a Histroy of Several House ....
Reverend P. H. Moss
Mrs. E. Coe.
14 January 1978.
One of the most distinctive properties
in Mattishall is Several House which lies due South of the Church
and faces straight across the plain it has the air of something
out of Jane Austen. The facade appears to be about 1800 (which
would have been during the ownership of the Reverend George Smith)
but this assessment must be subject to a more 'professional judgement.
The present owners, Colonel and Mrs. C. E. Knight, have in their
possession a very interesting set of legal and manorial papers
about the. house between 1754 and 1920, in which year it was bought
by Mr. James Neave.
We have not been able to establish
how long the name "Several House” has been in use;
it is not employed in any of the papers, nor in any of the rate
books for 1839-66 which are in the parish chest. Nor. have we
found any reliable explanation of the meaning of the name; local
surmise would say it is derived from the fact that amongst the
many public houses originally in the village "The Bull"
was the only one which sold “several” types of ale.
More likely however, is the fact the original estate comprised
"several" parcels of land.
The pivotal date in the documentary
history of the house is 1842; in that year the house was conveyed
to 'the Reverend Thomas Paddon, Vicar 1821-61, and the Abstract
of Title prepared on that occasion not only includes a new modern
description of the property which was to be repeated in all the
following transactions, but also an older description dating from
One messuage lately built called
the Bull together with the lands orchards and appurtenances
to the same belonging in Mattishall; and.3r. of land laying
in a place lately called Snakescroft and one parcel of land
built upon in Churchgate Street and also 3 pieces of land containing
la. 3r. Op. (the said land now enclosed in one close) and contains
by estimation 3a. more. or less and 1yeth in part next the land
of the Vicarage of Mattishall and in part next the land of Thomas
Trappett on the West part, land of Thomas Trappett South, the
Kings highway leading from Mattishall Street to South Green
Fast, Churchgate Street to-wards the North.
As "The Bull" the house
'was presumably an inn, one of a dozen or more known to have existed
at different times and places in the village; Mattishall Street
is the existing main road, and Churchgate Street what we now call
The same Abstract lists the owners
between 1754 and 1842:
1754 Thos Dove, nephew and heir of John Dove;
1754 Heirs of Thos Dove, the Arnold sisters. (We have no other
evidence as yet of any Doves, but much evidence of Dows. We
do know of a large family of Arnolds, including 3 sisters
– Thomasin, Elizabeth and Mary.
1767 John Manning, a small farmer who was Churchwarden several
times between 1754 and 1790;
1791 Henry Rouse of Mattishall, another farmer. We know that
in 1786 he was farming 90 acres;
1798 The Reverend George William Smith. Mr. Smith was curate
of the parish from 1793 and married in 1798, the year of his
purchase. He also acted as Churchwarden from 1799-1807. Parson
Woodforde describes him in his diary as a very modest, well-disposed
man; he is not to be confused with the Reverend John Smith,
who was Vicar of Mattishall, who purchased the present Vicarage
and who features greatly in Parson Woodforde. One of G. W.
Smith's daughters' Elizabeth Anne, born in 1802 (presumably
in the house) was in due course to marry Mr. Paddon, who left
her a life interest in the house after his death.
1814 William Yarrington, acting as executor under the surprisingly
complicated 1802 marriage settlement of William and Elizabeth
Lindsey of Swaffham. This immensely long document was copied
in toto in 1842 to prove that Yarrington had really had the
right to buy it in 1814; the copy remains in Colonel Knights
possession. Someone in a later hand has added the names of
the Lindsey children and their spouses. The picture revealed
is surprising. The parents were Swaffham maltsters, and the
sons and sons-in-law were ordinary tradespeople (2 painters,
a baker, a grocer, a draper, a dealer and a livery stable
keeper, all but the draper established in the London area).
Why should such an ordinary family have such a complicated
marriage settlement? Why did the parents leave Swaffham for
Mattishall? We certainly know from the registers that they
were resident here between a baptism in 1805 and Mr. Lindsey's
burial in 1825.
1839, Yarrington being dead, the Lindsey children were jointly
admitted to the Manor of Mattishall Tuddenham, with special
provision for one son who was bankrupt. The 1839 Valuation
for Tithe lists Richard Lindsey as the owner, but he is not
one of the 8 children listed on the 1842 Abstract of Title.
In 1841 the Lindsey executors offered the property for sale
Thus we have a complete list of the owners right
back to 1754, but this is not to say that all or any of them
were resident, though it seems most likely that Mr. Smith lived
in the house, since he bought it in the year of his marriage.
We certainly know, both from the Abstract of Titles and from
the excellent series of Poor Rate books 1836-66 in the parish
chest. that in the period immediately prior to the auction,
it was occupied in. 1836 by Mrs. Brunton (and before that by
Colonel Knight has a sale bill which tells us
that the house is occupied by Edward Robert Owen, a surgeon.
The rate books tell us that he was tenant of the whole property
(over 2,acres) from 1837 till after August 1841. (The most interesting
rate books for 1839 list addresses, not done in the later books;
there are many which come new even to those who have been diligently
studying the village history for years. Where are Brazen Doors,
Lelderum Square or Frogs Hall? It is evident that Gentleman's
Walk was on the North side of the Church. Bull Street will,
after further study, perhaps be found in the region of Several
House, while the Plain was known as Queen Square). The church
registers tell us that Mr. Owen had four children baptised between
1838 and 1842. The house was auctioned by Mr. Spelman on June
2 1841 at the King's Arms in East Dereham. The Lindsey property
was in 5 lots. At the auction, the house, Lot 1, was unsold,
but Mr. Paddon bought it straight after the sale for £400.
At the auction he had already bought Lot 2, an adjoining orchard,
for £80. His legal fees to Messrs. C7olden, Browne and
Carthew were £18 and his fees payable to the Manor were
£60.10.0, including 2s.0d. (10 pence today) for the crier.
Mr. Paddon was a great buyer of land; the Methodists
accused him of buying up properties which would make suitable
chapels, to hinder their work. The year after his death, the
rate-books list under his executors a farm of 38 acres, Several
House (not under that name) 7 cottages and gardens, 2 houses
and a parcel of land. Completion of the conveyance does not
seem to have been achieved before Michaelmas 1842, a very long
delay even by today's slow standards. However, in January 1842,
Dr. Owen had been succeeded as occupier by Surgeon Pitt, described
in the conveyance as Vincent Pitt, though we have no other mention
of that forename in the registers. As mentioned, Dr. Owen had
had tenancy of over 2 acres, but Dr. Pitt had tenancy of only
1 rood 20 perches. Between the rates of April and October 1845,
he was succeeded as tenant by Dr. George Taylor, but Dr. Taylor
again rented the full 2 acres. He was still tenant in 1866,
our last rate book, but by 1887, when his daughter, Charlotte,
married R..W. Pitt, a clergyman, he had moved to South Green.
Was this Mr. Pitt related to Dr. Pitt of Several House? (A graphic
account of the marriage can be found in the Village History
(Note: Dr. Taylor’s tenancy was interrupted.
He was tenant 1845-59, and again from 1865; but.1859-65
the occupier was one John Turner, of whom at the moment
we have no other information).
Mr. Paddon died in 1861, leaving a life
interest in the house to his wife. She did not take
up residence herself; the rate books reveal that she
occupied a house owned by Francis Taylor. Where this
house is and whether Francis was related to George remains
to be investigated. Following Mrs. Paddon's death in
1885, aged 82, the property passed under Mr. Paddon’s
will to Mr. Willoughby Rackham of Middlesex, and in
1891 Mr. Rackham sold it to Mr. Everitt of Oulton Broad.
In 1919 Mr. Everitt purchased his manorial enfranchisement
from the Manor of Mattishall Tuddenham and its Lord,
the Trustees of the late Mr. G. A.. Berney, of Morton
Hall, for the not inconsiderable sum of £109.
How many contemporary Englishmen realise
that feudal dues of this magnitude were still being
bought out as recently as 1919?
Mr. Everitt also enfranchised at the
same time the pair of houses now known as Talbot House
and Church Cottage, between the Vicarage and Church
Farm, which Mr. Paddon had bought in 1839 and left to
Mr. Rackham, subject to Mrs. Paddon’s life interest.
In the enfranchisement of 1919, Several
House is described thus, as it had been ever since 1842:
All that messuage or dwelling
house with the coach house stable and other buildings yards
gardens enclosure. of pasture land and orchard to the same
adjoining situate in Mattishall and containing together
2a. 2r. 20p.
abutting on Churchgate Street in part towards the North
upon the highway leading from the said street to Welborne
East land late of Sarah Hubbard South and in part West land
late of money Sendall upon remaining parts of West and North.
The modern history of Several
House begins with 1920 when Mr. Everitt sold it to Mr. James
One final reflection on this
most fascinating collection of papers is what a boon the
house has been for the lawyers. To start off with, the Stewards
of the Manor were lawyers, and no doubt much of the manorial
fee payment, extracted at every change of owner, found its
way to them in fees. Then we remember the massive Lindsey
marriage settlement all recopied 40 years later. Then, once
Mr. Paddon had purchased the house, he found that his deeds
were part of a document belonging to Mr. Ceorge Culyer who
had bought the principal agricultural lot at the sale; there
had to be a legal agreement between them giving Mr. Paddon
a right to view the deeds when he needed to do so.
There remains among Colonel Knight's papers an abstract
of title of a completely different property described as
a double cottage or tenement and Baking Office in Mattishall,
together with a further cottage or tenement, with public
road to North and North West, a description which seems
to fit well the present site of the Mattishall Supply Co,
The abstract is dated 1857
and describes how the property passed in 1812 from William
Wright to Charles Dunham Barrett. William Wright was a surgeon,
described by Parson Woodforde as resident in Badley Moor,
which in those days extended to the East side of Welgate
He was related to the Bodhams at South Green House and he
died in 1811. Charles Dunham Barrett is presumably father
of a man of identical name, the livery stable keeper who
married one of the Lindsey daughters.
Old Barrett's executors sold
it to William Miles in 1826, and we do know that in 1839
Thomas Newman was tenant of a beer house belonging to Miles.
The 1851 Census refers to a Thomas Newman in Welgate. Mr.
Miles sold it in 1842 to Wright Wigg, a Dereham man who
died in 1856. The abstract was no doubt drawn up as part
of the ensuing sale. We know for certain that Mr. Rackham
was, at any rate between 1859 and 1865, owner of a cottage
in Welgate. His owning both the Welgate property and Several
House no doubt explains how the abstract is still in Colonel
Knight's hands, although the properties have for many years
been in different hands.