Elizabeth Freke


Elizabeth lived in West Bilney from 1676 until her death.  Her father purchased the estate for her, to ensure she had somewhere to live, her husband Percy having worked his way through her money.
She and Percy had a stormy relationship and one son Ralph. She spent much time and money on the repair of St Cecelia’s church and paid the clergyman.  This led her to believe that she had more control over the church than the Bishop of Norwich was prepared to allow her. He instructed the Vicar of Gayton on February 14th 1713, to bar her from ever entering the church again.

She had wished to be buried in the church next to Percy in the vault she had built, but this would have been impossible following the altercation.

Her young Grandson is also buried in the church having been accidentally shot.
It was perhaps fortunate that she died in London, and is buried with other members of her family in  Westminster Abbey.

We know all this because Elizabeth kept a detailed diary which records her time in West Bilney, including her turbulent life and troubles with her servants, tenants and family.

Two events this year will commemorate her life -

As a memorial to Elizabeth a  SERVICE was held at St Cecilia's, West Bilney, on February 14th 2013, at 6pm, 300 years after her banishment. Rev. Jane preached on love and reconciliation.

   A booklet, written by Charlotte Paton, about Elizabeth Freke is available.

riced at  £2.50 - proceeds to go to East Winch and West Bilney Community Project.

To place an order for the booklet you may contact Charlotte Paton -

charlottepaton16@gmail.com    or    webmaster@eastwinchandwestbilney.co.uk

If you are interested in finding out more about this extraordinary woman - there is a book,
'The Remembrances of Elizabeth Freke' edited by Raymond Anselment available for sale at bookshops, or find it at the library.

For reference:

The Remembrances of Elizabeth Freke 1671-1714 (Camden Fifth Series)
(ISBN: 0521808081 / 0-521-80808-1)
Freke, Elizabeth
ISBN 10: 0521808081
ISBN 13: 9780521808088