The Malthouse & Malthouse Farm

The Malthouse is opposite the south-west corner of Mulbarton Common. During its history it has been a house plus malt house; a separate house and a farm house; and one house - as it is today.

The oldest part of the house (the lower part) probably dates from around 1650. It is certainly shown on the parish map of 1724. The tall part of the house was the Malthouse itself, which probably dates from the early 19th century - and astute observers will notice that the two buildings are on a slightly different alignment.

When a malthouse, the tall building had floors approximately 5 feet apart, on which barley was spread out on slats to ferment. The tall chimney belongs to the furnace, remnants of which can be seen in the current cellar. A few distinctive clay tiles were found when the house was renovated in 1953 and were identified as malting tiles by the Norwich Museum Service (below).

In the 1860s there were plans to rebuild the maltings into a Georgian-style residence, but this did not happen and instead the building itself was converted into a house, with three new floors and windows.


In 1828 the malthouse in Mulbarton was up for sale as part of the Bracon Ash Estate. Then, it was occupied by Robert Mann, with nearby land farmed by George Barnard.

Presumably Robert Mann was able to buy the malthouse and adjacent property at the 1828 auction, for he appears as the owner at the time of the Tithe Apportionment in 1841. The property is described as House, gardens, barn and Malthouse. Over 35 acres of land was attached to the property - mainly between Birchfield Lane, Cuckoofield Lane and the Norwich Road (now amenity land called The Meadows). Robert Mann also owned and rented out the adjacent cottages, which included the 'beer shop' (Tradesman's Arms) and wheelwrights. 

Directories list several 'maltsters' in Mulbarton. In 1847, an item in the Norfolk Chronicle announced that the Mr. Charles Cremer of the smock mill by the Common had taken over the maltster's business from Robert Mann:

Norfolk Chronicle, 16th October 1847
C. Cremer, Miller and Maltster, Mulbarton
Having engaged the old established Malting Business at Mulbarton (many years in the occupation of Mr. Robert Manns) begs to solicit the favour of a continuance of such Customers who have hitherto dealt there and of the public in general, who will oblige him with their Orders, assuring them that they may rely upon having Malt and Hops of the first rate quality.

An 1864 Directory lists William Howes, malt & hop merchant for Mulbarton, but if he ever lived here it was not for long. Soon after this, new owners were only interested in farming the land, and the old malthouse seems to have been unoccupied.


From the 1860s to '80s Sam Fiddyment lived and farmed there. The Fiddyments and the Fairmans were large families from East Carleton and Intwood, and two Fairman brothers married two Fiddyment sisters! James Fairman (b.1821) was at the Malthouse (from at least 1890), having married Mary-Anne (b.1824) one of Sam Fiddyment's daughters. 

Malthouse farmhouse c.1901 with some of the Fairman family
Malthouse farmhouse c.1901 with some of the Fairman family

Their fifth child, Anna Fairman (1857-1956), was born in the Malthouse on 11 July 1857. 'She was privately educated, a member of the Church and a Sunday School teacher. During her early years up to the age of 10 she used to read the daily papers to her father, whose sight was beginning to fail. She read daily accounts of the American Civil War, which was in progress at that time. In old age she still remembered accounts of the battles... and the death by assassins bullet of President Abraham Lincoln and could vividly recall the happening.'

'In her early 20s she went to live at Penrhyn Castle, near Bangor in Wales, as Lady's Maid and later Companion to the Hon Mrs Douglas Pennant where she spent many happy years. Due to her father's illness and the early death of her mother she returned to the Malt House and organised the household and 'kept things going'. She played an active part in the life of the village after her father's death.'  She looked after her father, James, until his death in 1900 and ran the family farm for ten years. She is listed as 'farmer' in the 1904 Directory. 

Anna Fariman on her 90th birthday in 1947
Anna Fariman on her 90th birthday in 1947

Anna Fairman lived to be almost 100. She decided to sell the farm to her nephew (son of her brother Samuel), Arthur Fairman. 'Aunt Anna would have been 50 or 60 when she sold the house and retired to live in London near Clapham Common. She was forced to leave her comfortable home in London because of the severe bombing and came to her niece's (Joan's) family in Norfolk and later lived at the Malthouse when Cyril Fairman lived there. As Aunt Anna became more elderly she needed more care. Being an Anglo-Catholic and very religious she decided to go into care at the Convent of the Sisters of the poor in Ber Street.... She died on Nov 10th 1956 and is buried at Mulbarton Churchyard next to her parents.' (from family information supplied by Ingrid Fairman)

Arthur William Fairman (1879-1942) was farming at the Malthouse in 1908, and is later described as 'cattle-dealer and butcher'. In fact he ran a very successful business, selecting cattle in Scotland and Ireland as well as locally and supplying meat to some of the top London hotels. A shed that still exists in the grounds was the slaughterhouse. For some of the time he was also farming Curzon Hall Farm, East Carleton [187 acres] and the land of Paddock Farm, which was taken over by his brother Herbert James Fairman (1884-1943).

The farmhouse and former Malt House seem to have been divided by the beginning of the twentieth century, and the taller house rented/leased as Thorpe House. There were separate gates and entrances to each of the houses. Mrs White is listed as resident of Thorpe House in Kelly's Directory, 1908. A postcard of the house (above), posted on 2nd Sept. 1926, is addressed from 'c/o Mrs. Lansdell, Thorpe House, Mulbarton.... Auntie's house is the tall one behind the signpost'. Mr S F Lansdell was Deputy Registrar of births, deaths & marriages for the Humbleyard sub-district. 

Electricity was installed in 1931, when the current house was two separate dwellings, so there were two separate meters until recently. Although a mains tap was installed in the kitchen, the property depended on a deep well and an electric pump for many more years. The house was refurbished in 1953, when the old lath-and-plaster was ripped out and walls were straightened with cement. The present owners have found no less than five fireplaces of different ages in the lower, older part of the house!

Wedding of Arthur Fairman & Gladys Scales on 3rd March 1925 at E Carlton, with reception at Paddock Farm,
Wedding of Arthur Fairman & Gladys Scales on 3rd March 1925 at E Carlton, with reception at Paddock Farm,

(Above) Back row L > R: -?-; -?-; Herbert Scales; Arthur William Fairman (groom); Gladys Scales (bride - Arthur's 2nd wife); Herbert James Fairman (brother of groom, father of Cyril); Alice Fairman (wife of Herbert); -?-    Front row: Margaret Scales (wife of Frank who is not in photo); Elsie Scales; -?-; Olive Joyce Fairman (dau of Herbert, sister of Cyril, here age abt 5); 'Aint May'; Laura Scales (mother of Gladys); -?- (PHOTO CONTRIBUTED BY INGRID FAIRMAN)

Arthur Fairman died in 1942 and a newspaper obituary says that he farmed Malthouse Farm for 35 years and worked until 3 weeks before he died at age 62.

Herbert J Fairman, who died the following year, gave up Paddock Farm and moved to the Malthouse where he was nursed through his final years by his daughter, Joyce. The farm and house then passed to Cyril Fairman (1916-1999, son of Herbert J Fairman, who had married Alice Fairman - his cousin). After the war, his great-aunt Anna returned to live at the Malthouse, too.

Cyril Fairman is remembered for the part in village life. He was very involved in Scouts and in amateur dramatics, producing and taking part in various shows and pantomimes that were put on in the Wingfield Hall. Here is an extract from some verse about one of them - 'Cinderella', produced in 1935:

Have you heard all the talk of the village,
Folks will never forget such a sight:
'Twas a Pantomime called Cinderella
We gave here one Wednesday night.

Mr. Fairman, a gallant Prince Charming,
Had a lot of lovemaking to do.
Mr. Warren, I think, was Daneli -
But we didn't quite know who was who.
(Two of many versesAuthor unknown)

Some of Mr. Fairman's land north of Cuckoofield Lane was bought for council housing by compulsory purchase. Other fields in that area were also sold off and were subsequently sold to developers for building (e.g. Mr. Mann bought one field that was then sold to Mr. Kett of Costessey for building Southern Reach). The old field boundaries are still marked by hedges or lines of trees. When Cyril Fairman retired from farming, he moved to Ormesby and bought and ran a hotel in Yarmouth with a friend, though he kept in contact with Mulbarton people for many more years.

In the 1960s and '70s, Miss Ireland (of the family of Irelands, Estate Agents and Auctioneers) lived in the Malthouse and created a garden of rare and interesting plants. She is remembered for the many parties she held there and a parrot that lived in the kitchen. Miss Ireland was a stalwart of the local Women's Institute:

From Mulbarton Parish Magazine, no.60, October 1962:
'MULBARTON & DISTRICT W.I. ...the Garden Party kindly given by Miss Ireland in August was a most enjoyable afternoon. Croquet, clock-golf and a Treasure Hunt were possible in the garden before a shower sent us into the house for further entertainment, the highlight being a wonderful collection of coloured holiday and local photographs, which Miss Ireland projected onto a screen.'

The barns at the Malthouse and the farmland were used by her brother-in-law, Brigadier Harris of Swardeston House, who owned much of the land in Mulbarton. This was managed by Mr. Lockhart at Lodge Farm House.

When Miss Ireland moved to a smaller house facing the Common, the Malthouse was sold - first to Mr. & Mrs. Hatch, who only lived there for 2 years, and then to the current owners in 1979.

Information on Residents and Trades from Directories and other sources:

Robert Mann (or Mantes), Maltster 1836, 1839 (address not given)
(from the tithe map he seems to have owned over 20 acres of land)

James Windett, Maltster & Farmer 1845 (address not given)

Charles Cremer of the windmill by the Common (according to an advert).

William Howes, malt & hop merchant 1864 (address not given)

Samuel Fiddymont 1876 (given as occupier of 'House & Land By Common'.

Poor Rate Book; owner Mrs. Crickmore; area = 35 acres 2 rods; rateable value £64.15s.0d. 'Malt Office', owned by Mrs. Crickman (Crickmore?) unoccupied)

Samuel Fiddyment / Fiddiment 'farmer' - no address 1864, '68, '69, '75, 1883

James Fairman, farmer 1892, 1896

Miss Anna Fairman, farmer, 1904

Arthur W Fairman, farmer 1908, 1912, 1916

(Arthur W Fairman, farmer & butcher, 1922, 1931, 1937, farming 150+ acres
In 1922, A W Fairman was farming both Malthouse and Paddock Farms)

(Evidence from postcard of 1926 that this was tall part of present Malthouse)

Mrs. White (in village, but no address, 1892, 1896) - resident of Thorpe House, 1904, 1908, 1912, 1916, 1922

Sidney Frederick Lansdale, Registrar of births, marriages & deaths, 1910 ['Lansdale' could be mis-spelt for 'Lansdell'?]

Mrs. Lansdell 1926, 1933, 1937

MALTHOUSE (united once more)
Cyril Fairman

Miss Ireland

Mr. Hatch 1978

Mr. & Mrs. Cliffe 1979 - present
(Based on research by Mrs Cliffe, Mrs Fairman, Mrs Filmer, Mrs Wheeler)