In 1207, Robert de Burser, of London, was concerned in this manor, jointly with
Emma his wife; who appears to have been one of the co-heirs of Roger de
The earliest mention we find made of the ancient family of Breose, or Brews, as
connected with this parish, is in the beginning of the reign of Henry VI.
Sir Robert Brews, of Fressingfield, in this county, died in the second year of
the reign of that king, mid Sir Thomas Brews, his son, succeeded; who is styled,
of Salle, in Norfolk, and Wenham, in Suffolk.
In the 11th of the same reign he was found heir to Sir John Shardelow, who died
without issue, seized of the manors of Barton by Mildonhall, with the mills of
Cavenham, Cowlinge, Straddishall, and Downham, in this county, and the advowsons
of Flempton and Santon.
Sir Thomas married, first, Mary, daughter of Sir John Calthorpe, and secondly,
Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Giles, and sister and heiress of Sir Gilbert
Debenham. Sir William Brews was his son and heir by his first marriage; who
inherited Salle and Fressingfield, where he died, in 1489, and was buried in
that parish church.
Robert Brews, Esq., eldest son of Sir Thomas, by his second marriage, appears to
have possessed the property in this parish. He married Katherine, daughter of
Sir John Wingfield, of Letheringham, in this county, Knt., and was succeeded by
Thos. Brews, of Topcroft Hall, in Denton, Norfolk, and Wenham Parva.
He married Jane, daughter of _____ Scroop, of Bentley, in this county, and was
father of Sir John Brews, of this parish, Knt., who was lord from 1533 to 1582;
and in 1590, Thos. Brews, Esq.; whose son, John Brews, succeeded in 1602, being
then six years of age.
He was afterwards knighted, and married Cecily, only daughter of John Wilton, of
Topcroft, Gent.; and soon after, the property passed from this family into other
Penelope, daughter of Thomas, son and heir of Sir John Brews, of this parish,
married here in 1014, to Sir Edmund Mundeford, who died in 1613, without issue.
ARMS. Brews: ermine; a lion, rampant, gules. Shardelow: argent; a chevron
between three cross crosslets, fitche, azure.
Little Wenham Hall is considered as a fine specimen of Elizabethan architecture,
and is by no means in a ruinous state. The rooms wherein this ancient family
resided, are now converted into chambers for corn, &c. It was built by Robert
Brews, as appears from the following inscription, carved in stone over one of
the doors: "Cecy fait a l'alse de Dieu l'an de Grace, 1569. R B."1
In the church are several monuments for different branches of the Brews family.
1. A view of the Hall is engraved in "Davy's Suffolk
Antiquities," 1827; and two views in the "Excursions through Suffolk,"
Topographical and Genealogical, The County of Suffolk, 1844, Augustine Page