Mulbarton Hall

Mulbarton Hall

Mulbarton Hall stands at the south-east corner of the Common. It is thought to be an early Georgian building (or late Queen Anne), and is shown on the parish map of 1724. The present owners believe the house was originally a 3-storey building, but had to be lowered due to subsidence, when a decorative pediment was added. There were a number of Victorian additions - including an 'aspidistra house' on the east end that has now been refurbished as a conservatory, using many of the old beams. Internally, there are slight differences in floor level marking where nineteenth century extensions were added. The two huge Cedars of Lebanon in front of the Hall are a distinctive feature of the view from the Common.

Postcard posted 26 Feb 1914
Postcard posted 26 Feb 1914

Nikolaus Pevsner (author of 'The Buildings of England' series) describes Mulbarton Hall as 'a long, in fact lengthened, white Georgian house behind two splendid cedar trees' and comments on the 'shaped gables with semicircular an outbuilding W of Mulbarton Hall' (i.e. a 'Dutch' gable end - see below). In fact this brick building was the a stable, with a studio above; coach house; harness room, with accommodation above for coachman or (by the 1920s) the chauffeur; and another stable, with a loft above where the gardener would lay out apples, pears, etc. The wooden building was a store, a garage where the Humber 8 was kept, an open-fronted area where the village fire pump was kept at the start of World War 2, and a pigsty at the further end of the building. Behind these buildings were the chicken runs. Between the brick stables and the Hall was a large ornamental pond - roughly where the surgery is now....!

Outbuildings of Mulbarton Hall fenced from Common (where Surgery and school entries now stand). Note the building with the 'Dutch gable end' mentioned by Pevsner
Outbuildings of Mulbarton Hall fenced from Common (where Surgery and school entries now stand). Note the building with the 'Dutch gable end' mentioned by Pevsner

Some Residents of Mulbarton Hall

Philip Stannard, a wealthy Norwich cloth merchant who was appointed Sheriff of Norwich in 1747.  He spent summers at Mulbarton Hall with his first wife, Priscilla, from around 1750. In January 1753, Philip Stannard wrote to a wine-merchant whose imports he was handling: 'As my family and self retire into the country next April until October, and although I come into Town every day, yet having so much business of my own, I dare not venture to engage for more than I receive orders for.'

In Stannard's time, Mulbarton Hall was an elegant house on the edge of Mulbarton Common, with 8 acres of ground. 'With its stabling for twelve horses, and its spacious pleasure gardens, ornamented with statuary and vases, and liberally planted with flowering shrubs and beds of tulips and ranunculus, the house was well suited for gracious entertaining.' In one of his books, Philip Stannard listed 'Foreigners who have been at my House' between 1751 and 1755, including merchants from Venice, Leipzig, Copenhagen, Lübeck, Amsterdam, Zurich, Basle, Frankfurt, Cologne, Stockholm, Weimar, Bremen, Christiania [now Oslo] and Lisbon. It would be fascinating to know how many of them stayed at Mulbarton.

Priscilla Stannard died in 1757 - she is commemorated on the family memorial in St Giles Church, Norwich. Philip married again, to Anne Hopson (25 years his junior) in 1762. Both their children, Philip and Ann, were born in the Hall. Philip Stannard is listed as a 'freeholder' and therefore a voter, in the Norfolk Poll Book for 1868. He seems to have left his business affaris to others - who expanded trading links across the world, but were less successful at getting money back from foreign parts. The firm of Stannard & Taylor went spectaculalry bankrupt in 1769 with huge debts, so all Stannard owned had to be sold, including Mulbarton Hall, with its fittings, furniture and flowers - all advertised separately.
(Based on information from 'The Letters of Philip Stannard, Norwich Textile Manufacturer (1751-1763) Ursula Priestley (ed.) Norfolk Record Society Vol.LVII for 1992, 1994, from which short quotes are taken)

Mulbarton Hall was bought by Richard Parkerson, a baker, for 2000 guineas (£2100), who (according to newspaper reports) planned to run it as a tavern and open the gardens to the public - but there is no record that he ever did.

Lithograph of Mulbarton Hall, c.1820
Lithograph of Mulbarton Hall, c.1820

Rev. Miles Beevor, DD, 'lived for a considerable time at Mulbarton House', now Mulbarton Hall. He is listed as a 'freeholder' and therefore a voter, in the Norfolk Poll Books of 1802, 1806 and 1817. A younger son of Sir Thomas Beevor, 1st Baronet of Hethel, he married his first cousin, Mary Beevor of Norwich, daughter of the brewer James Beevor, his father's youngest brother.. He was Rector of Hethel, Vicar of Ketteringham and Rector of Bircham Tofts. According to 'Victorian Miniature' by Owen Chadwick, his main interests were politics and hunting. he went to Ketteringham to perfoem his duties as Vicar and '...if he found no congregation waiting, he locked the church and rode home uncomplaining'! When he died in 1834, Rev Miles Beevor was buried at Hethel. 'He is said to be the first person to introduce the Swede Turnip into England...... I am told that the village blacksmith who had a feud with him, named his dog 'Miles Beevor' that he might curse him to his heart's content and at the same time declare that no disrespect to the Rector was intended'!     (Quote from 'Mulbarton with Keningham: Some Notes & Remarks' by A.R.V.Daubeney)

Paul Squires, Esq, resident 1840 - 1854, and probably for longer. He is listed in the Tithe Apportionment of 1841 and the 1841 and 1851 Census data. He was followed by the MacKinnons in the 1860s.

Mrs. Emma Dorinda Wingfield, widow of Major General Charles William Wingfield, R.A. moved here from Gunton Hall, near Lowestoft, Suffolk, in 1872.  Then, Mulbarton Hall was described as 'a good brick building of considerable antiquity which has been recently restored'. Charles Wingfield died at Gunton Hall on 2nd April 1872, aged 72, and was buried at the Wingfield family seat at Tickencote, near Stamford. It is uncertain if he had a hand in purchasing Mulbarton Hall, but his widow lived there for over 30 years. Mrs. Wingfield is named as owner and occupier in the Poor Rate Book, 1875-6, when the 'Extent' is given as 7 acres 2 rods 22 perches; rateable value £50. Mrs. Wingfield died there on 31 March 1906, aged 91, and is commemorated in a window at the West end of the North aisle of the Church - and by the Wingfield Hall. She was a great benefactress of the village, founding the Mulbarton Nurse Fund.

Sir Edward Muxloe Wingfield was one of the many children of Charles William Wingfield's older brother John Muxloe Wingfield (1790-1869). Sir Edward was an Oxford graduate, trained as a barrister and held important posts in the Colonial Office. He may have moved to join his aunt at Mulbarton Hall when he retired in 1900. Certainly he and his wife, Lady Mary Georgina Wingfield (nee Sheringham), were living there in 1901. He inherited the property, and in 1907 added a large extension onto the west end designed by the Norwich architects Edward Boardman & Son as staff quarters and dairy and brew-house. Sir Edward died on 5 March 1910, but his widow continued to live there until she died on 5 April 1918. It was offered for sale by auction in 1918, long with two cottages, by the executors. The Hall is described as having 'a large lawn.... capital gardens.... greenhouse, conservatory, stabling, motor garage, farmery and two grass paddocks....' totaling just over 7 acres.

Mulbarton Hall from the garden, with Boardman's extension on the left. This card posted 9th Sept 1926 but the photo is at least 10 years earlier.
Mulbarton Hall from the garden, with Boardman's extension on the left. This card posted 9th Sept 1926 but the photo is at least 10 years earlier.

Antony Oliphant Sargeaunt, Esq. bought the Hall (probably after it had failed to sell by auction) and added to the estate by purchasing 10 acres of glebe land when it came onto the market in 1920. He was a Director of Caley & Co Ltd, the famous chocolate-making firm in Norwich. In 1921 he was living in the Hall with his wife, Lilian, and two daughters, Doris and Kathleeen. When he decided to leave Norfolk, the Hall was up for sale for auction again in 1927, this time with 18 acres of land (see below). Mr. Sargeaunt died in 1929.
(From Parish Council Minutes: 1929 Feb: 'Chairman was asked on behalf of the Parish Council to send a letter of sympathy to Mrs. Sargeaunt'.)

Mrs. Ellen S Massingham purchased the Hall and and lived there until she died in late 1946, aged 85. She had various alterations made to modernise the house and improve the heating system in 1928. People remember that 'The Hall was the home of Mrs. Massingham, whose employees were Messrs. Skipper and Warman.... She had a grove of fir trees planted to hide the Council Houses from her view. When more houses were built, horse-chestnut and willow trees were planted at the end of their gardens to hide them.'

'Violet Bailey (nee Barrett), 1911-1995, lived all her life in Mulbarton like her mother, her grandmother, and her great-grandmother.... On leaving school [she] went into service with the Massingham family at Mulbarton Hall. Marriage followed in 1933 to Robin Bailey and they had three children...'          (Margaret White, in Parish News, Spring 1995)

1927 Sale particulars of Mulbarton Hall:

Extracts from the 'Particulars and Conditions of Sale.... Of Mulbarton Hall' by auction on Saturday 17th September 1927 at 1 pm ('precisely') at Royal Hotel, Norwich, by S. Mealing Mills & Co.  (Available at Norfolk Record Office)

Described as 'The charmingly situated Freehold Residence known as Mulbarton Hall, near Norwich with Ornamental gardens, Large Tennis Lawn, Glasshouses, Stabling and Garages, Small Farmery. Four cottages and gardens and Four Enclosures of Valuable Arable and Pasture Lands. The whole containing an area of 18 acres 2 roods 9 perches.' For sale in 1 or 3 Lots.
'...situate about 1½ miles from Swainsthorpe Railway Station, and 3½ miles from Hethersett Railway Station (L. and N.E. Railway Main Lines), and about 5 miles from Norwich....'
Owner-occupier, Antony O. Sargeaunt, Esq.

Basement - cellar

Ground Floor - Lounge Hall, Dining Room (panelled), Drawing Room communicating with Conservatory or Winter Garden, Side lobby, Lavatory, Garden Room (with pump and boiler for heating conservatory), Wine Cellar, Morning Room, Store.

Domestic Offices - Pantry, Servants Hall, Kitchen, Pastry larder, Scullery, Larder, Dairy, Back Hall, Yard, Boothouse, Doghouse, Coalhouse.

Engine House with Electric Light Plant with 8 hp Crossley oil engine, dynamo, switch board, 56 large accumulators. Pump House, well, boiler house.

On the First Floor - approached by carved oak staircase: Landing; 3 bedrooms with dressing rooms adjoining, and 3 other bedrooms; 2 Bathrooms with WCs, Linen Room; 3 servants' Bedrooms.

Second floor - attic box room

"Charming well planned gardens, grounds and shrubbery, with fine ornamental timber and other trees. Large tennis lawn. Summer house. Prolific kitchen garden. Herbaceous borders, asparagus beds, raspberry canes, trained fruit and other trees and nutwalk. 3 small forcing houses.... Range of potting sheds. Yards and shelter sheds... Coke house. Large pond with rose borders."

Other items of note:
2 garages for 3 cars, with studio, lofts and chauffeur's bedroom above.

Modern cow house for 4 cows.

"2 enclosures of fine pasture land, together with two brick tiled and slated freehold cottages, now occupied as one house, situate on the opposite side of the road to Lot 1, at the corner of Rectory Lane" with 2 sitting rooms, 2 kitchens, 4 upstairs rooms, 2 coalhouses, 2 closets and Gardens "as lately in the occupation of Mr. Andrews, Gardener, and now unoccupied... 7 acres 3 roods 25 perches"

Also - "Freehold Cottage Residence, now divided and occupied as Two Cottages situate adjoining Lot 1, fronting Long Lane. One house occupied by Mrs. Howes at a weekly rental amounting to £13 per annum paid quarterly, Landlord paying Rates, and the other house occupied by Mr. Skipper, chauffeur, a service tenant, Rent Free."

Hall Cottages, Long Lane, 1946
Hall Cottages, Long Lane, 1946

Changes by 1947

On Tuesday 1st April 1947, the Hall was once again for sale by auction at the Royal Hotel, Norwich - this time by Hanbury Williams 'on behalf of the Public Trustees, re Mrs. Ellen Massingham, decd.' There were four Lots:

Lot 1 - Mulbarton Hall

Lot 2 - a pair of cottages fronting Long Lane (occupied by Mrs. Carver (N side) and Mr. Skipper (chauffeur, in S side). Both share a well for water.

Lot 3 - 4 acres of freehold arable land fronting Long Lane (in the occupation of Mr. Jackson). Part of OS Map field 181.

Lot 4 - 5 acres of freehold pasture land 'fronting Brick Field Lane' (should read Birchfield Lane), occupied by Mr. Jackson.

Mulbarton Hall is described as a 'Charmingly situated Country Residence...with old world Gardens and choicely timbered Grounds, Tennis Lawn, Glasshouses, Stabling and Garages, Paddock, Small Farmery.'

Many of the house details are the same as in 1927 (see sale particulars above). Now, mains electricity has been installed, and all the main rooms have hot water radiators. At the rear there is a 'Boiler House with "Lumby" wrought-iron Independent boiler and hot water cylinder; Coke store'. There is no longer an 'electric light plant', but a 'Lean to with 1 h.p. single phase electric Motor and geared-action oil-bath Pump from deep well'. Drainage is to a cesspool 'placed at a considerable distance away from the Residence'.

The 'delightful Old-World Gardens and Grounds' include a 'shrubbery; Nut-walk; Herbaceous borders and pond'. The 'Prolific Kitchen Garden [is] in a high state of cultivation, Asparagus beds; Raspberry canes; Fruit trees and bushes; 3 small Forcing Houses heated from "Robinhood" jnr. Boiler; 5-light brick frame; Range of potting and Shelter sheds...'.

The 'Farmery' is the out-buildings: garages, studio, stable, piggeries, cow house, fowl houses, paddock and pond.

Part of the front garden (facing the Common) is rented from the Manor of Mulbarton for 2 shillings per year for 926 years from 22nd Dec. 1863!

8½ acres of pasture rented to Mr. Jackson at £5 a year, and the cottage on the corner of Long Lane and Rectory Lane (occupied by Mr. Warman, service tenant) are included with the Hall.

As a result of the 1947 sale:

Lot 1 - the house plus outbuildings and a cottage - was purchased by Norwich City Council for use as an old peoples' home. The cottage on the corner of Rectory Lane became the matron's / deputy matron's house, and a new staff bungalow was built to the west of the hall. Some of the land was owned by Norfolk County Council and was later used for Mulbarton First and Middle Schools with their separate playing fields. Much of the First School field is part of the former kitchen garden! An access was kept to Long Lane, and the rest of the frontage to that road sold for housing.

Lot 2, a pair of cottages - these remain as the only traditional cottages in Long Lane. They have been modernised and the southern cottage has been considerably extended.

Lots 3 and 4 were bought by individuals, who used a small part to build their own homes. When Mulbarton was designated for expansion, the fields were sold to builders for housing - Rosary Close on Lot 3 and Lakes Avenue on Lot 4.

Memories Of Mulbarton Hall as a residential home:

'I was brought up in Mulbarton during the 1939-45 War years.... The Hall at Mulbarton was occupied in my early years by a Miss Massingham, and when she died the contents of the hall were auctioned and crowds of people came to the sale. The Hall then became a home for old ladies, and these lady residents used to come to church on Sundays.'
(Written by Brenda Ford (nee Collins) for the Radio Norfolk Lunchtime Show, June 1988.)

In the 1940s, Mulbarton Hall was owned by a Miss Massingham. Later, in the 1950s it became on old people's home. Both my mother, Mrs Gladys Stackyard, and my aunt, Mrs Elsie Stackyard, worked there, along with Mabel Larter, Mrs Agnes Cooke, Mrs Joan Collins and Mrs. Abendroth who was the cook.             Evelyn Smith

'I worked at Mulbarton Hall for 14 years from the age of 51. It was owned by Norwich Council. There were 28 elderly people - all ladies until the last year or two when we had four men. In fact, there was a man and his wife there for a bit. The rooms were big, mostly with five to a room. Most of them stayed in the Home, but three of the ladies used to dress up and go out round the village, and one lady used to take herself off to Yarmouth by bus! The bungalow was the matron's house, and the under-matron lived in the cottage on the corner of Rectory Lane. Eventually the Council decided that the premises were not very suitable, so all the residents were moved to a residential home in Norwich where they could have their own individual rooms - and I went with them and carried on working there until I had to retire.'
(contributed by Mrs. Queenie Wasey, Cuckoofield Lane, Mulbarton)

Eastern Evening News, 5th March, 1976

Mulbarton Hall, owned by Norfolk County Council, was sold for £34,500 at a Norwich auction today.
....The Georgian Hall is believed to date from 1724.... Mulbarton Hall was a private home until 1948, when Norwich City Council took it over for use as an old people's home. With the change in local government administration in 1974, the property passed to Norfolk County Council, who found they no longer needed it.
The Hall stands on a 1.8-acre site and has three large reception rooms and four main bedrooms. There is also a two-bedroomed staff bungalow.'

When sold, there was planning consent for 'a change of use to residential flats, a students' hostel, boarding house, hotel and country club'. In fact, it became Benton's Antiques for a number of years, and was then sold again in 1984 and once more became a private house.