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Sir Robert Hunter
Sir Robert Hunter
1844-1913

 
Nellie Cann, Bunwell and the National Trust

 

Within the Surrey Records Office are several documents relating to a farm in Bunwell.   The farm, situated in Bunwell Bottom, is almost certainly Pond Farm, and was inherited by Lady Hunter in the late 1800s.  Lady Hunter was the wife of Sir Robert Hunter who is credited with being the founder of the National Trust.    

Lady Hunter was born as Nellie Cann in 1851 at Carlton Rode.  Her parents were almost certainly Samuel and Martha Cann who, in the 1851 census, farmed 220 acres of prime agricultural land in and around Carlton Rode.  Nellie’s formative years are sketchy, but her early school years were spent in the village before she moved to boarding school in Norwich.  Nellie Cann married Sir Robert Hunter in 1877, and by 1883 had three daughters, Dorothy, Winifred and Margaret.  They lived at Three Gates Lane, in Haslemere, Surrey.  

In 1896 Lady Hunter inherited a small farm located in Bunwell as a result of the death of Mrs Clarke (nfi), who left the estate to the “Cann children”.  Mrs Clarke had recently inherited the property from Mr Thomas Barker who had died around 1895.  According to the documents, the 55 acre farm had been owned by the Barker family since the early 1800s.  Thomas Barker had lived and worked on the farm from at least 1861 until 1887 when he decided to let the business.  The Surrey Records Office holds correspondence between Lady Hunter, the Trustees of the Barker/Clarke estate and Pomeroys, Lady Hunter’s solicitor.  The main theme to the documents is the repair of the farm and the retention of its tenant, Edward Jackson, who is noted in the papers as a good farmer.  The farm had been let to Edward Jackson in 1889 at an initial annual rent of £80 and he remained at the farm until 1896.  In 1892 the farm rental was reduced to £60, a move designed to retain Jackson as the tenant and an indication of the problems facing agriculture at this time.

Bunwell Census extracts showing the likely occupiers of Lady Hunter’s property Pond Farm 

CENSUS

LOCATION

NAME

AGE

OTHER

Reference

Census Entry Number

1901

Bunwell

Bottom

Edward HARDIMAN

68

Farmer

RG13/1864 -89

Page 5

NN

1891

North part of Bunwell

Edward JACKSON

70

 

RG 12/546

Page 1

6

1881

Bottom

Thomas BARKER

67

Farmer

RG 11/1970 106

Page 3

13

1871

Bunwell Bottom

Thomas BARKER

57

Farmer

55 acres

RG 10/1837

Page 18

98

1861

Bottom

Thomas BARKER

45

Farmer

55 acres

RG 09/1234

Page 20

118

1851

Bottom

Robert MURTON

Leased 1848 for 8yrs

35

Farmer 56 acres

HO 107/1821 – 869 page 30

NN

1841

The Bottom

Henry BARKER

75

Farmer

HO 107/757/3

Page 29

NN

 In 1895 a severe storm hit Norfolk and the farm was badly damaged along with many other properties across the region.  From the letters, Lady Hunter appears reluctant to invest £135 in order to repair the extensive storm damage to the farm.  The farm Executors and Lady Hunter’s solicitor express their concerns to Lady Hunter that Edward Jackson would leave the property if it was not repaired.  Reluctantly, Lady Hunter agreed for repairs to be carried out.  The works went ahead with a barn, cow house, stable, turnip house, open sheds and a privy all being rebuilt.  Unfortunately, at the Christmas of 1896 Jackson ended his farm tenancy.    The property was subsequently put up for auction, and sold, probably to a Mr Edward Hardiman who appears on the 1901 Census in a farm at Bunwell Bottom.