There are, or were, seven Manors in the Parish of Feltwell, namely: The Bishop of Ely's Manor, South Hall Manor, East Hall Manor, Dunton's Manor, Spinville's Manor, Wendling Abbot's Manor, Tydd's Manor. Dunton's Manor was so called from a family of that name as also were Spinville's and Tydd's.
Anciently a manor was land or lands granted by the Sovereign to some man of worth for him and his heirs to dwell on and enjoy. Part of the land was retained by the Lord of the Manor for his own use and occupation while other parts were occupied by tenants at the will of the Lord.
Every Manor had its Court, and the Manor Court carried out business which is now done by Magistrates, County Courts and County Councils. Some Manors had large powers. The Bishop of Elys Manor had Liberty of Gallows, and in Edward I's time the Bishop had a gallows and a pillory at Feltwell, and no doubt use was made of them. The tenants paid a fine to the Lord of the Manor on the marriage of their sons and daughters, and no tenant could sell a horse-foal or an ox of his own breed without consent of the Lord. Also, on this Manor, the Lord was entitled to, the best beast as Heriot, i,e., a fine paid to the-Lord of a Manor on the death of a tenant. The Manor passed through several hands and eventually came into the possession of Robert Clough, of Feltwell, and then to the, Newcomes.
East Hall Manor, alias Broomhill Manor, was held from the end of Richard II to the Dissolution of the Monasteries by Broomhill Priorv, Weeting. At the Dissolution it was granted by Henry VIII to Cardinal Wolsey, and on the Cardinal's downfall it passed into the possession of Christ's College, Cambridge.
Of the Manors belonging to Feltwell all of them, with the exception of the Bishop of Ely's, were held after the Conquest by the great Earl Warren, who came into England with the Conqueror. He married Gundreda, the Conqueror's daughter, and held no less than 145 Manors in the county of Norfolk. Gundreda died at Castleacre, Norfolk, A.D. 1085, and was buried at Lewes Priory in Sussex. The slab raised to her memory still exists and is one of the most interesting examples of that period; it describes her as the ornament of her age and says: "To the poor she was a Martha, for her piety a Mary. Her Martha's part is dead, her Mary's better part survives."
Earl Warren died, A.D. 1089 and was also buried at Lewes in Sussex. The following story is told of his death. He had forcibly annexed certain lands belonging to the monks of Ely, and, though dying at a distance from the Isle of Ely, that same night the Abbot of Ely, lying in bed meditating on holy things, heard the soul of Earl Warren as it was carried away by the devil, crying out loudly "Lord have mercy on me." Some four days later there came a messenger from the Earl's wife announcing his death and bringing 100 shillings for prayers to be offered for the repose of his soul. But neither the Abbot nor any of the monks would touch the money, not thinking it safe for them to take the money of a person whose soul was damned. The story is, perhaps, more curious than correct, especially as the Earl's wife had been dead and buried for over three years.
Before the Conquest in 1066 the Bishop of Ely's Manor belonged to the Monastry of Ely which owned manors in some 34 or 35 parishes. When Leofsin became Abbot of Ely, A.D. 1027, arrangements were made so that these Manors, instead of-paying rent should supply the Monastry with provisions, each for part of the year, and the Feltwell Manor was made responsible for two week's supplies. Catering for a great Monastry such as Ely was no light matter, and one wonders how supplies were conveyed from Feltwell to Ely which lies twelve miles apart with the Fens in between; and the Fens in those days had not been drained.
The first Abbot of Ely, by name Brithnod, who was appointed A.D. 970, came to a most untimely end. He is said to have been murdered by King Etheldred's Queen causing bodkins to be thrust into his arm-holes because, in an unfortunate moment for himself, he had seen her "in a certain wood busy about sorcery."
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