No written evidence to date this building
There is no written evidence to provide dates for the building of the farmhouse and the buildings nearby and very little concerning the people who lived there. Dendrochronology (a dating technique based on tree ring widths in timber) suggests that the house was built soon after 1597. Some deeds of 1643 indicate that it then belonged to a family called Maltiward.
The Maltiwards were yeoman farmers. Yeomen had a reputation for good living: 'At our Yeoman's table' wrote Thomas Fuller 'you shall have no meat disguised with strange sauces... beset with sallads on every side, but solid substantial food.' But they were also usually thrifty and hard-working. Their houses, clothes and possessions were simply made even if of good quality; after a good harvest they would keep their money in hand (or under the mattress) for a bad year, or use it to buy more land. That they also had a strong sense of duty and felt a responsibility for maintaining law and order is shown by the fact that parish officials were almost always drawn from the ranks of yeomen. Judging from the house they built, the Maltiwards were comfortably off; a house with eight rooms - which it had by the mid-17th century - would have been considered substantial.
By the early 18th century Manor Farm had passed into the hands of a man named Richard Baker, who is described as a worsted weaver; in the first of the 20th-century restorations, traces of a loom were found in the house. He was following a long-established local tradition of combining weaving with farming: small farmers often needed some secondary occupation on which they could fall back in years of crop failure and weaving was the most usual choice in the neighbourhood. Many surviving probate inventories list quantities of cloth among the deceased’s possessions. In the mid-16th century, so vital a part of the Pulham village economy was this work that when weaving was suppressed in many rural areas (to protect the Norwich weavers), Pulham was made an exception.
After Richard Baker’s death Manor Farm passed to his daughter Hannah, the wife of Robert Thrower and then to her son Richard for his lifetime only, eventually reverting to his cousin Noah, a miller from Tivetshall St Mary. Noah and Richard, however, came to an agreement after Robert’s death; Richard took over all rights in Manor Farm and Noah was given Richard’s share in the mill, in which he already had a controlling interest.
Richard died a few years later and his widow Lucy and their seven children continued to live in the house and to farm the land. In 1844 the Throwers sold the farm to the Hotson family, who continued there until the 1920s. They in turn sold the farm to the Andrews family, but none of them seems to have lived in the house: it fell empty and began to sink into disrepair. In 1945 it was sold to a junk dealer for demolition, but fortunately he did not feel happy about pulling it down. At this point it providentially came to the attention of Monica Dance, secretary of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, who rapidly decided that her personal intervention was required and with her husband Harry bought it forthwith.
The Dances restored the farmhouse lovingly and sensitively, subjecting it to the minimum of alteration. It was underpinned and the timber framing carefully reinforced where it was shaky, the roof was re-thatched with reed, several blocked windows were opened up and the walls were repaired with local clay in the traditional manner.
For a short history of Manor Farm please click here.
To read the full history album for Manor Farm please click here.