Accordingly to Historic England, Church Farmhouse, a Grade II Listed Building) was built in the early 17th century. However, the present owners believe it was built or evolved much earlier, as there are parts of the building which may date from the 14th or 15th century.
Farmhouse owned and occupied by Benjamin Turner
At the turn of the 18th century and the inclosures of Great Ellingham, the farmhouse was owned by farmer, Benjamin Turner. The property was one of four messuages (dwellinghouses with outbuildings a land), owned by Turner together with a cottage, a blacksmith’s shop and various parcels of land. Benjamin lived in one of the messuages, and let the other properties to tenants.
Extract from 1802 Map of Great Ellingham. Original held at Norfolk Record Office. Russell James Colman Plans.
Cat. Ref. C/Ca 1/84. With kind permission of NRO
The numbering used in a Particulars & Valuation of Great Ellingham dated 1800, corresponds with the numbering used in an 1802 Map of the village. Schedules show that Benjamin Turner owned the following land and property (in addition to other land and properties):
- No.279 Home Close comprising 2a 3r 17p which Benjamin Turner also occupied
- No.280 Hempland with Cottage 0a 1r 20p which was occupied by William Reeve
- No. 281 House, Outbuildings, Barn, Stable, Yard and Garden 0a 0r 35p which Benjamin Turner occupied
- No.282 Orchard 0a 1r 18p which, again, Benjamin Turner occupied
The location of the above numbered parcels of land (with the buildings) can be seen on the above extract from the 1802 Map of Great Ellingham. Church Farmhouse is within the enclosure numbered 281.
In 1800, the messuage was unlikely to have been known as ‘Church Farmhouse’. However, I do not know when the property became known as Church Farm, or indeed Church Farmhouse.
Looking again at the extract from the 1802 map, with the spire of the church pointing north, I believe the buildings to the south and west of Church Farmhouse (within the enclosure numbered 281) may have later been dwellings, and these were the cottages which in 1903 were owned by William Lane and destroyed by fire.
Marriage and Children
Benjamin Turner married Mary Gosling in the Parish Church at Great Ellingham on April 9th, 1782. They were both single and living in the village.
The couple’s son Edward was baptised in the same church just two month’s later on the 2nd June. Sadly, Benjamin and Mary buried Edward on March 5th, 1784. Their son had not reached his second birthday.
Two years after Edward’s death, Benjamin and Mary’s daughter Hannah was baptised in the Church of St James on January 29th, 1786, followed by Sarah, just over 6 years later, on October 24th, 1792. Tragically, Benjamin and Mary buried Sarah on 28th October, just four days after her baptism. This left Hannah as Benjamin and Mary’s only surviving child.
I do not know whether Benjamin and Mary began their married life in Church Farmhouse. However, given that Benjamin and Mary were living there by 1800, their daughter Sarah was likely born at Church Farmhouse, and perhaps Edward and Hannah too.
It is also possible that Benjamin Turner was living at Church Farmhouse before he purchased the property. The Norfolk Chronicle of 10th June 1797, included particulars of an auction to be held at the White Hart in Wymondham on the 23rd June.
The property was a small farm in Great Ellingham which was in the occupation of Benjamin Turner, and comprised “a good dwelling house, barn, stable and other buildings, a large orchard, planted with choice fruit trees and in which are several large walnut trees“, together with several inclosures of “excellent” land.
The notice also stated that Benjamin Turner had been given notice to quit. Further, a cottage which was said to be near the farm in the occupation of Ann Frost, was also being sold.
Marriage of daughter Hannah Turner to Theophilus Smith
Hannah Turner married Theophilus Smith in Bressingham in the May of 1809. The Marriage Licence Bond confirms that at that time, farmer Theophilus Smith was living in Bressingham and Hannah in Great Ellingham. They were both aged 21.
Death of Benjamin Turner
Four and a half years after his daughter’s marriage, Benjamin Turner died. The death of Benjamin Turner, a farmer of Great Ellingham, was reported in the Norfolk Chronicle on the 18th December, 1813. #
I have not found a corresponding burial for Benjamin Turner in the parish registers for St James. However, I believe the Turner family were members of the Baptist Church in the village. Hannah Turner’s husband, Theophilus Smith, was a Baptist Minister.
Last Will & Testament
Benjamn Turner signed his last will and testament on the 3rd February, 1804. His daughter Hannah had then not reached the age of 21. In fact, she was around the age of 18.
However, at the time of her father’s death in 1813, Hannah was around the age of 26 and married.
Benjamin left all his property in Great Ellingham, save for the parlour and parlour chamber in his dwellinghouse (presumably Church Farmhouse) to Hannah.
He allowed his widow Mary to have the use of the parlour and parlour chamber together with the furniture in these rooms, for so long as she remained his widow, or until her death. On Mary’s death, the parlour, parlour chamber and the furniture would pass to Hannah.
Mary (providing she remained his widow) and Hannah would also each receive an annuity from Benjamin’s estate.
Benjamin’s nephew Edward Turner (the son of his late brother James Turner), would inherit the majority of Benjamin’s estate if Hannah did not survive her father. In the event, Hannah did not predecease her father and accordingly, she inherited her father’s estate, including Church Farmhouse, subject to the provisions in the will for her mother Mary, and the small legacies.
Benjamin’s sister Hannah Lister received a legacy of £10, which was to be paid to her within six months of her brother’s death. Benjamin also gave his friend (also his executor and trustee) William Ripper Coe the sum of fifteen guineas.
New Owners Theophilus & Hannah Smith
A Survey of Great Ellingham 1817-1819 shows that whilst Theophilus Smith farmed land in Great Ellingham (some of which was once owned by his father in law Benjamin Turner), Church Farmhouse and the nearby cottages (in Church Street) which his wife Hannah had (with other properties in Great Ellingham) inherited from her father, were occupied by William Hall and William Whenn.
By around 1840, Church Farmhouse was occupied by Robert Bartrum, with the cottages in the occupation of William Hall and William Whenn.
Hannah & Theophilus Smith sell Church Farmhouse & Cottages
It is very likely that in 1845, Hannah and Theophilus Smith sold some of the properties (including Church Farmhouse and the nearby cottages) which Hannah had inherited from her father, Benjamin Turner.
Notice of the auction of ‘Valuable Property at Great Ellingham‘ on 28th July, 1845, appeared in the Norwich Mercury of the 19th July, 1845.
Lot 1 comprised “A messuage at Great Ellingham in Norfolk with the barn, stable, outbuildings, yards, garden, orchard and 8 acres and a half (more or less) of very fine land thereto belonging” which was in the occupation of Robert Bartrum. In addition, “a double cottage near the above mentioned messuage, with outbuildings, yards and gardens thereto belonging” was part of this lot. These cottages were occupied by James Wade and James Smith.
The auction notice also stated that the property being sold was “pleasantly situated in the centre of the parish, near the church of Great Ellingham“.
What is interesting, and helpful, is that the notice also states that the cottage and three acres of land was copyhold of the Manor of Attleburgh Mortimers.
Benjamin Barnard of Rockland All Saints
At a Court held for the Manor of Attleburgh Mortimers (with the Members on the part of the Poynants) on the 25th June, 1846, details of a transaction between Theophilus and Hannah Smith of Attleburgh and Benjamin Barnard, a farmer, of Rockland All Saints, were presented to the Court.
Benjamin Barnard had paid £240 to Theophilus and Hannah Smith for certain copyhold land of the Manor, which comprised a messuage with garden and adjoining land, near the King’s Highway and near a field of the Church of Ellingham, together with half an acre of land.
The Court Books also confirm that Hannah Smith had inherited these premises in 1813 on the death of her father, Benjamin Turner.
It is worth bearing in mind that the Manor Court Books will only record the exchange of ownership of copyhold land. The Books rarely provide details of freehold land. However, given that it was intended that Church Farmhouse and the cottages were sold as one lot at the auction, I assume that Benjamin Barnard purchased the entire property comprised in Lot 1 at the auction (which included Church Farmhouse).
Ownership of Church Farmhouse after Benjamin Barnard
The Manor Court Books for Attleburgh Mortimers together with auction notices appearing in the local newspapers, provide us with clues as to what happened to Church Farmhouse and the double cottage following the death of Benjamin Barnard.
Brothers Benjamin and Barnabas Ezekiel Barnard
Benjamin Barnard of Rockland All Saints died in 1853. The Manor Court Books for Attleborough Mortimers tell us that Barnabas Ezekiel Barnard was the only surviving brother, customary heir and heir at law of Benjamin Barnard.
Benjamin and Barnabas were the sons of Richard and Elizabeth Barnard of Wymondham. Richard Barnard had married Elizabeth Vince in Besthorpe on the 6th September, 1775. In addition to sons Benjamin (born in 1787 and baptised in Wymondham) and Barnabas (born in 1782 and baptised in Besthorpe), the couple had a son John who remained a bachelor all his life, and died around 1803, possibly in Colchester, Essex.
Auction of Church Farmhouse & Double Cottage
A notice of a forthcoming auction of property in Great Ellingham appeared in the Norfolk Chronicle on the 9th July, 1853.
Five lots of property and land in Great Ellingham and Deopham, late the property of Benjamin Barnard deceased, would be sold by auction at the Norfolk Hotel, Norwich on July 16th. Amongst the properties were:
Lot 1 – A small farm situate in Great Ellingham adjoining the road from Attleboro’ to Watton in the occupation of Mr James Chaplin, comprising Barn, two bullock sheds and seven inclosures of arable and pasture land, containing altogether 16a 2r 6p and principally freehold
Lot 2 – A small farm situate within a short distance of Lot 1, and near the church at Great Ellingham, comprising a dwellinghouse, Barn, stable, bullock shed, outbuildings and orchard and four inclosures of productive arable land in the occupation of Mr James Chaplin. Also a double cottage with outbuildings and gardens occupied by Bale and Hannant. This lot, comprising 8a 0r 27p, was said to be part freehold and part copyhold.
Barnabas Barnard ‘Surrenders’ a Copyhold Messuage
Barnabas Ezekiel Barnard came before a court held for the Manor of Attleburgh Mortimers (with Members on the part of the Poynants) held on the 10th March, 1854.
As the heir of his late brother Benjamin Barnard, Barnabas surrendered the same copyhold messuage in Great Ellingham for which Benjamin Barnard had been admitted copyhold tenant on the 25th June, 1846 (i.e. the messuage with garden and adjoining land near the King’s Highway and near a field of the Church of Ellingham together with half an acre of land which he, Benjamin Barnard, had purchased from Theophilus and Hannah Smith).
It was also confirmed to the Manor Court that James Chaplin, a dealer of Great Ellingham, (who was already in occupation of the property) had paid the sum of £150 to Barnabas Barnard in respect of this copyhold property. Accordingly, James Chaplin was admitted copyhold tenant (owner) of the copyhold property (the double cottage next to Church Farmhouse).
Although the Manor Court Books does not record any change of ownership of the freehold property, I think it likely that James Chaplin also purchased Church Farmhouse from Barnabas Barnard.
James Chaplin’s tenure appears to have been short. A year later, Church Farmhouse and the double cottage were again offered for sale at auction.
A notice of a forthcoming auction of property in Great Ellingham taking place at the Crown Inn, Attleborough on the 9th August, 1855, appeared in the Norfolk News of the 21st July, 1855. The property for sale was described as:
A desirable small farm situate near the Church at Great Ellingham comprising dwellinghouse, barn, stable, sheds, outbuildings, orchard and almost 8 acres of productive land late in the occupation of Mr James Chaplin
Also a double cottage with outbuilding and garden near the farm now or late in the occupation of Mr James Long and Charles Hannant
New Owners and Occupiers?
By 1861, James Chaplin had moved out of the village. The 1861 census captures dealer James Chaplin with his wife living at the Fairland, Hingham.
Who were the next owners and occupiers of Church Farmhouse?
Updated May 2021
Great Ellingham Parish Registers. Norfolk Record Office PD 609. Also available at www.familysearch.org
1802 Russell James Colman Plans. Great Ellingham. Catalogue Ref. C/Ca 1/84.
1799-1842 F W Horner, Records of the Surveyors to Commissioners for Inclosure in Parishes in Norfolk and Suffolk. Great Ellingham (Act 1799). Norfolk Record Office. Catalogue Ref: NRO, BR 90/2
1800 Inclosure Commissioner’s Particulars and Valuation, Great Ellingham. Norfolk Record Office. Catalogue Ref: NRO, MC 2213/119
Manor court rolls, 1641-1930. Manor of Attleborough Mortimers. Court (Norfolk). Norfolk Record Office MEA 2/2-8, Webb 24/5/63. Viewed via www.familysearch.org
Norfolk Chronicle 10th June 1797
Norfolk Chronicle 18th December 1813
Norwich Mercury 19th July 1845
Norfolk News 21st July 1855
Marriage Licence Bond 9th May 1809. Theophilus Smith and Hannah Turner. Norfolk Record Office ANF 12/47/26. Transcription Norfolk Family History Society. www.norfolkfhs.org.uk
1861 census RG9/1256/138, RG9/1222/48
1851 census HO107/1823/131
1853 5th November. Statutory Declaration of Stephen Childerhouse in Proprietorship of Barnabus Ezekiel Barnard to Benjamin Barnard deceased. Emma Wilson. Bury Hall Deeds.
1814 Turner, Benjamin of Great Ellingham. Norfolk Record Office. Catalogue Ref: ANF will register 1814-1815 fo. 169 (1814 no. 25)