The Windham Era
The Norfolk Windhams had been here since the estate passed out of the hands of the de Felbrigg family in the mid-15th century, but when their line died out in 1599 the Somerset branch of the Wyndham family took over. In 1621-4 Sir John Wyndham and his son Thomas constructed the south front formed out of the carcass of an early Tudor building, and adopted the Norfolk spelling of Windham.
William Windham I
The son of Thomas Windham and his second wife Elizabeth Mede, he built the west wing in the 1680s with the architect William Samwell. Some of the rooms at Felbrigg still have this original plasterwork, and the drawing room ceiling contains the date 1687 and the initials WW. In 1669, the year after he came of age, William married Katherine Ashe, the daughter of a rich Twickenham merchant. Katherine's cookbook from 1707 has survived and is held in the Norfolk Records Office, see link below.
William Windham II
William Windham III
Born in 1750, he was known as 'fighting Windham', being sent home from Eton in 1766 for his prominent part in the school rebellion against an unpopular new headmaster Dr. Foster. He married Cecilia Forrest in 1798, and as they were both in their late forties so there was no prospect of a young family. A statesman, in 1794 he began a seven year term as Secretary at War. As a friend of Samuel Johnson, he inherited some of Johnson's books and bought others at the auction following his death.