From Suffolk Manors Vol 2 1848

Rev. Alfred Suckling LL.B, Rural Dean, Rector of Barsham, Barsham Rectory


CIDESTAN,-the Domesday spelling of this town, -pronounced with the Saxon aspirate -gives us, with the slightest variation, the modern Chediston. The village having belonged, for the most part, to the Queen of Edward the Confessor, appears to have possessed a greater degree of importance in those early times, than it now enjoys.

At the Survey, the entire parish was held by three Norman proprietors : Roger Bigod; Alan, Earl of Richmond and Bretaigne; and Gislebert, Balastarius, or the master of the cross-bowmen. The estate of the former was by far the most extensive, and comprised several small manors. The names of the sub-tenants, and the nature of their tenure, are detailed at considerable length, but appear too interesting to curtail.

TERRE ROGERI BIGOT. -In Cidestane, Godwin, a free-man of the Queen, held fifty-five acres, in the reign of Edward the Confessor, for a manor: now (at the Survey), Robert de Vallibus holds the same. There were always two villeins and two bordars on this property, one plough employed on the demesne lands, and one by the tenants. There was one acre and a half of meadow, wood for thirty swine, two cows, twelve swine, and twenty sheep. This estate was valued at 10 shillings.

In Cidestan, Ulsi, a free-man, had thirteen acres, of whom the predecessor of Robert Malet had half the protection; and the Queen of the Confessor had the other half. In the same village, a free-man, by name Anant, and another free-man, Ulf, each held thirteen acres under the Queen's protection. Their estate was returned at 4 shillings only. The King and the Earl here divided the soc. Edric, a free-man, of whom the predecessor of Robert Malet had half the protection, and the Abbot of Ely the other portion, in the Confessor's days, held 100 acres for a manor. In this lordship were always two villeins, and five bordars; one plough on the demesne land's: before the Conquest, the tenants had kept two ploughs, but at the Survey they employed only one. Here were three acres of meadow land, wood sufficient to maintain sixty swine, one cow, four pigs, twenty-two sheep, and seven goats. Five parts of the church were appended to this estate, with sixteen acres of glebe : its value was always 30 shillings ; and William Malet was seized of it, when he went upon the King's service, where he died. Two free-men, Ledman and Stauhart, who were under the protection of the King and the Queen, also held thirty acres for a manor in this village: they had one bordar. Then there was here one plough, with wood for twenty swine, and one acre of meadow; valued at 5 shillings. Leuric, a free Saxon, held twenty-six acres for manor, of whom the predecessor of Baignard had the protection: here were always one villein, and two bordars; one plough, three acres of meadow, wood for twelve swine, two cows, four swine, and twenty sheep; valued at1 0 shillings. Couta, a free-man, held fifteen acres under the protection of the predecessor of Robert Malet: this estate was valued at 2 shillings, and William Malet was seized of it. A freeman, by name Leuin, held fourteen acres here, of whom the predecessor of Robert Malet had also the protection. William his (Malet's) father was also seized of this property; valued at 2 shillings and 4 pence. The King and the Earl divided the soc of these estates. The entire village was one leuca in length, and five furlongs in width, and paid five-pence halfpenny gelt, or land-tax. It seems that these estates were consolidated into one manor by Roger Bigot, because the Survey returns them all as then held under this chieftain, by Robert de Vallibus, or Vaux.

The estate of Alan, Earl of Richmond, comprised eighty acres of land, &c.,with the sac, and soc, and was parcel of his manor of Wisset. Osketel and Godric held the farm belonging to Gislebert, Balastarius, which was valued at 4 shillings.

The parish has subsequently been held as three manors, known as Wright's, Bavent's, and Hovel's. Of the latter, Sir Hugh Hovel was lord in 1287. He was the ancestor of Sir Richard Hovel, Esquire of the body to Henry V., and is now represented by the Right Hon.Lord Thurlow, of Ashfield. Sir Hugh was, evidently, a knight of great consequence in this county. In a list of knights, made in the reign of Henry II. His name stands first among the Suffolk families, and his arms are thus emlazoned; Sir Hugh Hovell de Sable, et une crois de or.

His brother's name and arms, with a label of distinction, are also given. The family seem to have been rather contumacious subjects, at this period of almost universal anarchy ; for Robert Hovel is returned in the Hundred Rolls as prohibiting the proclamation of the King's command in this village.

A family, which took their name from this place, had possessions here about this period, as William de Chedestan held forty acres of land in Chedistan of the King, in capite, by fealty, and 4 shillings rent.

In 1263, Hubert de Bavent had a grant of free-warren in his manor of Chediston. In the first of Edward III Edmund Merkeshall, Jeffrey Inglose, and Peter de Madingthorpe, were deforcients in a fine, and Thomas de Bavent, and Alice his wife, querents ; when a moiety of the lordship of Haynford, in Norfolk, &c., was settled on Thomas and Alice ; and the said Thomas, in the thirteenth year of the same reign, settled it, with the manors of Easton Bavent, and Chediston, on himself for life ; remainder to William his son, and Catherine his wife ; remainder to Felicia his daughter, sister of William, and the remainder to John, son of Thomas of Ulveston ; remainder to Richard, son of John, son of Baldwin Bavent : and in the twentieth of Edward III, William Bavent and Robert Pavilly were lords. In 1362, Thomas Bavent held this manor.

The estate of Robert de Vallibus passed, upon the extinction of that line in the person of John de Vallibus, to the family of Neirford ; as William Neirford, and Parnell his wife, daughter and coheiress of the said John de Vallibus, held a portion of a knight's fee here.

In the fourth of Edward I., Richard de Biland, or Byland, had a charter of freewarren, with license to hold a fair in his demesne lands here, and in Norfolk.

Of the three lordships above mentioned, Bavent's alone retains any copyhold tenants. Wright's has but two or three free tenants, and Hovel's is now only a reputed manner, and is, in fact, never so designated at the present day. Bavent's and Wright's were included in the purchase of the Chediston Hall estate in 1722, by Mr. Plumer, as will be presently shown and the farm attached to the reputed lordship of Hovel's was bought by the late Mr. Parkyns, of the Ricketts, about six years ago.

About the middle of the seventeenth century, the family of Pettus held the manor of Chediston ; for in 1666, Sir John Pettus is described as of Chediston Hall, and he must have been owner of considerable estates in the neighbourhood. The race sprung from Thomas Pettus, an eminent and wealthy citizen of Norwich, who lies buried in St. Edmund's church in Lombard Street, London. John Pettus, of the city of Norwich, Gent., was his son and heir, who married the widow of Simon Dethick, Esq., whose maiden name was Crow. Thomas, his son and heir, married Christian, the daughter of Simon Dethick, Esq., and by her had issue four sons, John, Thomas, Alexander, and William ; and three daughters, Anne, Cicely, and Elizabeth. This Thomas Pettus was Mayor of Norwich in the year 1591, and died in 1597, in tile seventy-eighth year of his age, as appears by his monument in the church of Saint Simon and Jude, at Norwich. John Pettus, his eldest son, received the honour of knighthood, and married Bridget, daughter and coheiress of Augustin Cutteis, of Honington, in Suffolk, by whom he had issue Augustin and Thomas; and Anne, Christian, and Bridget. His grandson, Thomas Pettus, was created a Baronet for his zeal and loyalty to his Prince, during the Great Rebellion. Sir John Pettus, already mentioned as of Chediston, was an eminent loyalist, and compounded for a large sum with the Parliamentarians for his estates.

Between 1666 and 1688, Chediston Hall, &c., appears to have been purchased by George Fleetwood, as he was owner thereof at the latter date, and is described as of Chediston. In 1701, Gustavus Fleetwood was the possessor, and the property was sold by his executors, in 1722, to Walter Plumer, of Gray's Inn, Esq. The family of Pettus retained property in this parish, after the sale to the Fleetwoods, as a small farm was purchased by Mr. Walter Plumer, in 1750, of Sir Horatio Pettus, of Rackey, otherwise Rackheath, eldest son of Sir Horatio Pettus, of the same place. Walter Plumer, Esq., died without issue, and his property devolved upon William Plumer, his brother, and from him descended to William, his son, who died in 1822, and left the estates to his wife, Mrs. Plumer, afterwards married to Captain Lewin, whom, also, she survived; and married, thirdly, Robert Ward, the author of ` Tremaine,' &c., who assumed the name of Plumer. Mrs. Plumer Ward left these estates to her husband, who sold the Suffolk property, in 1833. George Parkyns, Esq., became the purchaser of Chediston Hall, with divers manors, and adjacent farms. Upon the customary investigation of Mr. Plumer Ward's title, consequent upon this sale, it was discovered that he had mortgaged the estate to a chartered company, empowered to hold lands to a certain extent only, -that they had exceeded that extent, and that the Suffolk estate had consequently become forfeited to the Crown. It was, however, immediately re-granted to Mr. Plumer Ward, and conveyed to Mr. Parkyns, and the circumstance of the forfeiture would be hardly worth recording, but for the singular fact, that within a few months after this grant, the estate again became forfeited to the Crown; though the second forfeiture did not transpire until the death of Mr. Parkyns in 1844.

In order to explain the cause of the second escheat, it is necessary to give a short account of Mr. Parkyns's family. That gentleman's father, who was a son of the second Baronet of that name, married, when very young, a Miss Levett, of Bunny, in the county of Nottingham, by whom he had several children. After some years, differences arose between these parties, and, in 1772, proceedings were instituted in the ecclesiastical court to procure a sentence of divorce; which was subsequently obtained " a mensa et toro." This exemption of divorce places the parties who obtain it in this position,-that though legally separated, neither is capable of contracting a. second marriage, during the lifetime of the other. Notwithstanding this incapacity, Mr. Parkyns, who was then living in France, married a Mdlle. Toussay, by whom lie had one son, the late Mr. Parkyns of Chediston Hall, and several daughters, one of whom, Marie Claire Parkyns, married a Monsieur de la Croix, and still survives. These children were, consequently, illegitimate, and, being born out of Great Britain, were aliens, and incapable, by the laws of this kingdom, of holding lands in England; so that the conveyance of the Chediston Hall estate to Mr. Parkyns was altogether illegal, and operated as a forfeiture of the property to the Crown. These circumstances transpired upon Mr. Parkyns's decease, and the property, in 1845, was seized into the hands of her Majesty. Mr. Parkyns's only child having died an infant during his lifetime, a re-grant of the estate was made in favour of his widow, and his natural sister, Madame de la Croix; Chediston Hall being reserved to the former. Mrs. Parkyns has since married Thomas Rant, Esq., of a family long seated at Mendham, and they are the present residents and proprietors of Chediston Hall.

The family of Plumer, - which bore for arms, per chev. flory counter-flory arg. and gules, three martlets counterchanged, is now, I believe, extinct in the male line ; but the present Archbishop of Dublin, Dr. Whately, and his brother, are descendants by a female branch ; their father having married Jane, a sister of the last William Plumer, and the only one of the family who had issue.

Chediston Hall stands on an eminence facing the south, and is an ancient house, but now sadly denuded of timber. According to a map of the estate, made in 1722, when Mr. Plumer was its owner, the projecting wings of the mansion extended further from the body of the building, and the area in front was shut in by a high wall, having large iron gates opposite to the hall door.