Norfolk records returned from USA

A number of historic records belonging to a Hollywood film director have been returned to Norfolk County Archives.Mia Farrow

John Villiers Farrow, the Oscar-winning director and father of actress Mia Farrow, bought the lordship of the Surlingham Manor House in 1937.

The documents capture the history of Surlingham, near Norwich, from 1602 through to the 20th Century.

“These documents have an extraordinary interesting recent history,” said Johan Alban, a county archivist.

“They have been out of the county for many years and we are delighted to have them back in Norfolk,” he said.

It is not known why Mr Farrow, an Australian, who served as a naval commander during World War II, bought the title.

Manorial records

After taking the records back to Los Angeles, Mr Farrow donated them to the University of Southern California, where they were kept in the library’s archives.

The quest to bring the documents home, began ten years ago when archive user Fred Morris was told by staff at the Norfolk Record Office that the manorial rolls might help in proving the age of his cottage.

After contacing the university’s archivist, Claude Zachary, in Los Angeles, the documents were sent back to Norfolk.

“We have had numerous requests by genealogists and local Norfolk landowners for information from these records, ” said Dr Zachary.

“It would be in everyone’s best interest that these records be returned to the Norfolk County Archives.”

The manorial records include surveys, maps, and court rolls, and reflect the main framework for life in England and Wales from 1602 through to the early 19th Century.

Information received from Janet Rogers

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