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Gresham lies five miles south-west of Cromer.

The manor of Gresham was bought by William Paston from Thomas Chaucer - who was Geoffrey Chaucer's son. The manor house was fortified in 1319 and became a Paston family stronghold. Very little of the castle remains today - only a few foundations and ditches which are surrounded by trees.

Remains of Gresham's Castle

Remains of Gresham Castle

On the 28th January, 1448 the manor was seized by Lord Moleyns and soon after John Paston travelled to London to petition the king for its return. John's wife Margaret was living at the castle when Lord Moleyn's men attacked. She and her 12 servants doggedly defended the stronghold but eventually they were forced out. She records the event in one of her letters to her husband:

'Lord Moleyns sent to the said mansion a riotous people to the number of a thousand persons...arrayed in manner of war, with cuirasses, briganders...glaives, bows....guns, pans with fire, long crooks to drag down houses...and long trees with which they broke up the gates and doors, and so came into the mansion, the wife of your beseecher at that time being therein, and twelve persons with her.'

John Paston's petition was successful and the family took up residence again on 6 October.

Margaret, who was a strong and resourceful woman, also came under attack when she lived at Caister Castle near Yarmouth. The Paston family inherited this property via Sir John Fastolf's disputed will and it was besieged by Thomas Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk for a whole year. The account of the siege is wonderfully documented by Margaret in The Paston Letters.

'Chaucer's Farm' still exists today and is one of a number of Norfolk Chaucer links. Walter Rye, the Norfolk antiquarian, wrote a book entitled Chaucer, A Norfolk Man (1915) in which he suggests that Chaucer's father came from King's Lynn. The poet must also have been familiar with Bawdeswell (Baldeswell) because it appears in The Reeve's Tale.

Gresham church contains a splendid Seven Sacraments font.


More photographs of Gresham

More Paston Family Photographs





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