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  • Writer's pictureWho Owns Norfolk?

Raynham Estate Map, Norfolk

The map below displays Raynham Estate, Norfolk. This was built using the best available public data.

Who Owns Norfolk produced this estate map. This was largely based off an estate map published by the website Guns on Pegs and corroborated by other sources. However, note that some aspects may now be out of date.

Who Owns Raynham Estate?

Raynham Estate, sitting at nearly 5,000 acres, is owned by the aristocrat Charles George Townshend, 8th Marquess Townshend (b. 1945). The Raynham Estate website states that the Townshend family have owned Raynham Estate for about 900 years, since the 1100s. Their 5,000 acres makes this family one of Norfolk's largest landowners.

Raynham Hall was built in the 1600s by Sir Roger Townshend. The most famous member of this family is probably Charles Townshend, 2nd Viscount Townshend (1674 - 1738) - Britain's Foreign Secretary during the time of Britain's first de facto Prime Minister - Robert Walpole, 1st Earl of Orford, another Norfolk aristocrat who lived nearby at Houghton Hall.

Raynham Hall, Raynham Estate

Raynham Hall Source: John Fielding from Norwich, UK, CC BY 2.0,

It has not always been plain sailing for the Townshends, however. In his book 'The Decline and Fall of the British Aristocracy', David Cannadine notes that Raynham Estate was on the verge of bankruptcy in the 1800s.

This remained the case in 1899, when the 6th Marquess (who lived from 1866 to 1921), having inherited a bankrupt estate in 1899, was forced to sell many of his possessions. To try and resolve his family's financial woes, he decided to move to the USA to (unsuccessfully) find a rich heiress (source link). Happily for the 6th Marquess, on his return to England he met a wealthy barrister who agreed to pay off his debts, if the Marquess agreed to marry his daughter. Things took another turn, however, when his new father in law attempted to have him declared insane shortly after the wedding in order to seize his assets (source link). As a result of these legal proceedings, Townshend's new wife ended up managing his affairs, though the family retained Raynham Estate.

Local rumours suggest that in more recent years the estate had to deal with the ramifications of costly divorces and other familial matters. Perhaps related to this, the estate sold 1,000 acres (~15% of its land) for GBP 8 million in 2012, 2 years after it was inherited by the 8th Marquess.

As a result of these waning fortunes, Raynham Estate is now much reduced in size - in 1883, it was 18,000 acres, though now comes it at around 5,000 acres.

The current Townshends, having occupied the hall for 14 years, are still busy trying to restore the house to its former glory. Generating funds has required an entrepreneurial spirit, and the estate has branched out into a large solar farm, guided tours, glamping and a farmers market.

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