Swannington lies ten miles north-east of
The rectory was built in 1635 from the proceeds of
the sale of George Herbert's poems The Temple.
In his book The Lives of Donne, Wotton, Hooker,
Herbert, and Sanderson Izaak Walton tells us that -
while Herbert was on his deathbed - Nicholas
Ferrar (of Little Gidding) sent his friend Edmund Duncon
Bemerton in Wiltshire to enquire after the poet's condition.
During the meeting, Herbert passed to Duncon a copy
of his collected poems - with the instructions that they
should, in turn, be passed to Ferrar and that Ferrar should
only publish them if he felt that they might 'turn to the
advantage of any dejected soul'. Otherwise, he
instructed Ferrar to burn them.
Fortunately Ferrar decided to publish them in and they
appeared in 1633 to great popular acclaim. The revenue from the poems
passed to Ferrar and Duncon - and then to Duncon when
Ferrar died in 1637. Duncon, who was rector of Friern
Barnet in Middlesex, was then able to move to Norfolk
and construct a new rectory.
Standing next to St Margaret's Church - the rectory
is now a grade II listed building. It was extended in