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Bacton lies on the Norfolk coast between Walcott and Paston. It is a village with considerable historic interest but, today, is blighted by the North Sea Gas terminal.

Remains of Bromholm Abbey

Remains of Bromholm Abbey at Bacton

Within the village stand the remains of Bromholm (Bromholme or Broomholm) Priory which is also sometimes known as Bacton Abbey. It was established in 1113 by Cluniac Monks and became one of the most sacred places in England - largely due to the fact that it reputedly possessed a piece of the Holy Cross. This brought many pilgrims to Bromholm - including Henry III. Bromholm Priory is mentioned by the miller's wife in Chaucer's The Reeve's Tale.

The miller's fall started her out of sleep.
'Help!' she screamed. 'Holy Cross of Bromeholme keep
Us! Lord! Into thy hands! To thee I call.

Bromholm also features in Langland's Piers Plowman and Sir Walter Scott's Ivanhoe.

The Priory was dissolved by Henry VIII in 1536 and today only a few fragments of the walls remain. It is thought that John Paston (1421-1466)  - one of the authors of the Paston Letters - was originally buried at Bromholm Priory but that his tomb was moved to St. Margaret's Church at Paston after the dissolution. The priory was certainly the customary place for Paston family burials - as is indicated in this letter from John Paston III to Margaret in November 1479:

'Right worshipful mother, after all duties of humble recommendation, as lowly as I can I beseech you of your daily blessings and prayers. And mother, John Clement, bearer hereof can tell you, the more pity is, if it pleased God, that my brother is buried in the White Friars at London, which I thought should not have been, for I supposed that he would have been buried at Bromholm. And that caused me so soon to ride to London to have purveyed his bringing home; and if it had been his will to have lain at Bromholm, I had purposed all the way as I have ridden to have him brought home....'

More photographs of Bacton

More Paston Family Photographs





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