HISTORICAL FACTS 1
A copy of the actual entry for the Saxon manor of Dunestuna (Dunston) with translation.
Note: Lothingland in those days being known as Ludingaland!
It is recorded that around a thousand years ago there existed a Saxon Manor - DUNESTUNA or DUNSTON - which is believed to have been located somewhere within the area occupied by the present day parish. The name Dunestuna is from the Anglo Saxon (Old English) words - 'dun' (a hill) and 'tun or ton' (a house/settlement/enclosure). The Rev. Alfred Suckling, Rural Dean and Vicar of Barsham, writes in his book 'The History and Antiquities of The Hundreds of Blything and Part of Lothingland, dated 1847, that 'among the lands of Roger Bigod, his tenant Robert De Vallibus is recorded as holding a manor in Lothingland called Duneston, which in Edward the Confessor's time had been the property of Ali/Ala'. In a following paragraph he concludes 'I am induced therefore to think that the Duneston of the Domesday Book, which is not elsewhere appropriated, must be identical with Oulton'. The manor at the time of the Domesday Survey consisted of two meadows of around 46 acres in total area, a woodland for four pigs, *half a plough and *half a bordar (peasant servant) , the manor had a value of three shillings. At the time of the Conquest, twenty years earlier, it was estimated to have been worth ten shillings! (* one way of measuring the value of an estate/manor for taxation purposes was to estimate the number of ploughteams (eight oxen) needed to cultivate/plough the land. The same principle applied to the man power required ). Roger Bigod was a Norman knight who fought with William the Conqueror at the Battle of Hastings (1066), he was Sheriff of Norfolk and Suffolk in 1086 and held the Half Hundred of Lothingland for the King. The Bigods built the Suffolk castles of Framlingham and Bungay. The site of the Domesday recorded Dunestuna is believed to have been centred around the area of Holly Hill, at the north end of Camps Heath, which is the highest point in the parish and a logical place on which to build 'a house/settlement/enclosure on a hill'.
Oulton can lay claim to royal connections with the Plantagenet Dynasty - Geoffrey Plantagenet, Count of Anjou, married Maud (Matilda) of England in 1128, daughter of Henry I and granddaughter of William the Conqueror. They had three sons, the first born became Henry II. The third born - William, Count of Poitou (a.k.a. William FitzEmpress), born 21 July 1136, was given a large number of English estates among which Oulton, Suffolk is recorded. He died at Rouen, Normandy 30 January 1163 and is buried in Rouen Cathedral.
The actual village of Oulton has just gradually evolved over the last two hundred years or so. Prior to that there were very few buildings. What few villagers there were, if they could be termed as such, were mostly engaged in agriculture. The terraced houses on the eastern side of Oulton Street and in Oulton Road (North) were built in the mid to late 1800s and the early 1900s and must have increased the population of the village quite considerably. The population of the total 'parish' of Oulton in a census taken in 1821 totalled 704 persons. (The total population in that year for the Hundred of Lothingland was 10,607 of which Lowestoft had 3,675 (1,711 males and 1,964 females), Gorleston had 1,928 persons, Southtown had 1,039 persons and the remainder lived in the villages/parishes of the Hundred).
Copies of early maps (in the possession of the author) of Norfolk and Suffolk, both detail the Lowestoft area. On the Suffolk map, dated 1575, Oulton is spelt Olton. On the Norfolk map (date not indicated but assumed to be of a similar date - they are both drawn by the same person) it is spelt Oldton. Next to those names on both maps, a small drawing representing a church is shown, this is also applicable to other placenames, indicating that at least there was a parish of the same name associated with a church but not necessarily a village. Oulton, or any variant, does not appear in the Domesday Survey. It is thought that the area occupied by the present village was at one time more associated with the nearby Flixton parish. Subsequent changes in the ownership of lands over the years then created the association of St.Michael's church to only the lands around Oulton and thenceforth into the parish and village that we now know. A manor, named Houghton, existed within the locality during the 13th, 14th and 15th centuries - in some early documents it is often spelt Houton. In 1318 the Rector of St.Michael's was one Richard de Houton who was patronised by the Bacon family. Houghton means a 'high' or 'hill' farm/enclosure/settlement. The name Oulton may therefore be assumed to be derived from Houghton. The present 'Manor House' (its present day name) in the village is referred to as High House by local people (and appears as such on many old maps). To confuse the matter even further, the Institute for Placename Studies at Nottingham University gives the meaning of Oulton as being derived from Ali's/Ala's farm/settlement(Aliton/Alaton) OR perhaps from Old (Anglo Saxon - 'ald') farm/settlement (Aldton/Oldton), whereas their meaning for the village of Oulton in Norfolk is Othulf's farm/settlement!! Their interpretation of Houghton (there is a village of that name in Norfolk) is from the Anglo Saxon 'hoh' meaning a hill farm and 'tun' - a house/settlement. Either way Dunston and Houghton mean roughly the same thing - a house/farm/settlement set upon a hill.
The records state that a manor house existed at the western end of present day Hall Road, Oulton Broad and was undoubtedly the site of Houghton Hall, which was occupied by the Bacon family in the 13th and 14th centuries and the Fastolfs in the 15th century. This in later years being the site of 'Oulton Hall' (entranced via Hall Drive). The Bacon family apparently came from Ewelme in Oxfordshire c. 1280. At this time Sir Edmund Bacon became Lord of the Manor of Oulton/Hou(gh)ton, he was succeeded by his son Sir John Bacon. His successors were Sir Adam Bacon (1255 - 1314) who was the rector of St.Michael's in 1301, and his brother Edmund, who were joint Lords of the Manor. They were the sons of Robert Bacon of Baconsthorpe, Norfolk who was related to Sir John Bacon of Ewelme. Their mother was Dolores Gunnor. The right to hold an annual (24th June) market and fair was granted on 12th February 1307, by King Edward I, to Sir Adam Bacon and his brother, and their heirs, to be held at the manor. Sir Adam Bacon married Margery de Felton at Oulton in 1281. (Margery was born at Felton, Northumberland in 1262). They had two sons , John (1282 - 1321) and Edmund (1284 - 6 March 1336). Their son Sir Edmund Bacon had two daughters, Margaret ( who married William de Kerdeston 2nd Baron Kerdeston) and Margery - his co-heirs. Sir Edmund was married three times! His first wife was Joan de Beaumont ('Lady of Woodbridge') who was the mother of Margaret. His second wife was Elizabeth la Warre, this marriage was childless. His third wife was Margery de Poynings who was the mother of Margery. His daughter, Margery, who inherited the manor of Oulton, was married to Sir William de Moleyns who is recorded as holding the Lordship of the Manor of Oulton. When Sir William died his wife conveyed the manor to Sir Simon de Burley and Sir Richard de Burley.
The Lordship of the Manor of Hou(gh)ton was held by the Fastolf family in the 15th century. Due to his heroic deeds performed during the latter part of The Hundred Years War against France, one member of this family, Sir John Fastolf KG, inspired Shakespeare to create his well known character Falstaff. Many local people seem to connect this to the John Fastolf of Oulton but this is incorrect. (John Fastolf of Oulton is recorded as an Armiger (Esquire) - an Armiger being one who bears a coat of arms by lawful authority and is one rank below that of a Knight). Although they lived during the same period and were related, the more famous Sir John Fastolf KG, lived at Caister Castle, near Gt.Yarmouth. The John Paston Letters and Papers records a letter, dated October 1429, from Sir John Fastolf of Caister Castle to his Receiver General John Kerlinge and John Fastolf Esq., of Oulton a member of his council (later, in 1433 * Sir John of Caister appointed the latter as his attorney general) This letter refers to John Fastolf of Oulton as his 'trusty well beloved cousin and friend'. John Paston was a lawyer, a close neighbour and he too was also described as a cousin of Sir John Fastolf (ref: Norfolk Records Office, letter dated 10 July 1455 from Sir John to John Paston wherein he addresses him as 'cousin' - however, this is not exactly true as it was John Paston's wife Margaret who was Sir John's cousin!!). Paston claimed the estates when Sir John died. He claimed that it was the dying wish of Sir John that his estates would pass to him!! This was contested and the estates were eventually divided between the eldest son of John Paston and the Principal and Scholars of Magdalen College, Oxford (to which Sir John had been a great benefactor). Some of these lands gave rise to there now being a 'Magdalen housing estate' in nearby Gorleston, with many of the streets named after the 'houses' of Oxford University. Certain roads also relate to Magdalen College on the developed College Farm lands close to Oulton Road which were once owned by Sir John Fastolf. The college having sold the lands to developers in the mid 1900s. [the author's home stands on land once owned by the Fastolfs! - In the title deeds of his property, in Akethorpe Way, there is a copy of the document detailing the purchase of the lands of College Farm from Magdalen College, in 1955!! Above the front doorway of the still existing College Farm farmhouse there is a plaque displaying a 'shield' with the date of its construction (1891) and the heraldic arms of Magdalen College. Likewise there are two houses along Oulton Road that also display the same 'shield' with construction dates of 1896 and 1905. These were the farm worker houses associated with College Farm. This same land was also part of the Saxon manor of Akethorpe which is recorded in the Domesday Survey of 1086 !! ]. Sir John Fastolf of Caister died in 1459 and is buried in the now ruined St.Benet's Abbey, near Horning, Norfolk. Sir James Hobart (progenitor of the Hobarts of Blickling Hall, Norfolk), Attorney General to Henry VII, owned the manor of Houton in the late 15th century followed by his son Walter. This was purchased from Katherine Fastolf, the widow of John Fastolf Esq., of Oulton, at which time the manor house was known as Houton Hall, it is also recorded as 'the Manor of Fastolfs' - 'Fastolf Hall' - 'Tenement Rolfe's' ( the latter so named after a previous owner - Henry Rolfe - whose date of ownership is unknown). The 'High House' in the village was built (around the mid 1500s) by the Hobart family after their acquisition of the Houton Hall estates. Therefore in effect the same lands, for a period of time, had two 'manor' houses, with 'High House' eventually becoming the principal manor house of Oulton. (Records exist for the ownership of 'Oulton Hall/Houton Hall' up until recent times, owners include the celebrated author George Borrow). Following the Hobart period the next owner of High House manor was Sir Edmund Reeve who was appointed Lord Chief Justice of the Common Pleas in 1638, he died in 1647. His nephew Christopher Reeve then inherited the manor and his son, also named Christopher, who was in holy orders, (Rector of St.Michael's from 1668 until 1701), held the manor until his death in 1702. In that year the property was vested in trustees by an Act of Parliament and was then conveyed to Gerard Van Heythusan in 1716 followed by his son Delme. The manor was then acquired by Thomas Anguish of Great Russell Street, Bloomsbury in December 1772. The manor house was purchased by Lady Graves in 1789 but the title deeds of Lord of the Manor and its lands were still vested in the Anguish family, she was formerly Susanna Blacknell of Normanston, who married Sir Thomas Graves, Knight of the Bath and Rear Admiral of the White Squadron. In her will dated 28th December 1813 the manor house passed to a Robert Baxter, London (one of the trustees) and subsequently to Marianne Baxter, daughter of her friend Dudley Baxter of Atherstone, Warwickshire. Marianne married General Nathaniel Wilmot Oliver(1831). The Lord of the Manor in 1844 was Mr. R.M. Baxter Esq., Later owners were Mrs Caldecott (1855), Mrs Copeland Tracy and Lady Cobbold, of the well known brewing family. Some of these owners didn't necessarily live in the house (the Olivers for instance, lived in Ireland!), it was mainly occupied by favoured tenants or members of the family who owned it at a particular time. The Lord of the Manor in 1865 (Ref: Post Office Directory) was Dudley Oliver Esq., The Lord of the Manor in 1931 was Dr. Claude St.Aubyn Farrer. The ownership of the Oulton estate and Manor House(s) has therefore changed hands a great number of times over the centuries. The Hobart family, who owned Blickling Hall in Norfolk, purchased a great deal of land in Norfolk and Suffolk, the manor of Oulton being one. Likewise the Fastolf family, of Caister Castle were prolific purchasers of land in both counties. The Rev. George Anguish, Prebendary of Norwich, younger brother of the above mentioned Thomas Anguish who died unmarried, inherited the estates of the Manor of Oulton, he resided at nearby Somerleyton Hall, which property and lands he also owned. He was also the Rector of Somerleyton. Somerleyton Hall was later sold to Sir Samuel Morton Peto (1809 - 1898) - who was the entrepreneur who was responsible for transforming the town of Lowestoft by building the esplanades, rebuilding the harbour and introducing the railway - before it came into the ownership of the Crossley family (of carpet manufacturing fame), the present owners. The present Manor House (High House), which was further extended in Victorian times, is still occupied and is now a listed building.
It has been noted that the first edition of the 'one-inch to the mile' Ordnance Survey maps of England and Wales printed in 1880 (the author has a copy of the map for the Lowestoft and Gt.Yarmouth area), the name of Oulton is placed where St.Michael's Church and Camps Heath are located. This may be an error but it has been said that Oulton was often referred to as Upper Oulton and Camps Heath as Lower Oulton! However this map was probably only showing the fact that St.Michael's was the parish church of Oulton. It also suggests that it was the area in general that was named Oulton and the name was not applied to 'the village' until it had grown into a much larger gathering of dwellings, following the erection of the 'High House' manor house, as stated above.
* NOTE: The extract below (from a history of Sir John Fastolf of Caister Castle) relates to the appointment of John Fastolf of Oulton as his Attorney General in 1433.
Above: The Arms of the Bacon family (left) and the Arms of the Hobart family (right). Drawn by the author.