The lordship of this parish, as well as the advowson, were, at a early period,
vested in the family of Blundeston; they afterwards became the property of the
Pastons, who, in 1679, were created Earls of Yarmouth. From them they passed to
the Sydnors. William Sydnor, Esq., who married Bridget, one of the daughters of
John Jernegan, Esq., of Belton, died seized of them, in 1613, and bequeathed
them to his eldest son and heir, Henry Sydnor, Esq.; whose son William possessed
them, at his decease, in 1632. Of his descendants they were purchased by the
Aliens, of Somerleyton; in whom they still remain.
There was formerly another manor in this parish, called Gonvile's, which
belonged to the Gonviles, of Rushworth, in Norfolk; and which passed to Sir
Robert Herling, Knt., of East Herling, in the same county, who married the
heiress general of the Gonvile family, and Anne his daughter and sole heiress,
inherited the same; who, in 1474, with Sir Robert Wingfield, Knt., her 2nd
husband, settled the same, with divers other property in Norfolk and Suffolk, on
themselves and their trustees. The Hall and a large portion of land, were once
the property of the Lusons, of Great Yarmouth.
The Bacons possessed considerable property here. In 1627, Sir Butts Bacon,
Bart., the 7th son of Sir Nicholas Bacon, of Redgrave, Bart., was living here,
in a house on the site of which stands the present Blundeston Villa. He deceased
in 1661; and his relict, who was the daughter of Sir Henry Warner, of
Mildenhall, Knt., and the widow of Robert Jermyn, of Rushbrooke, Esq., deceased
in 1679: they were both interred in this parish church. This gentleman was
created a Baronet in 1627, and was the direct ancestor of the present Sir Edmund
Bacon, of Raveningham, Bart.
In 1703, the property of the Bacons was sold to Sir Richard Allen, of
Somerleyton; who was created a Baronet in 1699. He was succeeded by his eldest
son, Sir Thomas Allen; who was She-riff of the county in 1730, and appointed
Serjeant at Arms to the Treasury in 1733. He died unmarried, in 1764, and was
succeeded by his brother, the Rev. Ashurst Allen, rector of Blundeston cum
Flixton; who died in 1770, and left this property to his only daughter, Frances;
on whose decease it passed to Nicholas Henry Bacon, Esq., the second son of Sir
Edmund Bacon, the 10th Baronet, of Raveningham, in Norfolk. This gentleman
rebuilt a part of the mansion, expended a very considerable sum in enlarging the
grounds, and, by his extensive and judicious planting, added greatly to its
In 1831, he disposed of the whole to the present possessor, Charles Steward,
Esq.,1 a distinguished Officer in the Hon. East
India Company's Naval Service; who married his first cousin, Harriet, the only
daughter, by his first wife, of Ambrose Harbord Steward, of Stoke Park, near
Ipswich, Esq.; by whom he has an only son, Charles John.
The mansion has been at different times called Sydnors,2
Blundeston Villa, and Blundeston House: it is a plain, but handsome building,
situated amid grounds, groves, and scenery of great beauty. During the lifetime
of Mrs. F. Allen, this delightful spot was the residence of that accomplished
scholar, the late Rev. Norton Nicholls, LL.B.; a gentleman not more
distinguished for his talents and virtues, than from his being the intimate
friend of the poet Gray, who was Ms frequent visitor here. Mr. Matthias has
appended to his "Observations on the Character and Writings of Gray," an
interesting "Memoir" of this gentleman, in which he describes this spot as "one
of the most finished scenes of sylvan delight, which this island can offer to
our view."3 J Mr. Nicholls was rector of Bradwell
and Lound, in this hundred, to which he was presented in 1767. He deceased on
the 22nd November, 1809.
At the end of the beautiful lake that ornaments this estate, are two objects
which are become highly interesting, from their being the favorite haunts of
Gray, during his occasional visits here, viz.: a summer house, named "Gray's
Seat," and a venerable pollard, called "Gray's Oak." On a part of the grounds,
situate in the parish of Flixton, Mr. Steward has placed the ancient Font, which
formerly belonged to the dilapidated church of that village, which he was so
fortunate as to discover in an adjoining farm yard; and which Gillingwater, in
his "Historical Account of Lowestoft," describes as "split asunder to support
the two ends of a hog's trough, to the great offence of common decency." On it
has been inscribed the following legend:
HUNC. FONTEM. LUSTRALEM.
ECCLESIAE. DE. FLIXTON.
ET. DE. SOROIUM. CONGERIE.
IN. ACRO. VICING. EREPTUM.
HlC. PONI. CURAVIT.
DE. SYDNORS. ARMIGER.
A. C. MDCCCXXXVII.
In 1799, Mr. Nicholls entertained here the gallant Admiral Lord Duncan, on his
landing at Yarmouth, after the memorable engagement off Camperdown; when the
trees on an island, at the extremity of the lake, were decorated with variegated
lamps, and a brilliant display of fireworks took place.
The Eight Hon. Lord Boston has some property here, in right of his wife, Rachael
ARMS. Blundeston: per pale, ermine and sable; a chevron,
counterchanged. Paston: or; six fleurs-de-lis, azure; a chief, indented,
of the field. Sydnors: argent; a fess, nebulee, azure, between three
crescents, jessant fleurs-de-lis, sable. Gonvile: argent; on a chevron
between two couple closes, outwardly engrailed, three escallops, or. Steward:
or; a fess chequy, argent and azure; on an inescutcheon of the second, a lion
rampant, gules, oppressed with a bend ragulee, or.
CHARITIES. The town estate comprises three small cottages, with an
allotment of 20 perches; a piece of land, called the town pightle, containing
about l acres; an allotment on Plough Common, of 2A. 1R. 22p., and a piece of
ground, of about an acre, used as a stack yard. The rents, amounting together to
£19 a year, are carried by the overseers of
the poor to their general account. A house, small bam, and hemp-lands,
containing 1A. 32P., are let at £8 a year.
These premises are understood to have been devised by one Anthony Bays, to the
inhabitants of this parish, for the use of the poor; but the date, or particular
terms of the will, cannot be ascertained, and the rent has been of late applied
as part of the poor rate. An allotment of marsh land, containing 10A. 2R. 34p.,
and an allotment of 15A. 2R. 38p. on How Heath, were awarded, on an inclosure,
for the use of poor persons residing in this parish. These produce together a
rent of £60 a year, which is expended in the
purchase of coals, that are distributed to the poor. The yearly sum of 10s.,
given by the will of Elizabeth, the wife of William Ayton, is paid to poor
widows, as a rent charge on a piece of land called Dale Pightle. The Rev.
Gregory Clarke, in 1726, devised a house, and about 1A. 2R. of land, in trust,
to apply the rents and profits towards the payment of a schoolmaster, or
schoolmistress, for teaching so many of the poor children of the parish to read,
write, and cast accounts, as the trustees from time to time shall appoint. The
school property now consists of a school-house and schoolroom, with a small
garden, and a piece of land containing 2A. 2R. 9p.; and twelve poor children are
generally taught by appointment of the trustees.
1. Mr. Steward has been, for some time past,
actively engaged on a "History of the Hundred of Lothingland;" which, we trust,
will shortly be given to the public in 2 vols. 4to., with numerous and highly
interesting illustrations of the scenery, antiquities, churches, &c. &c. His
collections for this purpose, enriched with numerous drawings, are well
deserving the inspection of the Topographical Antiquary; as is Mrs. Steward's
Ornithological Collection, which comprises every known specimen of land and
water fowl, which haunt and frequent this part of the island.
2. A view of "Sydnor's," from a drawing by Mrs. Charles Steward,
was given in "Pawsey's Lady's Repository," for 1838.
3. Sec "Suffolk Garland," p. 192.
Topographical and Genealogical, The County of Suffolk, 1844, Augustine Page