WHITE HOUSE FARM

White House farm from Long Lane, with former farmhouse (right); converted barn; and plenty of evidence of farming.
White House farm from Long Lane, with former farmhouse (right); converted barn; and plenty of evidence of farming.

It seems obvious that White House Farm is named from the colour of the house. But that may not be the whole story....

From before 1832 until at least 1869, the tenant was Henry White. In 1832 he proudly registered as an elector under the Reform Act which extended the vote to those with long leases or tenants paying £50 or more annual rent. He gave his address as 'near Flordon Hall' - and in the 1861 census we find Henry and his wife Maria are still there, farming 50 acres. Sadly, that was the year their son Henry William died age 26, and is buried near the church porch. They were tenants of the Kemp family, as White House Farm was part of the Mergate Estate until that was broken up in 1948. So, it was probably Henry White who gave his name to 'White's House' and thus to the farm.

Approaching White House Farm
Approaching White House Farm

It is hard to pinpoint the tenants in later censuses and directories until William Potter appears in 1892. He moved from near the Common to the much larger White House Farm after the (old) Harvey House burnt down. When he retired in 1906 his 'Live & Dead Stock' was for sale at the farm.

Sadly, Williiam died within weeks of the sale, leaving his widow and daughters to enjoy the newly-built Harvey House.

His successor, James Moyes, was at the farm for less than 3 years when his farming stock was up for auction on 29 September 1909. Then there is further uncertainty about the tenants. Documents relating to the Kemp family indicate that Robert Edward Vorter was tenant in 1922,  farming 78 acres.

It must have been soon afterwards that John Thomas Everson (born 1879) was at White House Farm. In 1936, he was fined for using a trailer on the road that was not equipped with a braking system. He was still the Farmer there in 1939 with his wife Edith (born 1881) and their son Russell (born 1909) who listed as 'farmer & heavy plough contractor'. He could well have been manoeuvring traction engines.

As World War 2 ended, Geoffrey F Harvey moved from Boundary House, Hethel with his wife Violet and family to become the new tenant - and when the Mergate Estate was sold on 10th July 1948 he managed to buy 'The Productive Small Freehold Farm known at WHITE HOUSE FARM, FLORDON and extending to 30 acres or thereabouts.....'. The house is described as 'built of Clay Lump, Brick and Thatch' with a cow house (for 10), barn, bullock shed; stable (for 3) and wagon lodge (3-bay).

Extract from 1948 Sale document
Extract from 1948 Sale document

It is still with the Harvey family today. They are not knowingly related to the Harveys of Harvey House, but are descended from a line of farmers, cattle dealers and drovers from the Stow Bedon area south of Watton. Geoffrey's father, Walter, was born at the White Horse in Stow Bedon where his grandfather Arthur Harvey, was landlord in 1871 whilst also dealing in cattle.

Geoffrey received a mention in an EDP article headlined 'The Drovers - Men of Granite': 'The drovers were extraordinary men. Mr Harvey, who now lives at Flordon near Norwich, once brought 17 horses from the Elephant and Castle in London back to Norfolk single-handed!' Geoffrey reckoned he was not much more than 17 when he rode and led those horses across London and back to Norfolk for his father!

Geoffrey Harvey continued to deal in cattle to supplement the small farm at Flordon. With the help of his large family (4 boys and 4 girls) he kept 25 - 30 cows, all milked by hand. He bought Irish cattle which arrived at Flordon station, were unloaded into pens in the sidings, then walked to White House Farm. He'd be away at cattle sales across the country - Cambridge on a Monday; Melton Mowbray (Tues); Banbury (Wed); Ipswich (Thurs) and Norwich (Sat). Cattle from further afield would be brought in to Trowse Station and walked to Flordon. And cattle would be walked to and from Norwich cattle market, then held close to the castle. 

Air view of White House Farm, now with tile roof and extension
Air view of White House Farm, now with tile roof and extension

White House farm passed from Geoffrey Harvey to his son and now to his grandson.  The farm has been enlarged to nearly 50 acres and the farmhouse (probably dating from the 17th century) extended. More recently the old house - no longer thatched - has been sold as a separate private dwelling now named 'Jollity Farmhouse', and the barn has been converted into a home. The dairy cattle have long gone, and so have the horses as mechanisation increased. Today White House Farm mixes arable with grass for sheep.