Archive Sources

Among the trunks

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

One of the great excitements is working among the trunks. The documents are seen in their historic setting, and, rarely touched, are often in excellent condition. A wealth of family papers in private hands has been consulted for this project, and grateful acknowledgment is made to the custodians.

Mary Hardy's five ledgers

These five great counting-house ledgers with strong bindings contain Mary Hardy’s manuscript diary

Mary Hardy’s descendants

Among these papers by far the most important is the archive known as the Cozens-Hardy Collection, in the custody of Mary Hardy’s descendants.

While trunkfuls of documents and maps have over the years been deposited in the Norfolk Record Office the manuscript diaries of Mary Hardy and Henry Raven, together with a great hoard of family diaries, documents and photographs, remain in private hands.

The banner depicts a small part of a map of the 350-acre Letheringsett Laviles manorial estate in 1783, by William and Corba Cranefield. The cluster of buildings contains the manor house itself (with the chimney), now Letheringsett Old Hall, surrounded by farm buildings and a barn.

The freedom of access granted to the editor and author Margaret Bird by the extended Cozens-Hardy family is acknowledged with deep gratitude.

For the first time, in the Burnham Press editions, a large selection from the family papers is being published. The extended family have freely given their consent to publication.

Basil Cozens-Hardy (1885-1976)

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

Basil Cozens-Hardy and the Cozens-Hardy Collection

Basil Cozens-Hardy (1885–1976) strove to preserve the collection and pasted many pieces of ephemera into albums. He is pictured later on this page as a young boy at his grandfather’s Diamond Wedding in 1890. His own photographs from the late nineteenth 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.

It was Basil who introduced Mary Hardy to the public. He gave brief extracts from her manuscript diary: in The History of Letheringsett (Norwich, 1957) and Mary Hardy’s Diary (Norfolk Record Society, 1968).

Until then nothing had been published on Mary Hardy.

The debt owed to Basil Cozens-Hardy, his father Sydney, and many others among Mary Hardy’s successors is enormous.

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

Village cricket match 1864

In the 1780s cricket became very popular, Mary Hardy referring to village matches. This cartoon by her great-granddaughter Cecilia Cozens-Hardy is of a Letheringsett match of 1864. Some of the brewery workforce are taking part  [Cozens-Hardy Collection]

Village cricket

The cricket match seen here is just one small example of the treasures in the Cozens-Hardy Collection. 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. With him are two other brothers and their father; also a clergyman, other villagers, and members of the farm and brewery workforce.

A Diamond Wedding at Mary Hardy’s old home

These papers, dispersed today among many family members, passed through the hands of most of those seen here on the 60th wedding anniversary of Mary Hardy’s only surviving grandchild.

Cozens Hardys at bowls 1890 by A E Coe

Letheringsett, 21 July 1890: the Diamond Wedding of Mary Hardy’s grandson William H. Cozens-Hardy (centre, in shirtsleeves) and his wife Sarah (in the Bath chair)  [photograph A.E. Coe of Norwich 1890: Cozens-Hardy Collection]

He was William Hardy Cozens (1806–95), who on William Hardy junior’s death in 1842 added the name Hardy to his own surname. The boy with the bird’s nest, he followed his uncle as farmer, maltster, brewer and estate owner at Letheringsett, and also had the family properties at Cley and Sprowston.

On the far left is his eldest son Clement, his partner in the Letheringsett maltings and brewery. After his father’s death Clement sold the business in 1896, with the tied houses, to Morgans, the Norwich brewers. At Clement’s feet is his granddaughter Gladys, who married her cousin the 3rd Lord Cozens-Hardy and became the mother of Beryl (pictured below).

Beside Gladys is her five-year-old cousin Basil, who with his father Sydney (beside Clement) played a vital role in conserving the papers. Herbert, the 1st Lord (and the cricketer in braces in the cartoon), stands beside Sydney.

The Hon. Beryl Cozens-Hardy (1911-2011)

Beryl Cozens-Hardy in 1984. Doubly descended from Mary Hardy, she was one of many custodians of the Hardy and Cozens-Hardy archives

The stooping figure beside William Hardy Cozens-Hardy is his son-in-law, the mustard manufacturer and Norwich MP Jeremiah James Colman. His wife Caroline, the eldest of the trio of 1837, sits in front of their daughter and next to her father.

The family came to prominence in many fields including public service, the Law, politics, local government, engineering and philanthropy. Archie, the son of Theobald Cozens-Hardy (brother of Clement, Herbert and Sydney and standing sixth from the left) became editor of the regional newspaper the Eastern Daily Press.

Update, Jan. 2023: Many of these papers now in NRO

Many of these private papers and photographs from the Cozens-Hardy Collection were lodged in the Norfolk Record Office in October 2022. They include the originals of Henry Raven’s manuscript diary and Raven Hardy’s precedent book (containing pages of financial information).

In January 2023 the deposits were given the holding reference ACC 2022/106.

Beryl Cozens-Hardy (1911–2011)

The Hon. Beryl Cozens-Hardy, whose brother the 4th Lord was the last to hold the title, served as leader of the Girl Guide movement in England 1961–70 and then worldwide as Chairman of the World Committee of the Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts 1972–75.

Beryl died in September 2011, nine weeks short of her 100th birthday, knowing that the Mary Hardy volumes were close to completion. Her positive approach to life and her optimistic, energetic encouragement through the years of research remain an inspiration.

Mary Hardy and her World is dedicated to her memory, as described in connection with Beryl’s Preface.

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Pre-publication article

Rowan Mantell highlights some intriguing features of Mary Hardy’s record:  250-year-old diary