The Norwich Merchant

South Front of Felbrigg

The estate was bought by Norwich merchant, John Ketton for £77,238.7s.1d (in 1863 this was equivalent to £7.7m today). A 'private' valuation dated 5 March 1862 valued the house and estate at £124,000. This was the equivalent of £12m today.

John Ketton

Had altered his name from Kitton in 1853, and had made a fortune from oil cake and cattle feed in the 1830s and 40s. 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. 

" Windham is gone to the dogs, Felbrigg has gone to the Kittens"
- 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.

These can be seen hanging on the wall at Felbrigg
Rachel Ketton's fire buckets
These can be seen hanging on the wall at Felbrigg

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.  Rachel kept a diary of life at Felbrigg and we have in our archives the diaries from 1863 to 1870.  These have been painstakingly transcribed by one of our volunteers and you can follow the link below to read these.

Robert Ketton 

He lived with his two younger sisters, Marion and Gertrude who kept house for him.

Playing billiards in the Great Hall at Felbrigg
The Ketton sisters in the pictured 1870s
Playing billiards in the Great Hall at Felbrigg

When they died prematurely in the 1890s Robert was devastated and became reclusive. The house and estate fell into decay, and he 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.  In 1924 he gave up Felbrigg, making it over to his nephew Wyndham Cremer.