EAST BILNEY is a village and parish, 5 miles north-west from East Dereham, and 3 west from North Elmham station on the Great Eastern railway, in the Western division of the county, Launditch hundred, Mitford and Launditch union, East Dereham county court district, rural deanery of Brisley and archdeaconry and diocese of Norwich. The church of St. Mary is a small flint building with stone dressings, consisting of chancel and nave, with a short square tower, the top of which was thrown down in the time of Ket's rebellion in 1549; it contains 1 bell and porch, over which is a parvise, in which a library was formerly kept; on the south side the remains of what is supposed to have been a lady chapel still exist: in 1883 a new chancel was built in memory of the late rector, the rev. Henry Collison, by his widow, and stained glass window was placed at the east end by his surviving daughters; the church has been reseated throughout. The register dates from the year 1713. The living is a rectory, annexed to Beetley, of the joint yearly value of £600; the tithe rent of £118 was awarded in 1838, and about 50 acres of glebe land; it is in the gift of Albert Collison esq. and held since 1882 by the rev. Henry Collison M.A. of Pembroke College, Cambridge, formerly rector of Wistaston, Cheshire. In 1810 the Rectory house, which is a handsome Elizabethan structure, was built by the late rector the Rev. Henry Collison. W. Pearce esq. built some almshouses in 1838 for three poor aged couples of the hundred of Launditch, and endowed them with a rent-charge of £60 a year, charged on land at St.Paul's, Shadwell, London; the land has been sold, and the purchase money invested in the funds. Close by the church is a piecde of land, named in the parish map Bloodfields, said to have been the scene of an engagement in the last Civil War; spurs, sword hilts, and other articles have been found here. The Rev. Thomas Bilney, a native of this parish, was burnt at Norwich about the year 1531, and his ashes were afterwards brought by the parishioners and buried in the churchyard (the present clerk in digging a grave came upon the urn and ashes): the cottage in which he lived still exists, and contains a curiously wrought ceiling of black wood. The Hall, the property of William Thomas Collison esq. J.P. but occupied by the Hon. Arthur Edward C. Cole, is a spacious building of white brick and was erected by the present owner in 1867: there is some ornamental water on the north side, enclosed by plantations, among which originally stood the old Hall, a square building of flint stones and brick, which was surrounded by a moat, and to which access could only be had by a drawbridge on the east side: all traces of the site of the old Hall have been entirely done away with by the filling up of the ancient moat, and planting it over with trees: in making improvements a short time ago near this spot, a considerable extent of old foundation was discovered, from which bricks of a peculiar shape and make were taken. The trustees of the late John David Hay-Hill esq. are lords of the manor. The principal landowners are William Thomas Collison esq. and Lady Dymoke. The soil in some part is of alight nature, and in others large quantities of excellent brick-earth are found. Some of the finest malting barley is grown here. The area is 544 acres, of which about 40 acres are plantation; rateable value £944; the population in 1881 was 195.
POST OFFICE. Mrs Johnson, postmistress. Letters are received at 7 a.m. from Elmham; despatched at 6 p.m. The nearest money order & telegraph office is at North Elmham.
The place is included in the united School Board District of Beetley and East Bilney, formed in 1874; the school for the two parishes is on Hungry Hill.
Transcription Copyright © E.C."Paddy" Apling, July 2000; links updated June 2010.
1891 Census Names Index
Beetley (& Bilney) Archeology [Norfolk Heritage Explorer]
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