Set in the heart of the beautiful Norfolk countryside, College Farm is steeped in history and dates back to the fourteenth century. The house was built in 1349 by brothers Sir John and Sir Thomas Shardelow, as a College of Priests to serve nearby St Martin’s Church and the inhabitants of the village of Thompson. Sir Thomas married Margaret, daughter of Sir Roger de Grey of Merton - from whom Katharine is descended.
Following the dissolution of the monasteries in 1541, the College, its land and assets were handed over to Sir Edward Knevitt, before being sold to wealthy London merchant John Maynard. The estate changed hands several times over the next 300 years, before finally being exchanged for the Cavendish Estate in Suffolk in 1845. The Cavendish Estate was owned by the 5th Baron Walsingham (Thomas de Grey) - thus College Farm was passed back to the de Greys of Merton. It is a fortuitous twist of fate that a descendant of the original owners now lives in College Farm.
St Martin's Church
St Martin's is a typical Norfolk perpendicular style building. Unlike many other villages where the churches have been altered and restored over the years, St Martin's has remained largely true to its original design. The church roof was found to be unsafe & unstable in 2016 and has just undergone a major restoration project supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund to repair the nave roof. The first phase of the restoration project is now complete and further details can be found on www.stmartinsthompson.co.uk
For a more in-depth history of College Farm and its connection with St Martin’s Church, visit British History Online