Fonds WLP - Records of the Walpole Family of Wolterton (additional)

Identity area

Reference code



Records of the Walpole Family of Wolterton (additional)


  • nd [mid 13th century]-2014 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

263 boxes

Context area

Name of creator


Biographical history

Horatio Walpole (1678-1757), first Baron Walpole of Wolterton, was brother to England's first prime minister, Sir Robert Walpole (d. 1745). A diplomat, he served as ambassador in France and Holland. He built Wolterton Hall and purchased the Mannington Estate. He married Mary Lombard in 1720. Their son, also Horatio (1723-1809), succeeded his father as the 2nd baron.

Sir Robert Walpole was succeeded by his son, Robert (d. 1751), 1st baron Walpole of Walpole and the 2nd earl, and then by his grandson, George, the 3rd earl and 2nd baron. George died without heirs in 1791, and was succeeded as 4th earl and 3rd baron by his uncle, Horace Walpole, the famous man of letters and builder of Strawberry Hill, Twickenham. With the death of Horace in 1797 the earldom of Orford became extinct.

It was revived by Horatio (d. 1809), 2nd and 4th baron Walpole, who was created the 1st earl of Orford under the new creation. Horatio married Rachel, daughter of the duke of Devonshire. The title was inherited by their son Horatio (1752-1822) the 2nd earl; Horatio's son, also Horatio (1783-1858) the 3rd earl; and his son, another Horatio (d. 1894). The latter abandoned Wolterton Hall and moved to Mannington. He was succeeded by his nephew Robert (1854-1931) as the 5th earl; Robert's father had been Frederick Walpole (1822-1876) of Rainthorpe Hall, antiquary, and his wife, Laura (d. 1901). Robert restored Wolterton Hall and moved back there from Mannington in 1905.

When the 5th earl died in 1931 without a son, the new earldom of Orford became extinct. He was succeeded by his cousin, Robert (1913-1989) who became the 9th baron Walpole of Walpole and the 7th baron Walpole of Wolterton. He traced his line back to Thomas, the brother of Horatio (d. 1809) 1st earl of the second creation. Robert's parents were Horatio Walpole (who was killed in action in 1918) and Dorothea Montgomerie; this branch of the family had lived at Stagbury Park, Surrey. Robert married Nancy Jones (d. 2002). Their son, Robert (Robin) Walpole (b. 1938) became 10th Baron Walpole of Walpole and 8th baron Walpole of Wolterton in 1989 on his father's death. Robin married twice: Judith Schofield and Laurel Ball.

The Walpoles sold Wolterton Hall in 2016 and now reside at Mannington Hall.

In using the records it is easy to become confused between the different lords Walpole and earls of Orford. Sir Robert Walpole's son Robert was created the lst baron Walpole of Walpole in 1723. When Sir Robert was made the 1st earl of Orford in 1742, Lord Walpole also became the courtesy title of the eldest son of the earl of Orford. So George, later 3rd earl of Orford, was known as Lord Walpole between the death of his grandfather Sir Robert in 1745 and his succession to the earldom in 1751. In 1756, Horatio Walpole, brother to Sir Robert, was created lst baron Walpole of Wolterton. In 1797 his son, Horatio, the 2nd baron Walpole of Wolterton, also became 4th baron Walpole of Walpole on the death of Horace, 4th earl of Orford.

When the earldom was revived, Horatio 2nd and 4th baron Walpole was created the 1st earl of Orford under the new creation. However sometimes (particularly in the notes of the antiquary, Frederick Walpole) he is referred to as the 5th earl of Orford, with the 2nd earl of the new creation also being called the 6th earl and the 3rd earl also being known as the 7th. The courtesy title was revived, so from 1806 to 1858 Lord Walpole was the eldest son of the earl of Orford. When the 5th earl of the new creation died in 1931 without a son the new earldom of Orford also became extinct. The 5th earl was succeeded by his cousin, who became the 9th baron Walpole of Walpole and the 7th baron Walpole of Wolterton.

Archival history

The documents in this collection from Wolterton Hall are essentially the personal and estate papers of Horatio Walpole (1678-1757), diplomat and brother to Sir Robert Walpole, and of his successors at Wolterton. There is some additional material from related families, including diplomatic papers of William Fawkener (d. 1810), and documents acquired by gift or purchase relating to other branches of the family.

This collection is only a part of the original archive. Most of the estate deeds and manorial records were removed after a fire in 1957 and deposited first in the Norwich Central Library and later in the Norfolk Record Office (NRO Walpole of Wolterton, catalogue reference WAL). More recently, the bulk of the diplomatic papers of Horatio Walpole was moved to London in 1989 and purchased by the British Library. Other estate material deposited in the Norfolk Record Office includes Barningham and Weybourne manor court books (ACC Purdy & Holley, 23.3.57, 10.9.64, 14.10.64, 13.11.69) and the records of the Freethorpe estate (ACC Mills and Reeve, 21.1.64). In 1996 a small collection of Walpole deeds and papers left in the hands of London solicitors was deposited with the Norfolk Record Office through the British Records Association (BRA 2706). Most documents relating to the Walpole's Dorset estate were deposited in the Dorset Record Office in 1957 and 1995.

Even the archive which remained at Wolterton has not always been held there. After the death of the 3rd earl of Orford in 1858 the Hall was abandoned and many of the records were moved by the late earl's youngest son, Frederick, to Rainthorpe Hall. Frederick was extremely interested in the archive, particularly the family papers; their survival and organisation owe much to his efforts and his spiky annotations can be found throughout the documents. The archive presumably returned to Wolterton after Frederick's elder son became the 5th earl of Orford in 1894 and decided to restore the Hall.

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Received by the Norfolk Record Office on 23 April 2015 (ACC 2015/18); 20 May 2016 (ACC 2016/42); 26 February 2016 (ACC 2015/253 numbered WLP 3/1/3); and 29 February 2016 (ACC 2015/255 numbered WLP 21/9A). The catalogue was provided by the depositor, and was finalised by Norfolk Record Office staff 7 July 2016 (JW).

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Contains personal and estate papers of the Walpoles including: deeds; estate accounts; leases and tenancy agreements; game books; herd records; estate correspondence and letter books; maps and plans; business records for Saracen's Garage, the Saracen's Head and Walpole's (Wolterton) Ltd; sale particulars; Walpole family wills, settlements, legal papers and mortgages; papers re Norfolk elections and militia; personal papers of Horatio Walpole (1678-1757) and later Walpoles; genealogical papers; newspapers; Church Farm, Little Barningham and Mannington Hall Estate papers; records of Providence House School; farming records of Hon. Robin Walpole; plans and correspondence of Purcell, Miller, Tritton and Partners; and Wolterton and Mannington Estate accounts and correspondence.

Series in the collection comprise:

WLP 1 Deeds and related papers

WLP 2 Manorial documents (note that most of this series was transferred to Norfolk Record Office in 2013, and re-numbered as WAL 1634-1756)

WLP 3 Estate accounts:
WLP 3/1 Principal estate accounts
WLP 3/2 Farm accounts
WLP 3/3 Estate and farm balance sheets and summaries
WLP 3/4 Household accounts
WLP 3/5 Tenants' accounts
WLP 3/6 Rentals and rent accounts
WLP 3/7 Vouchers and subsidiary stewards' accounts
WLP 3/8 Principal estate and farm wages, and time sheets
WLP 3/9 Miscellaneous accounts

WLP 4 Estate leases and tenancy agreements

WLP 5 Game books

WLP 6 Herd records

WLP 7 Letter books

WLP 8 Estate correspondence and general papers

WLP 9 Dorset estate records (deposited with Dorset Record Office on 10 May 1995)

WLP 10 Maps and plans

WLP 11 Saracen's Garage business records

WLP 12 Saracen's Head business records

WLP 13 Walpole's (Wolterton) Ltd

WLP 14 Sale particulars and catalogues

WLP 15 Walpole family wills, settlements, legal papers and mortgages

WLP 16 Papers re Norfolk elections and militia

WLP 17 Personal papers of individual Walpole family members:
WLP 17/1 Horatio 1st Lord Walpole of Wolterton (1678-1757):
Personal papers and papers re local politics
Political and diplomatic papers
WLP 17/2 Horatio 2nd Lord Walpole, 1st Earl of Orford (1723-1809)
WLP 17/3 Horatio 2nd Earl of Orford (1752-1822)
WLP 17/4 Horatio 3rd Earl of Orford (1783-1858):
Personal accounts
Correspondence and other personal papers
Constituency and political papers
Diplomatic papers
WLP 17/5 Francis Walpole (1795-1861)
WLP 17/6 Frederick Walpole (1822-1876):
Personal and estate papers
Service in the Near East
Political correspondence and papers
Genealogical, historical and literary papers, notes and manuscripts
WLP 17/7 Laura Walpole (m. 1852, d. 1901), wife of Frederick Walpole
WLP 17/8 Frances Selina (Vade) Walpole (m. 1877, d. 1924), grandmother of Robert, 7th and 9th Lord Walpole
WLP 17/9 Robert Horace 5th earl of Orford (1854-1931)
WLP 17/10 Louise Melissa Countess of Orford (m. 1888, d. 1909), wife of Robert, 5th earl of Orford
WLP 17/11 Thomas Henry Bourke (Vade) Walpole (1879-1915), uncle of Robert, 7th and 9th Lord Walpole
WLP 17/12 Dorothea Frances Walpole (m. 1906, d. 1971), mother of Robert, 7th and 9th Lord Walpole
WLP 17/13 Robert Henry Montgomerie 7th and 9th Lord Walpole (1913-1989)
WLP 17/14 Nancy Lady Walpole (m. 1937, d. 2002), wife of Robert, 7th and 9th Lord Walpole
WLP 17/15 Robert Horatio 8th and 10th Lord Walpole (b. 1938)

WLP 18 Personal papers: Walpole family and unattributed

WLP 19 Papers of connected families

WLP 20 Documents acquired by the Walpole family by gift or purchase:
WLP 20/1 Deeds
WLP 20/2 Manorial documents
WLP 20/3 Personal and estate papers
WLP 20/4 Literary and antiquarian manuscripts and miscellanea

WLP 21 Genealogies, achievements and genealogical memoranda

WLP 22 Newspapers

WLP 23 Church Farm, Little Barningham and Mannington Hall Estate:
WLP 23/1 Accounts and financial papers
WLP 23/2 Correspondence

WLP 24 Providence House School

WLP 25 Farming records of the Hon. Robin Walpole (Lord Walpole):
WLP 25/1 Crops and general farming
WLP 25/2 Sugar beet
WLP 25/3 Integrated Administration and Control System (IACS) material
WLP 25/4 Sheep and goats
WLP 25/5 Cattle and pigs
WLP 25/6 Groups for which Lord Walpole held membership

WLP 26 Purcell, Miller, Tritton and Partners:
WLP 26/1 Plans
WLP 26/2 Correspondence

WLP 27 Photograph albums (retained by the family; not deposited with Norfolk Record Office)

WLP 28 Walpole and Mannington Estate, 1989 onwards:
WLP 28/1 Documents of title
WLP 28/2 Balance sheets
WLP 28/3 Day books/ledgers
WLP 28/4 Vouchers
WLP 28/5 Other financial papers
WLP 28/6 Correspondence and general

WLP 29 Books from the Wolterton Library

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


System of arrangement

In this list 'file' has been used in the archival sense of documents joined together, usually at the corner. Most bundles, older folders and envelopes indicate an arrangement as found. Loose documents in modern envelopes and folders have mainly been put together for convenience.

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Access restricted to most of the post-1989 estate material (mainly listed as WLP 28/ in the catalogue) until 1 January 2040. To enquire about accessing restricted records please contact Lord Walpole, Mannington Hall, Norwich, NR11 7BB.

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Related units of description

See also catalogues WAL, MC 286 and BRA 2706.
For audio recordings (9 compact cassettes) see ACC 2015/18. These relate to lectures held at Wolterton Hall (Tom Williamson on Gardens, 1992; Beverley Peters on History and Development of Hall, 1992; Elizabeth Rutledge on Archives, 1992; Lord Walpole and Spencer Brook on Wolterton Porcelain, 1992; Peter Miller and Lord Walpole on Architecture of the House, 1992; Laurel Walpole on Family History from Pictures, 1992; Laurel Walpole on unspecified subject, 1992; David Yaxley on Houghton Hall Archive, 1993; and Alan Davison on Archaeology and Landscape, 1993) and recording of Norfolk Assembly Ball held at Wolterton, 17 May 2003. To listen to recordings, please contact the Norfolk Record Office to enquire about the creation of access copies.

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