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The small village church of St. George in South Acre nestles among the trees of the Nar valley, overlooked by the more obvious attractions of its neighbour on the hill above. Its oldest relic is the massive Norman font, crowned by a heavily restored 16th century tabernacle canopy (Maria), whose purpose was to protect the Holy Water from improper use. Cut into the oak of this cover is the Latin inscription:
ORATE PRO ANIMABUS MAGISTRI RICARDI GOTTS
ET DOMINI GALFRIDI BAKER RECTORIS HUIUS ECCLESIE
QUI HOC OPUS FIERI FECERUNT
(Pray for the souls of Master Richard Gotts and Sir Geoffrey Baker Rector of this church who caused this work to be built.)
The font cover was evidently a gift of these two men, probably around 1535. Geoffrey Baker was Rector at South Acre from 1534, succeeding Sir Thomas Leman, until his death in 1553, when he was succeeded by Robert Pepper.
The title magistri suggests that Richard Gotts held a university degree, while that of domini was the title given to priests without such a degree.
It is likely that the above Richard Gotts is also the one whose Will ( NCC Godsalve 67-9 and dated 1535 ) identifies him as vicar of South Lynn. Richard was presented to Narford and South Lynn on the 12th April, 1504, in each case by the Prior and Convent of Westacre. He appears to have resigned Narford in 1518 and retained South Lynn until his death, his successor, Thomas Alblaster being instituted on the 15th February, 1535.
In his references to Narford and Flitcham, Blomefield gives the name Richard Gottis, LLB, vicar ( vol 6, p 238 ) and Richard Gottys, LLB, prior (vol 8, p 417) respectively, though the reference to the vicar of South Lynn (vol 8, p 547)comes without the addition of any degree.
The Will of Richard Gotts is very long, full of conditions regarding religious matters, in which he seems to be securing the financial security of the church. It includes a request for obits to be said at Walsingham Abbey; masses are also requested for the churches at Narforth (i.e. Narford) and Hillington (neighbouring Flitcham). Prayers are requested for his parents John and Agnes Gotts. Bequests are made ‘to [his] brother’s son John Gotts 20s; to his brother William Gotts 20s; and to William Smythe his son.’ The reference to Walsingham Abbey suggests perhaps a family connection with the GOTTS at Walsingham:
Aylsham Collection at NRO
271. 1498 Dec. 30 Thomas Gottys, Prior of the Hospital and Priory of St. Marie of Flitcham (Charter of Lands 14 Henry VII)
The font cover at South Acre can be seen on this link