HARVEY HOUSE

Above: Harvey House when it was first built in 1906.
The Potter family are looking round their future home:
(L>R) Emma Elizabeth; William & Emma (nee Harvey) and Alice.

Harvey House is at the end of a long track on a ridge overlooking Flordon Common. The present house was built in 1906 when William Potter and his wife Emma neé Harvey were soon to retire from White House Farm, but sadly William died within weeks of moving in. The following year their only son, Thomas William Harvey Potter, died aged 36 of lung cancer. The present substantial brick house replaced a much older clay lump thatched cottage that had burnt down. This family is inextricably linked to the history of Flordon Common and has been associated with the land for more than two centuries.

'The Protector of Flordon Common' was a title given to Mrs Ida Holmes 'by a small and fervent group of naturalists following a legal action which culminated in 1996 in a case.... In which she successfully claimed access and the right to graze stock.....What the decision really meant was that Flordon Common would not be put to the plough, tht it would remain intact.... And that the flowers would be safe.' (EDP 'Window on East Anglia, Sat. 18 Aug. 1973).

Born Ida Ellen Arnold in 1914, she was the eldest of the three daughters of Ida Alice Harvey Potter and Frederick Arthur Arnold. She moved into Harvey House to look after her Aunt Emma Elizabeth Potter (1868-1950), her mother's eldest sister, who went blind. Aunt Emma had worked at Letton Hall (near Shipdham) where she often looked after the owners' handicapped son whilst his parents were away. Ida inherited the house and land from her aunt, and this is where she brought up her three children, who still own parts of the land.

Ida's grandmother was Emma Potter (neé Harvey) who moved into Harvey House in 1906 just before her husband, William died, and lived there with her unmarried daughters Emma Elizabeth (1868-1950) and Ida Alice Harvey Potter (1884-1951, who married Frederick Arthur Arnold in 1913). William and Emma's son Thomas William Harvey Potter (1867-1907) had married in 1895; daughter Alice Emma Harvey Potter (1874-1943) married James Anscomb in 1900; and daughter Elizabeth Harvey Potter (1869-1958) married Sydney Catton, a widower with  young children, in 1904. The growing Anscomb family, who lived in north London, often enjoyed a taste of the countryside at Harvey House. It was Emma Potter who accompanied W H Burrell and W G Clarke on their Common surveys in 1909-10.

James Anscomb & Alice nee Potter & 6 children at Harvey House
James Anscomb & Alice nee Potter & 6 children at Harvey House

Note how the Harvey name was kept in both the house and the children's names, for the land of Harvey House and its surrounding small-holding had come from Emma's father, John Harvey who had been born in Barford.

Flordon marriage register entry for John Harvey & Susan Tann in 1835. Above it is a Potter marriage.
Flordon marriage register entry for John Harvey & Susan Tann in 1835. Above it is a Potter marriage.

John Harvey (1809-1883) married Susanna Tann (1803-1865) in Flordon in 1835. They had three daughters, Ann Maria (1837-1904), Emma (1839-1920) and Sarah (1841-1850). The surviving daughters married two brothers: John Potter (1833-1911) married Ann and William Potter (1838-1906) married Emma. They were near neighbours - the Potter family were just up the hill from the Harveys. Thus, both Harvey girls had the same surname, Potter! Ann & John Potter had their first child in Flordon, then moved to Wreningham where at least another eleven were born. John was a blacksmith (apprentice to Isaac Lansdell at the Black Horse, Flordon) and a pillar of the community in Wreningham as churchwarden and parish councillor.

Emma and William Potter remained in Flordon. In 1871 they were living in a house on the edge of the Common + 2 acres of land with 3 children and Emma's father, John, now a widower. By 1881 there were four children and John, 'retired farmer' - William is now the 'farmer, 5 acres'. William is listed in directories as a farmer - and in one case as a horse slaughterer, too. It is in Directories of 1892, 1896 and 1904 that William appears at White House Farm.

It is likely that William's father-in-law, John Harvey was also involved in slaughtering animals. His wife, Susanna used the bones to make candles and walked to Norwich to sell them on the market. Her daughter passed on down the family the tale of the day she was attacked whilst walking home across Mulbarton Common with the takings, but threatened her attacker with a candle-holder which he mistook for a gun! But it was when the cauldron over the fire tipped over that the clay-lump and thatched cottage caught fire, signalling the end of their original Flordon home. 

All these Potters and Harveys and the children mentioned above are commemorated in Flordon churchyard.

Emma Potter told Burrell & Clarke that her father, John Harvey, came to live by Flordon Common in 1813. One researcher into the history of the Common (G Kelly, 1989) poured scorn on this statement, pointing out that the Tithe Apportionment of 1843 shows the owner and occupier as John Leeder. But John Harvey's mother was Maria Leeder who married Robert Harvey in Barford in 1801. She was one of the large family of John Leeder (1739-1795) and Mary nee Goldspring (1743-1824) and had a brother John. The Leeder family were major landowners and White's 1845 directory lists a John Leeder, yeoman, as lord of the manor of Barford.

Recently, a copy of a Manor Court Roll (part shown above) was bought on e-bay by a collector in the USA which proves that Robert Harvey owned copyhold property in the Manor of Flordon in 1820 and mortgaged it to John Leeder (either his father-in-law or more probably his brother-in-law) on 15th July that year for the sum of £342 plus 5% interest to be paid on 15th January each year. Thus it was still in John Leeder's ownership in the 1843 tithe apportionment. 

We do not yet know when or how that little piece of land adjacent to Flordon Common returned to to the Harveys, but it has played a vital part in the history of Flordon, the preservation of the Common and the conservation of some very rare snails! 

Land document from 1885 between Sir Kenneth Hagar (lord of the manor of Flordon) and James Bird (farmer at Birds Farm, Flordon) includes a map that indicates the land belonging to John Potter as well as strips of glebe land (belonging to the church).