Pakenham History : The History of Nether Hall

"The History of Nether Hall and the Various Owners "
A short history written by W.R. Rayner
with kind permission given by his daughter Gill Applegate to publish on
the Pakenham -Village web site.

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It can be assumed that this more important freeman was a de Paken- ham, a direct descendant of the Anglo-Saxon founder of the village. His "Hall" would be larger than those of the other freeman, but smaller and less important than that of the Abbot. Hence it would be the "Nether Hall". The phrase, "where-so-ever it might be", suggests that the extra half carrucate of land which he leased from the Abbot lay outside the Manor of Pakenham; and it could well adjoin the original de Pakenham holding on Church Hill, and extend into the neighbouring parish of Thurston. Also with the Abbot firmly in possession of the large Pakenham Manor and its Hall, it can be seen that the Nether Hall Manor could expand only into Thurston, which it eventually did in later years, thus accounting for the situation of the major portion on the Estate in that village.

The first definite historical record of the "de Pakenham's" occurs in the reign of Henry III, when there is reference to John de Pakenham as holding the office of Steward of the Bishop of Ely (1253). This same John "coming into the Exchequer Court, where the King was sitting, claimed a monstrous fish taken in one of the Bishop's wards, whose ancestors claimed wrecks at sea". The King asked him to produce the Charter by which the Bishop claimed wrecks at sea.

The Steward produced the Charter, and the King asked if the fish was taken in the sea, or on land, and alive. John replied that the fish had been taken in the sea, not far from land, and alive. The King then ruled that since it was taken in the sea, and alive, it could not be a wreck, and he adjourned the case to Parliament for further consideration.

The interesting fact about this record is that this is the first time the word "Parliament" was mentioned in English history. Moreover, since the fish was a sturgeon, it was ruled to be the King's property, and all sturgeon caught in English territorial waters to this day become the Monarch's possession.

We next read that in 1275 William de Pakenham established his claim in the Abbot's Court to a right of warren in Pakenham and Thurston; and it is also recorded that he held a field called Bishopcroft over against Pakenham Church at a yearly rental of twelve pence in 1281.