Fonds KIM - Wodehouse of Kimberley Collection

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Wodehouse of Kimberley Collection


  • nd [12th century]-1935 (Creation)

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Extent and medium

18 series

Context area

Name of creator

(1415-20th century)

Biographical history

Kimberley Hall and estates in surrounding parishes have been in the hands of the Wodehouse family since at least the early fifteenth century. In 1873 the estate of the Earl of Kimberley in Norfolk was 10,800 acres, making him one of the greatest landowners in the county.

The Family

The family have played an important role in local and national affairs. Members include:

John Wodehouse, esquire of the body to Henry V 1413-1422, Chamberlain of the Exchequer 1415.

Edward Wodehouse, knighted at the Battle of Tewkesbury in 1471.

Thomas Wodehouse, created a Knight of the Bath at the marriage of Prince Arthur in 1501.

Roger Wodehouse, knighted by Edward VI in 1548.

Thomas Wodehouse, MP, knighted at the Battle of Musselburgh in 1547.

Roger Wodehouse, MP, knighted in 1578.

Philip Wodehouse (d 1623), MP, first Baronet.

Thomas Wodehouse (d 1658), MP for Thetford 1640-1653, High Sheriff of Norfolk 1624.

Philip Wodehouse (1608-1681), MP for Norfolk 1654-1658 and for Thetford in the Restoration Parliament.

John Wodehouse (1669-1754), MP for Norfolk and Recorder of Thetford.

Armine Wodehouse (1714-1777), MP for Norfolk 1737-1768, Colonel of East Norfolk Militia. Sir Armine Wodehouse was the fifth Baronet.

John Wodehouse (1741-1834), Recorder of Falmouth, MP for Norfolk 1784-1797, elevated to the peerage as the first Baron Wodehouse in 1797.

John Wodehouse (1771-1846), second Baron, Lord Lieutenant of Norfolk.

John Wodehouse (1826-1902), Envoy Extraordinary at St Petersburg 1856-1858, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland 1864-1866, served in Gladstone's ministries as Secretary of State for India, the Colonies and Foreign Affairs. Succeeded his grandfather as third Baron Wodehouse in 1846 and raised to the Earldom of Kimberley in 1866.

John, second Earl of Kimberley (1848-1932).

John, third Earl of Kimberley (1883-1941).

John, fourth Earl of Kimberley (b 1924).

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Received by the Norfolk Record Office on 7 May 1974.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

The archive is extremely rich in medieval title deeds for property in Kimberley and nearby parishes (KIM 2). There is also an extensive collection of later title deeds for estates in the same area of the county and also for the Witton area in North east Norfolk where the family acquired land on marrying into the Norris family in 1796 (KIM 3-4). There are manor court records for manors in both areas (KIM 1).

There are many records of the family's involvement in county politics (KIM 6). They include a letter book of Sir Philip Wodehouse concerning the county militia, 1599-1602 (KIM 6/2); poll book for the county election of 1700 (KIM 6/7); details of election business and expenses 1728-1893 (KIM 6/14-33); letters concerning the riots of 1830 (KIM 6/38); papers re Forehoe House of Industry, 1770-1782 (KIM 6/10); papers re the building of Carleton Bridge, 1815 (KIM 6/13).

There are some papers relating to international affairs including St Petersburg in the 1850s and the siege of Paris in 1870 (KIM 7). However the main body of the political papers of the first Earl of Kimberley is at the Bodleian Library in Oxford. (There are also smaller groups in the British Library and in the National Library of Scotland.). The family correspondence includes a very detailed series of letters written from Sheerness during the naval mutiny there in 1797 (KIM 14/5/4).

The family kept no register of leases they issued on farms that they owned but there are many hundreds of counterpart leases (KIM 11). The estate's financial records (KIM 5) are also very extensive, especially for the second half of the nineteenth century: the Kimberley estate has probably the most detailed records for this period of any large Norfolk estate.

The collection includes family letters, journals and poetry (KIM 9, 14). These include some relating to the 'Grand Tour' of Europe (KIM 9/7-10; KIM 14/5/21-22). There are papers relating to work on Kimberley Hall itself, from the eighteenth to the twentieth centuries (KIM 8). The first Earl took a great interest in the history of the family and there is a large quantity of genealogical material (KIM 13).

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


System of arrangement

The spelling 'Wodehouse' was the form adopted when the family was elevated to the peerage in 1797. In earlier documents there was of course a wide variation of spelling but in this list the name is spelt 'Wodehouse' throughout. In listing the medieval deeds, parish names have also been modernised, but the names of pieces of land, furlongs etc. are given as they appear in the original documents.
Numbers not used- KIM 2O/13
KIM 2H/23 has been re-numbered. See HMC p.102.

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