Private archives

Village cricket match 1864

In the 1780s cricket became very popular, Mary Hardy referring to inter-village matches. This cartoon by her great-granddaughter is of Letheringsett in 1864

The willingness of owners of former public houses and other properties to open up their homes and share their centuries-old treasures has made the research task a delight.

Among the trunks

One of the great excitements is working in private houses among the trunks. The documents are seen in their historic setting, and, rarely touched, are often in excellent condition. The cricket match seen here is just one small example, taken from the Cozens-Hardy Collection described on this page.

Like the balloon fever of the mid-1780s, there was a passion for village cricket in the years before the outbreak of war in 1793. Both crazes are referred to by Mary Hardy in Diary 2, men and women journeying to support their home teams.

Years later Cecilia Cozens-Hardy, some of whose drawings have survived, depicted this cricketing moment in 1864. Her brother Herbert, later Master of the Rolls and 1st Lord Cozens-Hardy, stands in the riverside meadow at no. 6 (with braces). With him are two other brothers and their father; also a clergyman, other villagers, and members of the farm and brewery workforce.

Basil Cozens-Hardy (1885-1976)

Basil Cozens-Hardy, a lawyer and prolific local historian, preserved vital papers and photographs in the collection

Basil Cozens-Hardy and the Cozens-Hardy Collection

Through the generations the descendants of Mary Hardy have housed her manuscript diary, Henry Raven’s diary, and a vast collection of documents and photographs. Trunkfuls have already been deposited in the Norfolk Record Office; further trunkfuls remain in private hands.

Basil Cozens-Hardy (1885–1976) strove to preserve the collection and pasted many pieces of ephemera into albums. He is pictured on the commentary website as a young boy at his grandfather’s Diamond Wedding. His own photographs from the late 19th century form vital pieces of evidence. A fine and very readable historian, he was prominent in many Norfolk ventures and societies devoted to recording the past for posterity.

For the first time a large selection from this family collection will be published, with the consent of the extended family. The debt owed to Basil Cozens-Hardy, his father Sydney, and many others among Mary Hardy’s successors is enormous.

Particular thanks are due to Basil’s youngest son Jeremy Cozens-Hardy (1929–2010) and Jeremy’s daughter Caroline Holland for help with their family archives.