Gone to the dogs

And gone to the kittens

Leather fire buckets hanging on the wall at Felbrigg Hall

Leather fire buckets hanging on the wall at Felbrigg Hall

In 1863 the estate was bought by a Norwich merchant, John Ketton who had made a fortune from oil cake and cattle feed in the 1830s and 40s. He altered his name from Kitton in 1853. 'Windham is gone to the dogs. Felbrigg has gone to the Kittens'  was recorded by the Rev B J Armstrong in his diary in 1864.

John Ketton became rather cantankerous in later years, disinheriting his elder son, and  the estate was left to his younger son Robert on his death in 1872. His wife Rachel held the reins for several years until Robert became of age, and during this time put her initials on the fire buckets. Robert lived with his two younger sisters, Marion and Gertrude who kept house for him. When they died prematurely in the 1890s Robert was devastated and became reclusive. The house and estate fell into decay.

The Ketton years

  • John Ketton paid £77,238.7s.1d for the House and estate. Equivalent to £7.7m today.
  • A 'private' valuation dated 5 March 1862 valued the house and estate at £124,000. The equivalent of £12m today - so a good investment.
  • The family moved here in 1863 and lived happily in the old house with all its contents and memories for many years
  • They kept many of the old records in the house from which we know when certain items of furniture were bought
  • The few repairs that were done during Robert's years were met from the sale of assets
  • In 1918/19 some of the treasures of the house were put on the market
  • These included Bladwell's splendid chairs and sofas from the Cabinet; some of the most important books from the library; and much of the porcelain
  • Within five years he gave up Felbrigg making it over to his nephew Wyndham Cremer.

The last squire

Enjoy a day at Felbrigg Hall © Mark Aimes

Enjoy a day at Felbrigg Hall

Born in 1870, Wyndham Cremer-Cremer's mother was the youngest daughter of John and Rachel Ketton and his paternal grandmother was a Cromer Wyndham, descended from the younger brother of the builder of the house. Like Admiral Lukin he was now required as a condition of inheritance to add another name to his own and so became Windham Ketton-Cremer. He married Emily Bayly in 1905 and they had two sons. Robert who became the last Squire, and a notable historian, and Richard who was killed during the invasion of Crete during the Second World War.

No mod cons

Take a relaxing bath 1850 style

At the time of their inheritance, Felbrigg offered no modern conveniences. They installed the bathroom, but there was no electricity until 1953. As a result the house was not requisitioned during the war.

Victory V

Felbrigg’s Victory V path seen in the autumn

The Victory V plantation behind the house was planted at the end of the war to celebrate the allied victory. Its arms frame the distant view of Norwich cathedral and it commemorates his brother Richard.

Bequeathed to us

small mantle clock at Felbrigg Hall

The last squire never married and would say that  Felbrigg "was to be left to a cat's home". In fact he had already approached the National Trust in 1941.  It passed to us on his death in December 1969.