Fonds HNR - Francis Hornor Memorial Archive

Identity area

Reference code



Francis Hornor Memorial Archive


  • 16th century-20th century (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

6901 pieces

Context area

Name of creator

Name of creator

(c 1840s-)

Administrative history

Robert Pratt was joined by his nephew, Charles Hornor to form the partnership. Later, Charles' son and grandson joined the firm which, in the 20th century, came to be known as Francis Hornor and Son. Merged with Brown & Co. in 1996. At Queen Street, Norwich, Norfolk.

Name of creator


Administrative history

The land agency, Messrs Francis Hornor and Son of Norwich, was established in 1794 by Norwich surveyor, Robert Pratt. The firm undertook much enclosure commission work in its early years throughout Norfolk, in which Pratt appears to have collaberated with another local surveyor, Robert Chasteney, variously described as being of Trowse, Bracondale or of Norwich. Pratt also acted as surveyor to the sea breach commissioners, particularly concerning himself with the coastal defences of East and North Norfolk. Later partners were much involved with tithe commission and railway development work, and acted as land agents for many private and official estate owners in Norwich, Norfolk and elsewhere in East Anglia.
Pratt's nephew, Charles J. Hornor, aged 22, joined the firm in the 1850s, and the firm was known as Messrs Pratt, Son and Hornor from about 1853, , later becoming Charles Hornor and Son, then Francis Hornor and Son. By the 1860s, the business had moved to its long-standing address in Queen Street, Norwich and the Pratts retired from the partnership, leaving Charles Hornor to continue alone. By 1882, he had been joined by his sons, Charles Jared (b. 1855, d. 1922) and Francis Hornor (b. 1859, d. 1932), and later still, the firm was joined by his grandson, Bassett Hornor (b. 1889, d. 1964) and great-grandson Samuel.
Charles [snr] and Francis's partnership was dissolved c 1893, possibly due to Charle's failing health.
Bassett Hornor became a partner in the firm in 1910.
Charles Jared and his father had a serious falling out during the 1890s and the younger man left the firm to set up his own land agency, often operating in competition with his father and brother.
From the late nineteenth century onwards, partners of the firm also served as stewards and clerks of Norwich-based charities and trusts such as the Norwich Town Close Charity, the Norwich Great Hospital, Alderman Norman's Foundation, the Bethel Hospital and others. In addition, both Pratt and Charles Hornor appear to have been active agents for the Norwich Union Fire Office, selling insurance policies to property owners throughout the county.
The firm merged with Brown & Co. in 1996.

Archival history

These records were stored at the premises of the firm on Queen Street, Norwich for over a century before being transferred to the Norfolk Record Office.

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Received on 5 Mar 1998 (ACC 1997/215), 24 Apr 1998 (ACC 1998/18), 21 Apr 2010 (ACC 2010/16), 9 Aug 2010 (ACC 2010/129), 14 Oct 2013 (ACC 2013/230), 23 Oct 2013 (ACC 2013/230), 8 May 2014 (ACC 2014/28), and 8 Jan 2016 (ACC 2015/209).

Content and structure area

Scope and content

The Archive includes the firm's own office and business administration records, dating from the time of Charles Hornor's involvement with the firm. These include office cash books, client ledgers, office copy correspondence, scaling books, office diaries, office copies of OS sheets of various scales and partners' memoranda and valuation books.

The Parliamentary enclosure and tithe commission work undertaken by Robert Pratt, Charles Hornor and others is represented by a large body of draft plans, copy commissioners' minutes, and related records. Many of these were listed in a summary fashion over 25 years ago and include copies of the Parliamentary Acts, surveyors' scaling books, sketches, rough surveys, notices of allotment and accounts.

One strand of the Archive derives from the role of the partners of the firm who, from the late nineteenth century onwards, were stewards and clerks of important Norwich-based charities and trusts. These include the Norwich Town Close Charity, the Norwich Great Hospital, Alderman Norman's Foundation, the Bethel Hospital and others. Present, therefore, are minutes of trust meetings, accounts, and correspondence, and, as land agents to those same institutions, the firm also created plans, surveys, and rentals/rent accounts for their estates. The collection also contains a swan roll, dated 1674.

Amongst the oldest records in the Archive are those relating to private landed estates in Norfolk and elsewhere. Of these, many are older than the firm itself and were gathered together through the administration of these estates; others were created by Hornors in the course of that administration. The former include manorial court records from the sixteenth century onwards, over 1,500 estate plans dating from the early eighteenth to the twentieth centuries, clients' family papers, surveys and particulars. Records of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries - a time when landed estates were undergoing irrevocable change - include estate accounts and agents' correspondence with landlords, tenants and tradesmen.

The Archive contains over 37 cubic metres of material and occupies about 170 linear metres of shelving at The Archive Centre. Most of the Archive is in a good state of repair, with only a few of the larger plans being currently too fragile for public use. However users of the plans currently catalogued as BR 276, should be aware that many of these records are dirty.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


System of arrangement

Catalogue numbers are related to the boxes in which records were received and do not indicate a particular archival structure. Records relating to specific clients or activities may be found in a number of different boxes throughout the collection. Where large unsuitable containers have been split and repackaged into archive quality boxes, this is reflected in the numbering.

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Finding aids

See also catalogues, BR 90 and BR 276.

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related units of description

BR 90, BR 276

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Notes area

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Accession area