A new NRO Blog

In response to the previous post, we would like to bring to the attention of anyone who comes across this wonderful blog to have a look at the new Norfolk Record Office Blog which will continue to provide information of upcoming events, delve into the NRO archives, plus much more!

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This is the fiftieth Gunton Archive blog post, and, sadly, also the last. The project is drawing to its close at the end of this month, and the project archivist, Peter Monteith, who created this blog, has kindly invited me (Susan Maddock, Principal Archivist and project manager) to write this final posting.


As project manager, it falls to me to report to our Project Board on the achievements of the project over the past year. This proved a long list, thanks to Peter’s hard work and dedication, and that of our education and outreach team. Equally vital were the contributions made by our funders (the Heritage Lottery Fund, the V&A Purchase Grant Fund and the Friends of the National Libraries), other partners (including the University of East Anglia, Cromer Museum and Cromer Library) and the Gunton volunteers. These are just some of the highlights: 





  • More than 1,500 new descriptions of documents in the Gunton archive made accessible on the NRO’s online catalogue.
  • Conservation work carried out on many of the documents, including some fine estate maps.
  • This project blog, launched in September and updated at least weekly thereafter.
  • The A Norfolk Estate, its Places and People exhibition, on show for three months in the Long Gallery at The Archive Centre.
  • Children’s activities (‘Making Shields’, Making an Almanac’ and ‘Creating a NorfolkTower’) at half-terms and in school holidays.
  • Activities for children tested in schools and then converted into six online resources.
  • Lord Suffield’s Cromer workshops at Cromer Museum and exhibition at Cromer Library.


Nor is the list yet complete, as the historical walk around Cromer and Overstrand, part of a programme of events under the umbrella of the BBC’s  The Great British Story, is still to come. Research by participants in the Lord Suffield’s Cromer workshops, and the documents they consulted, will be used to illuminate the landscape and its history. There is still time to book a place (see the Norfolk Record Office page for our contact details) and the walk takes place on Saturday, 26 May.


We will also be using some of the resources created during the project in another Great British Story event this weekend: a large-scale regional event at Ickworth House on Sunday, 20 May. The Norfolk Record Office will be in residence on the first floor of the rotunda, offering workshops and advice on tracing the history of your house. Among the resources on show will be facsimiles of some Gunton estate maps and Peter’s illustrated research guide, A Norfolk Estate, its Places and People. Admission to the house, park and gardens is free, and the day is suitable for all ages.


Although there will be no further postings on this particular blog, it will remain as a record of the project, and the electronic versions of the Long Gallery and Cromer exhibitions and the schools resources will continue to be accessible from our own website. With the fiftieth anniversary of the Record Office coming up next year, and more special projects in the pipeline, I very much hope that readers of this blog will keep in touch via our website. This Gunton Archive blog was the first NRO blog, but it will certainly not be the last.


I and my colleagues at the NRO will be very sorry to see Peter go, but we are all delighted that he has not only found a new position, but is staying in our region.  He takes up the post of Assistant Archivist at the Archive Centre, King’s College, Cambridge in early June.  He has achieved a huge amount in his short time here, and we wish him well in his future career. 

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Online launch of Harbord family papers catalogue

I am very pleased to announce the launch of the Harbord family papers (GTN 5) on NROCAT, our online catalogue. The series dates from 1557 to1916, including a wealth of information, from pedigrees and scrapbook pages, giving an overview of the family, to the correspondence of individual Lords Suffield. They shed light on the family, its individual members, the management of their estates throughout the country, their relationships with other people and their political views. There are also items which are of heraldic interest, such as grants of arms.


Some of the papers have already been mentioned in recent blog posts, for example Mary Assheton’s commonplace book, royal connexions and Edward Harbord’s travels through ‘enemy territory’.


Edward Harbord’s correspondence has proven particularly interesting, reflecting his personal and political life, from an early age. His papers also highlight the national importance of the Harbord family, as illustrated by various papers relating to their Middleton estate and the Peterloo Massacre. On 16 August 1819, Samuel Bamford led many residents of Middleton to St Peter’s Field, Manchester, where they joined the crowd of 60,000 protesters who called for the reform of parliamentary representation. At least eleven people died, after a battle broke out. Bamford was among those who wrote letters to Edward Harbord, third Baron Suffield.


To find out more about Edward Harbord, who also campaigned for the abolition of slavery and the improvement of prisons, why not visit our searchroom and see these fascinating documents.


Other news


The volume of Gunton Hall servants’ and gamekeepers’ wages, 1822-39 (GTN 3/1/16/38), recently featured in this blog and my lunchtime talk, is now available to consult on microfilm (MF/RO 749/9). The original is undergoing considerable conservation work, so the microfilm enables access to the pages which were in a suitable condition to film.


Don’t forget, we are currently taking bookings for a walk of Cromer and Overstrand, as part of the BBC’s The Great British Story. Call the Norfolk Record Office to book your place (see the NRO page of this blog for contact details). The walk, which will bring to light the Harbord family’s impact on the area, will take place on 26 May.

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Mary Assheton and ‘The Temple of Love’

At the start of the project, I found a curious little volume with an engraving entitled The Temple of Love on its cover. On closer inspection, it was clear that it was Mary Assheton’s commonplace book (GTN 5/8/1), started in 1757 with entries up to the 1790s.



Mary Assheton’s commonplace book (GTN 5/8/1)


Mary Assheton (1742-1823) was the daughter and co-heiress of Sir Ralph Assheton, of Middleton, Lancashire. She married Harbord Harbord, first Baron Suffield, on 7 October 1760.


Commonplace books were popular from the seventeenth century onwards. They were used to collect recipes, letters, poems and various other forms of information. These would often be copied from other sources, so while the writer of the commonplace book was not the original author of everything it contained, the process of selecting things to include may reveal a lot about their interests and opinions.


Alex Healey, one of the Gunton volunteers, is a BA English Literature and Cultural Studies student at Norwich City College, so I asked her to take a look at it. She helpfully identified each item and added detail to the catalogue description.


Mary Assheton’s inoculation on 16 April 1759, notes of a card game and a recipe using prunes are among the contents. The verse in her book includes an extract from Edward Young’s Satire V. On Women (31 January 1757); an extract from William Shakespeare’s A Winter’s Tale, Thomas Parnell’s The Hermit.


Of particular interest are Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s ‘Written for a Masquerade and Ball at Bath; on Nobody’ and a poem entitled Eliza’s Choice written by Miss Elizabeth Ann Linley (1754-92)  in 1771. She was the first wife of the playwright, Sheridan (1751-1816). They married in 1772, just a year after Eliza’s Choice was written.


Mary Assheton’s note at the end of ‘On Nobody’ states that the poem was written by Mr Sheridan after an encounter in a grotto with Miss Linley. We have been unable to find his poem in any published sources.



Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s On Nobody (Written for a Masquerade and Ball at Bath) with explanatory note (GTN 5/8/1)


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Gunton project educational resources and education in the Harbord papers

Gunton Project Educational Resources

As part of the Gunton Archive Project, the Norfolk Record Office’s Education and Outreach team have created some fantastic resources for teachers, pupils, extended schools and youth groups, as well as anyone with an interest in history. These resources build on themes explored in the successful children’s activities the team ran over the course of the project.

The resource packs can be found on the Norfolk Record Office’s website.

One of the packs, ‘Making ginger beer’, was developed from activities tried and tested by groups of children with the help of the Education and Outreach team. Readers of earlier blogs may also remember that ginger beer featured at the A Norfolk Estate, its People and Places exhibition launch. In addition to a nineteenth-century recipe, the pack introduces young people to a Harbord of Gunton cook’s book and to old weights and measures.


Using the ginger beer activity to explain old weights and measures.






The resources focus on three topics included in the National Curriculum:

• Food in Georgian and Victorian Times

• Local History

• Life and Labour in Victorian Times.

All resources include the following sections:

Sources: Primary sources and other material, including images of original documents held at the Norfolk Record Office, ready for viewing and discussion by teachers and student.

‘What I see’ sheet: A worksheet which can be used to jot down comments, ideas and observations on the sources. Classroom discussion would be useful after pupils have filled in their comments.

Activities: Various activities relating to individual topics and sources. The material can be downloaded free of charge and printed out.

Did you know?: A section for teachers and pupils, providing a brief introduction and background to the different topics.

Notes: A section particularly useful for teachers, providing details as to how specific resources have been designed with the National Curriculum in mind, as well as ideas and suggestions for further activities.

Life and Labour in Victorian Times:

Great Houses and Domestic Labour in Victorian Times

Victorian Farms

Food in Georgian and Victorian Times:

Making Ginger Beer

Shopping Lists from the Past

Local History:

Local Landmarks: a Look-Out Tower in Overstrand, Norfolk

Local Landscapes: the Gunton Estate Map

These resources will be updated to include audio clips.


Education in the Harbord papers

There are various records relating to education in the Harbord papers. Those of you who have been able to see the A Norfolk Estate, its People and Places exhibition will have seen that we have letters from Edward Harbord, dated 1795 (when he was aged 10½), to his father, describing his experiences at Eton (GTN 5/9/2/2-32). A petition within his papers also shows that one of the arguments for the introduction of civil registration was to prevent people from being excluded from the ‘privileges and rewards of learning in the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge’ (GTN 5/9/92).

A database of University of Cambridge alumni shows that various members of the Harbord family went to Cambridge. Harbord Harbord, first Baron Suffield, attended Christ’s College.

Harbord Harbord’s son, Edward Harbord, third Baron Suffield, chose not to go to Cambridge, matriculating at Christ Church, Oxford, in 1799 (GTN 5/9/3/1).

Edward Harbord’s papers include correspondence regarding the Middleton Mechanics’ Institute, as well as the University of London.

Search our catalogue to find out about the rôle the Harbords played in setting up schools in Roughton and Suffield.

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Project News: Book now for a walk at Cromer and Overstrand

Don’t miss your chance to see the exhibition in the Long Gallery at The Archive Centre. Our exhibitions last for a maximum of three months, in order to protect the original documents from damage caused by excessive exposure to light. Monday (30 April 2012) will be your last chance to see the exhibition but you will be able to download an electronic version, with all of the information and images from the exhibition, from the Norfolk Record Office website’s ‘e-Resources’ page. The items which have been on display will be carefully packaged and, unless they require any further attention from our conservators, they will be made available to researchers in our searchroom.


This has been a busy project and in keeping with the previous ten months, as one event ends we look forward to the next. The new exhibition in the Long Gallery, entitled Royal Norfolk, opens on 11 May. Meanwhile, we are happy to announce that the next, and final, event in the Gunton project will be a walk at Cromer and Overstrand on Saturday, 26 May 2012, as part of the BBC’s series of events The Great British Story. The walking tour of sites of historical interest in Cromer and Overstrand will develop from the work carried out in the Lord Suffield’s Cromer workshops and poster exhibition. In these workshops, we used the Harbord of Gunton Family and Estate Papers and related sources to find out about the rôle the Harbord family played in the development of Cromer, Overstrand and Suffield Park. The Lord Suffield’s Cromer events, including this walk, are all in partnership with the University of East Anglia. The walk is free of charge and will take around 1½ hours. Unfortunately, we have to limit the numbers to 20 people, so please book early with the Norfolk Record Office (for contact details please see the Norfolk Record Office page of this blog) to avoid disappointment. Please note that the meeting point is not as stated in the BBC leaflet: directions to the starting point will given on booking.



Image from James Wright’s reference book of the Gunton estate vol. 2 showing land in Overstrand belonging to Lord Suffield, 1835 (Norfolk Record Office, GTN 3/5/1/3)


As the project enters its final month, we would welcome any comments or questions you have. The resources we have made over the course of the project will remain available, particularly through the Norfolk Record Office website.


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Social history and a ‘tipsy’ clergyman in the Harbord papers

Many of the bundles within the papers of Edward Harbord, third Baron Suffield, are sorted by subjects such as his education, his travels, his admission to the bar and political correspondence on the abolition of slavery, game law and poor law. Most of this sorting was carried out by his biographer, Richard Mackenzie Bacon, who published many of the letters in these bundles. A few bundles appear to be more eclectic and contain some fascinating social history.

A summary of returns for the parishes of Antingham, Southrepps, Colby, Felmingham, Suffield, Hanworth, Northrepps and Thorpe Market gives data on population and employment in response to set questions, dated c. 1831. Such data may be of interest to anyone wanting to research rural social, labour and economic history.

Summary of returns from parishes in the county of Norfolk belonging in part or wholly to Edward Harbord, third Baron Suffield (GTN 5/9/51/17)

Some of the records are of a more narrative nature.

James Hogg’s novel, The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner, Henry Raeburn’s painting, Reverend Robert Walker (1755 – 1808) Skating on Duddingston Loch and The Smiths’ song, Vicar in a Tutu, are all examples of how the arts often challenge our perceptions of the clergy. In the same bundle as the population statistics shown above there is a portrayal of a clergyman which might be considered just as surprising. A deposition of Emma Lines of Roughton regarding the drunkenness of the Reverend Fleetwood Churchill of the same parish, tells tales of the drunken antics of this clergyman. She claimed to have ‘very frequently seen him in a state of intoxication and has seen him tipsy in Church’. She told of his being unable to perform a service one Good Friday, requiring the Clerk of the parish to take over this duty. She also described an occasion in which the ‘tipsy’ minister’s visit to her sick mother resulted in Emma’s being shocked and injured and her mother frightened. Click on the images to read the full story.

Deposition of Emma Lines regarding the drunkenness of the Reverend Fleetwood Churchill (GTN 5/9/51/21)

The authenticity of records found in archives does not always guarantee their reliability and this account only presents one view of the events described. However, Emma Lines’s claims were made under oath.

With a little patience, one can find a wealth of social history in the Harbord family papers. As soon as I have finished cataloguing this substantial and noteworthy series I will let you know on this blog.

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