THE TOWN OF FELTWELL.
In giving an account of the parish of Feltwell, Armstrong's History of Norfolk starts by saying "This town lies north of Hockwold and Wilton and was given by Ethelwald, Bishop of Winchester, in the reign of king Edgar, to the monastery of Ely." Ethelwald was Bishop of Winchester A.D. 963-984; and Edgar, known as Edgar the Peaceable, was king of Wessex A.D 957-975. From these dates we learn that Feltwell was very much in existence 100 years before the Norman Conquest. And since Feltwell is described as a Town we also know that there was a Church here in those days. Today a Town is a large collection of dwellings, but originally it was not necessarily so; to constitute a Town there must be a Church and celebration of Divine Service, Sacraments and Burials. Any place, however small, with a properly appointed Church, was a Town. The monastery of Ely, to which the Town of Feltwell was given, was rich, and in Norfolk alone owned 38 manors. At Feltwell the Abbot had 45 socmen who, when called upon, were obliged to plough the monastery lands, cut and carry the corn, bring provisions to the monastery at Ely and supply horses when required. These socmen were tenants who held land and houses under the Abbot and paid their rent, not in money, but in cultivating the monastery lands. At the Conquest, the great Earl Warren encroached on many of the privileges enjoyed by the monks and deprived the monastery of a considerable portion of the Town of Feltwell. The Earl was a land-grabber of the first order and far too powerful a person to oppose; he owned no less than 296 manors of which 145 were in Norfolk. No one should run away with the idea that the Normans, of whom Earl Warren is a shining example, were a cultured people who came to rule over an inferior race. They were brutal, but being well organised and energetic, they over-ran the English who were far more highly civilised.
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