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History of Herringfleet and St. Olave's
part 7: St Margaret's Church, Herringfleet


After the building of the free standing round tower, there arose c. 1080AD what is now the Chancel - the Norman Chapel probably replacing an old Saxon-Viking wooden building. In the north wall of the chancel is the Norman slit window, in which has been placed the stained glass figure of a cleric with tonsure, though Watling thought the figure was of St. Olaf holding a book and dagger. At one time this glass with other glass from the priory was stored at Fritton.

We do not know the original dedication of the old church at Herringfleet but its dedication to St. Margaret was early and no doubt the result of the crusaders' enthusiasm for the Eastern Martyrs, among them St. George who replaced Edward the Confessor as the Patron Saint of England in the early 13th. Century. St. Margaret in the 4th. Century was the daughter of a pagan priest in the rugged and mountainous region we know now as Turkey. She went to nurse the sick in the company of a Christian nurse and Margaret became a Christian and because of this was driven from her father's house. These were dangerous times - the Era of the Martyrs. Margaret went to live with the nurse and became a shepherdess. One day the Prefect of Antioch, Olybrius, passed by and saw Margaret looking after the sheep and wanted her for his wife if free, for his mistress if a slave. She refused by saying that she had dedicated her whole life to Christ without marriage. Very soon she found herself before a tribunal - perhaps Olybrius intended only to frighten her into submission; it is a mistake many others have made. She then suffered torture and was dragged off to a dungeon where in a dream the devil appeared to her and consumed her. She made the sign of the cross and the devil's body split in half. She awoke, her courage and constancy won many to the faith in spite of the consequences, and because of this Olybrius ordered her to be beheaded. On the way to the place of execution, Margaret was heard to pray that the memory of her escape from the body of the dragon might give help to those in childbirth, and she became the patron saint of women in labour.

In the early days of the Fitz Osberts in the 13th. Century, the nave was built to connect the Norman chapel with the tower; the old west doorway of the Norman chapel being placed in its present position in the south wall and made the principal entrance, while the east side of the tower base was opened up with a larger doorway. The northern doorway into the nave has for some time been bricked up.

Along the top of Herringfleet Hills, a path led from the top end of Priory Road to the opening at Sunnybank. It ran through the garden of the present house Breckland and can still be found by the presence of flat stones which were laid on the surface though now overgrown by grass and heather. Along this path trod the canons from the Priory to serve St. Margaret's Church till 1537. In the days when the Herringfleet Road was frequently water-logged especially in winter time, this provided the drier way and was something of a short cut.

In the late 16th. Century the tower received a new brick parapet, the original height being slightly lowered, and a brick canopy was given to the window in the south chancel wall, though it is conceivable that these works were done by John Francis Leathes

as late as 1826. The nave roof has remained thatched with an inside ceiling of arched plaster, now extended into the chancel which has a tile roof.

It was however in the 1820s that important changes were made - the east window, the crowning glory of the church, a kaleidoscope of fascinating glass with even more interesting subjects, was put in by Henry Mussenden Leathes whose memorial you will find on the north chancel wall. In the Royal Horse Artillery, he fought in the Peninsular War (1807-1813) and at Waterloo, for which he received medals and clasps. In the Peninsular Campaign he was in Sir John Moore's celebrated retreat and the Battle of Corunna, and in the Waterloo Campaign he served as First Lieutenant in Capt. Mercer's Troop (G. Troop). When only 13 he was a Gentleman Cadet (1st Nov. 1803) - at 15 years 11 months he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant on the 12th July 1805. In the Waterloo Roll it is recorded that he resigned his commission in 1819 after earning for himself the description "he was distinguished for his benevolence and philanthropy and was equally loved by rich and poor, young and old, soldiers and civilians". He died at Lowestoft 16th. Dec. 1864 for although his manorial residence was Herringfleet Hall, he actually occupied a house in Lowestoft for many years, where his charity for the poor of the town was outstanding. He was deeply interested in the welfare of the French Fishermen visiting the port, and in cases of sickness his house became a hospital for them. He received the French Gold Medal of Honour First Class from the Emperor Napoleon III. In June 1827 at the age of 38 he had married Charlotte, daughter of John Fowler of Gunton Hall.

Born in 1789 Henry Mussenden Leathes was about 26 when he fought at Waterloo and took part in the fierce artillery fire which from the two flanks of the British Army opened up a gap in the French lines, so enabling the British line of four deep to penetrate on that fateful day, the 18th. June 1815. The French broke - the more so in confusion as the horse artillery continued to pound the French retreating forces. Not even the four brigades brought up from reserves by Napoleon could save the day. The battle was over. Wellington ordered his troops to Paris, but Leathes found himself with his unit visiting the northern cities of the Rhine, and came to Cologne. There he came across some painted glass which he boxed up and brought back to England. It was mounted with a small amount of existing glass in the present East Window under the direction of the Revd. Fred Leathes of Shropham Hall, his brother, who was at that time serving as Rector of Reedham c. 1816-1820. Franz Elsholtz in his "Wanderungen durch K?ln am Rhein und Seine Umgebung" (Cologne 1820) wrote "incidentally, foreigners and especially Englishmen who frequently visit here, look for stained glass to make a show of it in their collections of art".

The East Window contains glass of different periods from the late 14th. Century to the early 18th century, and from different buildings in Cologne, all with an exquisite richness in colouring and a profuse number of subjects, though, alas, painted, which in the English climate would suggest a limited life. The principal type of glass is ecclesiastical. In the bottom left light are the Cardinal's hat and motto - "Adjutor Meus Ominpotens" - and the arms and insignia of Edmund Br?nger D.Th. Commissary General and Provincial Guardian at the Mother House of the Franciscans, Minorite Friars, at Cologne, dated 1692, from whose chapel much of the ecclesiastical glass originated. In the light above is probably a picture of that Friary with the typical bell-tower reminiscent of Assissi and that Order. The Br?nger inscription reads:-


Translated:- to the memory of the Most Excellent Right Revd. Father Edmund Br?nger Doctor of Theology Provincial and Commissary General of the Franciscan Monastery of the Minorite Friars in Cologne 1692.

Beneath this is the Gethsemane Scene and the Resurrection.

At the top of the lower central light is the moon roundel which may have been originally part of a Crucifixion scene but is here placed upside down. In the moon is the face of an angel in half profile. There was a belief in the Middle Ages that the natural influences of different planets were derived from the different natures of angels which tenanted them under the direction of certain Archangels - eg. The moon - Gabriel; Mars - Samael; Mercury - Raphael; Jupiter - Zadkiel; Venus - Anael; Saturn Cassiel; the sun - Michael; Irithemius held that these spirits of the planets were the seven spirits (angles) which stand before God (Revelation 1.20) and that each was an archangel and leader of many thousands of angels. A child born under one of these stars was received into the guardianship of its angel and host.

In the same light, near the centre, is the roundel of St. Patu and St. Aimery - the former in bishop's vestments, variously spelt Patto or Patten. He died 788 - a Scottish monk who 'turned pilgrim for the love of God' and crossed from Britain to be abbot of a monastery in Saxony, just a little after Alcuin had crossed to Charlemagne to become one of the inspirers of the Carolingian Renaissance. These men proved lights in the Dark Ages. St. Aimery is in the uniform of a legionary of the 3rd. century with

a standard in his left hand and a staff of office and crown at his feet. He forms part of the St. Maurice legend - in 286AD the pagan emperor Maximian went to the region south of Lake Geneva to subjugate the area, infested with bands of brigands, thieves, cut-throats, pillagers, and murderers, all well organised, and which terrorised the area under their two leaders Heliarius and Amando. Although inflicting great slaughter, Maximian found the task rather formidable and sent for crack commandos popularly known as the Theban Legion culled from the Thebaid region of Egypt. Not of legion strength, they nevertheless were skilled in flushing out rebels and at their head was Maurice (Maurice = Maurus = Moor). But Maurice soon found that this was more than a police action - that in addition to the usual military oath, Maximian was also imposing a religious oath, of subservience to the pagan gods. Maurice was a Christian and withdrew to avoid embarrassing the emperor, but the latter heard about this and ordered the decimation of Maurice's band which numbered about 300; i.e. every 10th. Man to be taken out by lot and executed. Seeing this made no difference the furious emperor ordered them to be exterminated, and Maurice and his Christian companions moved up the Rhone and Rhine, being followed by Maximian's butchers. At last, at Cologne, the remnant of 50 were executed.

In the lower left light is St. Wolgang, Bishop of Regensburg (Rattisbon) born c. 930AD; he exercised all the austerities of the monastic life which made him an attractive subject for the Cardinal's window. His generosity to the poor became proverbial, he was tireless in reforming slack monasteries and he frequently attended the emperor on his campaigns.

Another interesting panel is that of St. Gertrude in the top right light - you can see the rats or mice running up her staff. The daughter of Pepin of Landen, born c. 626AD she was appointed abbess at the early age of 20 at the new Convent of Nivelle in Brabant. Such was her concentration at prayer and meditation, that rats and mice became familiar attendants - and she became known as a protectress against them; - an old English charm has "through the virtue of Gertrude, saint, that maid clean, go hence

rattens and be no more seen". Very rare in England, it is possible that this panel of St. Gertrude is unique, painted by a French or Flemish artist c. 1550AD.

There are many more pieces of ecclesiastical glass some like the crucifixion panel at the base of the lower right light are very clever compilations from different sources of German origin. You will also see the Flight into Egypt, the Expulsion of Adam and Eve, Judas and the Jewish officers as Judas escapes from Jerusalem on the way to his suicide, the Adoration of the Shepherds, the Judgement of Solomon, the Coronation and Marriage of the BVM (a very fine roundel), the Nativity Scene with the angel sinister, St. Peter, a regal Madonna within a solar roundel and Child, the harpist King David, the Flemish roundel of the Mass of St. Gregory, the Emmaus Supper, St. Catherine, and casting out evil spirits.

To these must be added the amber glass remains from the law courts of Cologne - some 8 figures in panels down the margin of the two centre lights. Five are males in classical garb, and three are females. One male is Marius, the famous author of the Institutes in four books written between 130 and 180AD and one of the most renowned of Roman jurists much followed by Justianian, the Christian Emperor. Judith is another figure - she pleads before the Elders in Judith 8.9ff. Daniel is also represented for his part in the judgement of Susanna, an excellent piece of legal redress and no doubt Solomon is there too, for his proverbial judgement in the case of the two women, always a locus classicus of legal wisdom.

There is one of the finest and most interesting examples of a 'shield of our Lord's Passion' - these shields became usual from c. 1400AD onwards. The field is sable and in the centre is a Cross-Tau raised on two steps with a nail projecting from each traverse, and in front a crown of thorns surmounted by a white scroll with INRI. In the foreground is a lance. Note too the two fine panels in the south chancel window - possibly St. Margaret, and St. Catherine in the left panel, and St. Luke, his symbol, and the Elder I the right.

The third type of glass we might call 'imperial' - for with a profusion of imperial eagles, crowns and lions, it probably came from an imperial prince's residence in Cologne. There is the strange low Latin and High German roundel in the upper central light - with the inscription beginning 'Nodebat' which defies translation; one can only assume that some letters have dropped out in the arranging. There are black engrailed borders, butterflies, birds with scrolls in their beaks "IHU Helpe" and roses 'en soleil'. In the top right light we have for ever enshrined the head of a little black slave, probably brought back from Africa to serve in the princely household and whose loyal and conscientious work and devotion to his master were rewarded by his being painted in glass. We note too, the grotesque - at the top of the lower left light, the Green Man of Europe, and to offset this, a very fine lutist. As one would expect there is the head of St. Edmund for some 200 years stored at Fritton after the Cromwellians visited the area in 1642, and by the good offices of the Revd. Francis Cubitt was given to John Leathes for the Herringfleet window. It may on the other hand be the head of St. Olaf - there is a striking similarity with the one at Glasmalming fr?n Resekyrka c. 1300 (Sweden) and Edmund was not an old man when he was martyred.

We should also note the many arms, those of Scroop, Williamson of Melbeck Hall, Cumberland, Leathes, Edward the Confessor, Barnwell, Loudham, Mautby, Ufflet, Bramston, Jenney, Deeds, Hammond, Medowe, and Mussenden.

Mrs. Gale, wife of a long serving signalman, embroidered the M.U. Banner.

A reminder that from time to time there are tragic drownings at St. Olaves, is to be seen in the inscription in the Altar Book - "In memoriam Lionel Robert Gentle, drowned at St. Olaves 7th. June 1970 aged 47". Mr. Gentle was a builder from London who loved to holiday in these parts and he and his wife frequently visited Herringfleet Church to enjoy the peace and quiet.


i. Dexter background black, azure on a bend between 3 fleurs de lys or 3 pierced molets

gules (Leathes) impaling Sable a swan wings addorsed argent within a border engrailed or


Crest; - a demigriffin or armed gules. Mantling gules and argent

Motto; - Resurgam. For George Leathes of Herringfleet who married Mary d. of J. Moore

of Co. Worcester and died 1817

ii. All black background;-

On a lozenge surmounted by an escallop.

Arms; - as i. Mantling and motto as i.

For Mary widow of George Leathes.

iii. Sinister background black.

Gules of a fess engrailed between 3 water bougets argent three cloves sable (Merry). In

Pretence; - sable a griffin passant or between 3 crescents argent (De'Ath)

Mantling; - Gules and argent

Motto; - In coelo quies

Skull and crossbones in base

For Elizabeth Death, widow of John Leathes (died s.p. 1788) elder Brother of George

(see I). She married Anthony Merry and died 4th. March 1824.

Hatchments were hung on the principal door of the house till after the funeral, then deposited in the church.


Of the 18 memorials, perhaps the most interesting are the two at the west end of the nave;-

In translation "Anna wife of Thomas Bedell of St. Olaves in Herringfleet, Suffolk, Gent, is buried here. She died 22nd. Aug. 1956.

Truly Solomon that wise man of old In Proverbs* the ideal wife foretold My heart's joy for a span

Through His own divine plan

May Gold in heaven's joy infold"

*Ref. Proverbs 31.10ff.

And next to the door;-

In translation; - Under this memorial marble, lies the body of Judith the wife of John Perry Gent., a wife gentle and generous throughout her life, caring for the welfare of the sick, assisting the hungry with food, providing clothes for the destitute, and now awaiting the Resurrection of the Just. She departed this life in the 50th. Year of her life on the 10th. Day of December in the year 1691". (John Perry was buried at Herringfleet 16th. Octo. 1707).


The tower contains two bells now, though in the 1553 returns there were three, two of which were inscribed;-

+ Quesumus Andrea Famulorum Suscipe Vota

(We pray thee Andrew, receive the vows of they servants) + Dulcis Cisto Melis Campana Vocor Michaelis

(Box of sweet honey I am called Michael's bell)

The oak frame is of 15th. Century date though the King Post in the Tower is badly charred as the result of a fire on the 10th. March 1891 caused by the over-heated flue of the coke stove in the vestry. Mr. James Walker the Parish Clerk who lived in Sunnybank raised the alarm and then proceeded to climb the ladder and with buckets of water raised up the outside of the tower, dowsed the smouldering beam and probably saved the tower roof. There is a letter dated 7th. April 1870 from Mr. Youngman the Capt. Of the Lowestoft Volunteer Fire Brigade offering the services of the Fire Brigade for the payment of an annual fee of two guineas which would give the parish a direct claim on their services. The Fire Brigade was described as 'one of the most powerful and best equipped in the country' - no action was taken.

The two bells that remain;-

i. Treble Bell - the only one in use, dated 1837, the year of Queen Victoria's Accession. Its weight is approximately 1 cwt 1 qr and measures 12 3/8" from lip to shoulder with a shoulder circumference of 291/2". Made by Thomas Mears 2 of Whitechapel, London, it is inferior in tone to the Tenor Bell. Semitone note.

ii. The Tenor Bell - unfit to use, dated 1611, the year of the Authorised Version of the Bible, King James' Version. Dated "Anno Dni 1611" it has three shields, Norwich City Arms, Brend Version, Large Ermine, and Brasyer shield. It measures 201/2" from lip to shoulder and has a shoulder circumference of 46 5/8". Made by William and Alice Bend of Norwich. Rehung in 1818 with a new 12" x 10" beam put in N-S under the existing beam. Note; - C Sharp.


1806; 1813; 1820; 1827; 1834; 1901; 1912; 1938; 1947; 1955; 1967; 1980.

The parish appointed the Clerk and Sexton and paid his salary. The churchyard was 2 roods (half an acre) and by 1901 was fenced in on all sides, with a wall on the south side and two iron gates, a coach-house and stabling having been built on the N.W. side. The square's horse was put out on the field to the north - church meadow. The 1947 Terrier says that the churchyard (now) contained .841 acre. The car park was provided by Lord Somerleyton and Mr. Donald Kittle of Blocka Farm.


These are complete from 1706 and have now been completely transcribed by the Suffolk Genealogy Society, a bound copy to be found in the vestry. The Registers before 1706 have not been traced. CHURCHWARDENS' BOOK - cover the period 1799-1878, also transcribed.


Herringfleet St. Margaret;-

Churchwardens:- they want 9i.e. lack) the Table of Degrees of Marriage

John Watlye, Curate;- he hath but ?4 p.a. for serving the cure. He weareth not the 'Surplesse' (sic) in reading of divine service. They have neither sermon nor homilies read and on November 28th. After examination Watlye said that he was not bound to provide the quarter sermons there but Mr. Tolie the proprietor.

Elizabeth, wife of Richard Tolie; - about a year since she did refuse to receive communion. On the 7th. Nov. she has been admonished to receive and certify.

William Ongekettle; - "he hath stood excommunicated since half a year past and sayeth that a Parliament will release him shortlye." He did not comply, so he was excommunicated for a further term. (Non.Comp. idea Excomm.)

In 1603AD the condition of Herringfleet is described in the Archdeacon of Suffolk's Visitation as follows;Parson received ?7

There were 43 communicants

There was 2 recusant.

But in the Archdeacon's Court of 26th. August 19678 (for Lothingland) we hear that one Robert Spalton, of Herringfleet, was cited for not attending his parish church in the time of divine service for two months past.

When John Francis Leathes took over the estate on the death of Elizabeth Merry (1824) he completely refurnished the church, dividing the chancel pews which are larger and bear more prominent poppyheads from the nave pews which are smaller with less prominent poppyheads, keeping the chancel arch as the dividing line between those above the salt and those below. In those days there was a sparse screen at the chancel arch which is not in stone but brick, with coarse caps set on a half circular jamb shaft. From the design in the Estate Survey of 1780 the recess wall on the south side was the site of the ancient spiral staircase to the rood loft. It was blocked in C. 1830 by de Carle of Bury. Report has it that there was an arched wall tomb in the north wall of the chancel, of a lord of the Loudham manor, possibly Sir Thomas Loudham (Suckling)

Sometime shortly after 1860 the carved font was given by the Countess des Aubiers - originally placed in the congested area before the tower door, it has now (1982) been moved to the N.E. corner of the nave, where the coke stove used to be. The organ was

provided by H.m. Leathes in 1861 and is probably of French vintage, for which a gallery was built, with a facing from the top of the old chancel screen which has now been removed (1982) and replaced by plain panelling. T.H. Bryant reported that on one panel of this screen (in its lower section) there had been a painting of St. Stephen, but indications are that the surviving screen was of 19th. Century vintage. The organ was given an electric blower in 1971, when further electric lighting was added. The two circular cast-iron pillars supporting the gallery, originally encased in gothic wooden casing, and sandblown to simulate stone, are now (1982) encased in plain wooden panelling. Miss Rigby the daughter of the Revd. Clayton Rigby who was in charge

of Herringfleet Church 1895-8 and her sister provided the money for a re-thatch of the nave and porch roofs and for repairs to the organ c. 1950. In 1982 extensive work in re-decoration, and the digging of a trench round the church to reduce the level of

damp in the walls, has been done under the Youth Opportunities Scheme of the Manpower Services Commission, engaging a team of young men for some 6 months, at a cost of about ?3,500. Ash Trust helped by grants. This work also included the provision of two new seats in the porch in memory of Lucy a bull terrier who was tragically killed in 1981, and the reorganisation of the whole back are of the nave, from which 4 (servants') pews have been removed to create a publications area.

The south porch may be of a late date, from the time of John Francis Leathes' restoration of C.1830; it is built of (Somerleyton) brick. The only indication that here has been a monumental brass is in the matrix and two small shield inlets at the top corner of a large memorial stone which till recently stood against the outside of the east porch wall - the stone disintegrated. Materials for the stone work in the church windows were supplied from the ruined arches of the Priory. The double coach-house in the N.W. corner of the graveyard was built by John Francis Leathes, the route from Herringfleet Hall being a highway from the Hall southwards to emerge at Manor Farm.


There are now very few churches which have a lay rector, though they abounded just after the Dissolution 1536-9. Many benefices previously assigned to monastic houses together with their revenues, properties, titles etc. passed into the hands of laymen, who were granted the title of Lay Rector, receiving the great corn tithes, with responsibilities in the repair of the chancel and provision of ministers.

By custom the lay rector enjoyed the chief seat in the chancel for himself and his family, and the freehold of the church, but this gave him no right of possession or of entering the church except for divine service, nor could he determine or interfere in

the pastoral care of the parish or conduct of worship.

At the Dissolution, the property of religious houses was transferred by Statute to the Crown and then devised by Letters Patent to a lay rector who paid for the privilege with a capital sum to replete the royal coffers, and this usually conveyed the right

of patronage and presentation. St. Margaret's Church at Herringfleet was made a Conventual to St. Olave's Priory in 1403AD and at the Dissolution the first lay rector was appointed by Henry VIII and it became a donative living. It would appear that at the end of the 16th. Century the minister was paid 6 marks p.a. (i.e. about 40 shillings = ?4,000 in modern money) the minimum stipend for a single cure at that time. What usually happened, as in later years, was that the lay rector 'hired' a neighbouring incumbent on an annual basis, which ran cheaper.

In 1898, the date of the Benefice Act, the Bishop of Norwich pronounced the donative living of Herringfleet to be under episcopal jurisdiction. I am grateful to Mr. A. Hunt of the Diocesan Registry for calling my attention to a letter of 1915 in the Registry - this was actually the sequel to a long dispute between Col. Hill Mussenden Leathes and the Bishop which started back in the year of the Benefice Act, which stated that 'every benefice with cure of souls which at the commencement of this Act is donative shall from that date be presentative'. Col. Leathes had taken no notice of the Act and on the 5th. Jan. 1903 posted his views in the church porch, which stated that the Herringfleet donative had now become a private chaplaincy, and as there was no fixed endowment, there is no benefice over which the bishop could exercise jurisdiction either by Institution and Induction, or by Sequestration. For it was plainly absurd to claim spiritual jurisdiction where there is no man subject to censures or penalties of ecclesiastical law (sic). The Taxatgion of Pope Nicholas (1261AD) and the Valor Ecclesiasticus of 1535 both state that the rectory was appropriated to the Priory of St. Olaves "quoad spiritualia et temporalia". Col. Leathes went on to say that as Prior of St. Olaves (sic!) he was by law enabled to exercise many of the functions of custom confined to ordained ministers. The Church and churchyard were vested in him solely as freeholder, and no spiritual court or other authority could oblige

him to open the church for divine service or the burial ground for interments. The minister was removeable at his pleasure and enjoys what stipend the lay rector may from time to time arrange, but the minister never enjoys the status of a Benefice which

for practical purposes was in perpetual abeyance. Leathes claimed that the Act of 1889 concerned only those donative livings which already enjoyed the status of a Benefice, and the Act could not conceivably create a new one.

Matters took a harsh turn when in 1908 the bishop appointed the Revd. Arnold Robert Whateley DD as Sequestrator - 'to sequester all fruits, tithes (there were none - the lord of the manor had them) revenues, writs and other rights and ecclesiastical emoluments whatsoever belonging to the said vicarage or perpetual curacy and parish church and arising and becoming due during the vacancy thereof, for the use of the next incumbent'. Whateley was accountable to the Registrar of the Diocese 'or some other competent judge' to furnish payments, receipts, 'that the said cure shall be duly served and what remains shall be paid to the next incumbent'.

Col. Leathes struggled on assisted by Dr. Smith Wynne but not for long - the ecclesiastical heavy artillery was too much and Leathes saw his beloved right of 'Hiring and firing' dwindle under the force of the Statute of 4 Henry IV cap. 12 which forbad the

removal of clergy except by revocal of the licence by the Ordinary (bishop). He was also reminded of the Act 31 Henry VIII cap. 13 which made it 'obligatory for crown grantees (of priories) to maintain a curate and appoint the same with probable licensing by the bishop' - 'probable' because it depended on the peculiar jurisdiction of the impropriator or an exemption from episcopal jurisdiction, but neither applied in the case of Herringfleet. In any case by the Order in Council of 1847 this peculiar jurisdiction or exemption had been swept away and licensing became the normal practice. Further, the Acts of 1391 and 1402 ordered that a secular priest be canonically instituted and inducted and sufficiently endowed - it became national policy to slow down if not stop the rapid escalation of Religious Houses amassing a lot of livings. Further, it was too sweeping an assertion to say that there cannot be a 'donative' without endowments, because endowments are sometimes lost.

Col. Leathes, as you will have guessed, was a powerful personality - the only one in line to style himself "Prior of St. Olaves" (see memorial in the church) and in the Marriage Register he is roundly rebuffed by the Minister of the time who inserted "an unwarranted liberty on the part of the Major (sic) Leathes of Herringfleet to make any alteration in a clergyman's entry in this or any other Parish Book - see 52 George II cap. 146 (entry 24th Sept. 1877 in margin).


1546 Sir Henry Jerningham

1598 Sir Henry Jerningham, son of the above

1610 Matthew Bedell

1639 Thomas Bedell, son of the above

1670 Edward Taverner

1726 Sir Edmund bacon. Bart.

1733 Hill Mussenden

1772 Carteret Mussenden Leathes

1787 John Leathes

1824 John Francis Leathes

1848 Henry Mussenden Leathes

1872 Col. Hill Mussenden

1920 First Baron Somerleyton

1936 Second Baron Somerleyton

1959 Third Baron Somerleyton, and 15th. Lay rector in succession.

In spite of the Enabling Act of 1922, Herringfleet at the moment has no PCC - the congregation being the deliberative council called ad hoc. The Annual Vestry Meeting is chaired by the Lay Rector who also acts as ex-officio Church Warden, the other being elected by the meeting.

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This page first posted on 20 April 1999