The History of Austhorpe House

Photo - John Webster

Austhorpe House

The imposing building that stands at the crossroads in Forncett End was, until recently, a well-respected residential care home but its origins and history were only recorded very recently. The house was almost certainly built in 1865 by John Gill West, an ambitious and extravagant shopkeeper in Forncett End. Gill West went bankrupt in February 1866, owing almost £2000, and the sale of his business included not only the shop and associated land but also a "newly-built freehold estate fronting the road, with large gardens and bowling green" which was presumptively Austhorpe House.

Austhorpe House and gardens - 1884 O.S. map

The house was bought by a local farmer, Thomas Palmer, who at that time retired from farming at Corner Farm in Forncett End and became a local philanthropist. He funded the building of the Methodist Chapel in Forncett End in 1865. When Palmer died in 1903 the house was bought by Charles Emmerson who ran it, with his sister, as a boarding house called Dunholme. Around 1911 it was sold again, this time to the Rev. Benjamin Appleyard and his wife Florence. It was the Appleyards who named the building Austhorpe House, after the Appleyard family seat at Austhorpe in Yorkshire.

Austhorpe House - circa 1915

After WWI, during which he served as an army chaplain, Bejamin Appleyard became rector of Burgate near Diss and the house was sold again. The final residents were John and Mabel Wales who lived there until their deaths in 1954 and 1957 respectively. From 1958 until 2019 Austhorpe House was a residential care and nursing home. It closed when the owners' business went into administration and it has since been sold and converted into three residential properties.

A 24 page booklet describing the detailed history of the house and those who lived there was published by the History Group in 2018 and updated with a 2nd Edition in 2021. Copies of this well-illustrated publication are available, price £5 plus £2.50 p&p. To purchase a copy please Contact Us through the website.