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Dersingham Folk
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The Hamond / Elwes Family and its significance to Dersingham
Elizabeth Fiddick and Mike Strange ©
The Hamonds, were an extensive family who through marriage forged many connections with  other wealthy and influential families but had considerable wealth and standing of their own.  One of their number Sir Graham Eden Hamond, Baronet  Rear Admiral of the Blue had served as a Midshipman on Howe’s Flagship during the Napoleonic wars.  His residence is given as Hamond Lodge near Lynn.

Their line has been traced back many centuries.  Edmund Hamond, born 1590  in South Wootton married Mary Salter in St. Margaret’s Church  King’s Lynn in 1613.  Anthony Hamond, born  in South Wootton, married Susan Walpole the daughter of Robert Walpole MP of Houghton  in 1708.  So many of this branch of the  family were born in or chose to be buried in South Wootton that it would suggest that the Hamond Lodge mentioned above was situated there and was considered the family home. White’s Directory of 1883 records Anthony Hamond as a principle landowner in South Wootton.

Another member of the family, Susan Hamond, was born in Houghton in 1710 and married James Hoste also born in Sandringham, in August 1729.  He died in in 1744, Susan in 1759 and both were buried in Sandringham. It was in 1689 that the Sandringham estate had been sold to a James Hoste by Geoffrey Cobbe.

The Hamonds also owned substantial property in Westacre, Congham, Grimston, Shernborn  and here in Dersingham.  All Saints’ Church in West Acre contains many fine monuments to this family who resided at High House in West Acre.  They played a significant role in the life of our village for a number of years during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

The earliest time I found the name was on a map of 1720 (below) from the Houghton Hall archive.  On it some of the fields near the church are attributed to Hammond Esq.
The next time I found the name was in the allotment of lands carried out as a result of the Act of Enclosure in 1778.

Throughout this document the name Horatio Hamond occurs frequently. He is cited among the Overseers of the Poor, Churchwardens and Trustees of the Dersingham Charity lands when areas set aside as Common land were recorded.  Rice’s Common ( the present Open and Shut Up Common), Badger Fen Common,( across the main Road )  and the chalk pit are among the several areas cited.  He is granted seven rights of Common as he owns three common rights houses and four common rights tofts.  Each right confirmed for instance the number of animals the holder was entitled to graze on the commons, or the right to gather whins etc. for fuel, and to take sand from the sand pits.  All rights were strictly controlled by laws supervised by the Commons Reeves.

When the roads of Dersingham are listed in detail one is described as the Lynn Road starting at the entry into Dersingham and passing by the Public-House belonging to Horatio Hamond in the occupation of Richard Tomlinson.  This is The Dun Cow which stood where the present Coop Supermarket now trades.  Later the document records Sandringham Road leading out of Shernborne Road near the house of Horatio Hamond by the Churchyard. This is Dersingham Hall so he was clearly a man of substance owning much property here and residing at The Hall.

On Fadens’ map of Norfolk 1797  the name Hammond Esquire is printed by Dersingham Hall.  (The alternative spelling is occasionally found in old documents)
The next member of the family to be significant is Anthony Hamond* who was born in 1742 in West Acre the son of Robert Hamond and Elizabeth Swan.  His grandfather, was the Anthony Hamond mentioned above, who married Susan Walpole the daughter of Robert Walpole of Houghton  in about 1708.  An old document I have recently seen records that Anthony* had inherited the Hamond property here.

Anthony*  married Sarah Case in St. Margaret’s Church King’s Lynn on the 7th April 1779.  They  lived in Westacre High House and had seven children.  Nathaniel, Sarah1, Anne, Anthony, Philip, Susan2, Robert3 and Harriet.  Their mother Sarah died on December 27 1806 and was buried in South Wootton.

Anthony*  then married Polly Amelia Payne and they had two more children, Richard and Sarah.  Anthony died in 1820 and was also buried in South Wootton.

Anthony’s* daughter Susan2 married Henry Elwes, the son of John Elwes and Margaret Olley of Colesbourne in Gloucestershire, on June 8th 1813 in Westacre.  She brought to the marriage as a dower the Congham properties.  They had nine children.  Susan, Emily, John Henry4, Catherine, Maria, Robert5, Charlotte Ann, Margaret, and Frances.  From the birthplaces of their children we can see that Henry and Susan2 moved between Congham House and Colesbourne Mansion  in Gloucestershire the home of Henry’s family.

The next family member of significance to this history is Robert3, the brother of Susan2.

I was fortunate to be given access to a Conveyance Document dated 1868 by the present owners of Mecklenburg House.  From this document I learnt of the last Will and testament of Robert Hamond3  the son of Anthony Hamond* and Sarah Case; he  lived in Swaffham at the time.  The will was drawn up on the 25th January 1830 and in it Robert leaves his property in Dersingham and Shernborne to his sister Sarah1.  Three Trustees are appointed to carry out his wishes in relation to the will, Thomas Beauchamp, James Hoste and Henry Dugmore.  On the death of his sister Sarah1 he stipulates that the property should pass to his nephew Robert Elwes5.  Robert  Hamond3 died in 1831 and was buried in South Wootton.

In the same document I learnt  that in 1832 and 1833 there were two further Indentures negotiated with the Trustees by Henry Elwes, husband  of Susan2,  by which on payment of £200 and a further £400 he acquired several of Robert’s3  Dersingham properties.

The Tithe map and Schedule of 1839 now gives us a complete picture of all the properties in Dersingham owned by the Elwes family, namely Henry Elwes and his son Robert5.

Henry Elwes is the landowner of the property he acquired from Robert Hamond3 including:
137   Cottage and garden occupied by William Chambers
144   Cottage and garden occupied by Richard Wells
146   Cottage and garden occupied by James Mann and others.
All these properties are in Chapel Road opposite Dersingham Hall. The house now known as Lane End, previously Brandenburg House, now occupies sites 144, and 145, and Mecklenburg House has replaced the cottages at 146.

Property administered by the Trustees for Robert Elwes
The property, which today is Beck House with the garage next door in Chapel Road, is number 147 on the tithe map of 1839.  The schedule describes it as House, Building, and yard occupied by John Platten. Several acres of arable and pasture land rising behind this property are also under Robert’s ownership.
116   Park Corner            Arable
117   New Close              Arable
124   The 2 acres            Arable
126   Stackyard Piece     Arable
114   Ozier Car                Wood
123   The 2 acres            Pasture
125   Stackyard
133   Home Pasture        Pasture
207   The Pasture           Pasture
The area of pasture numbered 207 lies directly opposite 147 and  is now the site of the Oldhall Estate and the pastures.

Robert Elwes5 is also the landowner of the following, all in the occupation of John Wells.  It comprised the Dun Cow Pub and much of the land behind it.
183a  The 6 acres          Arable
184    Hall Close             Arable
186   The 8 acres           Arable
187   Hall Piece              Arable
188   Black Close           Arable
191   Cow Close             Arable
182   Homestall              Pasture
183   Little Blacks           Pasture
190   Fishers Pightle      Pasture
192   The Dun Cow Yards, and garden
Mary Ann Brett and the Rev. John Brett occupied the following properties of Robert Elwes.  The house is Dersingham Hall.  The Electoral Rolls of 1832 and 1835 describe it as Mansion House and Land
141   The meadow          Pasture
142   House Yards and garden
143   Cottage and garden

The following properties of Robert Elwes are occupied by John Chapman:
80     Hop Ground           Arable
81     Hop Pightle            Arable
82     Allotment               Arable
79     The 2 acres           Pasture
134   Pightle                   Pasture
135   Home pasture       Pasture
136   Home Pasture       Pasture
145   House, Buildings, and yard
79-82 are four plots lying to the left of the crossroads as Shernborne Road rises to Mill Road. 135 and 136 are the fields that rise to the left and right of Sugar Lane.

So as can be seen Robert Elwes5 has inherited from his Hamond relatives a substantial amount of land and property here.  If you had walked from Post Office Road, then a small lane possibly known as Middle Road, along Chapel Road to the church in the 1830s the great pasture and The Hall on your right and the few cottages on your left were all owned by either Robert or Henry Elwes.

Robert Elwes5 (Pictured below)
Robert was the second son of Henry Elwes of Colesbourne in Gloucestershire and Susan Hamond of Westacre, Norfolk.

Robert travelled widely in his 20s and 30s.  In 1848 he left England aboard The Eclipse to start a voyage around the world that would take 2 years and 3 months.  During all his travels he painted, sketched and kept a full account of his travels which he duly published in 1853  entitled,  “ A Sketcher’s Tour Round the World”.

He explored Brazil a little but in Argentina he crossed the pampas on horseback, a journey of some 1000 miles.  He sailed to Honolulu, Tahiti and was shipwrecked off the coast of Tasmania in 1849.  He was rescued by sealers and taken to Hobart with a cargo of 500 sheep!  He sailed on to Australia, (rather nervously) and then continued to Hong Kong (below), Canton, Shanghai, Singapore and on to the Red Sea.  He travelled overland through the desert to Cairo in a horse drawn van carrying 6 passengers.  Finally he arrived back in London on 20th June 1850.
He married Mary Lucas, the daughter of the rector of Edith Weston in Rutland, and moved to Congham.  There he built Congham House in the late 1850s but unfortunately a disastrous fire in 1939 destroyed almost all of the house so only one small wing remains.  It was in Congham that he sorted through all his sketches and writings from his world tour and published the book mentioned earlier.

Robert travelled widely in this area as can be seen from his many paintings.  He took his easel and sketch book perhaps on horseback or driving a small chaise, several times to Hunstanton to paint the cliffs.  He painted Roydon Common, Congham Common,several different views of King’s Lynn, Norwich, Cromer, Snettisham beach and the Summer house at Sandringham among many, many general views of Norfolk.  Methwold, Feltwell, and Castle Rising also feature in his work.
An astounding private collection of nearly 1000 items of Robert's work can be viewed here: Robert Elwes Collection.

I always thought he must have visited his properties here in this village and a sketch of the rood screen in our church confirmed my belief; this can be seen here in the collection  Dersingham Church Rood Screen.
There is one painting of the beautiful room in Congham House, his home. Light floods through large floor to ceiling windows overlooking the parkland and the walls are covered with pictures. 
There is no no doubt they all his own work.

He and Mary had ten children five boys and five girls.  Robert features in the electoral rolls for Dersingham from 1842.  Then it is recorded that his place of residence is Colesbourne, Gloucestershire and his property consists of freehold and copyhold houses and land near the Lynn Road.  In 1860 this changes with Congham House listed as his place of abode.

Robert went on a second world tour with his wife in 1865.  He died in 1878.

His eldest son died in the Battle of Laing’s Nek South Africa in 1881 so the second son Arthur inherited the Congham estates. His youngest son, Hugh, born 1869, died in 1882 whilst at school in Hunstanton.