Stow Bardolph

We are fortunate to find an entry in the parish register providing a statistical account of Stow Bardolph in June 1811:

Inhabited houses 82

By how many families occupied 132

Houses now building 1

Houses uninhabited 1

Families chiefly employed in agriculture 116

Families chiefly employed in trade 14

All other families not comprised in the above 2

Males 350

Females 327

Total of persons 677

By the time of the 1851 census, there were then 265 houses and 1126 inhabitants in the parish but it is unlikely that the housing stock would have increased threefold in the intervening half century so calculations are likely to have had a different base. There were 1054 people in 1881, 1248 in 1901, and 1361 in 1921.

‘Stow’ simply derives from medieval English meaning a settlement but it belonged to William Bardulf in 1244, hence the full name. Much is made in the trade directories and elsewhere of the ancient livestock fair held annually in Stowbridge on the first Saturday after Whitsun. Mention is also made of a good decoy in the Fen belonging to the lord (of the manor, presumably) which can be located on Faden’s map below. Quite when the first bridge was built over the Ouse at Stowbridge is not known but Blomefield mentions it. Earlier there was a ferry so an ancient crossing point is certain. Given the nature of the landscape and the predominance of fen, it is not surprising that most archaeological finds are from the east of the parish.

Stow Bardolph parish boundaries have changed several times in the last 150 years with land being exchanged with Wimbotsham in 1882 and Downham two years later. In 1930 Stow was reduced in size by 304 acres with the creation of the parish of Nordelph.

A late 19th Century map view of Stow Bardolph and Wimbotsham can be found at Note that the map does not extend westwards far enough to include St Peter's church or Barroway Drove but Stow railway station is shown as is the Hare Arms and the schools in each of the two villages. For Barroway Drove, see

The parish is very large, over 6000 acres, and extends from the east of Stow Hall to the western side of the Middle Level main drain and much of it is fen. West Head Road is built on a roddon that can easily be traced on the OS 1:25,000 map by following the 0 metre contour. The land either side is marginally below mean sea level. Inevitably, there is a great deal of dispersed settlement in the fen but three distinct communities are identifiable: Stow Bardolph itself, Stowbridge (also commonly written as Stow Bridge) and Barroway Drove. With so much low lying land the advent of steam pumping engines was of great benefit to the parish. Two engines were built in the mid nineteenth century fairly close to one another. One pumped water out of the Downham Fen Drain into the Ouse a short distance from the other at the junction of Cuckoo Road and Ward’s Chase now marked by a clump of trees. The former, draining about 1600 acres, was erected c1842 and demolished about 1955 – rubble still marks the spot on the bank of the Ouse; the latter, draining 5235 acres, was commissioned in 1848, at a cost of £3500, with a scoopwheel measuring 30 feet in diameter by 24 inches wide and lasted until it was scrapped around 1937.

The 1848 pumping engine at the junction of Ward’s Chase and Cuckoo Road taken from a very faded photograph hanging in the office near the replacement building, dated 1955, a short distance to the south east. After the 1953 flood, the former drainage was realigned so that all the water from the two previous systems came through the new pumps. The old buildings in the photograph were demolished in 1990. It is easy to appreciate how this engine and its near neighbour on the Ouse bank dominated the 19th century landscape hereabouts.

The new (1955) pumphouse at the head of the rearranged drainage system taking the water out of the Barroway Drove area – the water surface in the drain is four metres below sea level. The west bank of the Ouse in the section between Stowbridge and Downham bridge was breached in three places in the 1953 flood although the east bank held.

On the other side of the Ouse was St John’s Eau, constructed by Vermuyden, but replaced by the Flood Relief Channel half a century ago. Additionally, Faden identifies a windpump on Needham Drain close to the present Westerby Farm, near Morton’s Bridge, and the OS 1st Edition has another close to Widder’s Farm to the south east on the Common Lode.

An extract from Faden’s map of 1797 (courtesy the Larks Press) shows Stowbridge in the north east and the northern extent of St John’s Eau at the intersection of the Ouse and Gullpit Drove, the latter now terminating at the Relief Channel. West of the Ouse, the Stow drainage south of West Head is dominated by Tong’s Drain (1842 engine) and the Common Lode (1848 engine). Note that Barroway Drove simply did not exist at this time. Lady Drove (unnamed here) leads to Lord’s Drove from Downham but only the fen either side of West Head Road has been reclaimed for farming. The absence of windmills in the stippled area indicated that drainage work had yet to begin. Ward’s Chase exists but Cuckoo Road came later. It is most interesting to compare the present landscape on the 1:25000 OS map with the extract. The Old Podike (or Podyke) bank, much altered and repaired, dates from the 1100s (an alternative date is 1233) but can still be appreciated today as it crosses Middle Drove by the appropriately-named Podike Bank Farm. Tong’s Drain was constructed by Vermuyden in 1653.

A note in the Wimbotsham registers by the Revd Philip Bell says that ‘By a map belonging to the Hare Family I find Stow Bardolph, Wimbotsham & Downham Fen Common was inclosed by consent of Sir Ralph Hare Bart & inhabitants 1665, 18th of Charles II. J Bastard was then Vicar of Stow & John Hickman Rector of Wimbotsham’. Note that Cromwell’s Interregnum is discounted – but should it not be 16th, Charles I having been executed in 1649?

Stow Bardolph in the time of Bryant’s map of 1826 (courtesy the Larks Press). The parish boundaries are shown, with Wallington cum Thorpland to the north of Stow. Runcton Holme was then known simply as Holme. Note that Wallington and South Runcton churches are both in ruins, the latter being rebuilt in 1839. The church of St Margaret at Wallington was used, somewhat irreverently, by Judge Gawdy in the time of Elizabeth into a hay store and dog kennel.

Wallington, St Margaret. There is more information at

The Hall was occupied from 1842-1850 by Eliza, the widow of Robert Peel Esq and aunt to prime minister Sir Robert Peel (1788-1850), who predeceased her by a few weeks in 1850. Her husband, a first cousin to the PM, died in January 1842, aged 68, and his obituary, courtesy of The Times, is found below. He and Sir Robert (2nd Bart) were both grandsons of Robert Peel (1723-1795) and Elizabeth Howarth who married in 1744 and had seven sons and one daughter. Faden shows Henry Bell in residence. He died in 1820, and in 1823 the Hall and 1155 acres were put up for sale. Philip Bell was the rector and vicar, aged 72 by this time, mentioned in the details of sale. The Coningsbys were also former owners. Note, too, the magnificent avenue of trees extending north from Stow Hall as far as the Shouldham road and the route of the main London-King’s Lynn Road that remained unchanged until the various straightenings in the early 1980s. Stow Hall Park probably existed in medieval times and was a likely source of venison for the Lord of the Manor. It is mentioned in 1734, and in 1794 an avenue and a pond are mentioned. The present layout was designed by John Kennedy of Hammersmith in 1797. The avenue and pond were removed in the late 1800s but there have been no major changes in the layout since 1889.

John Kennedy submitted a beautifully drawn and hand-painted book of designs for the park in 1812 (this, and the three pictures below, courtesy of Lady Rose Hare)

The second (known) Stow Hall, built in 1796, from the south

View from the south with the Fincham road in the foreground

View from the north east; the avenue of trees between the Hall and the Shouldham road run from left to right beyond the proposed lake (which was never built, for reasons of finance)

The porch at Wallington Hall probably was erected c1525 by William Coningsby Here seen in 1929, there is also a fine drawing of the porch in the time of Philip Bell by John Sell Cotman (1782-1842), the leading artist of the Norwich School

There were formerly two manors in Wallington cum Thorpland. Sybeton Hall disappeared long ago but Eston Hall remained, being in the ownership of Jeffrey de Eston in the time of Edward III (died 1377), and it later became known by its present name of Wallington Hall. Thomas Gawsell Esq died Lord of Eston Hall, as appears in his will of September 1500. Gawsell’s grandson sold the estate to William Coningsby in 1524.

Sir Francis Gawdy, whose family came from Redenhall, near Harleston, died in 05 December 1605 and is interred at Runcton Holme. He was none too popular locally, not only having converted the church but also because he depopulated the Wallington estate. His body was brought from London for burial after his death but the Runcton register does nor record his burial until 27 February, presumably as there was much debate about where he should be laid to rest. Nonetheless, he was a distinguished lawyer who opened the prosecution of Mary Queen of Scots in 1589 and took part in the trial of Sir Walter Raleigh in 1603. He was appointed Chief Justice of the Common Pleas in August 1605, dying of apoplexy at Serjeant’s Inn four months later.

It seems Gawdy treated his wife no better than the villagers. He married Elizabeth Coningsby in 1563, granddaughter of William Coningsby, former recorder of King’s Lynn and MP, who had purchased the manors of Wallington and Thorpland in 1524. They became estranged after Gawdy apparently tricked her out of an interest in her ancestral home and Elizabeth became ‘a distracted woman’. There was one daughter, Elizabeth, who married Sir William Newport (later Hatton) but died soon after the birth of their daughter Frances, the future wife of Sir Robert Rich who succeeded to the Earldom of Warwick in 1618. On the day after his death in 1605, having not left a will, the administration of Gawdy’s estate was placed in the hands of Sir Robert and it is through this route that Wallington Hall eventually reached the Bell family (see Outwell chapter). William Coningsby had married Beatrice, daughter of Thomas Thorsby and widow of William Trew, about 1514 and they had one son, Christopher, Elizabeth’s father, who was killed at the Battle of Pinkie in 1547, and four daughters.

Sir Robert Rich (1587-1658), 2nd Earl of Warwick, admiral and colonial administrator. He married Frances Hatton, granddaughter of Sir Francis Gawdy, in 1604

Blomefield deals with Gawdy’s demise thus: ‘The judge was suddenly stricken with an apoplexy, and died without male issue, ere he had continued in his place one whole Michaelmas term, and having made his appropriate parish church a hay house, or a dog kennel, his dead corps being brought from London to Wallington, could for many days find no place of burial, but growing very offensive, he was at last conveyed to the church of Rungton, and buried there without any ceremony, and lyeth yet uncovered (if visitors have not reformed it) with so small a matter as a few paving stones. And indeed no stone or memorial was there ever for him, and if it was not for this account it would not have been known, that he was there buried.’ Gratitude locally, one presumes, that it was not high summer.

Fincham Hall, to the east of Fincham, another of Gawdy’s many Norfolk properties, from an engraving c1760

The estate passed by inheritance to Daniel Finch who sold it to Philip Bell, Captain – as is dealt with more fully in the Outwell chapter. It was sold in due course to Robert Peel.

Robert Peel’s obituary in The Times of 27 January 1842. He and his wife were staying in Bath with Dr Samuel Cockburn and their daughter at the time of the 1841 census.

The memorial to Robert Peel, in South Runcton St Andrew, who departed this life on the 5th January 1842, aged 68. ‘Endowed with rare abilities, he was a man of singular modesty. Just and amiable....suffering under the weight of many afflictions...’

The south, or entrance, side of Wallington Hall in 1929 (Country Life magazine)

Wallington Hall from the north in 1929 – the 1525 porch is on the right and the splendid east gable is shown in more detail below:

The Hall was purchased by James Little Luddington in 1918 and handed on to his son James Hilton Little Luddington (1902-1974) on his death in 1935. James senior was born in Littleport in 1853, the son of James Luddington (1821-1884), a wealthy farmer, of 1850 acres in the 1871 census, and Augusta Little. They were married in St George’s Littleport in 1848 and lived there at Audley House in Church Street. James, the third of their nine children and the oldest son, continued farming in the family tradition. James did not marry until the end of 1901. His first wife, Florence Ann Fulcher, the daughter of Henry Fulcher, a wine and spirits merchant in London, was already forty when they married but there were two children. Florence died and James was soon remarried (on 08 Aug 1929) to Lady Mabel Coke, the granddaughter of Thomas William Coke (1754-1842), 1st Earl of Leicester of Holkham Hall, another of the great improvers of the agricultural revolution. The first Earl was married to Anne Amelia Keppel, daughter of the 4th Earl of Albemarle, in 1822 when he was 67 and the second Earl (1822-1909), also Thomas William, was born later the same year when Anne was still only 19. The latter married twice, having nine children by his first marriage to Juliana Whitbread, and a further six, including Mabel, by his second to Georgina Cavendish. Mabel’s full older brother, Richard, was father to Nell Coke who married in 1930 .... James Hilton Little Luddington.

The Keppels have amongst their number many figures of national standing. The second Earl reached the rank of General and fought at Dettingen alongside George II in 1743 – the last time a reigning British monarch led his troops on the battlefield - and at Culloden (1746); his oldest son, the third Earl brought the news of the victory at Culloden to London and later, also, was appointed General. The second son was Admiral Augustus Keppel who became First Lord of the Admiralty in 1783 and lived at Elveden Hall. The third son, William became a general; the fourth son, Frederick (1728-1777) became a member of the clergy and married Laura Walpole, granddaughter of Robert Walpole, 1st Earl of Oxford and Prime Minister 1722-1742. Elveden Hall was later the home of Duleep Singh (1838-1893), the maharaja of Lahore deposed by the British in 1849. Part of the settlement involved handing over the famous Koh-i-noor to Queen Victoria. He purchased the Hall in 1863 and is buried in the local church of St Andrew & St Patrick. Although Duleep Singh left Elveden in 1886 as he sought to reclaim his Indian heritage, living much of the time in Paris, the Hall remained in his ownership until his death. His executors, endeavouring to pay off substantial debts, sold the estate in 1894 to Edward Cecil Guinness, 1st Earl of Iveagh (1847-1927). It remains in the Guinness family today and is now the seat of the Arthur Guinness, 4th Earl of Iveagh. Susan Mary Keppel, daughter of the 7th Earl of Albemarle, married Sir Walter Beaupre Townley in 1896 (see the Outwell chapter).

The Luddingtons were in the news in 1960 when they were staying at the Saada Hotel in Agadir, Morocco. At approximately 23.40 on the night of 29 February, Agadir was hit by an earthquake measuring 5.7 on the Richter scale that lasted for about 15 seconds.. The comparatively low magnitude was offset by a shallow epicentre and the destruction was immense. The city was destroyed and 15000 people died. James Luddington survived despite being buried under sixteen feet of rubble as did his son Richard, aged 17. Mrs Nell Luddington, however, was buried deeper and had died before the rescuers could reach her. She was aged 50. Her funeral, which took place in Runcton Holme on 16 March, was attended by many representatives of the aristocracy including the Earl of Leicester, Lord and Lady Amherst, Viscount Althorp, the Countess of Romsey and many more. Agadir was subsequently rebuilt three kilometres to the south.

Andrew Luddington, who took over Wallington Hall from his father in 1996, decided to emigrate to New Zealand and commissioned Savill’s of Norwich to offer Wallington Hall for sale in 2006 with an asking price of around £5 million. The church tower, they say, finally collapsed a decade before. One hopes there were no dogs inside.

In the absence of a functioning church at Wallington, that at South Runcton was used by the Bell and Peel families. It was ruinous in the time of Faden, and had been so since around 1500, but it was rebuilt in Romanesque style, with a chancel apse, by John Brown of Norwich in 1839-1839 at a cost of £700. A grant was obtained on the condition that all the pews would be free although it is hard to imagine that the 180 sittings would ever be filled to capacity. There are interesting memorials to some of the occupants of Wallington Hall and their relative Henry Bell (1647-1711), architect and mayor of King’s Lynn in 1692 and 1703, is supposed by some to be buried there although he is actually buried in St Margaret’s in King’s Lynn according to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

The rebuilding of South Runcton St Andrew was completed in 1839 with a north vestry added in 1856. To the east of the apse are the graves of Henry Bell (1748-1820), Elizabeth (nee Browne) his wife (1755-1830) and several of their children. Henry being a direct descendant of Sir Robert Bell, the speaker, who died in 1577 and his wife Dorothy Beaupre (see Outwell chapter) Please see for more information.

The Romanesque interior of South Runcton St Andrew. The Bell memorial is visible above the archway to the north vestry; that to Robert Peel is on the south wall opposite. One imagines that very little of the original church was incorporated into the rebuild.

Henry Bell, the architect, was baptised in St Margaret’s on 08 July 1647, the son of wealthy merchant and Alderman Henry Bell who died in 1686, twice Mayor of Lynn in 1658 and 1670. He attended King’s Lynn Grammar School where his uncle Edward was headmaster and then went off to Caius College at the age of 13, initially paying his own way as a pensioner but later as a scholar. He was awarded his BA in 1665, aged 18. One imagines Alderman Henry was born in the early 1620s but his precise connection, if any, to Beaupre Hall is not known to the author at the time of writing. He married Ann Brumble in St Margaret’s on 28 February 1678 and they had five sons and one daughter.

The Customs House and Purfleet, King’s Lynn, built in 1683 and designed by Henry Bell, a contemporary of Roger Pratt at Ryston. He also designed the Duke’s Head (opened in the late 1680s) on the Tuesday Market Place and the church at North Runcton, rebuilt 1703-1713 after the tower had collapsed onto the nave roof in 1701. Henry is not related to the Bells at Beaupre and Wallington Halls.

All Saints, North Runcton. Bell shared ideas with fellow architects Christopher Wren and Robert Hooke who designed many of the churches rebuilt after the Great Fire of London in 1666

Although it was compiled over 70 years ago, Kelly’s Directory for Stow Bardolph in 1933 contains many names amongst the farmers and tradesmen that are still familiar. Of the farmers, for example, Harry Gordon Teverson was at Church Farm, Walter Hutson was at The Poplars on West Head Road and his son Martin Luther Hutson was at Heron’s Farm, Joseph Morton was at Fences Farm, Joseph Wootton at West Head Farm, Henry Ambrose at Park Farm, and Captain Hudson Jnr at Home Farm. It is worth pointing out that the similarity of the two surnames Hutson and Hudson causes many problems for family researchers browsing the Stow parish registers. Tradesmen include Albert Alflatt, builder; Charles Allday, blacksmith; H&C Beart, corn and offal merchants; William Sergeant, butcher; Sidney Staines, builder, plumber, painter, undertaker and wheelwright, and William Ward, butcher

Stow Cricket team in 1933 including William Sergeant, umpire, and William Ward (centre back behind the stumps)

Flight Sergeant Yule Fairbairn (front right) at East Grinstead in 1943. He was lost over the Channel following a mid-air collision between his Spitfire and one of his own planes on 31 January 1944, aged 22. He had married Marjorie Badcock, a cousin of William Ward’s wife, Winifred, shortly before this photograph was taken. Fl Sgt Yule is commemorated on the Air Forces Memorial at Runnymede, along with 20,000 other airman who have no known grave. William Clark Gable (1901-1960) was based at RAF Polebrook, near Oundle, from May-November 1943 as an observer-gunner on B17 Flying Fortresses. After a raid over German, when Gable’s plane was badly hit by flak, MGM’s concern for the well-being of their prized asset grew to such an extent that they managed to engineer his return home.

Norfolk County Council owns an extensive area of farmland in Barroway Drove that was originally let out as smallholdings but, as agriculture has changed, many of these farms have been amalgamated to form larger and more viable units. In 1933, Home Farm, Widder’s Farm and Westerby Farm are mentioned specifically.

Land owned by Norfolk County Council bordered in the west by the Middle Level Main Drain. The A1122 is bottom left, Stowbridge in the top right and Downham in the bottom right. The Ouse, Relief Channel and railway are easy to pick out in the east (right) (courtesy Norfolk Property Services)

Earlier trade directories paint a picture of Stow through the occupations that are listed. The main occupation in 1854 (Francis Whites’ History, Gazetteer and Directory of Norfolk) was agriculture and 33 farmers were named. Of these, eleven were in Stowbridge and thirteen ‘in the fen’. In addition, there were two inns and taverns (The Crown and the Hare Arms) and five beerhouses, three blacksmiths, two carpenters, three wheelwrights, three shopkeepers, a tailor (William Harpley) and a shoemaker in Stowbridge who also ran the post office (Frederick Gore). The parish had its own surgeon (James Joseph Betts), corn and coal merchant (Thomas Lee) and corn miller (Thomas Reeve), the mill being in Stowbridge. A school in Stowbridge was run by Mrs Ann Taylor along with Mildred, her daughter. Farm bailiffs were William Wright and William Bussens; gamekeepers were John Ward and George Sharp. John Hoys Chamberlain held the post of Relieving Officer, appointed to oversee relief payments to the poor and facilitate entry to the union workhouse in Downham. The Revd George H Dashwood was at the vicarage and Sir Thomas Hare at the Hall.

The few details that are available for the mill at Stowbridge can be found at

Matching this information with the 1851 census adds further detail. James Betts was then entered as an apothecary, aged 58, from Sutton in Nottinghamshire, living on Ouse Bank but there is no indication as to which property. William Harpley, aged 32, was born in Hilgay and lived close by. Frederick Gore, ‘cordwainer’ in the census, lived on The Causeway. He had married Sarah Howlett, whose father John was the parish constable as well as a farmer, in Stow Church in 1846. Thomas Reeve, the miller, lived on Ouse Bank also and was born in Wimbotsham in 1788. He had previously carried on his trade in Southery before moving to Stow around 1817. Thomas Lee (senior) was baptised in Stow in 1786 and had married Elizabeth Spinks there in 1811. Thomas Lee (junior), his son, another resident of Ouse Bank was farming 25 acres in 1851. He was born in 1819 in Stow and had married Charlotte Dawson in Hilgay in 1844. Father died in 1863 and was buried in Stow churchyard, aged 77; Elizabeth died, aged 69, in 1848. Father’s baptism can be found in the Stow registers dated 10 September 1786, son of John Lee and Alice Townsend who married in Stow in 1779. Alice was the daughter of William Townsend and Ann, the widow of Robert Tiffin, who married in Stow on 20 February 1757. John Ward, estate gamekeeper living in Stowbridge Road, as born in Fincham in 1811. He had married Sarah Bartle, who was born in Harpley, in Stow on 17 December 1846 and was grandfather to William Ward (1885-1864) mentioned elsewhere.

Parish constables were unpaid, save for perhaps a few allowances, and were the forerunners of today’s specials. They were answerable to the Justices of the Peace and played a leading role in maintaining law and order. The word constable is of Norman origin, coming from the Latin comes stabuli best translated as count of the stables, or master of the horse. The role of some constables (replacing the Anglo-Saxon ‘tythingmen’) was more active in some parishes than others. They would be responsible for conducting enquiries, serving summonses, executing warrants, looking after prisoners and organising the hue and cry. It was the duty – formalised in the Statute of Winchester (1286) - of all able bodied men to chase down a criminal once hue and cry was called. It was an offence not to assist, and an offence to make hue and cry falsely. As the 19th century wore on the parish constable’s role diminished as police forces became established. The Norfolk Constabulary was set up under the County Police Act of 1836 and was one of the first to be formed. Justices of the Peace were established in 1361 to preside over the old manorial courts which dispensed local justice. And, for quiz aficionados, the first two lady police constables reported for duty in Grantham on 27 November 1914.

In 1854, Robert Beart was farming 220 acres at West Head along with his son Charles. The 1851 census gives Robert’s age as 64 and his birthplace as Welney but there is no corresponding baptismal record in the parish registers for 1787. However, Charles' sister Mary, who married miller Robert Spanton in Stow in 1850, was baptised in Welney on 06 August 1826, daughter of Robert and Mary (Sedgely) who had married in 1824 in Upwell, where Charles was born. In the 1841 census, Robert and Mary were living next door to Joseph Beart and Mary’s sister, Sarah (they had married in Upwell in 1821). There is a baptismal record for Joseph (who appears to have emigrated to America after 1841 - he appears in the US census of 1850 in Chautauqua, New York. He died there in 1880) in Welney in 1797, and it is possible to assume that Robert is his older brother. The relationship appears to be confirmed in the Stow register when Robert was buried on 02 May 1868, aged 80, ‘son of Robert and Elizabeth’. However, a second Robert & Elizabeth Beart appear in the Welney registers and there is no proof that the Robert Beart and Elizabeth Stocking who were married in Downham Market on 13 August 1773 had any children or were indeed the same couple. Matters are further complicated by a third Robert and Elizabeth Beart so great care is needed. The boys were first cousins to Robert Beart, the brickmaker, born in 1801, son of Robert's brother William. Robert senior was born in Welney in 1757 and William in 1766 (see Welney chapter). They were among the seven known children of William Beart and Mary (Cutlack) married in Welney in 1757; Mary was baptised in Littlport in 1731, William in Welney in 1734. Hopefully, more can be added to this paragraph in due course.

Another family member to make his name was Harold Beart, a Morgan car agent in Croydon, who, in 1925 drove his Morgan Blackburne-powered streamlined three-wheeler at Brooklands for an hour at an average speed of over 90mph. A speed in excess of 100mph was achieved - quite some going! Harold (1900-1981) was born in Stow Bardolph on 01 January 1900.

Photo courtesy of Chris Booth, C M Booth Collection See Harold's car is undergoing restoration at the time of writing (2017)

(Additional information, with grateful thanks, from Jacqui Beart who can be reached at See also Welney chapter). A fuller history of the Bearts in Stow Bardolph can be found on H&C Beart Ltd's website at

Some of the other farmers are mentioned elsewhere, for example, James Gromett was farming 65 acres along the Ouse at Dalby Hall next to Michael Lallam, his father in law, whose 114 acres is entered in the census as Dairy House. It was James’ son, Larman, just three months old in the 1851 census, who was later to be arrested for poaching in Denver Spinney and imprisoned. The executors of James Page are listed in the directory following his poisoning – see later. Other farmers include James Hooton (born Stow c1813) on 83 acres in the fen; John Hutson (Stow 1792) was farming 208 acres by the Hall, and William Wignall (Stow 1803) had 45 acres alongside the Ouse.

Under the heading of ‘References to the pedigree of the Hare family’, the Stow Bardolph parish register of baptisms and burials for the period 1789-1812 gives, with some amendments and additions, the following detailed information scripted by the vicar of the time, the Revd Philip Bell:

A The Revd Thomas Hare was presented to the Rectory of St Mary’s Massingham by the Bishop of Norwich in 1506, the 22nd year of Henry VII’s reign. He was LLD and Chancellor of Norwich

B On the Dissolution of religious houses about 1537 in the 29th year of Henry VIII’s reign, the hundred of Clackclose was granted to Edward Lord North and soon after (in 1553) purchased by Sir Nicholas Hare. This Sir Nicholas (c1495-1557) was four times elected to Parliament and chosen as Speaker in 1539. In 1537 he was appointed Master of Requests and knighted. In 1539 he established his family seat at Bruisyard Hall in Suffolk but found himself briefly in the Tower the following year, along with William Coningsby, for giving Sir John Shelton advice on how to avoid paying certain revenues due to the Crown. On the accession of Queen Mary in 1553 he became Master of the Rolls and was Lord Keeper of the Great Seal for a brief period in November 1555 after the death of Stephen Gardiner, Lord Chancellor and Bishop of Winchester. He died on 30th October 1557 and was buried in Temple Church. Sir Nicholas was the son of John Hare of Homersfield, south west of Bungay, and his wife Elizabeth Fortecue.

C On the 26th September 1546, John Hare, a London mercer and next brother of the above Sir Nicholas, purchased from Sir John Shelton the rectory and the avowdson of Stow Bardolph. He presented George Long MA to the Vicarage in 1561

D Michael (amended in the register from ‘Nicholas’ by a later hand) Hare Esq, eldest son of the above Sir Nicholas, had livery (conveyance, on his father’s death) of the hundred of Clackclose on 30th October 1557. He was twice married but died without issue in 1611. An explanatory note dated 1813 says ‘Much confusion is made here by substituting Nicholas for Michael but with this note all is clear’

E Robert Hare Esq (c1530-1611), antiquary and benefactor of Cambridge University, the second son of Sir Nicholas the Keeper, and only brother of Michael Hare Esq, was a member of Caius College. He officiated at the funeral of Anne of Cleves, Henry VIII’s fourth wife, in 1555, was appointed Clerk of the Pells in 1560 and became MP for Dulwich in 1563 before resigning his posts around 1570 to concentrate on collecting manuscripts and old documents. This may also be due to his Catholic sympathies at a time of protestant ascendancy under Elizabeth I. Over time, he collected the chancellors and privileges of the University of Cambridge in three large volumes and presented them to the University. He died a bachelor, having inherited the baronetcy when Michael died in April 1611, together with his estates at Bruisyard, but enjoyed them for only a few months before, in failing health, he drew up his will in July 1611. He died at Bruisyard on 02 November 1611 and was buried in St Paul’s Cathedral. (The Clerk of the Pells was formerly an officer of the Exchequer who entered accounts on parchment rolls called pell

F Nicholas Hare Esq, eldest son of John Hare (C) and first cousin to Nicholas and Robert (D and E) who both died without issue, was the next possessor of the Stow Bardolph estate. This Nicholas built Stow Hall in 1589, the expense of which, according to some writings in the family, was £40,000 (equivalent to £5 million today). This Nicholas is the first of the Hare family to be mentioned in the parish register books and is thus entered: ‘Nicholas Hare Esq was buried the 19th day of April 1597’. There is a monument in the north wall of the dormitory (the mortuary chapel) beginning ‘Vir bonus et sapiens’ etc which says that he died on 16th April in the 66th year of his age

Mortuary chapel or dormitory added to the church in 1624. Two tablets in the chapel predate its construction and were, presumably, moved from the main body of the church.

Stow Hall, built in 1589 by Nicholas Hare Esq (courtesy Lady Rose Hare) Was it on the site of a former hall?

G Ralph Hare, second son of John Hare (C), succeeded his brother Nicholas (who died a bachelor) and his burial is recorded in the registers on 7th July 1601. On the rig ht hand of the chancel door there is a sumptuous altar monument created to him by his nephew and heir Sir Ralph Hare, Knight of the Bath, although the inscription contradicts the register concerning the date of his demise, aged 67

H Hugh Hare Esq, the sixth son of John Hare (C) and younger brother of Ralph (G) was a bencher of the Middle Temple (The Masters of the Bench constitute the governing bodies of each of the four Inns - Gray’s, Lincoln’s, Middle and Inner) and Master of the Court of Wards (Established in 1540, the Court of Wards and Liveries was formally abolished in 1660). He died a bachelor and by his will, dated 1619, bequeathed £99,400 to be equally divided between his two nephews, John (grandson to his brother Richard) and Hugh (son of his brother John). On the north side of the dormitory there is a monument saying he died on 4th February 1623 ‘but it doth not appear in the register book’. Perhaps he was interred in London and his great nephew John Hare, who soon after possessed the Stow Estate, erected this monument, probably in gratitude to his kind uncle who had left him by will £49,700. Hugh Hare (1606-1667) was created 1st Lord Coleraine in 1625 – he died at his home in Totteridge, choking on a turkey bone while laughing and drinking (apparently). Hugh purchased the Lordship House in Tottenham which his son Henry (1635-1708), the 2nd Baron, renamed Bruce Castle. A later owner was Sir Roland Hill who introduced postage stamps in 1840. Bruce Castle is now a museum housing Haringey’s archives as well as many artifacts in memory of Hill such as various historic postboxes.

I Sir Ralph Hare, only son of Richard, and a nephew of Nicholas (F), Ralph (G) and Hugh (H), inherited the Stow Estate from his uncle, Ralph. This Sir Ralph was also a Knight of the Bath. His burial appears in the Stow register dated 4th August 1623. There is now no monument to him but it is believed that the altar was made from part of his dilapidated monument but where that was erected is not known.

Sir Ralph Hare, died 1623 and buried at Stow (by kind permission of the Master and Fellows of St John’s College, Cambridge)

This gentleman was ‘a worthy example of piety, charity and generosity to his succeeding generations’ in that in 1603 he gave 86 acres of land in the parish of Wiggenhall St Mary Magdalen for the founding of an alms house for the poor and aged. The registers record, for example, the burial of Mary Butler, widow, ‘an almshouse woman’ in Stow on 11 January 1716. He was convinced by Sir Henry Spelman that the alienation of glebe and tithes from the church was unlawful and so presented, by deed of gift dated 13th April 1623, to St John’s College his impropriate rectory of St Andrew in Cherry Marham (the former name of Marham, supposedly because of the many fruit orchards in the area) to some pious use. And, having in hand three years rent amounting to £192, he gave that sum to the College to begin the foundation of a library. When St John’s was under construction in 1598 it was specified that the bricks came from ‘Stow in Norfolk or some other place where good bricks are made’. The remains of the pits from where the clay for these bricks was extracted can still be seen behind Sergeant the butcher’s premises. Workings at the other Hare brickpits in Shouldham Thorpe did not commence until around 1800

The almshouses were originally endowed in 1603 but were rebuilt about 1870

J Lady Mary Hare, daughter of Sir Edward Holmsden, an alderman of London, and first wife of Sir Ralph Hare was buried at Stow and appears in the register ‘Domina Maria Hare sepelitur decimo nono die Junii 1615’, There is no monument to this lady.

K Sir John Hare, the only issue of Sir Ralph and son of Mary his first wife succeeded his father at Stow. He was knighted at the age of 14, during his father’s life, at Newmarket on 4th December 1617. He was the first of the Hare family to be born at Stow and his baptism there is recorded ‘1603 John Hare, the son of Sir Rafe Hare baptised ye 13 of October’. It appears he was little more than 17 years of age when he married Elizabeth, daughter of Lord Keeper (of the Great Seal, as opposed to the Privy Seal) Coventry as the baptism of his daughter Elizabeth is registered at Stow in 1621. In 1624, which was the 22nd of his age, and soon after the death of his father, he ‘new roofed’, leaded and very much improved the dormitory, or family resting place, which his great uncle Sir Nicholas (F) originally created. He died in 1637, aged only 34 years and 3 weeks leaving a widow and numerous family (twelve children are known). There is no monument but his burial on 05 November is recorded in the register as taking place ‘beeing Sunday, between nine and ten of the clocke at night’.

Sir John Hare (died 1637) from a portrait at Stow (courtesy Lady Rose Hare)

L Elizabeth, the widow of Sir John Hare, and daughter of Lord Keeper Coventry (who held that office 1625-1640) by his first wife (Sarah) who was a daughter of Edward Sebright of Besford (the register says ‘Blacksal’) in Worcestershire, was buried at Stow on 17th May 1644. There is no monumental record.

Lord Coventry of Aylesborough in Worcestershire (1578-1640) MP, Attorney General, ennobled in 1628 and Lord Keeper of the Great Seal. He reprimanded the Commons on behalf of Charles I in 1626, explaining that theirs alone was the liberty of counsel, not the liberty of control. Who else but Orson Welles could possibly play the lead in ‘Coventry, the Movie’?!

M The first child of Sir John Hare (K) was registered at Stow in 1621 ‘Elizabeth ye daughter of Sir John Hare Knight was baptised the 3rd day of February’. She married Woolye (Woolley) Leigh Esq on the 20th February 1638 in Stow and their son was registered ‘1639, Thomas the sonne of Woolye Leigh Esq and Elizabeth his wife was baptised the 4th day of November’.

Sir John Lowther (1606-1675), second husband of ‘southerner’ Elizabeth Leigh, nee Hare. He noted the ‘difference of the condicion of Cuntryes and manor of liveinge betwixt north and south’. Lowther owned extensive lands throughout Westmorland and the North Riding and was also a member of the Inner Temple. By his first wife Mary, who died in 1648, he had five sons and six daughters and then by Elizabeth, who he married on 09 April 1652, he had three more sons and three daughters.

N The 2nd child and first son of Sir John Hare (K) was baptised Ralfe on 27th Mar 1624. He was married three times. By his first wife, Mary, daughter of Sir Robert Crane of Chilton, Suffolk, he had five children. His second wife was Vere Townshend (died 1669), daughter of Sir Roger Townshend (1588-1637) of Raynham Hall, Norfolk, and named after her mother Mary de Vere. She was, thus, great aunt to Charles, 2nd Viscount Townshend of Raynham, more famously known by his nickname ‘Turnip’

‘Turnip’ Townshend (1674-1738), son of Sir Horatio Townshend and great nephew of Lady Vere Hare.

Townshend retired from political life in 1730 and devoted his remaining years to improvements in agriculture. He introduced the four-crop rotation (wheat, barley, turnips and clover) into this country from Holland which allowed fodder for over-wintering animals and increased production by removing the previous necessity for a fallow period every third year to allow the soil to recover. Crop rotation is necessary to prevent the build-up of crop-specific pests and diseases and because different plants take different nutrients from the soil. The four-field crop rotation was a key feature of the industrial revolution in Britain. There was a downside, however, as Alexander Pope, well-known for his satirical verse, recalls that turnips were Townshend’s favourite topic of conversation. One hopes that dinner parties at the Hall were gastronomically more entertaining than the conversation. It was the Townshend family who introduced Captain Thomas Manby to court, leading to his embarrassment in the Delicate Investigation of 1806.

O The 3rd child and 2nd daughter Anne was baptised at Stow on 11 April 1625. She married John Siddenham Esq on 10th December 1638. Sir John Sydenham, baronet, was buried at Stow on 5th February 1642. His posthumous son was baptised on 12th February, seven days later. Sir John was created baronet on 28 July 1641, his family seat being at Brimpton in Somerset

P The 4th child, John, was baptised on 4th May 1626

Q The 5th child and 3rd daughter, Mary, was baptised on 17th August 1627. She was married on 22nd September 1641 to Thomas Savage Esq. The marriage of their daughter is recorded at Stow in 1669: ‘John Willis Esq of Fen Ditton in ye county of Cambridgeshire and Mary Savage of Elning (meaning Elmley) Castle in Worcestershire were married on 25th May’.

In the register there then follows eight pages of diagrams outlining the history of the Hare family before their arrival at Stow and the various lines of the family down to the early years of the 1800s, this particular register ending in 1812. It begins ‘This family of Hare, it is said, derive their pedigree from Jervis, Earl of Harcourt in France, who came to England with the Conqueror....’, although Walter Rye, the renowned Norfolk antiquary, and not one known for beating around the bush, pours much scorn upon this ‘ridiculous’ claim. One reference refers to Rye’s ‘pen at times was dipped in gall’. The pedigree concludes with the two children of Thomas Leigh Hare, of Leamington in Warwickshire, and his second wife Ann Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas Lord Graves, Admiral. The children were Elizabeth Ann, born at Stow in 1804 and baptised on 20th August, and her younger brother Thomas, baptised at Stow on 18 July 1807. Elizabeth Anne died at 3 Cadogan Place in 1868 and was brought back to Stow for burial on 24 September, aged 64. The chart notes that Sir Thomas’s first wife was the ‘daughter of Admiral Sir William Geary, Bart’. Mary was buried on 09 December 1801 where her entry reads ‘Mary the wife of Thomas Hare Esq, and daughter of the late Sir Francis Geary, Bart, Admiral’ and at one time Commander in Chief of the Channel Fleet. Thomas Hare is recorded as ‘Esq’ at both these baptisms since his baronetcy was not awarded until December 1818. He was born Thomas Leigh in 1750 and assumed the patronymic name of Thomas Leigh Hare in 1791 by Act of Parliament. This was the second baronetcy, the first, created in 1641 for Ralph Hare, Member of Parliament for West Norfolk and King’s Lynn, great grandson of Sir Nicholas Hare, Speaker of the House of Commons in 1539 and 1540 (see B above). The title became extinct in the absence of male heirs with the death of younger brother George, the 5th Baronet, in 1764. The 2nd Baronet also served as an MP.

Admiral Sir Francis Geary by George Romney, whose son John Romney was absentee rector of Southery from 1788 to 1807 (courtesy National Maritime Museum)

Memorial to Mary Hare, daughter of Admiral Sir Francis Geary who died 23 November 1801, aged 52. An anchor is notably included....

Sir Thomas Leigh Hare died at Leamington on 15 February 1834, aged 83, and he was brought back for burial in the parish church of the Holy Trinity at Stow on 27 February. His son Thomas, who inherited the baronetcy, was buried in Stow on 18 November 1880, aged 73. His wife, Angelina Grace, was buried the year before on 22 January, aged 47. Their daughter, Mary Leigh, married Anthony Hammond Esq of Westacre in Stow on 20 May 1874. The present font was commissioned to celebrate this marriage while the old Norman font, later found in the rectory garden, was installed in St Peter’s.

Memorial to Sir Thomas Hare who died in 1834 and his second wife, Ann Elizabeth Graves, daughter of Admiral Lord Thomas Graves, who died 11 September 1823, aged 50. The burial register records that she was buried on 19 September, ‘aged 49’.

Mention of the Leigh surname links to the Barons Leigh, first created in 1643, whose family seat is at Stoneleigh Abbey, near Kenilworth, in Warwickshire. Before their elevation to the peerage, Sir Thomas Leigh was Lord Mayor of London in 1558. Baronets were first created by James I in 1611.

Sir Thomas Hare, the 5th Baronet (of the second baronetcy) died on 25 January 1993, aged 62. He was born on 27 July 1930, the son of Sir Ralph Leigh Hare and Doreen Pleasance Anna Bagge, and inherited the title in 1976 on the death of his father. He married, on 16 September 1961, Lady Rose Amanda Bligh, daughter of Esme Ivo Bligh, 9th Earl of Darnley, and Nancy Ellinor Kidson. There are two daughters, Lucy Rose and Elizabeth. John Bligh, the first Earl Darnley (1687-1728) held extensive lands in Ireland and was an Irish MP from 1709 until his death at Epsom, aged 40. He is buried in Westminster Abbey. He married Lady Theodosia Hyde, daughter of the third Earl of Clarendon and great granddaughter of Edward Hyde, for whom Roger Pratt of Ryston built Clarendon House.

The third baronetcy was created by Edward VII on 21 December 1905 for Thomas Leigh Hare (1859-1941) who represented Norfolk South West in the Commons from 1892-1906. He was High Sheriff of Norfolk in 1906.

Sir Thomas Leigh Hare MP (1859-1941) was the only representative of the third baronetcy of Stow. He married Lady Ida Cathcart (1866-1929), daughter of Earl Cathcart, in 1886 and there was one daughter, Dorothy Ida Leigh, born the following year. Lady Ida was the granddaughter of Sir Samuel Crompton (1786-1848) of the same name but no relation to the inventor of the ‘spinning mule’ in 1779 which superseded Hargreaves’ ‘spinning Jenny’ and did so much to put Lancashire at the forefront of the world cotton industry. Samuel, the inventor, was under-recognised and died in comparative poverty in 1827. In the 1851 census, Angelina Norman, who was baptised at Cockfield near Bury St Edmunds on Christmas Day 1830, illegitimate daughter of Harriet, was a ladies’ maid to Jane Cuthbert living in one of the apartments at Hampton Court Palace which is where, presumably, she and Sir Thomas met. There were two children, Mary Leigh was born in 1853, and Thomas Leigh was born at 3 Inverness Terrace, St John Paddington, on 04 April 1859. Jane Cuthbert was the oldest child of the second Lord Thomas Graves of Gravesend and, thus, a niece of Sir Thomas’s mother Ann Elizabeth, daughter of the first Lord Graves and brother to the second.

Mary Leigh Norman, born 1853, daughter of Sir Thomas Leigh Hare and Angelina Grace Norman from a portrait at Stow (courtesy Lady Rose Hare)

Sir George Ralph Leigh Hare was the younger brother of Thomas Leigh Hare, above, but inherited the second baronetcy of Stow since his parents, Angelina and Thomas, did not marry until 01 October 1864. In the 1871 census the family were living in Norfolk Street in the parish of St George, Hanover Square. There was a younger son, Edward Leigh, aged 2 in 1871, and Thomas Leigh was away boarding at the Beacon School in St John’s Road, Sevenoaks. Through the rules of inheritance, it was Edward’s son Philip Leigh (1922-2000) who became the sixth baronet in 1993, and his son Nicholas Patrick (born 1955) who became seventh baronet on his father’s death in 2000. Thomas and Angelina’s marriage certificate names her father as the Honourable George Vaughan and gives his rank or profession as ‘in the army’. The not-so-Honourable in this case perhaps. Further investigation reveals that the Hon George was George Lawrence Vaughan (1802-1879), the next youngest brother of Ernest Augustus Vaughan, the 4th Earl of Lisburne who inherited the title upon his father’s death in 1831. George married Mary Josephine Roche O’Shea, born in Limerick, in 1830. He retired from the 60th Foot, Coldstream Guards on half pay with the rank of Captain in 1832 and became High Sheriff of Cardiganshire in 1839 – his family seat was the rather splendid mansion at Troesgoed in the west of that county, some eight miles inland from Aberystwyth. The estate in 1873 consisted of 42,666 acres, including the lands of the former Cistercian abbey Strata Florida. In 1947, the mansion became the headquarters of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF) in Wales. It was sold to a private buyer in 2007. The Vaughan family still own over 5000 acres in the area and retain the use of an apartment in the mansion. The last Vaughan in residence was a son of the 8th Earl. The Darnleys and Lisburnes were both Irish peerages and there is a remote family link with Lady Rose Hare – she being a fifth cousin, five times removed of George Vaughan through a common ancestor of Montagu Bertie, the 2nd Earl of Lindsey (c1608-1666). Lindsey was a prominent Royalist soldier during the Civil War, fighting at Edgehill (where his father was killed) and in other battles, being wounded at Naseby in 1645. He was present when Oxford surrendered to the Parliamentary forces in June 1646 – Charles having surrendered to the Scots shortly before following his escape across the Fens nobly assisted by Mucky Porter (see Southery). He was a privy councillor and close adviser of Charles I, attending him at his trial and was one of four peers who escorted his body to its grave in Windsor following the regicide. His royal allegiances cost him dear until the Restoration when he was again returned to high office and awarded the Order of the Garter. He is buried at Grimsthorpe in Lincolnshire.

The name Darnley brings to mind Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley (1545-1567), son of the 4th Earl of Lennox and the husband of Mary Queen of Scots, father of James VI of Scotland who came to the English throne in 1603 as James I. On 09 March 1566, Darnley, jealous of their relationship and perhaps responding to rumours about the parentage of his wife’s unborn child, had murdered David Rizzio, Mary’s private secretary, at Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh. On 10 February 1767, Darnley and his valet were found murdered in the garden of Kirk o’Fields house in Edinburgh having, apparently, narrowly escaped the destruction of the building in an explosion only to be strangled outside. Suspicion fell on the Earl of Bothwell who, subsequently having abducted and allegedly raped Mary, married her on 15 May 1567. He had been divorced by his first wife Anna Rustung, a Norwegian of noble birth, on the grounds of his adultery with Anna’s servant Bessie Crawford, but it was she who was to be responsible for a considerable revenge. Bothwell’s marriage to Mary so divided the country that he was forced to flee, being captured off the coast of Norway and taken to Bergen. Bothwell was remanded to a local prison whilst Anna sued him for abandonment and return of her dowry. Anna must have had a soft spot in her heart for Bothwell, as he persuaded her to take custody of his ship, as compensation. Bothwell would have been released, but the King of Denmark, Frederick, had heard that the English crown were seeking Bothwell for the alleged murder of Lord Darnley and decided to take him into custody in Denmark. King Frederick II at first treated Bothwell with respect but later sent him to the notorious Dragsholm Castle where he was held in what was said to be appalling conditions. A pillar to which he was chained can still be seen, with a circular groove in the floor around the pillar where Bothwell purportedly remained for the last ten years of his life and where he died. Mary was forced to abdicate the Scottish throne on 24 July 1567 in favour of her one year old son, subsequently escaped and fled to England where she was captured and imprisoned until her implication in various plots against Elizabeth led to her trial for treason. One memorable line from her spirited defence reminds us ‘Remember gentlemen the theatre of history is wider than the realm of England’. Eventually she was executed at Fotheringay Castle in Northamptonshire on 07 February 1587 and interred at Peterborough Cathedral. Her remains were exhumed by her son James, now king of England, in 1612 and re-interred in Westminster Abbey.... on the opposite side of the building from her cousin Elizabeth I. There are tapestries embroidered by Mary during her captivity at Oxburgh Hall brought there in 1793 by the daughter of Viscount Montague of Cowdray who married a Bedingfield. The Irish and Scottish Earls of Darnley are not directly connected.

One of the more notable members of the Hare family was Sarah Hare who died in 1744 and was buried on 16 April. She is commemorated by a most life-like wax effigy in a cupboard in the family chapel in the north east corner of the church. No one, opening the doors for the first time, can fail to be impressed.

A warning to Sabbath breakers... Sarah (1689-1744) supposedly pricked her finger while sewing on a Sunday and soon after died of blood poisoning, aged around 55 years. Sarah, unmarried, was the eighth child of Sir Thomas Hare (1658-1693) and Elizabeth, eldest child of George Dashwood Esq, who died in 1749. She was a great granddaughter of Sir John Hare (see K above). The sewing incident lacks truth but it was Sarah’s wish to be immortalised in wax – the Revd Blencowe, when writing on the Hare family history in the registers refers to her as ‘eccentric’. It is the only surviving funerary wax effigy outside Westminster Abbey and was lovingly restored in 1984-86 by Jean Fraser, formerly of Madam Tussauds, and Judith Dore, formerly Senior Conservation Officer at the Victoria & Albert Museum.

Elizabeth’s younger brother Sir Robert Dashwood was High Sheriff of Oxfordshire in 1683 and MP for Banbury from 1689 to 1700. Her next youngest brother Richard lived at Cockley Cley and was High Sheriff of Oxfordshire in 1706 while the youngest in the family, Lt Col George Dashwood (born 1669), of Peyton Hall in Suffolk, married Algerina Peyton in Downham Market on 04 Jun 1696. Sarah Hare had seven older siblings and two younger. The baronetcy passed to oldest son Ralph (1681-1732), then, in turn, to his brothers Thomas (1688-1760) and George (1693-1764). It was the fourth child of the marriage, and third daughter, Mary, born in 1684, who married Thomas Leigh, Turkey Merchant (trading with the Levant – not in birds!), on 02 February 1703 whose grandson Thomas Leigh assumed the surname Hare in 1791. Brother Thomas married Elizabeth (Rosamond) Newby, from Hooton Roberts in Yorkshire, and had two daughters – hence the baronetcy passing to younger brother George on his death. Mary, the younger daughter, married Sir Thomas Harris while Elizabeth, the elder, married the Revd Thomas Moore, widower, of the parish of Downham Market, at Stow Bardolph by licence on 03 July 1756. The two witnesses were Joseph Snasdell, Clerk of the Parish, and William Beavis. There is a note in the register explaining that the Revd Thomas Moore DD, Rector of Wimbotsham and Vicar of Stow Bardolph, died on 25 July 1779 and was buried in the Cathedral at Norwich, aged 63. The Revd Philip Bell goes on to explain that he was appointed on the presentation of Mrs Moore on 26 August 1779 and that she died at Bracondale, Norwich on 07 August 1787, aged 74, and was also buried in the Cathedral. He also confirms his appointment to the Rectory of Wimbotsham and the Vicarage of Stow in the Wimbotsham registers on 26 August 1779. He had been curate in Wimbotsham 1776-1779.

The mortuary chapel attached to the north east corner of the church is particularly fine with some twenty or so Hare family memorials. Some have already been described, others are covered in the text.

Marble memorial to Sir Thomas Hare (1658-1693 – 2nd Baronet), married to Elizabeth Dashwood and father of Sarah (1689-1744). This memorial is attributed to Rotterdam-born Grinling Gibbons (1648-1721), widely regarded as England’s finest wood carver, who settled in Deptford around 1667. Examples of his work can be found in St Paul’s Cathedral, Blenheim Palace, Hampton Court Palace and elsewhere.

Memorial to Sarah Hare who died in 1741. This monument is by Peter Scheemakers (1691-1781), the Flemish Roman Catholic sculptor who worked for most of his life in London though he later returned to his native Antwerp where he died. Scheemakers studied both classical and baroque styles of sculpture in Rome before settling in London in 1716. He is perhaps best known for his monument to William Shakespeare, designed by William Kent which he erected in Poets' Corner in Westminster Abbey in 1740, as well as that to John Dryden in the same Corner.

Scheemakers’ Shakespeare Memorial (centre)

In the mortuary chapel are four hatchments, three of which are in a group on the west wall.

Hatchments have long been part of the funeral process, more so in the past. The traditional lozenge-shaped board with black edges would typically be displayed on the wall of a deceased person’s house over the entrance at second floor level. It would remain for six to twelve months before being transferred to the parish church. The practice developed in the 1600s from the medieval practice of carrying an heraldic shield before the coffin of the deceased. Simply put, the dexter (right) half of the hatchment is for the husband, and the sinister (left) for the wife. Thus, where the husband survives the wife, sinister would be black (the deceased wife) and dexter white (the surviving husband) – as in the two hatchments on the left above. Where a widower dies, both sinister and dexter are black, as in the right hand hatchment.

The top hatchment is for Anne Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas, 1st Lord Graves, who died 11 September 1823 leaving Sir Thomas Hare a widower. The lower left hatchment is for Sir Thomas’ first wife Mary, daughter of Admiral Sir Francis Geary who died 23 November 1801. They married in 1799. The hatchment on the right is for Sir Thomas himself who died 12 February 1834, indicating that he was a widower. Arms are full of other information, for example, the (red) hand on the upper two hatchments indicates a baronet – its absence in the lower hatchment relates that Sir Thomas was granted his baronetcy between the death of his first wife and that of his second. In fact, it was on 14 December 1818 – Sir Thomas being the first baronet of the second baronetcy. The motto ‘In coelo quies’ translates as ‘Peace in heaven’. These hatchments with their rich colours are beautifully preserved and need to be seen to be fully appreciated.

The fourth hatchment stands alone on the south wall of the chapel and is for Sir Thomas Hare, the fourth baronet of the first baronetcy who died in 1760.

Sir Thomas Hare (c1688-1760). His wife, Rosamund, daughter of Charles Newby, of Hooton, Yorks, survived him – though the white is much discoloured with age.

The third Stow Hall was built in 1873-4 by David Brandon (1813-1897), at a cost of £18,000 (c£1m at today’s prices), replacing the earlier halls of 1589 and 1796. Excavations at various times suggest substantial buildings before the first hall was constructed. There are many estate houses in evidence, particularly near the Hall, many of which are made of carstone, others are of brick. There appear to have been three local brickworks, one on the west bank of the Ouse in Stowbridge and a second in the area north of Sergeant the butcher’s premises. The main Hare brickworks, however, were at Fodderstone Gap just west of the present A134. Work there appears to have commenced around 1800 and the remains of two kilns were still standing as late as 1969. David Brandon was no relation of Raphael Brandon who restored the church c1849. He was in partnership with Thomas Henry Wyatt (1800-1880) from 1838 to 1851 but thereafter practised alone. The latter was much more celebrated and was President of the Royal Institute of British Architects 1870-1873. He, in turn, was less celebrated than his younger brother Matthew Digby Wyatt (1820-1877) who was secretary to the Great Exhibition in 1851 (supervising the erection of Joseph Paxton’s glass exhibition hall in Hyde Park and arranging the exhibits) – he was also involved when the building was moved to Sydenham and renamed the Crystal Palace, Surveyor of the East India Company (1855) and first Slade Professor of Fine Art at Cambridge (1869). Amongst the younger Wyatt’s projects were the expansion of Temple Meads station in Bristol and he worked alongside Brunel on Paddington station (1852). He built Addenbrooke’s Hospital on Trumpington Street in Cambridge (1863), now the Judge Business School, the hospital having moved to its present premises in 1976. He died of overwork and is buried in the churchyard at Usk, Thomas Henry designing the memorial.

The former Addenbrooke’s Hospital – it was founded in 1766 with £4500 left in the will of Dr John Addenbrooke, a fellow of St Catharine’s College

Stow Hall shortly before it was demolished in 1994-95 due to the ravages of dry rot. The Hall was used as a maternity home and, later, as a convalescent home by the health authorities from 1940 to 1980. The tower housed the water cisterns. The lodge at the main gate, dated 1883, is listed by English Heritage.

The parish church of Stow Bardolph is of great interest.

Stow Bardolph Holy Trinity. Please also see

The church is mentioned in Domesday Book but there is no obvious Saxon evidence. The earliest parts are Norman, such as at the base of the tower and along part of the north wall. A major rebuilding and restoration was completed in 1850 by John Raphael Rodrigues Brandon (1817-1877) and is a fine example of the Gothic Revival. £1500 of the £2100 cost was met by the Hare family. Spare a thought for this architect when you enter the church. He was not especially successful as an architect, more so as an author on gothic architecture, and, following the death of his wife and child, ended his life by shooting himself in the head at his chambers at 17 Clement’s Inn, Strand. The organ chamber dates from 1869. Electric lighting was installed in 1933 with the old oil lamps scheduled to be taken to St Peter’s as part of the proposed works. The nave measures 44 feet x 24 feet. The Royal Arms over the south door are those of Charles II and are particularly fine. The chancel measures 31 feet x 16 feet.

An interesting note in the Stow registers was made by Philip Bell on 29 April 1796 which reads ‘I planted a yew tree in the SE corner of the churchyard with the intention of being buried under it’. The tree still stands but Philip obviously changed his mind and was buried in Wimbotsham but this needs verification.

Revd Philip Bell’s yew, planted 29 April 1796

A note in the register by the Revd Philip Bell, dated 28 Feb 1815, explains that according to the measurement of Jonathan Flower of Downham, carpenter, Stow Church will accommodate a congregation of 280 persons only. He adds the following ‘Memorandum – I have been in the habit of attending the service of this Church, frequently, for 55 years at least, which is 20 years before I was Vicar, and seldom saw a crowded congregation during morning service’.

At the time of Raphael Brandon’s restoration, the Revd Dashwood wrote in the registers: “The roofs of nave and chancel, with the south wall of the former (and, as it eventually turned out, of the latter also) being found in a very insecure state, the Patron came forward liberally to assist the parish; and it was determined to put the whole into a proper state of repair under the direction of R Brandon, architect, the well known author of various valuable professional publications, among them of ‘Perspective Views and Letter-press Descriptions of Parish Churches’, a work of particular interest to a Norfolk antiquary (which Dashwood was) as exhibiting fifteen of the most remarkable of those in our county’. Dashwood goes on describe various features of the post-Norman church leading to his conclusion that it was constructed between 1189 and 1272, an opinion confirmed by various discoveries made during the rebuilding such as a double piscina and three sedilia.

The south wall of the chancel. Nearby in the choir stalls, on the north side, is a beautifully carved bench end...

... no older than 19th century however. On the south side is an equivalent carving of a hind in recognition of Samuel Hinds (1793-1872), Bishop of Norwich during Brandon’s restoration. Hinds, born in Barbados, was bishop from 1849-1857 – the town of Hinds in New Zealand is named after him.

He continues: “While the workmen were engaged about the chancel I employed myself in chipping off the white wash from the nave and immediately came across remains of colour. Nor was it long before I uncovered a gigantic hand which could belong to none other than our favourite in Norfolk, St Christopher”. The figure, including the child on St Christopher’s shoulder, was around fifteen feet in size. This was on the north wall and Dashwood goes on to date it around 1500. Dashwood went on to find another picture of the same saint on the south wall ‘in much better style and very superior as a work of art’ which he dated around 1400. Under this was an earlier work depicting the martyrdom of St Edmund, king and martyr. Other paintings uncovered included the arms of the family Beaufort. Henry IV had granted the manor of Stow Bardolph, on the attainder of the Thomas, the 5th Lord Bardolph, to Thomas Beaufort in 1409, afterwards created Duke of Exeter in 1416. Bardolph had helped depose Richard II and put Henry IV on the throne but became dissatisfied with his new master and joined the Percys in rebelling against him over the years 1402-1408. Both Bardolph and Henry ‘Hotspur’ Percy, Earl of Northumberland, were killed at Bramham Moor, south of Wetherby, in 1408.

The arms of Thomas Beaufort, third son of John of Gaunt and his mistress Katherine Swynford, as uncovered by the Revd Dashwood in Stow church. Subsequently legitimated, he was Chancellor of England 1410-1412 before returning to matters military and the Hundred Years War

The Revd Blencowe writes that the font cover ‘was made by Mr Grimmer, a very clever wheelwright residing at West Walton where I taught him during my incumbency there to work Gothic patterns. It is beautifully finished and is taken from the ancient one in Sandringham church with such alterations as I considered improvements and was placed by me as a memorial of the marriage of Miss Hare to Mr Hammond of West Acre’. This dedication dates the cover to 1874 when Sarah Leigh Hare married Anthony Hammond – see above. Blencowe goes on to add that his new panelled ceiling was based on that at Denver. The bench ends were executed in the King James period and, though not equal to the new ones were too good and curious to be put aside. The pulpit is ‘remarkably well carved and was the gift of my late parishioners of West Walton’. The seats of the choir stalls lift up, under one are the arms of Blencowe carved by Mr Grimmer, and under another (at the north east end), those of Dashwood. The organ was presented by the Revd Blencowe and was the work of the George Maydwell Holdich (1806-1896), a celebrated organ builder of the time whose work can be found in many other churches throughout the country – he built over 400 organs, his largest being installed in Lichfield Cathedral in 1860; over fifty are still in use. The screens on either side were again a gift from the Revd Blencowe, carved by Mr Grimmer, and modelled on those in Willingham Church, Cambridgeshire. The chancel screen (also rood or choir screen) was a gift of the Revd Edward Bowyer Sparke, rector of Feltwell.

Additional notes, and two early photographs of the church exterior, were added by the Revd Blencowe in 1877. Of the tower, he says ‘it is about 60 feet high built at two different times.... the original tower seems to have been very low and was perhaps crowned with a roof of tiles and after the manner of Norman builders had no buttresses. When the church was built on a larger scale it required a higher tower in as much as the roof of the new nave was upon a level with the top of the Norman tower. To add to this was fortunately not difficult because the great thickness of the Norman walls enabled another story for the bells to be added without difficulty or fear of its giving way. The same may be seen at the neighbouring church of Runcton Holme, St Margaret’s Lynn and many others. In the case of Stow, however, it is to be observed that the rebuilders of the church, while retaining the old tower, did not like the site of the ladder within which led to the ringing chamber so they took advantage of the thickness of the walls to hollow out a newel staircase at the angle SW which, with the new story added, so weakened the building that cracks were seen on the south and west walls and the two large buttresses of brick were erected to prevent its fall’.

Blomefield wrote in detail about the church, mentioning brick buttresses to the tower and a roof covered with reed. There was, at that time, a gallery at the west end supported on six wooden pillars. There were five tuneable bells in his day, now there are eight:

An index to the present eight bells; not the recurring names of Osborn, Arnold and Dobson....

Blomefield mentions the stone inlaid in the floor near the font dedicated to the memory of John West who was for 20 years steward to Sir Ralph Hare ‘who departed this life the 19 day of August 1678’. The inscription, then more easily read, testifies that ‘For many years he bore the trust consign’d, Nor lost the credit of an honest mind, This is true wisdom, this the way to live, For nobler treasures, than the world can give; When burnish’d gold is turn’d to common dust, And all the shining mammon’s lost in rust, Happy the man, that’s well prepared to go Where inexhausted mines of truer riches flow’. There is also reference to the grave of Thomas Cobb who died 30 November 1582 and Samuel Renault, steward to the Honourable Sir Ralph Hare, the father, and the Honourable Sir Thomas Hare the son who departed this life the 26 day of March 1727, aged 62 years: ‘Here lys buried underneath this stone, A willing friend to all, a foe to none, A steward, true and faithfull, husband kind, A father tender, one of right Christian mind. His days consum’d with labour, care and [ain, His body rests in hopes to rise again’.

James Williams Adams VC (1839-1903) was Rector of Wimbotsham and Vicar of Stow from 1895 to 1902.On 11 December 1879 at Killa Kazi, in Afghanistan on the road between Kabul and Kandahar, some men of the 9th Lancers had fallen, with their horses, into a wide, deep ditch, locally known as a nullah, and the enemy were close upon them. The Revd JW Adams rushed into the water, dragged the horses off the men, upon whom they were lying, and extricated them. All this time he was under very heavy fire and up to his waist in water. Some of the enemy were within a few yards of him and, having let his own horse go in order to render more effectual assistance, Mr Adams had to escape on foot’. He received his medal from Queen Victoria at Buckingham Palace on 01 December 1881. There is a brass plaque to the memory of the Revd Adams, who was also Honorary Chaplain to Edward VII, in the chancel at Stow that was paid for by Field Marshall Earl Roberts, Adams’ commanding officer in Afghanistan.

He was born in Cork and is buried in the churchyard at Ashwell, Rutland, where he became rector in 1902. There is a stained glass window dedicated to his memory in St Peter’s where, also, can be found his folding Communion table. A daughter Edith was born in Lucknow in 1882.

The photograph comes from the order or service sheet on 30 September 2007 at Ashwell when his new memorial was dedicated.

The former vicarage at Stow is now the premises of the Downham Montessori School. It was originally built in 1778 and enlarged in 1847

If we have earlier raised the status of the Revd Philip Bell to a hero of the parish then we must also mention other vicars in the same vein. Blomefield lists all the known vicars since 1300 when Nicholas de Plomstede was presented by the convent of Carhow, an older form of Carrow, at Norwich. The convent continued to hold the avowdson until the Dissolution when, in 1539, it was granted to Sir John Shelton, of Shelton near Long Stratton. It then passed to John Hare (C above) in 1546. One of the vicars, from 1509-1531, Gilbert Bachecroft, was an executor for one John Hunt who was, in turn, an executor for William Wiche. He was taken to court by Wiche’s daughter Margaret and her husband William Shelbury over a messuage (a dwelling house and associated outbuildings) and land in Stow.

The Shelton family had been landowners in East Anglia since the early 1200s. The family enjoyed a period of pre-eminence during the sixteenth after Sir John Shelton (1477-1539) was appointed sheriff of Norfolk and Suffolk in 1504. The previous year he had married Anne Boleyn (c1483-1555), the daughter of Sir William Boleyn of Blickling and sister of Sir Thomas Boleyn, the future father in law of Henry VIII. In 1533 Lady Shelton, probably as a result of her niece’s manoeuvring, was placed in charge of the Princess Mary at Hatfield House. By July 1536 Sir John was in control of the joint household established to look after Mary and her half sister, Elizabeth. In 1538 he was granted the Benedictine nunnery at Carrow and made this his family seat. He died in December 1539 but those who drew up his will (Sir Nicholas Hare and William Coningsby) were temporarily disgraced for their ‘crafty conveyances’. A daughter, Mary, became a maid of honour to her cousin Anne and euphemistically enjoyed the King’s favour at various times during the period 1535-1538. The family remained at Carrow until well into the 1700s but were never again of more than local consequence.

After the Dissolution the known vicars until 1964 are listed as Thomas Dunning; 1561 George Longe; 1577 John Weston (also Rector of Wimbotsham); 1582 John Thompson (there were 241 communicants in 1603); 1606 Robert Bate; 1607 William Ray (Rector also of Wimbotsham and Watlington); 1616 John Sherwin (formerly Rector of Oxborough, Ickburgh and Beachamwell St John); Thomas Raworth (who moved on to Barton Bendish St Andrew; 1625 Edward Bentley; 1633 Thomas Martin; 1644 John Collin (appointed by Thomas Lord Coventry, trustee for Roger Hare); John Jermy; 1661 John Bastard; 1667 Edmund Parlett; 1674 Walter Drury (presented by the trustees of Sir Thomas Hare, a minor – aged about 16, namely Lord Townsend (see N above), John Currance, Thomas Savage, Edward Barber and Robert Wright Esq). Drury’s wife Margaret died on 19 December 1681, aged 22; 1722 Charles Lake; 1764 Thomas Moore; 1779 Philip Bell (officiated at his last funeral on 13 March 1828, died on 03 May 1834 and buried at Wimbotsham on 09 May, aged 83, where the entry attests to his 55 years of service to Wimbotsham and Stow); 1852 George Henry Dashwood (after first officiating as curate in 1834, he was buried at Stow on 18 February 1869); 1869 Edward Everard Blencowe (born in King’s Lynn) buried at Stow on 04 November 1895, aged 89; 1896 James W Adams (last funeral 25 March 1902); 1902 John Percy de Putron (born 1866 in Lytham); 1913 Charles E H Wilford (born in Upwell in 1869); 1919 A J W Crosse; 1926 Robert John Small; 1941 Gorge Edward Quinion; 1950 Raymond H Harrison; 1957 Unreadable; 1964 Malcolm Donald.

The register for 1718 records, on 12 October, the baptism of ‘A man childe, supposed to be about three weeks old left in the street of this Towne near Hugh Butler’s house upon Friday about seven of the clock in the evening the 10th of this instant October, was baptised by the name of Chancey. But it being discovered that in all likelyhood the said childe was born at Darsingham in this county and had been there baptised by the name of John and, dying in the custody of the officer of this parish, was buried here October the 18th’. As with other parish burial registers, before the introduction of the new format in 1813, there is rarely any additional information provided such as age or cause of death. However, the register from 1813, courtesy of the wonderful Philip Bell, is a superb source of information for family researchers. How much more helpful than ‘Elizabeth Capon, aged 1 week’ is the first entry in the new book on 12 February, for example, which reads ‘Elizabeth Capon, daughter of Henry Capon and Elizabeth his wife, late Fox’. All the more so since, moving away from Downham, and especially out towards the Fen, we find that there is an increased concentration of surnames such as Beavis, Lent or Lenton, Hill, Steward, Gunns and Wilson. Information about the causes of death is, however, less in evidence and, in the new book, it is not until 23 July 1816 that we come across the burial of John Browne, aged 21, a barge hauler, who was ‘drowned by falling with a horse, on which he was riding, into the River Ouze. Coroner’s Inquest.’ On 13 April 1819 the entry reads ‘Charles Leverington, alias Charles Brown, being a base born son of Mary Brown, feloniously kill’d or slayed by George Groom as appear’d by the Coroner’s Inquest’. He was aged ’36 years and upwards’. In 1823, John Waterfield, aged 49, was found drowned in Tong’s drain. The Revd Philip Bell’s last regular funeral was on 09 October 1821 but the fullness of the entries continues. When we come to 1832 we learn that Stow Bardolph was hard-hit by the cholera outbreak of that year. The first victim, Hallowmass Reed, aged 35, died on 04 April ‘after an illness of eight hours’ and was buried the following day.

One account of the cholera epidemic is to be found in the East London Record (1979):

The 'Cholera Morbus' was first described near Jessore, India, in 1817. In 1823 it had spread to Russia; by 1831 it was in Hamburg, and the first case in East London was on 12th February, 1832. For all the romance and fear attached to this seemingly inevitable march across the world, only about 800 persons died of the disease in the East End. In 1832 more people died of tuberculosis than cholera, and a child born of a labourer in Bethnal Green had a life expectancy of only 16 years. However, cholera evoked a response in social terms, and a contribution to the development of public health, of far more significance that its effect on mortality at the time.

Although the 'Cholera Morbus' is what we now call just cholera, the terms 'Asiatic', 'spasmodic', 'malignant', 'contagious' and 'blue' were also used to describe this new disease, generally thought to be a more serious form of the contagious cholera already well known. It was confused with, or thought to be the same as, 'common' or 'English' cholera, dysentery and food poisoning frequent in this country during the summer months. What actually caused the disease or how it was spread, was not understood until well after 1832 but it is now clear that the bacterium Vibrio comma, if drunk in water contaminated with infected sewage, causes a mild fever that usually gets better within a week. A poison produced by the bacterium however stimulates a profuse diarrhoea that may prove fatal if the vast quantities of water and salts lost are not replaced. Thus it is not a serious disease if treated correctly, but doctors in the 1830's generally tried to restrict fluid intake, to prescribe emetics and purgatives, and even to bleed their patients, trying to 'equalize the circulation'.

A quotation, from the same publication, from a work by J Hogg published in 1837 runs dramatically: ‘Thus did the fatal disease rise like a demon bent on destruction; it took its course, not heeding mountain, sea nor clime; death was its object, man its victim, and the uttermost ends of the world its destination; wherever its cold hand was extended - the people died .... Death struggled with time itself, and gnawed the moments that separated him from his victim.’

The Stow register identifies no fewer than 22 deaths due to spasmodic cholera in 1832 and four resulting from smallpox. The former disease returned in 1834 and claimed a further 10 victims. On 09 July 1832 the death from cholera, aged 35, was recorded of ‘Robert Loose Weston, the faithful & respected servant of the Reverend Philip Bell, Vicar, for eighteen years’.

Miles Rollinson, aged 78, was buried on 22 March 1847 having been ‘found dead in a ditch – died by visitation of God’. Benjamin Wray, aged 71, son of Benjamin, was buried on 07 September 1852 ‘accidentally killed by fall from stack’..... hay, rather than chimney, presumably, but this does serve to illustrate that modern-day retirement at 65 was something far away in the future and that hard physical labour often continued into old age, the workhouse being the most likely alternative for those not of independent means. It was Lloyd George as Liberal Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1908 who introduced old age pensions of up to 5 shillings a week for those over 70 ‘to lift the shadow of the workhouse from the homes of the poor’.

The register for 27 March 1850 simply shows the burial of James Page, son of Francis, aged 38, and that of James Page, his son, aged 4, without any hint of the drama led to their demise. The Times on 25 March, and many other papers nationally, reported that a whole family of ten persons in Stow Bardolph had been the victims of arsenic poisoning. Mrs Page had bought some sugar in Downham which was used to sweeten tea and caused some sickness in the family without anyone appreciating what had really happened. Larger quantities were, however, used to make an apple pudding later the same day which was then served at dinner. Mr Page had eaten a large portion and died the following day as did young James. All the other members of the household were taken ill but were to recover. A review was held in camera by magistrate the Revd E J Howman, Rector of Bexwell, and not all details were released to the press at the time as the matter was under investigation. Who put the arsenic in the sugar? Another mystery, though lack of further information, concerns The Times report on 25 July 1846 concerning the trial of Eliza Ward, aged 25, who had set fire to an outhouse in Stow belonging to her former employer. It seems that, having discharged her from his service, without just cause in Eliza’s eyes, he had provoked further resentment by his failure to provide the young lady with her train fare home. Eliza pleaded guilty but sentence was deferred.

With the burial of the Revd George Dashwood in 1869 ended the entry of additional information in the burial register that provides such an interesting insight into the life of the parish.

At this point we bring together the Reverends George Dashwood and Philip Bell who were related. Algerina Peyton, mentioned above and who married Lt Col George Dashwood in Downham in 1696, was the daughter of Sir Algernon Peyton of Doddington in Cambridgeshire. Algerina’s sister, Anne, married Philip Bell (1676-1746) of Beaupre Hall, Outwell, in nearby Elm on 15 Jun 1698. Their son Henry Bell (1702-1753) married Catherine Warmoll and lived at Wallington Hall in Thorpland where their son Philip was born on 23 March 1751. Philip took up the curacy of Stow in 1775 – his first baptism was on 22 October – and signed the register as ‘Vicar’ from 1779. He married Elizabeth Collison in 1784, daughter of John Collison of Thornham, and there were four children: Algerina was baptised in Stow on 28 October 1788, followed by Lucy Elizabeth on 23 January 1790, Ann on 05 April 1794 and Beaupre Philip on 21 February 1796. Lucy Elizabeth married the Revd William Maxey Allen, curate of Watlington, in Stow in 1822; she was buried in Wimbotsham on 16 April 1841, aged 51. William was perpetual curate of Wimbotsham, and curate of Fordham in 1861 - he was born in King’s Lynn, youngest son of the Revd Stephen Allen, and buried in Wimbotsham on 27 June 1865, aged 73. One of their children was Beaupre Philip Bell Allen, a solicitor – he died in Heigham ‘a hamlet of Norwich’, aged 36, and was brought back to be buried in Wimbotsham on 06 January 1860. Ann first met the Revd Henry Creed in Stow in 1822 when he was appointed curate and they were married there four years later by her brother in law, the Revd Allen. Henry was Rector of Mellis in Suffolk, south east of Diss, in 1851. About that time, Algerina, who never married, and her sister Mrs Creed made news in The Times. Algerina, having died in the parish of Lynn All Saints and being buried in Wimbotsham on 02 December 1846, had left the residue of her estate to Mrs Creed and other sums, amounting to £1355, in trust to build and endow a new church in the parish Stow Bardolph – a dream eventually fulfilled with the opening of St Peter’s more than sixty years later. Mrs Creed contested that the trust funds were actually part of the residual estate and should be paid to her. The judgment went against Mrs Creed as reported in The Times on 10 December 1849, and again, on appeal, which was confirmed in the Daily News on 21 February 1853. Mrs Elizabeth Bell, Philip’s wife, was buried in Wimbotsham on 05 August 1813, aged 50. The Bells of Beaupre Hall form a considerable part of the history of Outwell and are mentioned in more detail in the next chapter.

There are further interesting links. Lt Col George Dashwood (whose eldest sister Elizabeth married Sir Thomas Hare – see above) was the fifth child of Francis Dashwood (1613-1683) who was the brother of George Dashwood (1617-1682). George’s fifth child, and first cousin to the Lt Colonel, was Sir Francis Dashwood (1658-1724) whose son, also Sir Francis (1708-1781) held a variety of high offices including Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1762-63. However, the latter Sir Francis is, perhaps, more famous for being a founder member of the Hellfire Clubs, a focus for rakes – defined as men habituated to immoral conduct. Amongst other things, he hollowed out the pre-historic caves in the chalk near his house in High Wycombe and played host to a whole range of pagan activities. Hogarth’s A Rake’s Progress provides a general guide to the interests of the Club!

St Peter, Stowbridge, a chapel of ease for Stow Bardolph. Built in 1910 of glazed terracotta blocks, it is now shared with the Methodists (photo courtesy of George Bell). As well as the stained glass window to the memory of the Revd Adams, there is one to Edward Bussens, chorister son of James Bussens, Sir Thomas Hare’s steward/land agent, who died in 1908, aged 14. James’ father, William, was also a steward as is shown in the Stow baptismal register when James was born in 1851. William was born in Wood Dalling around 1817 and the family moved to Stow around 1845-6 from Gresham. William James, Edward’s older brother born in 1890, was a poultry farmer in Barroway Drove in 1933. In the latter year, Sir Thomas’ land agent was Heber Clark, his head gardener was Alfred Jacobs, and head gamekeeper Henry Shepparde.

Another news item that made The Times (and the Daily News the previous day) appeared in the edition of 07 August 1873 when William Kemp Proctor (unnamed in the paper), son of William Sexton Proctor ‘wealthy farmer and landowner of Bexwell’ was sued for breach of promise of marriage by the ‘very pretty’ Mary, 26 year-old daughter of John Birch Hill, schoolmaster of Stoke Ferry. William, it was reported, occupied a farm in Stow Bardolph and in January 1872 he wrote to the plaintiff a letter containing the following passage “Have spent a merry Christmas, have had the pleasure of being in company with different young ladies; wish to state that out of all Miss Hill is the one of my choice”. After this they became engaged. The defendant re-decorated his house, and drove the plaintiff over to choose furniture and to decide on the patterns of paper for the various rooms. The wedding was ultimately fixed for 27 November 1872, and all preparations were made; but within a day or two of that date the defendant expressed himself as dissatisfied with the small number of his friends who were invited to the wedding, and the marriage was, at his desire, postponed, and at length broken off altogether. After a brief hearing the case was settled in Miss Hill’s favour to the tune of £300 in damages. Less than two years later, on 09 July 1874, William married Eliza Green who was born in Bardolph Fen in 1847 to William Green, farmer of 300 acres, and his wife Anne (nee Booth).

Kelly’s Directory of 1908 says that there are three chapels in Stow Bardolph: Baptist, Primitive Methodist and United Methodist. The Bethesda Baptist chapel was built in 1860; the derelict building on the river bank at the east end of Gooding Close was, presumably, the Primitive Methodist chapel while Trinity Chapel in Barroway Drove has three dates upon it: Initially, in 1833, it was Wesleyan; in 1860 it used by both the Wesleyan and Reformed Methodists, and in 1907 it became a chapel for the United Methodists. It is now a well-presented private residence

Stowbridge Bethesda, built 1860

Derelict former Primitive Methodist chapel, dating from 1833, taken from the Ouse river bank overlooking Gooding Close

The river bank looking north from the bridge with the Crown out of picture on the left. These buildings have been removed to build up the bank as a flood defence.

Trinity United Methodist Chapel, Barroway Drove - now a private residence

Kelly's (1900) records, in the Stow Bardolph entry: 'Board School, Barroway Drove (mixed), built in 1880, for 80 children'. The expenses of erecting and running the school were shared between Downham Market School Board and Stow Bardolph and Wimbotsham United District School Board, as the children attending the school were drawn from areas covered by both Boards. The minute books of the two School Boards record that there was some disagreement as to the division of expenses in 1879 and 1880 when the school was first built.

The former Barroway Drove school, in 2009, now also a private residence

Initially, Barroway Drove School was managed by Downham Market School Board, which included two representatives appointed by Stow Bardolph and Wimbotsham U.D. School Board. However, the Downham Market School Board minutes record that on 7 September 1885 the Board signed and sealed a deed transferring Barroway Drove School to Stow Bardolph and Wimbotsham U.D. School Board.

From June 1995 the pupils of Barroway Drove School attended Clackclose C.P. School in Downham Market three days a week. Barroway Drove County Primary School closed on 21 July 1995 and the children attended Clackclose School full time from September 1995.

Future pupils. The Barroway Drove baby show, 1926. One of the babies is Tinker Taylor, much respected citizen and future mayor of Downham.

Stowbridge school, on West Head Road, was built in 1873 at a cost of £1000 funded by Sir Thomas Hare. The school, now a private residence, was dedicated to St Paul and was licensed for divine worship (before St Peter’s was built). Closure came in 1987, when most of the pupils transferred to Wimbotsham.

The former Stowbridge school in 2009

A note here about Robert Royal who was born in Stow Bardolph in 1793 (bap 20 April), son of Thomas Royal and his second wife, Sarah, nee Langley. Robert married Sarah Gorling in 1821 when he was 28. He died at 128 Jubilee Street, Stepney, in East London in 1870 on 27th May. A report dated a few days later in the Shipping and Mercantile Gazette refers to him as 'late Captain of the Hudson Bay Company, aged 71'.

Robert's career with the Hudson Bay Company began on the vessel Montcalm in 1828. In 1834 he was master of the Ganymede; two years later he was reported as captain of the Nereide in Honolulu and from 1842-53 he captained the Prince Albert which was newly built in 1841.

It appears that Robert disowned his first wife shortly after their marriage, she dying in the workhouse in 1867. Six weeks later he was remarried to Sarah Mallett, nee Capon.

Much, much more about Robert Royal, his family, and his career with the Hudson Bay Company can be learned by contacting Hazel Tachtatzis,

to whom I am indebted, at

Pubs & Beerhouses

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Public houses, as well as chapels, churches and schools, provide valuable links to the past. The Black Horse in Barroway Drove closed at the end of September 1965. It was at the junction of Highbridge Road and Cuckoo Road facing north west towards West Head. William Thompson was landlord in Kelly’s Directory of 1933. It is now a private residence bearing the name ‘The old Blackhorse’.

The former Black Horse, Barroway Drove

The Crown on Ouse Bank at Stowbridge became a guest house after closure in the 1960s and later a field study centre. The licence was held by John Griggs, who was also a butcher and toll collector for the bridge, from the mid 1850s for thirty years and then by his nephew William Griggs to the end of the century. In 1851 the licensee was Charles Bond who also farmed 82 acres while John Griggs was a butcher on West Head Road, born in Magdalen around 1814, son of Jacob Griggs and his wife Elizabeth nee Riches. In 1881, the census record shows that John is assisted in the pub by barmaid Alice Porter, aged 16, his great niece, daughter of his brother Benjamin’s daughter Mary Ann who married John Larman Porter in Southery on 05 November 1860. William Griggs, who succeeded John, was born in Stow in 08 May 1844, son of William Griggs who was born in Stow on 21 October 1816 to parents William Griggs, farmer, and Sarah Riches who were married in Magdalen on 04 May 1809. Charles Bond was born in Whittlesey around 1810. George Balls is landlord in 1933 according to Kelly’s Directory.

The Crown on the bank of the Ouse at Stowbridge with Narborough House beyond.

The Dray & Horses in Stowbridge was on The Causeway and is now a private house of the same name.

The Eel Pie Inn stands now as a private house on West Head Road just east of West Head Farm with Eel Pie Cottages forming a terrace behind and to the north.

The former Eel Pie Inn on West Head Road

Benjamin Wray was landlord for over thirty years from around 1850 and James Haverson (born Pentney in 1858) held the licence at the time of the 1901 census. Kelly’s Directory in 1933 has James Haverson as landlord.

The Hare Arms c1940

The Sayle family held the licence of the Hare Arms from early 1868 for more than half a century and for thirty years before that the Capons were long term residents. Robert Capon in 1851 was also farming fifteen acres. Robert was born in Downham West in 1800 and was buried in Stow on 09 December 1867, aged 67. He married Sarah Ambrose in Stow on 21 February 1820 and, although there is nothing in the marriage register to confirm Sarah’s parents, other information points to her baptism in Hilgay on 09 December 1793, daughter of John and Elizabeth Ambrose, nee Horn, who were married there in 1777. The Ambroses are mentioned at greater length in the Hilgay chapter. Harry Sayle, baptised Henry in Hilgay on 21 November 1850, married Emma Mills in Stow on 11 September 1877. Harry’s grandfather, Thomas Sayle, is buried in Hilgay where he died in 1859, aged 75. Thomas was born in Ely around 1784, enlisted in the army and his oldest daughter was born in Fort Leith, Scotland, in 1812, before the family moved to Ireland. They were back in civilian life in Fordham by 1823. After leaving the army, Thomas was a toll keeper and publican, running the Rose & Crown in Hilgay in the 1841 census. Harry’s father, William, was baptised in Fordham in 1825 and became a plumber and glazier in Hilgay, also running the George & Dragon at the time of the 1861 census. He moved to Stow in early 1868 after Robert Capon died to take over the Hare Arms with his wife Emma (nee Draper, born in Frome, Somerset) while also continuing in business as a plumber. Emma took over the licence after William was buried in Stow on 28 July 1872, aged 48, until she, too, died at the relatively young age of 56 and was buried on 30 April 1877. Harry then took over the licence. Emma Sayle is shown as landlady in Kelly’s 1933 edition. Of their children, Archibald was killed in Flanders in October 1916 and is commemorated on the war memorial on the Green at Wimbotsham. Dave McManus the current landlord took over in 1976.

The Hare Arms 2009. Its construction dates from the mid 1700s


The Hare & Hounds in Stow Bridge appears to have closed soon after the end of World War II. William Haverson had the licence for the last half decade of the 1800s, but had moved on before the 1901 census; Harry Sayle in was the licensee in 1908.

The Heron has a comparatively recent history as a pub, opening in the 1980s.

The Heron in 2009

The Jolly Farmers in Stowbridge was to be found at The Causeway – ‘Causeway End’ in the 1881 census. Sampson Gutteridge, also a farmer, was landlord for some thirty years from the mid 1850s. He was born in Runcton Holme in 1812 and married there in 1836 to Jane Guy, who was born in Clenchwarton. It is now a private residence, appropriately named ‘The Old Pub’, immediately to the south east of the road to Ruction Holme as it joins The Causeway. Change of use from a public house to residential came in 1996 but the premises had been empty for a time prior to that.

The Lord Berners’ Arms beerhouse in Barroway Drove, adjacent to the intersection with Hooton’s Row (built 1937), appears to have closed in the late 1940s. The landlord at the end of the 19th century, including the 1901 census, was James Ward Ambrose, stepson of Benjamin Wray at the Eel Pie Inn. Susanna nee Cox, his mother, was born in Hilgay in the early 1820s and first married to Samuel Ambrose in her home village in 1843. Samuel died in Outwell in 1858 soon after James was born and Susanna remarried in Stow on 19 January 1870. James Ward Ambrose is shown as landlord in Kelly’s (1933).

The Berners’ Arms takes its name from the Berners family once resident in Watlington. Burkes & Savills Guide to Country Houses includes the section: 'The manor descended ca Henry V11's reign to Thomas Gawsell through his wife Catherine Kervile. On the extinction of the Gawsells 1656, Watlington was inherited by the Davis family of Berecourt, Berkshire, until ca 1740 it passed to their cousins the Berners family - and so to Sir Thomas Berners Plestow (dspm 1809) and Charles Berners Plestow, owner in 1845. Sold ca 1852. John Thorley was owner 1876. Acquired ca 1880 by the Birch family, from whom it descended to Mr John Pope, whose seat it now is. Watlington Hall was built for Charles Berners Plestow in 1830 by William Dunthorne (1799-1859) who also designed the Downham Union workhouse. The Hall was destroyed by fire c1943.

The Lord Berners Arms (courtesy Barroway Drove Community website)

The Prince Albert appears in the 1881 census for Stowbridge when Isaac Towler (born Tottenhill in 1812) was landlord and also a farmer. The census locates the Prince Albert on Ouse Bank close to the Crown.