Walter Dexter RBA (1876 – 1958)

King’s Lynn artist

Elizabeth Freke 1641 - 1714

Elizabeth Freke
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.

Charlotte has published a booklet about Elizabeth Freke and the life she reveals to us in her remembrances. It is a fascinating insight into her life, and the times in which she lived.

Published by Larks Press, at £2.50 all proceeds go to East Winch and West Bilney Community Project.