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St James, Crownthorpe
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Wymondham Abbey is a big church, one of the biggest in Norfolk, and its parish is one of the biggest too. You don't have to travel far outside the town of Wymondham to find yourself lost in narrow lanes threading through undulating fields, a part of Norfolk where the population reached its peak in the 1850s, and it has been downhill ever since. The villages out here are rambling and tiny, and one of them is Crownthorpe.
The manor of Crownthorpe was the other major Norfolk possession of the Windhams of Felbrigg, and as such events in its history are recorded in Robert Ketton-Cremer's fascinating and enjoyable history Felbrigg: Story of a House. In 1688, he notes, Ashe Windham's oily, scheming former teacher Henry Nevar was appointed to the living of St James. This seems to have been a way of putting him at arms length; Windham wanted to find something for him to do, but the locals at Felbrigg refused to have him as their curate, because he was not well understood when he prayed and preached, on account of not having got the English tongue properly. However, he only lasted a year at Crownthorpe before resigning the living; perhaps ministering to souls did not agree with him, or perhaps simply it was because he married into money. From WIndham's point of view, of course, Nevar's marriage was as good as an incumbency. In the archives at Felbrigg, Ketton-Cremer found the rather startling letter that Nevar wrote to Windham from Crownthorpe on his wedding day. It begins;
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