the field that it drave both sides past their senses.
3. But Waveney, the other river of those twaine that bound this shire, and runneth Eastward, not farre from the spring head thereof are seene Buckenham and Keninghall. This, which may seeme to have the name left unto it of the Iceni, is the seat of that most honorable family of the Howards, whose glory is great that the envie of Buchanan cannot empaire it. As for the other, so names, as I take it, of beech trees, which the Saxons called bucken, it is a faire and strong Castle, built by William de Aubigny the Norman (unto whom the Conquerour had given the place) and by his heires, that were successively Earles of Arundell, it descended to the Tatsalls, and from they by Caly and the Cliftons unto the family of the Knevets. These are of an ancient house and renowned ever since Sir John Knevet was Lord Chancellour of England under King Edward the Third, nd also honourably allied by great marriages. For over and beside these of Buckenham, from hence sprang those right worshipfull Knights, Sir Thomas Knevet Lord Knevet, and Sir Henrie Knevet of Wiltshire, and Sir Thomas Knevet of Ashellwell Thorpe and others. This Ahsellwell Thorp is a little towne nere adjoining, which from the Thorpes in times past of Knights degree, by the Tilneis and the Lords Bourchiers of Berners, is devolved at length haereditarily unto that Sir Thomas Knevet beforenamed. As for that Buckenham aforesaid, it is holden by this tenure and condition, that the Lords thereof should at the Coronation of the Kings of England be the Kings Butlers that day. Like as (a thing that may beseeme the noting) in Charleton a little neighbour village, Raulph de Charleton and some one other held lands by his service, namely, To present an hundred Herring-pies or pasties, when Herings first come in, unto their soveraigne Lord the King, wheresoever he be in England. But this river neare to his spring runneth by and by under Disce, now Dis, a prety towne well knowne, which King Henrie the First gave frankely to Sir Richard Lucy, and hee streightwaies passed it over to Walter Fitz-Robert with his daughter, of whose posterity Robert Fitz-Walter obteined for this place the libertie of keeping mercat, at the hands of King Edward the First. From thence, although Waveney bee on each side beset with townes, yet there is not one amongst them that may boast of any antiquity, unlesse it bee Harlestron a good mercat, and Shelton that standeth farther of, both of which have given surnames to the ancient families of the Sheltons and Harlestons. But before it commeth to the sea, it coupleth it selfe with the river Yare, which the Britans called Guerne, the Englishmen Gerne and Iere, of Aldar trees, no doubt, so termed in British, wherewith it is overshadowed. It ariseth out of the mids of this countrie not far from Gernston, a little towne that tooke name thereof, and hath hard by it Hengham, which had Lords, descended from John Marescall (nephew by the brother to William Marescall Earle of Penbroch), upon whom King John bestowed it with the lands of Hugh de Gornay, a traitour, and also with the daughter and coheire of Hubert de Rhia. From this Marescals it passed in revolution of time unto the Lord Morleis, and from them by Lovell unto the Parkers, now Lords Morley. A little from hence is Sculton, otherwise called Burdos or Burdelois, which was held by this tenure, that the Lord thereof on the Coronation daie of the Kings of England should be chiefe Lardiner. ‡Joint-neighbour to Sculton is Wood-Rising the faire seate of the familie of Southwells, which receiveth the greatest reputation and encrease from Sir Richard Southwell privie councellour to King Edward the Sixth, and his brother Sir Robert Maister of the Rowles.‡ More Eastward is to be seene Wimundham, now short Windham, famous for the Albineys Earles of Arundell, there enterred, whose ancestour and progenitor William D’ Albiney, Butler to King Henrie the First, founded the Priory and gave it to the Abbay of Saint Albans for a Cell, which afterward was advanced to an Abbay. Upon the steeple whereof, which is of a great height, William Ket, one of the Captains of the Norfolke Rebels, in the yeare of our Lord 1549 was hanged on high. Neither could it be passed over in silence that five miles from hence standeth Attilborrough, the seate of the Mortimers, an ancient familie, who, beeing different from those of Wigmor, bare for their Armes A shield Or, Semè de floures de Lyz Sables, and founded heere a Collegiat Church, where there is little now to bee seene. The inheritance of these Mortimers hath by marriage long since accrued to the Ratcliffs, now Earles of Sussex, to the familie of Fitz-Ralph, and to Sir Ralph Bigot. But returne wee now to the river.
4. The said Yare holdeth not his course farre into the East, before he taketh Wentsum a riveret (others call it Wentfar) from the South in to his streame, upon which, neere unto the head thereof, there is a foure square rampier at Taiesborrough, conteining foure and twentie acres. It may seeme to have beene a campe place of the Romans, if it bee not that which in an old Chorographicall table or Map published by Marcus Welserus is called Ad Taum. Somewhat higher upon the same river stood Venta Icenorum, the most flourishing City (for a little one) in times past of all this people, but now, having lost the old name, it is called Caster. And no mervaile that of the three Ventae, Cities of Britain, this onely lost the name, seeing it hath quite lost it selfe. For beside the ruines of the walles, which containe within a square plot or quadrant about thirty acres, and tokens appearing upon the ground where sometimes houses stood, and some fewe peeces of Romane money which are now and then there digged up, there is nothing at all remaining. But out of this ancient Venta in the succeding ages Norwich had her beginning, about three miles from hence, nere unto the confluents of Yare and another namelesse river (some call it Bariden) where they meet in one:‡which river with a long course running in and out by Fakenham, which King Henry the First gave to Hugh Capell, and King John afterward to the Earle of Arundel,‡ and making many crooked reaches, speedeth it selfe this way by Attilbridge to Yare and leaveth Horsford North from it, where a Castle of William Cheneys, who in the reigne of Henry the Second was one of the great Lords and chiefe peeres of England, lieth overgrowne with bushes and brambles.
5. This Norwich is a famous City, called in the English Saxon tongue Northwyc, that is, A Northerly Creek, if wic among the Saxons signifieth the creeke or Cove of a river, as Rhenanus sheweth unto us, for in this verie place the river runneth downe amaine with a crooked and winding compasse; or A Northern Station if wic, as Hadrianus Junius would have it, betokeneth a sure and secure station or place of aboad, where dwelling houses stand jointly and close together; or A Northerly Castle, if wic sound as much as a Castle, as our Archbishop Alfrick the Saxon hath interpreted it. But if I should with some others bee of opinion that Norwich by a little turning is derived from Venta, what should I doe but turne awrie from the verie truth? For by no better right may it chalenge unto itself the name of Venta than either Basel in Germany the name of Augusta, or Baldach of Babylon. For like as Baldach had the beginning of Babylons fall, and Basil sprang from the ruine of Augusta, even so our Norwich appeared and shewed it selfe, though it were late, out of that ancient Venta, which the British name thereof Caer Guntum in Authors doth prove, wherein, like as in the river Wentsum or Wentfar, the name of Venta doth most plainely discover it selfe. For this name Norwich wee cannot reade of any where in our Chronicles before the Danish warres. So farre is it off that either Caesar or Guiteline the Britain built it, as the write who are more hasty to beleeve all than to weigh matters with sound judgment. But now, verily, by reason of the wealth, the number of Inhabitants and resort of people, the faire buildings and faire Churches, and those so many (for it conteineth about thirtie Parishes), the painefull industrie of the Citizens, their loialty toward their Prince, and their courtesie unto strangers, it is worthily to bee raunged with the most celebrate Cities of Britain. It is right pleasantly situate on the side of an hill two and fiftie degrees and fortie scrupuls from the Aequator, and foure and twentie degrees and five and fiftie scrupuls in Longitude. The forme is somewhat long, lying out in length from South to North a mile and an halfe, but carrying in breadth about halfe so much, drawing it selfe in by little and little at the South end in manner, as it were, of a cone or sharpe point. compassed it is about with strong walles (in which are orderly placed many turrets and twelve gates), unlesse it be on the East-side, where the river (after it hath with many windings in and out watered the North part of the Citie, having foure bridges for men to passe to and fro over it) is a fense thereto, with his deepe chanell there and high steepe bankes. In the verie infancie, as I may so say, of this City, when Etheldred a witlesse and unadvised Prince reigned, Sueno or Swan the Dane, who raunged at his pleasure through England with a great rable of spoiling ravenours, first put it to the sacke, and afterwards set it on fire. Yet it revived againe, and as wee reade in that Domesday booke wherein William the Conquerour tooke the review of all England, there were by account in King Edward the Confessours time no fewer than one thousand three hundred and twentie Burgesses in it. At which time (that I may speake out of the same booke), it paid unto the King twenty pounds and to the Earle ten pounds, and beside all this twentie shillings, and foure prebendaries, and sixe Sextars of Hony; also a beare and six dogs for to bait the baire: but now it paith seaventie pounds by weight to the King, and an hundred shillings for a Gersume to the Queene, and an ambling palfrey; also twenty pounds Blanc to the Earle, and twenty shillings for a Gersume by tale. But while the said King William reigned, that flaming fire of fatall sedition which Raulph Earle of East England had kindled against the King settled it selfe here. For when hee had saved him selfe by flight, his wife together with the French Britons endured in this place a most grievous siege even to extreame famine, yet at length driven she was to this hard pinch that she fled the land, and this Citie was so empaired that scarce 560 Burgesses were left in it, as wee reade in that Domesday booke. Of this yeelding up of the City Lanfrank Archbishop of Canterbury maketh mention in his Epistle to King William, in these words: Your Kingdome is purged of these vilanous and filthy Britons, the Castle of Norwich is rendred up into your hands. And the Britons who were therein and had lands in England, having life and limme granted unto them, are sworne within fortie daies to depart out of your realme, and not enter any more into it without your leave and licence. From that time beganne it againe to recover it selfe by little and little out of this diluge of calamities, and Bishop Herbert, whose good name was cracked for his foule Simony, translated the Episcopall See from Thetford hither, and built up a verie faire Cathedral Church on the East side and lower part of the City, in a certain place then called Cow-holme nere unto the Castle. The first stone whereof in the reigne of King William Rufus, and in the yeare after Christs nativity 1096, himselfe laid, with this inscription:
DOMINVS HERBERTVS POSVIT PRI-
MVM LAPIDEM IN NOMINE PATRIS,
FILII, ET SPIRITVS SANCTI. AMEN
LORD [BISHOP] HERBERT LAID THE
FIRST STONE IN THE NAME OF THE
FATHER, THE SONNE, AND HOLY
6. Afterwards hee procured of Pope Paschal that it should bee established for the Mother Church of Norfolke and Suffolke. He endowed it bountifully with as much lands as might sufficiently maintaine three score Monkes who had there faire and spacious cloysters. But after that they were thrust out by King Henry the Eight, there were substituted for them a Deane, six Prebendaries and others. The Church being thus built and an Episcopall see there placed, the towne now (as saith William of Malmesbury) became of great name for frequent trade of Merchants and resort of people. And in the 17 yeere of King Stephen, as wee read in old Annals, Norwich was founded anew, became a well peopled City, and was made a Corporation. And most certaine it is out of the Kings Records that King Stephen granted it unto his sonne William for his Appenage, as they tearme it, or inheritance. Out of whose hands King Henry the Second shortly after wrested it by composition and kept it for himselfe, and albeit his Sonne Henry, called the younger King, when hee aspired ambitiously to the kingdome, had made a large promise thereof unto Hugh Bigod Earle of Norfolke, whom he had drawne to side with him. At which time Bigod, taking part with the young King, who could not containe his hope of the kingdome within the bounds of duetie and equitie, most grievously afflicted and oppressed this Citie, and then, as it is thought, reedified that Castle standing within the very City upon an high hill neere unto the Cathedrall Church, which being compassed with a ditch to a wonderfull depth seemed in those daies impregnable. Which notwithstanding, Lewis the French-man, with whom the seditious Barons of England combined against King John, won it easily by siege. Now, that Bigod reedified this castle I verily beleeve, because I have seen Lions Saliant engraven there in a Stone after the same forme that the Bigods used in times past in their seales; of whom also there was one that in his seale used a Crosse. These things fel out in the first age (wee may say) of Norwich.
7. But in the age next ensuing, it encreased mightily and flourished by reason that the Citizens grew to bee passing wealthy, who exhibited a supplication to the Parliament house unto King Edward the First, that they might bee permitted to wall their Citie about, which they afterwards performed to the exceeding great strengthning and honour thereof. They obteined moreover of King Richard the Second that the Worsted made there might bee transported, and in the yeere 1403 King Henry the Fourth granted that they might choose every yeere a Major in steed of their Bailiffes, which before were the principall Magistrates. They built likewise a passing faire Towne-house in the verie middest of the Citie neere unto the Mercat-place, which on certaine set daies is furnished exceeding well with all things necessarie for mans life. And verily much beholden it is unto the Netherlanders, that beeing weary of Duke de Alba his cruelty, and hating the bloudy Inquisition, repaired hither in great numbers and first brought in the making and traide of saies, baeis, [kinds of fabric] and other stuffes now much in use. But why should I stand long upon thee things, when as Alexander Nevil, a Gentleman well borne and very learned, hath notably described all these matters, together with the story of their Bishops, the orderly succession of their Magistrates, and the furious outrage of that most villanous Rebell Kett against this Cittie? This onely will I adde, that in the yeere 1583 the Citizens conveighed water out of the river through pipes by an artificiall instrument or water-forcer up into the highest places of the City. Here I might justly commence an action both against Polydor Virgill an Italian, and also against Angelus Capellus a Frenchmen, and put them to their answere before the Tribunall of venerable Antiquity, why they have avouched that the ancient Ordovices, who be seated, as it were, in another world, inhabited this Norwich. I would have the same mery action also against our Country man Doctor Caius, but that I know for certaine that the good old man, right learned though hee were, was blinded in this point with the naturall love of this is owne native Country. Neither have I more to say of Norwich, unlesse it may please you to runne over these verses of Master John Jonston, a Scotish-Britan written of the same:
A City seated daintly, most faire built she is knowne,
Pleasing and kinde to strangers all, delightful to her owne.
The seat of warre whiles civil sturs and tumults yet remain’ d,
In William the Normans daies she grievous losse sustain’ d.
These broiles and jarres once past, when as her head aloft againe
She bare, in richnesse infinite and wealth she grew amaine.
Her port exceeds that welth and things all superfine, this port
How happy were it, if excesse with such wealth did not sort.
So all-sufficient in her selfe, and so complete is she,
That, if need were, of all the Realme the mistresse she might bee.
8. From Norwich, the river Yare, having entertained other beackes [promontories] and brookes as guests, yet all under his owne name, passeth on still with many winding crooks very full of the fishes called Ruffes, which name because in English it soundeth like to Rough, Doctor Caius named it aptly in Latine aspredo, that is, Rough. For it is all the body over rough and hath very sharpe and pricky finnes: it delighteth in sandy places; for shape and bignesse like into a perch; in colour browne and duskish above, but palish yellow beneath; marked by the chawes [jaws] of a double course in half-circles; the eye for the upper halfe of it is a darke browne, for the nether somewhat yellowish like delaied gold, the ball and sight thereof blacke. This speciall marke by it selfe it hath, that there is a line goeth along the backe and fastned to the body (as it were) with an overthwart thread, all to be spotted over the taile and finnes with blacke speckes: which finnes when the fish is angry stand up and bristle stiffe and strong, but when the anger is alaied they fall flat again. The meat of this Ruffe resembleth that of the perch, much commended for holsomnesse, and for eating tender and short.
9. When Yare is gone past Claxton, where there stands a Castlet built round, which Sir Thomas Gawdy Knight, Justice of the Common Plees, of late repaired, ‡it receiveth a brooke which passeth by nothing memorable but Halles-hal, and that onely memorable for his ancient owner Sir James Hobart Atturney Generall and of the Privy Counsel to King Henry the Seventh (by him dubbed Knight at such time as hee created Henry his sonne Prince of Wales), who by bulding from the ground the faire Church at Loddon, being his parish Church, Saint Olaves bridge over Waveney that divideth Norfolke and Suffolke, the cawsey thereby, and other workes of piety, deserved well of the Church, his Country, and the Common-weale, and planed three houses of his owne issue, out of the second whereof Sir Henry Hobart his great Grandchild, now likewise Atturney Generall to King James, is lineally descended.‡ Now Yare, approaching nearer to the sea, runneth downe Southward, that so it may shed it selfe more gently into the salt sea waves, and thereby maketh a little languet of land like a tongue thrust out, which it selfe of one side watereth, and the sea on the other beateth upon. On this languet I saw standing in almost open plaine shore Yarmouth, in the English-Saxon Gar-muth and Lier-muth, that is, Yares-mouth, a very convenient haven and as faire a towne, beautifully built and passing well fensed both by the naturall strength of the place and also by the skilfull industry of mans art. For although it bee environed almost rounde with water, on the West side with the river, which hath a drawe bridge over it, and from other partes with the Ocean, unlesse it bee Northward where there is firme land: yet it is in most sightly maner enclosed with a good strong wall, which together with the river make a square forme of foure sides, but somewhat long. Upon which wall, besides towres, there is cast a mount toward the East, from whence the great peeces of Ordnance use to thunder and flash all about into the sea under it, which is scarce 60 paces off. It hath indeed but one Church, yet the same is very large, having a passing high spire steeple to adorne it, built by Herbert Bishop of Norwich hard by the North gate, under which are to be seene the foundations brought above ground of a goodly peece of worke to enlarge the same. That this was the old towne Garianonum, where in times past the Stablesian Horsemen kept their standing watch and ward against the barbarous enemies, I dare not affirme; neither doe I think that Garianonum was where Caper is now, in times past the faire seat of Sir John Falstolfe, a most martiall Knight, and now appertaining to the Pastons, albeit it is much celebrated among the inhabitants for the antiquity thereof, and the fame goeth that the river Yare had another mouth or passage into the sea under it. But as I am perswaded that Garianonum stood at Burgh-Castle in Suffolke, which is on the other banke about two miles off, so I am easily induced to thinke that both Yarmouth arose out of the ruines thereof, and also that the said Caper was one of the Roman forts placed also upon the mouth of Yare, that now is stopped up. For like as the North Westerne winde doth play the tyrant upon Holland over against it, and by drift of shelves and Sand-heapes hath choked the middest of the Rhene-Mouthes, even so the North-East winde afflicteth and annoieth this Coast and driveth the sand on heapes, so as it may seeme to have dammed up this mouth also. Neither will it be prejudiciall to the Truth if I should name our Yarmouth Garianonum, being so neere adjoining as it is unto the old Garianonum, considering that Garienis, the river whence it tooke the name, having now changed his chanell, entreth into the maine sea a little beneath this towne, which it hath also given name unto. For I must needs confesse that this our Yarmouth is of later memorie. For when that ancient Garianonum aforesaid was decayed and there was no garrison to defend the shore, Cerdick a warlike Saxon entred heere (whereupon the inhabitants at this day call the place Cerdikesand, and the writers of Histories, Cerdic-shore), and after he had made sore warre upon the Iceni, tooke sea and sailed from hence into the West parts, where he erected the kingdome of the West Saxons. And not long after, the Saxons in steed of Garianonum founded a new towne in that moist and waterish ground neere the West side of the river and named it Yarmouth. But finding the situation thereof not to be healthfull, they betooke themselves to the other side of the river, called them of the same Cerdicke Cerdiksand, and built this new towne, in which there flourished in King Edward the Confessour his daies 70 Burgesses, as we find recorded in the Notitia of England. After this, about the yeere of our redemption 1240, the townesmen strengthned it with a wall, and in short space it grew so right and puissant that oftentimes in sea fights they set upon their neighbours of Lestoff, yea and the Portmen, for so they termed the inhabitants of the Cinque ports, not without much bloudshed on both sides. For they were most spitefully bent against them, haply for being excluded out of the number of the Cinque ports, and deprived of these priviledges which old Garianonum or Yarmouth and their ancestours enjoied under the comes of the Saxon Shore in elder times. But this their stoutnesse was repressed at length and taken downe by the Kings authority, or, as some thinke, their lusty courage became abated by that most grievous and lamentable plague which in one yeere within this one little towne brought 7050 to their graves. The which is written by an ancient Latin Chronographicall Table hanging up in the Church, wherein are set downe also their warres with the Portmen and Lestoffians aforesaid. Since that time their hearts have not beene so hauty, nor their wealth so great, to make them bold, howbeit painfully they follow the trade of Merchandise and of Herrings (which the learned thinke to be chalcides and leucomanides), a kind of fish more plentifull here than in any other coast of the world againe. For it may seeme incredible how great a faire, and with what resort of people, is holden here at the Feast of Saint Michaell, and what store of herrings and other fish is then bought and sold. At which time, they of the Cinque-Ports abovesaid by an old order and custome appoint their Bailiffs Commissioners, and send them hither, who, that I may speake out of their owne Patent or Commission, togither with the magistrates of this towne, during the time of the free faire, hold a Court for matters concerning the Faire, doe execute the Kings justice, and keepe the Kings peace. As for the haven below the towne, it is verie commodious both for the inhabitants and for Norwich-men also, but for feare that it should be barred and stopped up, they wrestle, as it were, to their great cost and charges, with the maine sea, which to make them amends and to restore what it hath eaten and swallowed up else where in this shore, hath by heaping of earth and sand together cast up here of late a prety Island.
10. At this mouth also, another river, which some call Thyrn, sheddeth it selfe together with Yare into the sea. This river, springing up neere unto Holt, a towne so called of an Holt or tuft of trees, and for the mercat well knowne, running about five miles distant from Yare, holdeth on a joint course a great way and keepeth pace with him, by Blickling, now the seat of the ancient familie of Clere, who in former times dwelt at Ormesby, and by Ailesham a mercat towne of good resort, where the Earle of Athole in Scotland had lands ‡not farre from Worsted, where, as I reade, the Stuffe Worsted, in so great request among our ancestours, was first made and hence so named, as Dornicks, Cameric, Calecut &c. had in like manner their denomination from the places were they were first invented and made.‡ Then passeth Thirn neare the decaied great Abbay called Saint Benet in the Holme, which Knut the Dane built, and the monkes afterward so strengthned with most strong wals and bulwarks that it seemed rather a Castle than a Cloister. In so much that William the Conquerour could not winne it by assault, untill a monke betraied it into his hands upon this condition, that himselfe might be made Abbot thereof. Which was done accordingly: but forthwith this new Abbot for beeing a traitour (as the inhabitants make report) was hanged up by the kings commandement, and so justly punished for this treason. But the ground in this Island or Home is so fenny and rotten that if a man cut up the strings and rootes of trees and shrubs there growing, it floteth aloft on the water, and is ready to follow one whither he will have it. And some there be who thinke, by the periwinkles and cocles that other while are digged up there, that the sea had broken in thither. From thence runneth this river downe by Ludham, an house of the Bishops of Norwich, and by Clipsby, which gave name to a family of ancient note in his tract, and streightway united his owne streame with the Rare.
From the mouth of Yare the shore goeth directly (as it were) North to Winterton, a point or cape very well knowne to sailers, which tooke that name, I suppose, of the cold and winterly situation. For it lieth full upon the Ocean, the father of winds and cold, who with exceeding violence rusheth against the bankes and piles that are opposed against him. Howbeit, the country adjoining round about, in many mens opinion, hath the fattest soile and softest mould of any country in all England, as which asketh least labour and yeeldeth most fruit. For with a silly jade (as Plinie writeth of Bizacium in Africke) and a poore old woman at one side of the yoake drawing the plough, it is easily broken up and eared.
11. From Winterton immediatly the shore turning Westward, the sea retireth, without any bearing out in maner at all, along a flat and low coast as farre as to Eccles, which is almost overflowed and drowned with the Ocean. From thence it carrieth an higher shore by Bronholme, sometime a Priorie founded and enriched by George Glanvill, and seated upon the sharpe top of an hill, the Crosse whereof our ancestours had in holy reverence, I know not for what miracles. ‡Next is Paston, a small townlet which yet hath given surname to a family growne great both in estate and alliance, since they matched with an heiress of Beary and Maultby.‡ Not farre hence is Gimmingham, which with other Manors John Earle of Warren and Surrie gave in times past to Thomas Earle of Lancaster, and by Cromer, where the neighbour inhabitants with great expense went about to make an havenet [small harbor], but to small purpose, the Ocean so furiously plaied the tyrant and made resistance. Thence the shore runneth forth to Wauburne-hope, a Creeke fortified in our time, so called of Wauburne a little towne, unto which by the intercession of Oliver de Burdeax, King Edward the Second granted the libertie of keeping a mercat. Next unto it is Clay, and over against with a little river running betweene, Blackney, our country man Bale calleth it Nigeria, a famous house of Carmelite Friers in this late age afore going, built by Sir Robert de Roos, Sir Robert Bacon, and John Bret, out of which came John Baconthorp, so named of the place of his nativity (which now is the habitation of the Heidons, and ancient race of knights degree). A man in that age of which variety and depth withall of excellent learning that hee was had in exceeding great admiration among the Italians, and commonly called The Resolute Doctor. Whence it is that Paulus Pansa thus writeth of him. If thy minde stand to enter into the secret powre of the Almighty and most mercifull God, no man hath written of His essence more exactly. If any man desireth to learne the causes of things, or he effects of Nature; if he wish to know the sundrie motions of heaven and the contrary qualities of the Elements, this man offereth himselfe as a store-house to furnish him. The Armour of Christian Religion, of better proofe and defence than those of Vulcans making, against the Jewes, this resolute Doctour alone hath delivered &c. When you are past Wauborn, the coast lieth more low and flat as farre as to Saint Edmunds Point, cut through and distinguished with many a rillet, and hardly defended from the injurie of the sea by heapes of sand, which they use to calle Meales, opposed against it.
12. More within the Country is Walsingham scarce foure miles from hence, wherupon it is that of the vicinity unto the sea Erasmus calleth it Parathalassia. Verie famous now is this village by reason of the best Saffron growing there, but of late time as much renowned through all England for a pilgrimage to our Ladie the virgin Marie, whom hee who had not in that former age visited and presented with offerings, was reputed irreligious. But this shall Erasmus an eye-witnesse describe in his owne verie words. Not farre from the sea (saith hee) about foure miles, there standeth a towne living almost of nothing else but upon the resort of pilgrimes. There is a Colledge of Chanons, yet such as unto whom the Latinists given the addition of regulares, a middle kinde betwixt Monkes and those Chanons whom they terme Secular. This Colledge hath scarce any other revenewes than from the liberality of the said Virgin. For certaine of the greater presents and oblations are laied up and preserved. But if there bee any money offered or aught else of small value, that goeth unto the maintenance of the Covent and their Head or president, whom they call Prior. The Church is faire and neat; yet in it the Virgin dwelleth not: that honour, forsooth, shee hath done unto her Sonne. She hath her Church by her selfe, but so as that shee may bee on the right hand of her Sonne. Neither doth shee dwell here for all this, for why, the building is not yet finished, and the place hath a through light and ayre on all sides, with open dores and wide open windowes. The Ocean-sea withall, the father and foster of Winds, is hard by. In that Church, which I said was unfinished, there is a small chappell, but all of wood, whereinto on either side at a narrow and little dore are such admitted as come with their devotions and offrings. Smal light there is in it, and none other in maner but by tapers or wax-candles, yeelding a most deinty and pleasant smel. Nay if you looke into it, you would say it were the habitation of heavenly Saints indeed, so bright shining it is all over with precious stone, with gold and silver. But within the memory of our fathers, when King Henry the Eighth had set his minde and eye both upon the riches and possessions of Churches, all this vanished quite away. Touching Walsingham, I have nothing else to say more, but that the familie of the Walsinghams, Knights (as they will have it that curiously search after Genealogies) fetched first their name and originall from hence. Out of which house flourished that Sir Francis Walsingham, Secretarie unto Queene Elizabeth, a man, as of deepe insight, so also of as rare and painfull industry in the weightiest affaires of the Realme. But hard by it at Houghton flourished sometime the nobile family of the Neirfords, who by matching in mariage with Parnel de Vallibus (who had about Holt, Cley, and elsewhere a goodly inheritance) was greatly enriched. But now let us looke backe againe to the shore.
13. Neere unto Walsingham Westward, upon the sea side, was that ancient towne Brannodunum where the Saxons first molested Britaine with their invasions. The Dalmatian Horsemen laie in Garison under the Lieutenant of the Saxon Shore. But now it it is a country village, reteining nought but the remaines of that name, and shewing a trench and rampire (the neighbour inhabitants call it the Castle) that conteineth within it a plot of ground much about eight acres, and is named Brancaster, where peeces of Romane mony are many times gotten out of the earth. Very commodiously was there a garison planted at this place: for at S. Edmunds Chappell neere adjoining, and Hunstanton, built by that Holy King Saint Edmund, the coast draweth backe into the South, and so admitteth a larger creek for the sea to enter into, lying open for pirats, into which many rivers also doe void themselves. As for Hunstanton, it is to be remembred in this regard if there were nothing else, for that it hath beene the Habitation of the family of Le Strange, Knights by degree, ever since that in the reigne of Edward the Second, John Baron Le Strange of Knockin gave the same unto Hamen his younger brother.
The catching of hawkes and the plentifull fishing, the Peat and Amber also found oftentimes in this shore I wittingly omit, seeing that there is great store of these things elsewhere along this tract. Yet Sharnborn in this coast is not to be omitted, both for that Foelix the Burgundian who brought these East Englishmen to the Christian faith and state of perpetuall felicity built in this place the second Church of Christians in this Country (for the first he founded at Babingley where he landed), as also because it is verily thought, and that by the faithfull testimony of old deeds and evidences, that an old Englishman Lord of this place before the coming of the Normans, by vertue of sentence given judicially in open Court by William Conquerour himselfe, recovered this Lordship against Warren, unto whom the Conquerour had given it. which argument they enforce hard who would prove that the said William entred upon the possession of England by covenant and agreement, and not by right of war and conquest.
14. The foresaid Creeke or Bay our country men call the Washes, Ptolomee termed it Aestuarium Metaris, haply for Malthraith, by which name the Britans called the like Frithes and Armes of the sea in other places: neither doth it signifie among them any other thing than an Arme of the sea uncertainly changing the channell, such as this is. Upon this, where the River Ouse striveth forcibly against the Ocean, standeth Linne, peradventure so named of the waters broad spreading. For that doth lhyn import in the British tongue. A large towne this is, encompassed with a deepe trench and wals for the most part thereof, divided by two smal rivers that have fifteene bridges or thereabout over them, and although it be of no great antiquity and not long since called Linnum Episcopi, that is, Bishops Linne, because it appertained to the Bishops of Norwich untill King Henry the Eighth his daies, for it had beginning out of the ruines of an elder towne which stood over against it in Marchland, and is at this day called Old Linne and Linnum Regis, that is, Kings Linne, yet by reason of the safe Haven which yeeldeth most easie accesse, for the number also of Merchants there dwelling and thether resorting, for the faire and the goodly houses, the wealth also of the townsmen, it is doubtlesse the principall towne of this shire except Norwich onely. It hath likewise most large franchises and immunities, which the inhabitants bought with their owne bloud of King John, whiles they tooke part with him and defended his quarrell, who ordeined there a Major and delivered unto them his owne sword to be caried before him, yea and gave unto them a silver cup all gilt, which they still doe keepe. These their liberties being afterwards lost, they redeemed not without bloud also of King Henry the Third, when siding with him and serving under his banner, they fought an unfortunate battaile against the outlawed Lords in the Isle of Ely, as the Booke of Ely and Mathew Paris doe both jointly witnesse.
15. Over against Linne, on the farther side of the river, lieth Mershland, a little moist mersh Country, as the name implieth, divided and parted every where with ditches, trenches and furrowes to draine and draw the waters away: a soile standing upon a very rich and fertile mould, and breeding aboundance of cattaile, in so much as that in a place commonly called Tilneysmeth there feed much about 30000 sheepe, but so subject to the beating and overflowing of the roaring maine sea, which very often breaketh, teareth, and troubleth it so grievously, that hardly it can be holden off with chargeable [costly] wals and workes. The places of greater note in this Mershland are these: Walpole, which the Lord of the place gave in times past unto the Church of Ely together with his sonne, whom hee made a Monke there; Wigenhall, the possession of Lord Howard in the reigne of Edward the First, whose posterity spred and became a most honorable and noble family, whereof I have already spoken; Tilney, whence in old time the stocke of the Tilneys, Knights, tooke name; and Saint Maries, the seat of the ancient race of the Carvils.
16. Now have wee passed along all the sea-coast. As for the inner part of the Country, there are also very many townes toward the West side, but because they bee of later memory, I will briefely runne them over. Neere to Linne upon an high hill standeth Rising Castle, almost matchable to the Castle of Norwich, the seat in times past of the Albineys, afterwards of Robert de Menthault, by one of the sisters and coheires of Hugh Albiney Earle of Arundell, and last the mansion place of the Mowbraies, who, as I have learned, came out of the same house that the Albineys did. But now, after long languishing, as it were, by reason of old age, the said Castle hath given up the ghost. Below it is Castle-acre, where was sometimes the habitation of the Earles of Warren, in a Castle now halfe downe, on a little rivers side: which, carrying no name, ariseth not farre from Godwicke, a lucky good name, where there stands a small house, but greatly graced by the Lord thereof, Sir Edward Coke, Knight, a man of rare endowments of nature, and as in the Common lawes much practised, so of deepe insight therein, which all England both tooke knowledge of whiles he discharged the function of Attourney Generall many yeeres most learnedly, and now ackowledgeth whiles being Lord chiefe Justice of the Common Plees, he administreth justice as uprightly and judiciously. Neither is he lesse to bee remembred for that hee loveth learning, and hath well deserved of the present and succeeding ages by his learned labours. This riveret or brooke with a small streame and shallow water runneth Westward to Linne by Neirford, that gave name to the familie of the Neirfords, famous in times past, and by Neirborrough, where nere unto the house of the Spelmans, Knights, upon a rising ground is to be seene a warlike entrenchment of ancient worke and conveniently seated for defence of those partes. After upon the said brooke is seated Penteney, a pretty Abbay, the ordinary buriall place in ancient time of the Noblemen and gentlemen in this tract.
17. Neere unto it lieth Wormegay, commonly Wrongey, which Reginald de Warren, brother of Wiliam de Warren the second Earle of Surrie, had with his wife, of whom, as I have read, the said Earle had the donation of maritagium (as they use to speake in the law phrase), and by his sonnes daughter streight waies it was transferred to the Bardolphs, who being Barons of great nobility, flourished a long time in honorable estate, and bare for their Armes Three cinque-foiles Or in a shield Azur. The greatest part of whose inheritance together with the title came to Sir William Phellips, and by his daughter passed away to the Vicount Beaumont. More Eastward are seated Swaffham, a mercate towne of good note, sometime the possession of the Earle of Richmond; Ashele Manour, by tenure whereof the Hastings and Greies Lords of Ruthin had the charge of table clothes and linnen used at the solemne Coronation of the Kings of England; North Elmham, the Bishops See for a good time when as this Province was divided into two Dioceses; Dereham, wherein Withburga King Annas daughter was buried, whom because shee was piously affected, farre from all riotous excesse and wanton lightnesse, our ancestours accounted for a Saint. Next unto which is Greshenhall, and adjoining thereto Elsing, the possessions in ancient time of the Folliots, men of great worth and dignitie, which in right of dowrie came by a daughter of Richard Folliot to Sir Hugh de Hastings, descended out of the familie of Abergevenney, and at length by the daughters and heires of Hastings the last, Greshenhall aforesaid fell unto Hamon Le Strange of Hunstanton, and Elfing unto William Browne, the brother of Sir Antonie Browne the first Vicount Mountacute. In this quarter also is Ick-borrough, which Talbot supposeth to have beene that Iciani whereof Antonine speaketh. Neither have I cause to write any more of these places. And now I thinke it is good time to set downe the Earles and Dukes of Northfolke, that I may proceede to Cambridgeshire.
18. William the Conquerour made one Raulph Governour of East-England, that is to say, of Norfolke, Suffolke, and Cambridgeshire, who forthwith gaping, as I said, after an alteration and change in the state, was dispossessed of that place. After certaine yeeres, in the reigne of Stephen, Hugh Bigod was Earle of Norfolke, For when peace was concluded betweene Stephen and Henrie Duke of Anjou, who became afterward King Henrie the Second, by expresse words it was provided that William King Stephens sonne should have the whole Earldome of Norfolke, excepting among other things the third peny of that County, whereof Hugh Bigod was Earle. Whom notwithstanding King Henrie the Second created Earle againe of the third peny of Norfolke and Norwich. Who dying about the twenty seven yeere of Henrie the Second, Roger his sonne succeeded, who, for what cause I know not, obtained at the hands of King Richard the First a new Charter of his creation. Him succeeded his sonne Hugh, who tooke to his wife Mawde the eldest daughter and one of the heires of William Marescall Earle of Pembroch. By whom hee had issue one sonne named Roger, Earle of Norfolk and Marescall of England, who at Tournament having his bones put out of joint, died without issue, and another, called Hugh Bigod Lord chiefe Justice of England, slaine in the battaile of Lewis, whose sonne Roger succeeded his Uncle in the Earldome of Norfolke and dignity of Marescall, but having incurred through his insolent contumacy the high displeasure of King Edward the First, was compelled to passe away his honours and well neere his whole inheritance into the Kings hands to the use of Thomas of Brotherton the Kings sonne, whom hee had begotten of his second wife Margaret, sister to Philip the Faire King of France. For thus reporteth the historie out of the Librarie of Saint Austens in Canterbury: In the yeere 1301 Roger Bigod Earle of Norfolk ordeined King Edward to be his heire, and hee delivered into his hands the rod of the Marshals Office with this condition, that if his wife brought him any children hee should without all contradiction receive againe all from the King and hold it peacably as before: and the King gave unto him one thousand pounds in money, and a thousand pound land during his life, together with the Marshalship and the Earldome. But when hee was departed this life without issue, King Edward the Second honoured the said Thomas of Brotherton his brother, according to the conveiance aforesaid, with the titles of Marshall and Earle of Norfolke. Whose daughter Margaret, called Marshalesse and Countesse of Norfolke, wife to John Lord Segrave, King Richard the Second created in her absence Dutchesse of Norfolke for terme of life, and the same day created Thomas Mobray, the daughters sonne of the said Margaret, then Earle of Nothingham, the first Duke of Norfolke, To him and his heires males, unto whom hee had likewise granted before the State and stile of Earle Marshall of England. This is hee that, before the King, was challenged and accused by Henrie of Lancaster Duke of Hereford, for uttering inconsideratly certaine reprochfull and derogatory words against the King. And when they were to fight a combat, at the very barre and entry of the Lists, by the voice of an Herauld it was proclaimed in the Kings name that both of them should be banished, Lancaster for tenne yeeres, and Mowbray for ever: who afterwards ended his life at Venice, leaving two sonnes behind him in England. Of which, Thomas Earle Marshall and of Nothingham, for no other title used hee, was beheaded for seditious plotting against Henrie of Lancaster, who had now possessed himselfe of the Crowne by the name of King Henrie the Fourth. But his brother and heire John, who through the favour of King Henrie the Fift was raised up, and for certaine yeeres after called onely Earle Marshall and of Nottingham, at last in the very beginning of Henrie the Sixth his reigne, By authority of Parliament and the vertue of the patent granted by King Richard the Second, was declared Duke of Norfolke, as being the sonne of Thomas Duke of Norfolke his father, and heire to Thomas his brother. After him succeeded John his sonne, who died in the first yeere of Edward the Fourth, and after him likewise John his sonne, who whiles his father lived was created by King Henrie the Sixth Earle of Surrie and of Warren. Whose onely daughter Anne, Richard Duke of Yorke, the yong sonne of King Edward the Fourth, tooke unto wife, and together with her received of his father the titles of Duke of Norfolke, Earle Marshall, Earle of Warren and Nottingham. But after that he and his wife both were made away in their tender yeares, Richard the Third King of England conferred this title of the Duke of Norfolke and the dignity of Earle Marshall upon John Lord Howard, who was found next cosen in bloud and one of the heires to the said Anne Dutchesse of Yorke and Norfolke, as whose mother was one of the daughters of that first Thomas Mowbray Duke of Norfolke, and who in the time of King Edward the Fourth was summoned a Baron to the Parliament. This John lost his life at Bosworth field, fighting valiantly in the quarell of King Richard against King Henrie the Seventh. His sonne Thomas, who being by King Richard the Third created Earle of Surrie, and by King Henrie the Seventh made Lord Treasurer, was by King Henrie the Eighth restored to the title of Duke of Norfolke, and his sonne the same day created Earle of Surrie, after that by his conduct James the Fourth, King of the Scots, was slaine, and the Scotish power vanquished at Branxton [Flodden]. In memoriall of which victorie the said King granted to him and his heires maile for ever that they should beare in the midst of the Bend in the Howards Armes, the whole halfe of the upper part of a Lion Geules, pierced through the mouth with an arrow, in the due colours of the Armes of the King of Scots. I translate it verbatim out of the Patent. After him succeeded his sonne Thomas, as well in his honours as in the office of Lord Treasurer of England, and lived to the time of Queene Marie, tossed too and fro betweene the reciprocall ebbes and flowes of fortune, whose grand sonne Thomas (by his sonne Henrie, the first of the English nobility, that did illustrate his high birth with the beauty of learning), being attainted for purposing a marriage with Marie the Queene of Scots, lost his life in the yeere of our Lord 1572 and was the last Duke of Norfolke. Since which time his offspring lay for a good while halfe dead, but now, watered and revived with the vitall dew of King James, reflourisheth very freshly.
In this Province there be Parish Churches about 660.
AMBRIDGE-SHIRE, called in the English-Saxon Grentbrig-scyre, lyeth more inward and stretched out in length Northward. On the East it butteth upon Norfolke and Suffolk, on the South upon the East-Saxons or Essex and Hertfordshire, on the West upon Bedford and Huntingdon shires, and Northward upon Lincolnshire, being divided into two partes by the river Ouse, which crosseth overthwart from West to East.
2. The lower and South-part is better manured and not altogether levell, for the most part or all of it rather (save onely where it bringeth forth saffron) is layd out into cornefields, and yeeldeth plentifully the best barly; of which steeped in water and lying wet therein untill it spurt againe, then, after the said sprout is full come, dried and parched over a kill [kiln], they make store of mault. By venting and sending out whereof into the neighbour countries, the inhabitants raise verie great gaine. The farther and Northren part, because it is fennish ground by reason of the many flouds that the rivers cause, and so dispersed into Islands, is called The Isle of Ely, a tract passing greene, fresh and gay by reason of most plenteous pastures, howbeit after a sort hollow, by occasion of the water that in some places secretly entreth in; yea and otherwhile when it overfloweth surroundeth the most part of it.
Along the West side of the lower part runneth one of the two high waies made by the Romans (Ely booke calleth it Ermingstreet), which passeth forth right to Huntingdon through Roiston, that standeth in the verie edge and entry of the Shire, a towne well knowne, yet but of late built, whereof I have already spoken; also by Caston, in times past the seat of the Baronie of Stephen de Eschallers, and from whose posterity in the reigne of King Henry the Third it descended to the Frevills, and from them by the Burgoins to the Jermins. Neither is Camlinghay far distant from hence, where dwelt the Avenells, whose inheritance came by marriage to the ancient familie of Saint George (out of which there flourished many knights since the time of King Henry the First) at Hatley, which of them is called Hatley Saint George. ‡Above Caxton before mentioned is Eltesley, where was in elder ages a religious house of holie Virgines, among whom was celebrated the incertaine memory of Saint Pandiona a daughter of a Scotish king, as the tradition is. But long since they were translated to Hinchinbroke. And againe above Eltesley was the Priorie of Swasey founded for Black monkes by Alan la Zouch brother to the Vicount of Rohan in the Lesser Britaine, and was the common sepulture a long time for the familie of Zouch.‡
3. More Westward a little river runneth through the middle of this part, which, issuing downe out of Adhwel, hastneth from South to North with many turnings to joine it selfe with the Ouse, running by Shengay (where be the goodliest medowes of this Shire), a Commanderie in old time of the knights Templars; which Shengay, Sibyl the daughter of Roger Mont-gomerie Earle of Shrewsbury and wife to John de Raines gave unto them in the yeare 1130 not far from Burne Castle, in ancient times the Baronie of Picot Sheriff of this Shire, and of the Peverels, from whom, by one of the daughters, this and other possessions came unto Sir Gilbert Pech, the last of whose house, after he had otherwise advanced his children by his second wife, ordeined King Edward the First to bee his heire. For in those daies the Noble men of England brought into use againe the custome of the Romans under their Emperours, which was to nominate them their heires, if they were in any disfavour with their Soveraignes. But in the Barons warre in King Henrie the Third his daies, this Castle was burnt downe, beeing set on fire by Ribald L’ Isle, at which time Walter De Cottenham, a respective person, was hanged for rebellion. By what name writers termed this river is a question: some call it Granta, others Camus. And unto these I rather incline, both for that the course thereof is somewhat crooked, for so much doth cam in the British tongue signifie, whence a certaine crooked river in Cornwall is named Camel, and also because that ancient town of Camboritum, which Antonine the Emperour mentioneth in his third journey of Britain, stood upon this river, as I am well neere induced to beleeve by the distance, the name, and also by the peeces of Romane money found heere nigh unto the bridge in great store. For Camboritum signifieth A fourd at Camus, or A Fourd with crooked windings. For righ in our British or Welsh tongue betokeneth a Fourd, which I note to this end, that the Frenchmen may more easily perceive and see what is the meaning of Augustoritum, Darioritum, Rithomagus, and other such like in France. Howbeit the Saxons chose rather to call our Camboritum Grant-ceaster and Gront-ceaster, which name it keepeth still, but whence it was derived I can not yet see. If I should fetch it from cron, a Saxon word that signifieth a fenny place, I might perhaps goe wide. And yet Asserius termed once or twice certaine fennish and marish grounds in Somersetshire by a mungrell name halfe Saxon and halfe Latin gronnas paludosissias, and verie well knowen it is that a City in West Frisland, which is situate in such a ground, is named Gronnigen. But let others hunt after the derivation of this name. About the yeare of Christ 700 this was a little desolate City, as saith Bede, whiles hee reporteth that neere unto the walles there was found a little trough or coffin, very cunningly and finely wrought of marble, and covered most fitly with a lidde of the like stone. But now a small village it is, one part whereof Henrie Lacie Earle of Lincolne gave unto his base sonne Henrie with this condition, that his sonnes and their posterity (which a good while since bee cleane worne out) should have no other Christian name but Henry; the other part, Henrie the Sixth King of England, comming out of the house of Lancaster, into whose hands the patrimonie of Earle Lacie fell, granted unto his Kings Colledge in Cambridge, which was either a part or else a plant of that ancient Camboritum, so nere it commeth unto it both in situation and name. Neither can I easily beleeve that Grant was turned into Cam; for this might seeme a deflexion somewhat too hardly streined, wherein all the letters but one are quite swallowed up. I would rather thinke that the common people reteined the terme of the ancient name of Camboritum, or of the river Cam, although writers used more often the Saxon name Grantbridge. This City, which being the other University of England, the other eye, the other strong-staie, as it were, thereof, and a most famous mart and store-house of good literature and Godlinesse, standeth upon the river Cam, which after it hath in sporting wise besprinkled the West side thereof with many Islets, running into the East divideth it into parts, and hath a bridge over it, whence arose this later name Cambridge. Beyond the bridge is seene a large and ancient Castle, which seemeth now to have lived out his ful time, and Maudlen College. On this side t7he bridge, where standeth the greatest part by far of the City, you have a pleasant sight everywhere to the eye, what of faire streets orderly raunged, what of a number of churches, and 16 Colledges, sacred mansions of the Muses, wherein a number of great learned men are maintained, and wherein the knowledge of the best arts, and the skil in tongues so flourish that they may be rightly counted the fountaines of literature, religion, and all knowledge whatsoever, who right sweetly bedew and sprinkle with most holesome waters the gardens of the Church and Common-wealth through England. Neither is there wanting an thing here that a man may require in a most flourishing Universitie, were it not that the ayre is somewhat unhealthfull, arising as it doth out of a fenny ground hard by. And yet peradventure they that first founded an University in that place allowed of Platoes judgement. For he, being of a very excellent and strong constitution of bodie, chose out the Academia, an unholsome place of Attica, for to studie in, that so the superfluous rankenesse of bodie which might overlaie the mind might bee kept under by the distemperature of the place. Nevertheless, for all this, our forefathers, men of singular wisdome, dedicated this place and not without divine direction unto learned Studies, and beautified it with notable workes and buildings.
4. And least we should seeme in the worst kind unthankefull to those singular patrons of learning, or rather, that I may use the words of Eumenius, toward the parents of our children, let us summarily reherse both themselves and the Colledges also which they founded and consecrated to good literature, to their honorable memory, and that out of the Cambridge Story. The report goeth that Cantaber, a Spaniard, 375 yeeres before the nativity of Christ, first began and founded this University. Also that Sebert King of the East-Angles restored it againe in the yeere after Christs birth 630. Afterwards being otherwhiles overthrown and destroied with the Danish storms, it lay a long time forlorne and of no account, untill all began to revive under the Normans government. And not long after, Innes, Hostels and Halles were built for scholers, howbeit endowed with no possessions. But Hugh Balsham Bishop of Ely in the yeere 1284 built the first College, called Peter-house, and endowed it with lands. Whose example these insuing did imitate and follow: Richard Badew with the good helpe and furtherance of Lady Elizabeth Clare Countesse of Ulster, in the yeere 1340 founded Clare Hall. Lady Mary S. Paule Countesse of Pembroch in the yeere 1347 Pembroch Hall. The Guild or Society of Corpus Christi Brethren, Corpus Christi Colledge, which is called also S. Bennet College. William Bateman Bishop of Norwich, about the yeere 1353, Trinity Hall. Edmund Goneville in the yeere 1348 and John Caius Doctor of Physicke in our time, Gonevil and Caius Colledge. Henry the Sixth King of England erected Kings College in the yeere1441, whereunto he joyned a Chapell, which may rightly be counted one of the fairest buildings in the whole world. His wife Margaret of Anjou in the yeere 1443 built Queenes colledge. Robert Woodlark Professor of Divinity in the yeere 1459 S. Katharines Hall. John Alcocke Bishop of Ely in the yeere 1497 was the founder of Jesus College. Lady Margaret Countesse of Richmond, mother to King Henry the Seventh, about the yeere 1506 erected Christs Colledge and S. Johns, enlarged now in goodly maner with new buildings. Sir Thomas Audley Lord Chancellour of England in the yeere 1542 built Maudlin Colledge, which Sir Christopher Wray Lord chiefe Justice of England hath lately bewtified with new buildings, and endowed with greater possessions. And that most puissant King Henry the Eight, in the yeere of our salvation 1546 made Trinity Colledge of three others, to wit, of S. Michaels House or College, which Hervie Stanton in the reigne of Edward the Second built, of Kings Hall founded by King Edward the Third, and of Fishwicks Hostell. Which Colledge, that the Students might inhabit more pleasantly, is now repaired, nay rather new built, with that magnificence, by the carefull direction of Thomas Nevil Doctor of Divinity, Master of the said Colledge and Deane of Canterbury, that it is become a Colledge for stately greatnesse, for uniforme building and beauty of the roomes, scarce inferiour to any other in Christendome, and he himselfe may be accounted in the judgement even of the greatest Philosopher truly μεγαλοπρεπής for bestowing so great cost in publike and not in his owne private uses. Also, wherein I congratulate our age and our selves in the behalfe of good learning, that honourable and prudent man Sir Walter Mildmay, Knight, one of the Privy Counsell to Queene Elizabeth, who founded a new Colledge in the honour of Emanuel, and Lady Francis Sidneie Countesse of Sussex, in her last will have a legacy of 5000 pounds to the building of a Colledge that should be called Sidney-Sussex, which is now fully furnished.
5. I let passe heere little Monasteries and Religious houses because they were of small note, unlesse it were Barnwell Abbey, which Sir Paine Peverell a worthy and valiant warriour, Standard-bearer to Robert Duke of Normandy in the holy warre against Infidels, translated, in the reigne of Henry the First, from S. Giles Church, were Picot the Shiriffe had ordained secular Priests, unto this place, and brought into it thirty Monkes, for that himselfe at that time was thirty yeeres of age. The reason of that name Barnwell, you may reade if it please you out of the private Historie of that place in these words: Sir Payne Peverell obteined of King Henry the First a certaine plot of ground without the Burgh of Cambridge. Out of the very midest of that place there sprung up certaine fountaines very pure and lively, which in English they called Barnwell in those dayes, as one would say the well of Barnes, that is, children, for that boies and youthes a-meeting once a yeere there on the even of Saint John Baptists Nativity after the English maner exercised themselves in wrestling and other sports and pastimes befitting their age, yea and merrily applauded one another with songs and minstralsie. Whence it came that for the number of boies and girles running thether and there playing grew to be a custome, that on the suddaine a multitude of buyers and selleres repaired thither.
6. Neither was Cambridge (albeit it was consecrated to the Muses) altogether free from the furies of Mars. For when the Danes robbed and spoiled up and downe, many times they wintered heere, and in the yeere of redemption 1010, when Sueno the Dane by most cruell and terrible tyranny bare downe all before him, they spared not the honour of the places, nor the Muses (which we read that Sylla yet did at Athens), but pitifully burnt and defaced it all. Neverthelesse at the first comming in of the Normans it was sufficiently peopled. For thus wee read in the Domesday booke of King William the Conquerour. The Borrough of Grentbridge is divided into ten wards and hath 387 mansion houses. But eighteene houses were destroyed for building of the Castle, what time as the said King William the First determined to overawe the English everywhere (whom lately he had conquered) with Castles, as it were with bridles of servitude. Afterwards in the Barons warre it sustained great losse by the out-lawed Barons out of the Isle of Ely. Therefore Henry the Third to represse their outrages caused a deepe ditch to be cast on the East side, which is still called Kings ditch. Heere happily there is a secret expectation of some that I should give mine opinion as touching the antiquity of this University. But I will be no dealer in this case. For I meane not to make comparison betweene these two most flourishing Universities of ours, to whom I know none equall. Howbeit I feare me they have builded Castles in the aire and thrust upon us devises of their owne braines, who extolling the antiquity thereof far above any probability of truth, have written that this Cantaber of Spaine streight after Rome was built, and many yeeres before the Nativity of Christ, erected this university. True and certaine it is that, whensoever it was first ordeined, it was a seat of learning about the time of King Henry the First. For thus we read in an old Additament of Peter Blessensis unto Ingulph: Abbot Joffred sent over to his Manour of Coteham neere Cambridge Gislebert his fellow Monke and professour of Divinity, with three other Monkes: who following him into England, being throughly furnished with Philosophical Theorems and other primitive sciences, repaired daily to Cambridge, and having hired a certaine publicke barne, made open profession of their sciences, and in short space of time drew together a great number of scholers. But in the second yeere after their comming the number of their scholers grew so great, as well from out the whole country as the towne, that the biggest house and barne that was, or any Church whatsoever, sufficed not to receive them all. Whereupon sorting themselves apart in severall places, and taking the University of Orleance for their patern, earely in the morning Monk Odo, a singular Grammarian and Satyricall Poet, read Grammer unto boies and those of the younger sort assigned unto him, according to the doctrine of Priscian and Remigius upon him. At one of the clocke, Terricius, a most witty and subtile Sophister, taught the elder sort of young men Aristotles Logicke after the Introductions of Porphyrie and the Comments of Averroes. At three of the clocke Monke William read a Lecture in Tullies Rhetoricke and Quintialians Flores. But the great Master Gislebert upon every Sonday and Holy-daies preached Gods word unto the people. And thus out of this little fountaine, which grew to be a great river, we see how the City of God now is become enriched, and all England made fruteful, by meanes of very many masters and and Teachers proceeding out of Cambridge in manner of the holy Paradise &c. But at what time it became an University by authoritie, Robert de Remington shall tell you. Under the regime (saith he) of Edward the First, Grantbridge of a Schoole was made an University (such as Oxenford is) by the Court of Rome. But what meane I thus unadvisedly to step into these lists, wherein long since two most learned old men have encountered one another? Unto whom verily, as to right learned men I am willing to yeeld up my weapons and vaile bonnet with all reverence. The Meridian line cutting the Zenith just over Cambridge is distant from the furthest West point twenty three degrees and twenty five scruples. And the Arch of the same Meridian lying between the Aequator and Verticall point is fiftie two degrees and 11 scruples.
‡Cam from Cambridge continueth his course by Waterbearn, an ancient seat of Nuns, which Lady Mary S. Paul translated from thence to Denny somewhat higher but nothing healthfuller, when in a low ground he hath spread a Mere, associateth himselfe with the river Ouse.‡
6. But to returne, hard under Cambridge neere unto Sture, a little brooke, is kept every yeere in the moneth of September the greatest Faire of all England, whether you respect the multitude of buyers and sellers resorting thether, or the store of commodities there to be vented. Hard by, whereas the way was most comberous and troublesome to passengers to and fro, that right good and praise-worthy man George Hervie Doctor of the Civill Law and Master of Trinity Hall in Cambridge made not long since with great charges, but of a godly and laudable intent, a very faire raised causey for three miles or thereabout in length, toward Neumercat.
7. Neare unto Cambridge on the South-East side there appeare aloft certaine high hilles, the Students call them Gogmagog-Hilles, Henry of Huntingdon tearmed them amoenissima montana de Balsham, that is, The most pleasant mountaines of Balsham, by reason of a little Village standing beneath them, wherein, as he writeth, the Danes left no kinde of most savage cruelty unattempted. On the top of these hilles I saw a fort intrenched, and the same very large, strengthned with a threefold rampire: an hold surely in those daies inexpugnable, as some skilfull men in feats of war be of opinion, were it not that water is so farre off. Gervase of Tilbury seemeth to call it Vandelburie. Beneath Cambridge (saith he) there was a place named Vandelbiria for that the Vandals, wasting the parts of Britaine with cruell slaughter of Christians, there encamped themselves: where upon the very top of the hill they pitched their tents, there is a plaine enclosed round with a trench and rampire, which hath entrance into it but in one place, as it were at a gate. Touching the Martiall spectre or sprite that walked heere, which he addeth to the rest, because it is but a meere toyish and fantasticall devise of the doting vulgar sort, I willing over-passe it. For it is not my purpose to tell pleasant tales and tickle eares. In the Vale under these hilles is Salston to be seene, which from the Burges of Burgh-Green, by Walter De-la-Pole and Ingalthorp, came unto Sir John Nevil Marquesse Mont-acute, and by his daughter and one of his heires to the Hudlestones, who have lived heere in worship and reputation. More Eastward, first we meet with HIldersham, belonging somtimes to the Bustlers and now by marriage to the Parises. Further, hard by the woods, is Horsheath situate, the possession whereof is knowen by a long descent to have pertained unto the ancient families of the Argentons and Alingtons, of whom elsewhere I have written, and is now the habitation of the Alingtons. Adjoyning heereunto is Castle Camps, the ancient seat also of the Veres Earles of Oxford, which Hugh Vere held (as the old booke of Inquisition records) that he might been the Kings Chamberlaine; whereas notwithstanding most true it is that Henry the First King of England granted unto Aubrie le Vere that office in these words: The principall Chamberlaineship of all England in fee and inheritance, with all the dignities, liberties, and honors thereto belonging, are freely and honorably, as Robert Mallet held the same, &c. The Kings notwithstanding ordeined sometimes one, and sometimes another at their pleasure to execute this office. ‡The Earles of Oxford also, that i may note it incidentally, by the heire of Richard Sandford held the Manours of Fingrey and Wulfelmeston by serjeantry of Chamberlainship to the Queenes at the Coronation of the Kings. Not farre from hence are seene heere and there those great and long ditches which certainly the East Angles did cast to restraine the Mercians, who with sudden inrodes were wont most outragiously to make havocke of all before them. The first of these beginneth at Hinkeston, runneth Eastward by Hildersham towards Horsheath, about five miles in length. The second neere unto this, called Brentditch, goeth from Melborne by Fulmer.
9. Where Doctor Hervies cawsey which I mentioned endeth, there appeareth also a third forefence or ditch cast up in old time, which beginning at the East banke of the river Cam reacheth directly by Fenn-Ditton, or more truly Ditch-ton (so called of the very Ditch) betweene great Wilberham and Fulburn, as farre as to Balsham. At this day this is called commonly Seaven mile Dyke, because it is seven miles from Newmercate, in times past Fleam-dyke in old English, that is, Flight dyke, of some memorable flight there, as it seemeth. At the said Wilberham, sometimes called Wilburgham, dwelt in times past the Barons Lisle of Rong-mount, men of ancient nobility, of whom John for his martiall prowesse was by King Edward the Third ranged among the first founders of the Order of the Garter, and of that family there yet remaineth an heire male, a reverend old man and ful of children, named Edmund Lisle, who is stil Lord of this place.
10. More East from hence five miles within the country is to be seene the fourth forefence or Ditch, the greatest of all the rest, with a rampier thereto, which the common people wondering greatly at, as a worke made by devils and not by men, use to call Devils-dyke; others Rech-dyke of Rech, a little mercate towne where it beginneth. This is, doubtlesse, that whereof Abbo Floriacensis, when he describeth the site of East England, writeth thus: From that part whereas the sunne inclineth Westward, the Province it selfe adjoineth to the rest of the Island, and is therefore passable: but for feare of being overrunne with many invasions and inrodes of enimies, it is fortified in the front with a banke or rampier like unto an hugh wall, and with a trench or ditch below in the ground. This for many miles together cutteth overthwart that Plaine which is called Newmarket-heath, where it lay open to incursions, beginning at Rech: above which the country is fennie, and therefore impassable, and it endeth neere to Cowlidge, where the passage by reason of woods was more cumbersome. And it was the limite as well of the Kingdome as of the Bishopricke of the East Angles. Who was the author of so great a peece of worke, it is uncertaine. Some later writers say it was King Canutus the Dane, whereas notwithstanding, the said Abbo made mention of it, who died before that Canutus obtained the Kingdome of England. And the Saxon Chronicle, where it relateth the rebellion of Athelwolph against King Edward the Elder, calleth it simply Dyke, and sheweth That King Edward laid wast whatsoever lieth betweene the Dyke and the river Ouse, as farre as to the North Fennes, also that Aethelwold the rebell and Eohric the Dane were at that time slaine there in battaile But they who wrote since Canutus times termed it Saint Edmunds limit, and Saint Edmunds dyke, and verily thinke that King Canutus cast it up, who, being most devoted to Saint Edmund the Martyr, granted unto the religious Monkes of Saint Edmunds Bury (for to make satisfaction for the wicked cruelty of Swan his father wrought upon them) very great immunities, even as farre as to this Dyke. Whence it is that William of Malmesbury in his booke Of Bishops writeth thus: The Customers and Toll gatherers, which in other places make foule worke and outrage without respect or difference of right and wrong, there in humble maner on this side Saint Edmunds Dike surcease their quarrels and braules. And certaine it is that these two fore-fences last named were called Saint Edmunds Dykes. For Mathew Florilegus hath recorded that the said battaile against Aethelwolph was fought between the two Dykes of Saint Edmund.
11. Near unto Rech standeth Burwel, a Castle in later times of the Lord Tiptoft, which in those most troublesome times of King Stephen Geffrey Mandevill Earle of Essex, who by violent invasion of other mens possessions lost much honour, valiantly assaulted untill that, being shot through the head with an arrow, he delivered those countries from the feare they had stood in a long time. Scarce two miles off stands Lanheath, where for these many yeares the Cottons, right worshipfull gentlemen of Knights degree, have dwelt. ‡From which Wrecken is not farre distant, which came to the familie of the Peytons by a daughter and coheire of the Gernons about Edward the Thirds time,‡ as afterward Isleham, descended to them by a coheire of Bernard in Henrie the Sixt time, which knightly family of Petytons flowred out of the same male-stock whence the Uffords Earles of Suffolk descended, as appeareth by their Coate-armour, albeit they assumed the surname of Peyton according to the usage of that age from their Manour of Peyton-hall in Boxford in the Countie of Suffolke.
Upon the same Dyke also is seated Kirtling, called likewise Catlidg, famous in these daies by reason of the principall house of the Barons North, since Queene Marie honoured Sir Edward North with that title for his wisdome: but in times past it was famous for a Synode held there, what time as the Clergymen were at hote strife among themselves about the celebration of the feast of Easter.
The higher and Northerly part of this Shire is wholy divided into river isles, and beeing distinguished by many ditches, chanels, and draines, with a pleasant greene hew all Summer time contenteth the eyes of the beholders: but in winter wholly in maner over-covered with water, farther every way than a man is able to ken, resembleth in some sort a verie sea.
12. They that inhabited this fennish Country and all the rest beside (which from the edge and borders of Suffolke, as farre as to Winflet in Lincolnshire conteineth three score and eight miles and millions of acres lying in these foure Shires, Cambridge, Huntingdon, North-hampton and Lincolne) were in the Saxons time called Girvii, that is, as some interpret it, Fen-men or Fen-dwellers. A kinde of people according to the nature of the place where they dwell rude, uncivill, and envious to all others whom they call Upland-men, who, stalking high upon stilts, apply their mindes to grasing, fishing and fowling. The whole region it selfe, which in winter season and sometime most part of the yeare is overflowed by the spreading waters of the rivers Ouse, Grant, Nen, Welland, Glene, and Witham, having not loades [ditches] and sewers large enough to voide away. But againe when their streames are retired within their owne chanels, it is so plenteous and ranke of a certaine fatte grosse and full hey (which they call Lid), that when they have mowen downe as much with the better as well serve their turnes, they set fire on the rest and burne it in November, that it may come up againe in greater abundance. At which time a man may see this fennish and moist tract on a light flaming fire all over every way, and wonder thereat. Great plenty it hath besides of turfe and sedge for the maintenance of fire; of reed also for to thatch their houses, yea and of alders, beside other waterie shrubs. But chiefly it bringeth forth exceeding store of willowes both naturally and also for that, being planted by mans hand, they have served in good steed, and often cut downe, with their manifold encrease and infinit number of heires (to use Plinies word) against the violent force of the waters rushing against the bankes. Whereof also as well here as in other places there be Baskets made, which seeing the Britans call bascades, I for my part, that I may note so much by the way, doe not understand the Poet Martiall in that Distichon unlesse he meaneth these, among the Presents and Gifts sent to and and fro:
By barbarous name, a Baskaud I from painted Britans came,
But now Rome faine would call me hers, although I be the same.
13. Besides al this, the herb scordium, which also is called Water Germander, groweth plentifully here hard by the diches sides: but as for those fenny Ilands, Foelix, a writer of good antiquity, hath depainted them forth in these words: There is a fen of exceeding great largenes, which beginning at the banks of the river Gront, arising somwhere with sedge plots, in other places with blackewaters, yeelding a duskish vapour, with woods also among the Isles, and having many winding turnes of the banke, reacheth out in a very long tract from South to Northeast as farre as to the Sea. And the very same fenne William, a Monke of Crowland, in the life of Guthlak hath thus described in verse:
A spatious Fen in England lies from Gront that rivers side,
Among the winding crankes [turnings] of lakes and rivers far and wide
Y’ spred, and neere unto the banks of Easterne sea doth stretch
It selfe, and so from Southern side a long North Eastward reach.
In muddle gulfe unwholsome fish it breeds: as reeds doe shake
There growing thick, of winds as words a whispering noise they make.
Joyne heereunto, if you please, thus much out of Henry of Huntingdon: This Fenny country (saith he) is passing rich and plenteous, yea and beautifull to behold, watered with many rivers running downe to it, garnished with a number of meres both great and small, trimly adorned likewise with many woods and Ilands. and for a small conclusion of this matter, take with you also these few words of William of Malmesbury, speaking of his time: So great store there is heere of fishes that strangers comming hither make a wonder at it, and the inhabitants laugh thereat to see them wonder. Neither is Water foule lesse cheape, so that for one halfepenny and under, five men at the least may not onely eat to slake hunger and content nature, but also feed their fill of fish and foule.
14. As touching the drying up of this Fenny country, what discourse and arguing oftentimes there hath bene either by way of sound and holsome counsaile, or of a goodly pretence and shew of a common good, even in the High Court of Parliament, I list not to relate. But it is to be feared least (that which often hath happened to the Pontine Marishes of Italie) it would come againe to the former state. So that many think it the wisest and best course according to the sage admonition in like case of Apollo his Oracle, Not to intermeddle at all with that which God hath ordeined.
Upon the naturall strength of this place and plenty of all things there, seditious rebels have often presumed; and not onely the English when they banded themselves against William Conqueror, but the Barons also, whensoever they were out-lawed, troubled and molested their Kings. But evermore they had ill successe, albeit otherwhiles they built fortresses both at Eryth and also at Athered, at this day Audre, where the easiest entrance is into this Isle. And even yet, neere unto Audre is to be seene a military rampire of a meane height but of a very large compasse, which they call Belsurs-hils of one Belisar, I wot not who.
15. Part of this fenny country that lieth more South and is the greatest by farre, which also is counted of this Shire, was named in the English Saxon tongue Elig, now The Isle of Ely, of the chiefe Iland, which name Bede hath derived from Eeles, and therupon some tearmed it Insulam anguiliariam, that is, The Isle of Eeles. Polydore Virgil fetcheth the originall thereof from the Greek word ἔλος that signifieth Marish, others from helig, a Brittish word betokening Willowes or Sallowes, wherewith it doth most of all abound. Part of this region, we read that one Tombert, a Prince of the Southern Girvii, gave as a dowry to his wife Audrye, who after she had left her second husband Egfrid, King of the Nordanhumberland, being fully resolved to serve Christ, built a Monasterie for Nunnes Votaries in the principall Iland of these, properly called Elig, which was then reckoned at sixe hundred Hides or Families, and of this Monasterie she<was> her selfe the first Abbesse. Yet was not this the first Church in the Fenny countrie. For the Booke of Ely recordeth that Saint Austen of Canterbury founded a Church at Cradiden, which Penda the Mercian afterwards rased, and William of Malmesbury reporteth that Foelix Bishop of the East English had his first See at Soham, which yet is within the Diocesse of Norwich. Soham, saith he, is a village situate neere unto a fenne, which was in times past dangerous for those that would passe into Ely by water. Now, by reason of a way or causey made through the fenny ground overgrowen with reeds, men may goe over thither by land. There be remaining still the tokens of a Church destroyed by the Danes, which with the ruines thereof overwhelmed the inhabitants, who were burnt together with it. At which time also that Monasterie of Saint Audrie was overthrowen by the furious Danes, but Ethelwold Bishop of Winchester reedified it. For hee, by a composition betweene the King and him, bought the whole Iland anew, and, having cast out the Priests thence, stored it with Monkes, unto whom King Edgar, as we read in his letters patents, granted within the Fennes jurisdiction over the secular causes of two Hundreds, and without the Fennes, of two Hundreds and an halfe in Wichlaw, within the Province of the East Angels, which are called at this day The liberties of Saint Audrie. Afterwards Kings and great noble men enriched it with large revenewes, and Earl Brithnoth especially, being now ready to joine battaile with the Danes in the yeere 999, gave unto the Church of Ely, Somersham, Spaldwic, Trumpinton, Ratindon, Heisbury, Fulburn, Tinerston, Triplestow, and Impetum (for that the Monks had in magnificent maner entertained him), in case he should loose his life in that battaile. But his fortune was to die at Maldun after he had fought with the Danes 14 daies together. And so rich was this Monasterie that the Abbot thereof, as witnesseth Malmesburie, laid up everie yeere in his owne purse a thousand and foure hundred pounds. And Richard the last Abbot, sonne to Earle Gislebert, being over-tipled [intoxicated], as it were, with wealth, disdaining to be under the Bishop of Lincoln, dealt with the King, what by golden words, as the Monkes write, and what by great suite and politicke meanes, that a Bishops See might be erected heere: which he, prevented by death, obtained not. Yet soone after, King Henrie the First, having gotten allowance from the Pope, made Herveie, who had beene Bishop of Bangor and by the Welshmen cast out of his owne seat, the first Bishop of Ely: unto whom and to his successors he laied for his Diocesse Cambridgeshire, which had belonged before unto the Bishop of Lincolne, and confirmed certain Royalties in these Ilands. To the Bishops of Lincolne, from whose jurisdiction he had taken away this Island and Cambridgeshire, hee granted for to make amends, the Manour of Spaldwic, or as the Booke of Ely hath, The Manour of Spaldwic was given unto the Church of Lincoln for ever in exchange for the Bishops superentendency over the County of Cambridge. Herveie, being now made Bishop, sought by all meanes possible to augment the dignity of his Church. Hee obteined that it might be everywhere Toll-free (these are the very words of the Booke of Ely), he set it free from the yoke of service of watch and ward that it owed to the Castle of Norwich, he made a way from Exning to Ely through the fennes, six miles in length, he beganne the faire palace at Ely for his successours, and purchased to it faire lands and now a few Lordships. And his successours by abridging the number of Monkes (for from threescore and ten they brought them downe to fortie), flowed with riches and wealth in great abundance even unto our time, and their festivall and solemne holidaies they celebrated with so sumptuous provision and stately pompe that they wonne the praise and prize from all the Abbaies in England. Whereupon a Poet also in that age wrote these verses not unproperly:
See, after others, Ely feasts, and surely thou wilt say
That, having seene the night before, thou seest now the day.
16. The Church likewise, which now beganne for age and long continuance to decay, they built up by little and little, and brought it to that ample statelinesse which now it hath. For large it is, high and faire, but somewhat effaced by reason of Noblemens and Bishops tombes (not without most shamefull indignity) are broken downe. And now in stead of that great Convent of Monkes there are established a Deane, Prebendaries, a Grammar schoole, wherein 24 children are maintained and taught. Foure speciall things there are about this Church, that the common people talke much of. The Lanterne upon the very top thereof, just over the quire, supported with eight pillars and raised upon them right artificially by John Hothum the Bishop. Under the Church towards the North standeth Saint Maries Chapell, a singular fine peece of worke, built by Simon Montacute, Bishop. On the South side, there is an huge heape of earth cast up round of a great height, which they call the Mount, having a wind mill upon it. And lastly, a Vine bearing fruit in great plenty, which now is withered and gone. These foure a Monke of this place in times past knit up within this Rhyme:
These things you may at Ely see,
The Lantern, Chapell of Saint Mary,
A wind-mill mounted up on hie,
A vine-yard yeelding wine yeerely.
17. As for Ely it selfe, it is no small Citie, or greatly to be counted off either for beauty or frequency and resort, as having an unwholsome aire by reason of the fens round about, although it be seated somewhat higher. Neere to it is Downham, where the Bishop hath his retiring house with a Parke. Neere to Downham is Cowney, the ancient seat of the familie surnamed for their habitation heere L’ Isle and De Insula, and first planted heere by Nigellus the second Bishop of Ely, their allies in the time of King Henrie the First, as set town in a Lieger [ledger] booke of Ely. Chaterics or Cheaterich is not farre hence Westward, where Alwena a devout woman founded a Nunnery upon a coppid ground encompased with fennes, while her husband founded Ramsey. But higher Northward amidst the fennes there stood another Abbay of very great name, called Thorney of thornes and bushes that grow thicke about it, but in times past Angerige of Ankers or Eremites [anchorites, hermits] living there solitarily, where, as we find in Peterborrough booke, Sexwulph a devout and religious man built a monasterie with little cells for Eremits. Which being afterwards by the Danes throwen downe, Aethelwold Bishop of Winchester (that he might promote the Monasticall profession) reedified, stored it with Monkes, and compassed it round about with trees. The place, as writeth William of Malmesbury, Representeth a very Paradise, for that in pleasure and delight it resembleth heaven it selfe: in the very marishes bearing trees that for their streight talnesse, and the same without knots, strive to touche the starres; a plaine is there as even as the sea, which with greene grasse allureth the eye, so smooth and levell that if any walke along the fields they shal find no thing to stumble at. There is not the least parcel of ground that lies wast and void there. Heere shall you find the earth rising some where for apple trees, there shall you have a field set with Vines, which either creepe upon the ground or mount on high upon poles to support them. A mutuall strife there is betweene Nature and husbandry that what the one forgetteth, the other might supply and produce. What will be said of the faire and beautifull buildings, which it is a wonder to see how the ground amid those fennes and marishes, so firme and sound, doth beare with sure and stedfast foundations? A wounderfull solitary place is there afforded to Monkes for quiet life, that so much the more constantly settle their minds upon heavenly things for that they see men very sceldome, and so they are seene in there state more mortified and lower brought. A wonder it is to have a woman seene there. If come men thither, there is rejoicing as at so many Angels. In a word, I may truly say that this Island is an Hostell of chastity, an harbour of honesty, and a schoole or colledge of divine Philosophie.
18. Touching Wisbich, the Bishop of Elies Castle about 13 miles off, situate among the fennes and rivers, and made of late a prison to keep the Papists in hold, I have nothing else to say but that this towne togither with Walpole was in old time given by the owner thereof unto the monasterie of Ely, what time as he consecrated Alwin his little sonne there to live a monkes life, that King William the First built a Castle there when the outlawed Lords made rodes out of this fenny country, and that in the yeere of our salvation 1236, when the Ocean being disquieted with violent winds for two daies continually together had beaten upon the shore, made an exceeding wide breach and overwhelmed both land and people. But the Castle of bricke that now is seene there, John Morton Bishop of Ely built within the remembrance of our great grandfathers, who also drew as streight as a line in this fenny country a ditch why they call the Newleame, for better conveiance and carriage by water, that by this meanes the towne being well frequented might gaine the more and grow to wealth. Which fell out quite contrary: for it standeth now in no great steed, and the neighbor inhabitants complaine that the course of Nen into the Sea by Clowcrosse is by this meanes altogether hindered and stopped.
19. The first Earl of Cambridge that I can find was William the brother of Ranulph Earl of Chester, as we read in a Patent or instrument of Alexander Bishop of Lincoln, bearing date in the yeare 1139. Afterwards, those of the royall bloud in Scotland that were Earles of Huntingdon we may thinke to have beene Earles of Cambridge also, for that it appeareth certainly out of the Records of the realme that David Earle of Huntingdon received the third penny of the County or Earledome of Cambridge. Long time after King Edward the Third advanced Sir John of Henault, brother to William the third Earle of Holland of Henault, to this honor, for the love of Queene Philip his wife, who was cosin to the said John. For whose sake also, when John was revolted from him and tooke part with the French, he honoured with the same title William Marques of Juliers, the said Queene Philips sisters sonne. After the death of these two Forainers, King Edward the Third translated this dignity to his fifth sonne Edmund of Langley, which after he had held foure yeeres (my warrant I have out of an old manuscript, being in the hands of that skilfull Antiquarie Francis Thinn), the Earle of Henault cousin to Queene Philip came into Parliament house, put in a claime for his right, and returned backe well contented. The said Edmund of Langley, afterwards Duke of Yorke, had two sonnes, Edward Duke of Yorke, who for a certaine time held the Earldome of Cambridge and was slaine in the battaile of Agincourt, and Richard, by the grace and favour of King Henrie the Fifth and consent of his brother Edward, was created Earle of Cambridge. But when he (ungratefull and ambitious man that hee was) contrived the destruction of that good and noble Prince and so lost his head, the title of Cambridge died he same day that he die, or lurked at least wise among other titles of his sonne Richard, who was afterwards Duke of Yorke and restored to his bloud and estate, as being cousen and heire to his Unkle Edward Duke of Yorke.
This shire containeth Parishes 163.
Go to Huntingdonshire