History of Swafield Hall 1466 – 2014
Lime washed Georgian South elevation of Swafield Hall
John Dolphin was the vicar of Antingham and Thorpe Market for 59 years and lived in Antingham Rectory.
There is a memorial window in St. Mary’s church in Antingham, dedicated to Martha Dolphin, erected in 1868 by her relatives. The Dolphins seem to have been people of taste, because the windows were commissioned from the rising firm of William Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & co. The cartoon for St Mary Magdalene is by William Morris himself. The Blessed Virgin is Burne-Jones’s work. St Martha was done by Dante Gabriel Rossetti.
Another window was erected in St. Mary’s church in Antingham in 1891 to the Rev. John Dolphin B.A. (with St Peter, St John, St James).
South elevation of Swafield Hall, circa 1880. The Dolphin family in front of the house: Charlotte Dolphin (1825 – 1917) in a black dress, and her children Thomas William (1855 – 1924), Katharine Ellen (1855 – 1932), Henry (1856 – 1881), Edgar (1857 – 1889), Martha Frederica (1864 – 1952).
The new master of Swafield Hall Mr James Stanley Knevett Barratt (1885 – 1955) earned his fortune in the 1930’s and 1940’s managing shipping business between America and England. He retired at the age about 60, moved from Manchester to Norfolk sea cost area and bought Swafield Hall for his big family with tree sons and two daughters. His sons received agricultural education. Peter lived separately in Bedfordshire but Brian (1926 – 2005) and Desmond (1921 – 2013) wanted to do farming at parent’s estate.
Barratt family in the Drawing room at Swafield Hall. The end of the 1940’s – early 50’s.
Bottom line from right: Julia Lyndel Flint (now Richards), Betty Robinson (maiden name Barratt) and her daughter Susan, Eva Grace Barratt (1890 – 1975), her husband and master of Swafield Hall James Stanley Knevett Barratt (1885 – 1955), Andrew Barratt, Daphne Flint (maiden name Barratt), Tina Flint. Top line: Angela Flint, Peter Lockwood Barratt, his son David, Brian Knevett Barratt (1926 – 2005), Desmond Bridgeman Barratt (1921 – 2013), Arthur Flint, Mr Robinson, Sylvia Barratt (Peter’s wife), Philippa Flint.
In 1955 Swafield Hall received Grade II listed status. For centuries Swafield Hall hosted village fairs and other events, and the Barratt family continued this tradition.
Each year Swafield Village fete was held in the grounds of Swafield Hall (early 1950s pictures).
In 1974 the Barratts sold Swafield Hall, because the old mansion became increasingly expensive to maintain. It was a difficult change for Eva Grace Barratt. She moved to the Muse (a converted old coach house which used to be a part of Swafield Hall estate) and died one year later after selling the Hall. Her and James Barratt grave is on St. Nicholas church yard, next to Thomas and Charlotte Dolphin’s greave stone.
The Barratts could not imagine a life away from their favourite Swafield Hall estate. Eva’s sons Desmond, Brian and his wife Elizabeth built a new small “Park house”, (which slightly resembled some aspects of Swafield Hall) on the land next door where Swafield Hall Park used to be. Elizabeth was a church warden at St Nicholas. They lived together and they rest in peace together in the north part of St. Nicholas churchyard.
The Park house was completely demolished by the new owners in 2016.
Retired diplomat John Gabriel Tahourdin (1913-2007) become the new owner of Swafield Hall after the Barratts, in 1974. In the 60’s John Tahourdin was British ambassador to Senegal, Mauritania, Mali and Guinea, in the 70’s – to Bolivia, he travelled assiduously throughout West Africa and South America and earned much respect. He finished his career in the British Embassy in 1973 and in 1974 moved to North Norfolk with his wife Margaret Michie (married in 1957), his son and daughter.
Perhaps rural Norfolk after Africa and South America was too calm for John Tahourdin. He lived separately from community life, and the tradition of holding village fairs at Swafield Hall ceased. Educated at St. John’s College in Oxford, John Tahourdin always wanted to return to the land of his jolly student youth, and at the age of 71 he downsized – sold Swafield Hall and started another chapter of his life in Oxfordshire.
In 2002 – 2004 keen gardener Sharon Buchan created at Swafield Hall the stunning Summer Garden, Secret Islamic garden, Autumn Garden, Duck pond, Pear Tunnel and Apollo Promenade.
The Buchan’s moved to another larger house in North Norfolk in 2012. Swafield Hall was sold to the current owners in 2014. The renovation of Swafield Hall started in May 2015 and finished in 2017.