Temporary ACC 2015/244 - Records of the Purdy family of Woodgate, Aylsham

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ACC 2015/244


Records of the Purdy family of Woodgate, Aylsham


  • 1675-1999 (Creation)

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24 boxes, 23 rolls, 1 packet

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Biographical history

All the farms, houses and lands in Foulsham, Bintry, Foxley and Wood Norton were inherited by Robert John Woods Purdy [RJWP] through his father (Robert John Purdy), his mother (who was the only child of John Berwick) and Robert Woods, his godfather and Berwick's brother in law. Woods never lived in Foulsham and had no children.

RJWP was tenant of the Woodgate farm from Oct 1864 and inherited it with the whole Aylsham estate from Robert Woods in 1870. He ran the Woodgate farm himself and had tenants in Stonegate farm, Spa farm etc.

Seamans, later known as Virginia House, was held copyhold of Foulsham manor. Bought by Robert Woods and left in his will of 1870 to Susan E. Purdy who was admitted in October 1873 (she also had Hill House - later to RJWP). At her death unmarried in 1905 it passed to her brother RJWP (heir to Woods's main estate) who came to live in Foulsham at around this time (Woodgate House in Aylsham was let). It was still owned by his son Col. Tom Purdy at the time of the 1938 family settlement. In the 1930s, it was occupied by the vet Arthur Woodhouse and before that at the 1911 census his father Herbert Woodhouse was in it - he also was a vet.

The Purdy papers give previous occupiers as John Powell and before him Henry May Waller. Waller was there on the tithe apportionment and map as owner and occupier. The land behind it, shown as occupied by Waller, was part of the property description in the 1873 admission: 3.5r. in 2 pieces. The 1873 description includes a shop in the property.

According to a poll book, Henry Waller had it in 1844. But in 1868 he was voting on East Dereham property, where he shows in the censuses of both 1851 and 1861 as a commission agent. This narrows down the likely range of purchase dates by Woods to 1844-1851. John Powell, a tailor and draper, was in Foulsham in 1851 and 1861 and the place in the census sequence suggests Virginia House. He does not appear in the poll books as an owner.

The date when it was sold by the Purdy family is unknown, but the disposal of the estate from the 1940s onwards was piecemeal.

Between 1908 and 1920 Woodgate House was let to a childless couple, Mr and Mrs Arthur Boulderson, a retired Bengal Civil Servant. They had previously lived in Westwick nr Nth Walsham and brought their four senior servants, Chastney the groom, Emma Farrow cook, Jemima Farrow parlour maid and Alice Gould housemaid, with them to Aylsham. In 1911 Beatrice Cross was the under-housemaid and the sick nurse was Margaret Bennett. The photos are of these servants and others. Arthur died, 81, in the summer of 1915 and his widow continued as tenant until she died in 1920. See letter.

Name of creator


Biographical history

Thomas was the only son of Robert John Woods Purdy and Ada Maria Cook of Thwaite Hall. He attended Bengeo Prep School at Hertford, Haileybury School, Hertford, Jesus College Cambridge and was articled in Norwich and Suffolk, qualifying as a solicitor in London in 1900. He was made 2nd Lt in the 3rd VBNR in 1896 and attended the Chelsea School of Instruction 1897. As the heir to the estate, he did not fight in the Boer War but letters from his friends and the Aylsham volunteer men show his involvement and support. He succeeded to William Forster's practice in the Market Place, Aylsham in 1906. He married Nona Hunt of Sedgeford Hall and they had two sons John, Thomas jnr and daughters Dorothy and Ann. By 1913 he was on the parish council, clerk to South Erpingham magistrates, churchwarden and in command of the Aylsham volunteers. His own wartime experiences - at Gallipoli he commanded D company of the Territorial 1/5 Norfolk Reg at Suvla Bay and was wounded 12 Aug 1915 - have been published by Neil Storey and the EDP (Weekend 15 Aug 2015). He became a Major 7 July 1916 and later supervised a Turkish prisoner of war camp at Sidi-Bashr, Alexandria, Egypt. After the war, in 1920, he sold most of the estate to pay off the mortgages (his father had died in 1916) and continued his legal practice, Purdy and Holley. He was in the Home Guard in the 2nd World War and played a major part in local politics, the Masons and the British Legion.\r\nSee also 'Dear Tom ... Love Nona' by Maggie and William Vaughan-Lewis (2016) for their correspondence, 1914-1919.

Name of creator


Biographical history

Inherited farms, houses and lands in Foulsham, Bintry, Foxley and Wood Norton. He was tenant of the Woodgate farm from Oct 1864 and inherited it with the whole Aylsham estate from Robert Woods in 1870. He ran the Woodgate farm himself and had tenants in Stonegate farm, Spa farm etc.

Name of creator


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Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Received by the Norfolk Record Office on 16 February, 15 March, 26 April 3 May, 5 July and 25 August 2016 (ACC 2015/244). Added February-September 2016 (JW/AB/IRP).

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For article 'Woodgate House 1500-1900', a talk given by William Vaughan-Lewis to Aylsham Local History see 'Aylsham Local History Society Journal and Newsletter' vol. 10 no. 5 Dec 2015. There is a copy of this article and of a Purdy family tree compiled by William Vaughan-Lewis in the accession file; to see these, please ask the archivist on duty in the searchroom.

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Created 17/02/2016 by Drofm. Modified 03/10/2018 by Droip.


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