CRIMPLESHAM HALL, Norfolk, England. 

Grade II listed

Crimplesham Hall

Crimplesham Hall


There are records of a manor here since the year  1040  
See  Owners of Crimplesham  below

The present house dates back to 1881

In June 1781 the earlier house was advertised for rent in the Norfolk Chronicle  and described thus:-

To be Lett, and entered upon at Old Michaelmas next, all that modern built Capital Messuage situate in Crimplesham, in the County of Norfolk; consisting of a Hall, two Parlours, four very good Lodging Rooms, and compleat Garrets, Kitchen, Dairy, Pantry, Cellars, and other convenient Offices, Coach-house and Stabling for eight Horses, with a Granary over the same, Dove-cote well stocked with pigeons, Yards and Garden, well planted with Fruit Trees, with an Orchard and Paddock adjoining, containing together, by Estimation, five Acres, and with or without eighteen Acres of excellent Pasture Ground, now in the Occupation of Mr James Drew. The said Premisses exceedingly well adapted for the Residence of a Gentleman fond of Country Diversions, and are pleasantly situate within half a Mile of the Turnpike Road from Lynn to London, three of Downham-market, nine of Swaffham, and ten of Lynn, all considerable Market Towns”.

The present Crimplesham Hall is included in the list of buildings attributed to Alfred Waterhouse who was one of the most successful British architects of the second half of the nineteenth century.

“Low pitched roofs and big eaves were already old fashioned by the 1880’s."   Yet Waterhouse used it as late as 1880 at Crimplesham Hall, where it had led  Pesvner to doubt the date and suggest 1850-60.

However, White’s Directory of 1883 confirms the date 1881 and names the contractors as Messrs Gage & Sons.


Foxhill, Reading


Foxhill House in Reading, which the architect built for his own family,
 bears a striking resemblence to Crimplesham Hall.



In 1881 John Grant Morris, a Liverpool banker1 and buisnessman, paid for a new hall to be built and gave it to his daughter as a wedding present.
In 1872 she had married 
Sir Alfred Bagge RN, second son of a local landowner Sir W Bagge MP, of nearby Stradsett Hall.

The new house, a 10 bedroom mansion of white brick, set in a wooded park, was designed in 1880 by
Alfred Waterhouse(1830 - 1905) and it was erected in 1881. The first payment was on the 30th July 1880, and the last payment on the 17th November 1881. The payments totalled 6,994 and 15 Shillings. 5,994 and 15 Shillings being the construction costs and 1000 for the finishings. The finishings were from Maples in London and were of very high quality, particularly the fine doors and other woodwork of matched Canadian Pine.
The house design was very modern for the time, with warm air ducted central heating to all the rooms, its own electricity generator in the stable block, and its own water supply and own septic tank sewerage system. (The latter still in use today.)

The  Victorian Folly

In the garden an artificial lake and a fine early Victorian Folly in the form of a Gothic Chapel, the materials of which are thought to have come from the ruins of West Dereham Abbey or a building reclaim merchant, popular in Victorian times.

The Folly predates* the new house .   There may have been the ruins of an earlier chapel there.   (See the year 1541 below.)

* Note:  In  FOLLIES  a National Trust Guide 1986 by Gwen Headley, he writes, "A remarkable edifice which bears little relationship to any chapel built by anyone other than the Brothers Grim.  A tall, spidery bell-tower is the most prominent feature , which we would guess was built in the early 19th century certainly before the existing house — the other Norfolk follies seem tamer."

In The Friends Review (Philidelphia June 1861) appears a report on the visit to Crimplesham of Isema Whittaker (see the Quaker Connection below.)  She describes a lake and tower in 1854.

E. Rose of the Norfolk Archeology Unit  believes it to be of 1881 and the work of Alfred Waterhouse, the architect of the new house.  It is possible the folly was repaired and altered at this time.  Its neo-Gothic appearance  has his stamp.


Owners of Crimplesham       
  (All references to Dereham refer to West Dereham.)


Previous known owners of Crimplesham Manor

& Hall


1040 Ailid A "Freedwoman" was the owner of the Manor of Crimplesham.

This was in Saxon times, during the reign of Edward theConfessor.


1066 Rainald "Norman the Conqueror" had seized the manor and given it as a reward to one of his Barons – Rainald, son of Ivo. These details appear in the Doomsday Book in 1086. Today the village sign shows the tyrannical Rainald and Ailid the freedwoman.


1130 - 1151 GILBERT de CLARE He was a Norman Earl of Brion who died on the latter date.


1151 - 1314 The "EARLS of CLARE" Towards the end of this period, underlordships were held by  John de Pavilly (1217) , Roger de Crimplesham prior to him.  Gilbert de Crymplesham and Theodore de Crymplesham (1250). The last Earl de Clare was killed at Bannockburn near Stirling fighting Robert the Bruce.


1315   Robert Belet


1317   Anselm de Land


1348   John de Weasenham


1399 Ralph de Dereham Ralph died Lord of the Manors of Dereham & Crimplesham.


1404 Thomas Dereham Esq. Thomas was the squire of Crimplesham and an eminent lawyer.

1450 Thomas Dereham Son of the above succeeded.

1471 - 1531 Thomas Dereham Son of the above succeeded. He was buried at his own request

"at the north end of high alter in the chauncel of Crymplesham


1542 Francis Dereham Francis of Crymplesham was executed in the Tower of London

for being the lover of Catherine Howard, wife of Henry the VIII. It

is said he prayed in the chapel room of the folly.

1560 Thomas Dereham Thomas of Crimplesham bought the abbey lands of Dereham.

1661 Sir Thomas Dereham Sir Thomas received a Baronet and built Dereham Grange.

1697 Sir Thomas Dereham Sir Thomas died on this date. He was envoy to the court of the

Duke of Tuscany. He rebuilt the abbey.

? - 1738 Sir Thomas Dereham the Last of the Dereham's. A jacobite, died on this date in Rome.

1702 - 1706 Col. Edward Soames The property was sold to Col. Edward. Lord of the manors of

Dereham and Crimplesham. His tomb is in West Dereham

Church. He and his lawyer leased the manor for a year to John


1706 - 1745 Mary Soames Daughter of the above, suceeded and married Mr Soame Jenyns

MP - an Honourable Lord of trade and plantations.

1746 William Delamore William was gentleman steward of the manor.

1745 - 1788 Soame Jenyns Esq. MP Became Lord of the manor by marriage.

1788 - 1795 Elizabeth Jenyns Presumed daughter of the above.

1806 Thomas Bagge Esq. Bought the property.

1845 - 1864 W. Bagge Esq. The owner and Lord of the Manor, but the Hall was occupied by

Mrs E Doyle and James Doyle. The clock tower of the chapel dates from this period.

1864 - 1880 Hanna Doyle ?

1880 - 1881 John Grant Morris  He paid for a new Hall to be built and gave it to his daughter

who had married a local landowner Sir Alfred Bagge RN, second son of Sir W Bagge MP for West Norfolk,

between 1837 - 1859 and 1865 - 1881. The new Hall, a 15 bedroom mansion of white brick structure set in a wooded park, was designed in 1880 by Alfred Waterhouse (1830 - 1905) and it

was erected in 1881. The first payment was on the 30th July 1880, and the last payment on the 17th November 1881. The payments totaled 6,994 and 15 Shillings. 5,994 and 15

Shillings being the construction costs and 1000 for the finishings. The finishings are thought to be from Maples in London. The contractors were Messrs Robert Gage & Sons. 

Waterhouse had previously built Allerton Priory near Liverpool for Morris and later a villa near Cannes. In 1881 the village of Crimplesham had 293 inhabitants. Sir Alfred T Bagge, Bart., was Lord of the Manor and together he and John G Morris were the chief landowners of the area.


1881 - 1904

Sir Alfred Bagge RN Sir Alfred, Commander and MP who had married Millicent - only daughter of

Mr John Grant Morris on the 11th July 1872 resided there, but the owner is recorded as John Grant Morris.


1904 - 1918 William Henry Brown

 John Percival Farmer and Stockbroker, farmed 1360 acres. He lived in London and used Crimplesham Hall as a shooting lodge.


1918 – 1952  The Birch family   ….more


1953  Steven John Pope  son-in-law of late Constance Julia Birch  & John Garford Bles solicitor


1953 Mr C.H. Cobb  (he had been the head gardener in the old Mrs Birch’s employment….more


1953 - 1966 Dr & Mrs D.W. Taylor Whilst they were out for a Sunday drive in their car, Dr & Mrs Taylor saw a hand painted wooden board saying "For Sale" at the gate. The house had not been lived in for two years and was very dusty with broken windows and dilapidated inside, but they were people who enjoyed the challenge of turning it into a family home with the help of their four teenage children.


1966 - 1968 Dr A. B. Taylor Son of the above, worked as a consultant in a hospital in London. His plan to move to Norfolk and occupy the Hall was delayed for professional reasons and in 1968 he sold it to his

brother-in-law William Harnett .


1968 - 1996 Mr William Harnett An airline pilot with BOAC, brother-in-law of the above, was married to Sylvia Taylor eldest daughter of the Taylors.. They brought up their three sons here.


1996 - now The Idris-Goudarz The ‘IDRIS-GOUDARZ’ family now own the Hall.



Information from the researches of David Wilson Taylor at the Norwich public library

and verified from A History of Norfolk volume 6 by Charles Parkin  also  A History of Norfolk Volume 2 by Francis Blomfield (both on Google Books)

Thanks also to Nick Cobb for his further researches.


 ESTATE AGENTS      Sale Details 1903          Sale Details 1996           Sale Details 2013

 AUCTIONEER’S      Sale of Contents 1918

Crimplesham & West Dereham

As early as 1399 Ralph de Dereham was Lord of the Manor of West Dereham & Crimplesham.

Following the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1539, West Dereham Abbey and its associated lands were granted by Henry VIII to Thomas Dereham of Crimplesham,  the father of Francis Dereham who subsequently upset  the king. 

St Mary’s Abbey at West Dereham was founded in 1188 by Hubert Walter, Dean of York, at his birthplace. 
It was to be a daughter house of Welbeck Abbey in Nottinghamshire, for canons regular of the Premonstratensian order.

The canons were to pray for the souls of the founder and his parents, his brothers and sisters and all his relatives and friends.

It was surrounded by a moat and was to become one of the larger religious houses in Norfolk, with up to twenty six canons in the late 13th century, and was also quite wealthy, with extensive estates in Norfolk, York, Ely and Lincoln.

The last recorded Bishop’s visitation took place 10 August, 1503.  Bishop Redman of Ely found several canons insufficiently taught; therefore he recalled Brother Robert Watton from the university, to be joined in office with the prior, and diligently to teach his brethren. Thomas Fychele was removed from the subpriorship for his negligence in his duty; otherwise the condition and discipline of the house were good.

Leading up to the Dissolution of the Monasteries, Thomas Cromwell's agent Sir John Price reported in 1536: the canons were all lacking self restraint, and were ready to confess themselves as such, longing to marry, and believing that the king had been divinely sent on earth to bring this about. He then in 1538  petitioned Cromwell for the lands for himself.  7

However, they were granted by Henry VIII to Thomas Dereham of  Crimplesham in 1539.  

A house built on the site of the abbey in the 16th century was altered and extended in the 1690s by a later Sir Thomas Dereham on his return from Italy, where he had been envoy to the court of the Grand Duke of Tuscany. This house was largely demolished in around 1810, the remaining part being converted to a farmhouse, the ruins of which were restored in the 1990s. Almost all the abbey buildings have been demolished, but buried foundations survive and can be seen as cropmarks on aerial photographs, as
can other earthworks and fishponds.



Francis Dereham of Crimplesham  -  1541

Francis of Crimplesham was executed in the Tower of London for being the lover of Catherine Howard, wife of Henry the VIII.

Francis Dereham (executed 10 December 1541) was the son of John (Thomas) Derham, of Crimplesham.. He was a Tudor period courtier, most famous for his affair with Queen Catherine Howard, fifth wife of King Henry VIII of England. This affair lasted until Catherine was made lady-in-waiting to Henry's fourth wife Anne of Cleves. Dereham was made a secretary at Hampton Court, an appointment possibly engineered by the Duchess of Norfolk, to silence him about Catherine's previous indiscretions. When their past relationship was brought to the attention of Archbishop Thomas Cranmer,  he reported them to the King, provoking an investigation which resulted in the arrests of the dowager Duchess of Norfolk, her stepson Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk, Francis Dereham and Queen Catherine herself.

.... more


The Quaker Connection
1845 -


At this time the Hall Manor was occupied by two eminent Quakers by the names of Elizabeth and Hannah Doyle.  Hanna kept a Diary of day-to-day life and this is in the Norfolk Records Office. 3
There also exist details of Bible Society meetings at this house and a description of it and the lovely grounds, in “A Tribute to the Memory of Ismena Whittaker” by Hannah Doyle of Crimplesham Hall 1860."  4

Here is a quotation from The Friends Review (Philidelphia June 1861): " A spacious dining-room and drawing-room, with pleasure grounds, lawn, lake, and tower, are open to our numerous guests, who after an evening repast (sometimes in the dell or on the lawn, and sometimes indoors) assemble at the sound of gong or bell in the drawing-room, and sit opposite the agent and other friends who are invited to address the company. It was on such an occasion in the year 1854, that Ismena Whittaker was with us."

There is also a  “Memoir of the Life of Elizabeth Fry” 5  in which there is a letter to Hannah Doyle of Crimplesham Hall on the death of her mother.


1   Bankers Magazine vol 23 1863
2   Follies, A National Trust Guide 1986

3    Norfolk Records Office

On   you can find “A Tribute to the Memory of Ismena Whittaker” by Hannah Doyle of Crimplesham Hall 1860.

5  Also on   “Memoir of the Life of Elizabeth Fry”  .

You can read the above two books in full, on line and, yes, buy modern paperback versions at  - mostly shipped from the States but if you scroll down the bookseller's page you can find UK bookshops selling them too.

6   P. Aldridge (NLA) 2007

7   From: 'Houses of Premonstratensian canons: The abbey of West Dereham', A History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 2 (1906), pp. 414-418.

Further sources:

Historical Information taken largely from the researches of the late David Wilson Taylor carried out at the Norwich public library and  recently verified by his son from  the following sources:

An Essay towards a Topographical History of the County of Norfolk –Vol VI by Charles Parkin.
An Essay towards a Topographical History of the County of Norfolk –Vol II by Francis Blomefield.

An Essay towards a Topographical History of the County of Norfolk –Vol 7 by Francis Blomefield.
Domesday Book.
Norfolk Domesday Book.

 Whites and Kelly's village Directories.

 Norfolk Archeological Unit report on Crimplesham.


Page last updated   07.01.2014    Robin Taylor and others.