John Bullimore

This photograph and other, below – with his second wife, were taken by A E Coe of Norwich. We have seen the receipt! Albert Coe was once visited by the famous “inventer of photography” Fox Talbot.

John William Bullimore, born in 1827, was the son of a Norfolk grocer and draper. He and his sister, Anna, were orphaned in their teens and came to Wreningham to live at the Burton family farm now known as “The Poplars”.  

Following the death of the younger William Burton, in 1857, the farm business was continued by William’s sister, Maria Burton – who never married. John Bullimore, now 30, had already been given the role of farm steward. These duties included Burton’s Farm, Hill Farm and Elm Tree Farm – over 400 acres, in all.

Maria Burton died in 1870 and bequeathed the c100 acre Hill Farm and the c40 acre Elm Tree Farm to John Bullimore – together with a considerable sum of money.

In 1870, John Bullimore, married Martha Thurston, who had also worked at Burtons Farm and also significantly benefitted under Maria Burton’s will. They took up residence at Hill Farm – which was also the residence of John Bullimore’s aunt, Barbara Denny.

John Bullimore retained a large number of records from his daily life. There are detailed crop planting lists for Burtons Farm from 1857 – 1870 and both Hill Farm and Elm Tree Farm from 1857 – 1883. He also kept maps and other information – including details from the planning period when the Great Eastern Railway was about to arrive on Wreningham land.

He kept daily diaries: never failing to include each day’s local weather and many events in which he participated and the places he visited and the people who came to see him. There is also a pocket-book listing wide-ranging financial transactions over many years.

Here is the top corner of the “September” page from a farmer’s almanac for 1860. In tiny hand-writing he has listed the daily weather in the left margin and the principal daily tasks relating to the harvest in the spaces in the “Memoranda” column.

The other pages are very similar – although the harvest and planting pages are always busier!

John Bullimore played a growing role in village affairs.  His business success enabled him to progressively acquire local properties and he became landlord to a number of Wreningham families. The 1869 County Directory and 1879 Post Office Directory state that John Bullimore is a Collector of Taxes.

There are two multi-page documents showing the rateable values of every property in Wreningham. These pages are from the second half of the 1800s – and probably from when John Bullimore had his tax collection role.

John Bullimore found himself nominated as an Executor in a number people’s Wills. He was clearly recognised as a trusted and capable individual. He performed these duties for Maria Burton, George Childs and others. He was able to prepare the finer details regarding the financial aspects of estates – providing the relevant and supporting information for the solicitors.

John Bullimore’s first wife, Martha, died on 25th September 1896 at the age of 71.

The following year, at the age of 70, John Bullimore had a farm sale. It included the disposal of horses, cows and sheep. The catalogue also listed “an assortment of agricultural carriages, implements, iron hurdles, harnesses, dairy utensils and a portion of household furniture”. It would appear that John Bullimore had ceased being an active farmer.

Whilst Hill Farm remained his home, we are presuming its farming would now be carried out by tenants – who would have introduced their own animals and provided their own equipment.

In April 1901, at the age of 74, John remarried: to Anne Amelia Barker who was still in her mid-30s.

The photographs of both (on this page) were taken in May and June 1901. There also appears to have been a belated celebration; there is a receipt in his name dated 22nd June 1901 from Wine & Spirits Merchant: Barwell & Sons (“By appointment to the Queen”), London Road, Norwich. This included the following: “2 gall Very Old Irish Whiskey, 3 bottles Very Old Pale Cognac, 3 bottles of Dry Gin ….” etc. By the way, the 2 gallons of whiskey cost him £2 8s – less 5% discount if he paid within a month!

Shortly after his second marriage there are records of new expenditure at Hill Farm. This includes the refitting of the kitchen and various improvements to the farm buildings. Were some / all of these at the behest of his new wife?

On John Bullimore’s death, in 1906, Anne inherited and retained his wide range of Wreningham properties and farmland. She also departed from Wreningham and moved to York House in Middleton Street, Wymondham. 

The 1911 Census shows Anne still living at York House with a servant. Various documents suggest she returned to live at Hill Farm, along with nine year-old called Violet Pizzey, in late 1920. Their arrival was preceded by a collection of repairs to the house which was also extensively redecorated.

See Violet Peel.

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