Vilage Information, History and Genealogy
Stow Bardolph is a small village, tucked away to one side of the modern A10, just outside Downham Market. Farming has traditionally been (and still remains) the main activity in the area.
The village name has evolved from Stowe Bardolf meaning "Meeting place of the Bardolfs". This almost certainly came about as a result of connections with the Lords Bardolf, from nearby Wormegay Castle.
The village centres around the site of Stow Hall, a stately mansion constructed by Nicholas Hare, Esq. Master of the Rolls and Keeper of the Great Seal in 1589, at a cost of £40,000. Nicholas Hare also constructed Hare Chapel - a large annexed dormitory for the interment of himself and family adjoining the Church, which is dedicated to the Holy Trinity.
Since that time, the Hare family have played a significant role in the village's history. In 1622, Sir Ralph Hare built six almshouses, and provided them with 86 acres of land for division among the inmates. Later, in 1744, Sarah Hare commited the sin of sowing on a Sunday. Whilst doing so, she pricked her finger and, shortly afterwards, died of blood poisoining. In her will, she requested that six poor men from the parish act as her pallbearers, and they each receive five shillings for their services. She also bequeathed two shillings and sixpence to each of the poor residents of Alms Row, and requested that an effigy of her face and hands be made and placed in a Mahogany case, close to where she was buried. The effigy still remains in the Hare Chapel of Stow Bardolph's Holy Trinity Church, acting as a warning to Sabbath breakers. It is the only funerary effigy of it's kind outside of Westminster Abbey.
One pub remains in the centre of the village - the Hare Arms. The original building was erected during the Napoleonic wars, (at a time when Nelson travelled through the village en route to his ship in London), and the transformation of the house into an inn took place when Captain Thomas Hare offered it to three soldiers.