Bishops have a
duty to arrange visitations to parishes, but in the seventeenth century few
were as conscientious as Bishop Redman. The visitation to St. Peter's in
Hockwold, like all the others, had to cover certain points and St. Peter's
failed the first two. In Elizabethan times, there was a concern that, in rural
communities especially, people were marrying within the forbidden degrees of
relationship. The limitations were rather more severe then, and it was decided
that each church should contain a table explaining this in detail. In this
extract 'want' means 'have not got' so the board was missing from Hockwold's
church. Also missing was a decent surplice for the rector, an item which should
have been supplied by the churchwardens on behalf of the people.
condition of the church was also investigated. Although there are a couple of
things needing doing, on the whole St. Peter's was in better shape than many
also had to look at the qualifications and character of the priest, and the
religious health of the parishioners. Fortunately, the Rector, Mr Styles, must
have been properly qualified, and must have carried out the necessary number of
services in an adequate fashion. Any problems with the clergy were carefully
reported. In Cranwich, for example, it was noted that there were only four
sermons in a year. Incidentally, the mention of Mr. Styles is further evidence
that the entry refers to Hockwold, which had a rector, rather than to Wilton
which then had a vicar. It is also nice to see that none of the parishioners
were cited for religious backsliding, or immorality. For examples of these, you
will have to read Volume XVIII of the Norfolk Records Society publications.
Thomas Cooper, Edmund Dobbs Churchwardens.
They want the table of the degrees in marriage and a
surplesse. The roofe of the church and the churchyard want reparacions. (Said
of the roof) the plomer is working on yt.
Mr Styles, rector. The chauncell wyndowes want
glasinge. (Said) that the said wyndowes wer never glassed but are decayed
againe. (To be repaired before 8 December).
I understand from Mr. Mansey that the
repairs have now been completed.
Wilton, St. James
The entry for Wilton is possibly the most
brief in the whole register. I do not know if this was indifference. I prefer
to see it as an affirmation that all was well. There is a complaint that the vicar
does not give a monthly sermon. However, the word 'dismissed' refers to the
charge, not to the reverend gentleman.
Vicar. He preacheth not his monthly sermons. Dismissed.