Samuel Gross

The next owner of Sparrowe’s Nest was Samuel Gross (1763-1836).  Surprisingly William Hammond (died 1725), who purchased the original Sparrowe’s Nest about 1680 and whose descendents died without issue, with Edmund, the last surviving owner, willing the property to a third party in 1759, were succeeded in the new property by a descendent of Edward Hammond through a female line to Samuel Gross.

Descendants of Edward Hammond

Gross had sold up his farm at Capel St. Andrew, near Woodbridge at Michaelmas (29 September) 1810 by this advertisement in the Ipswich Journal of 8 September 1810 and it seems probable that Gross, then purchased Sparrowe’s Nest and initially leased it out anyhow he taken possession by 1817.

Suffolk Horses

Last Remains

Drawing by Henry Davy c.1825 of the remains of the original Sparrowe’s Nest

On the departure of Welham in 1817, Samuel Gross built the current Georgian mansion, but a little higher up using some of the demolition material from the old house in this new home. A manuscript advertising brochure dated 29 September 1818 for W. Lockwood of Woodbridge describes the stucco work done on the house of ‘Samuel Gross of Sparrowes Nest, Whitton’.



Current House Contemporary Watercolour

A contemporary water-colour of the current house

A Window Tax ran from 1696 until repealed in 1851. All houses were charged 2/- [10p] per annum, houses with 10 to 20 windows paid a total of 4/- [20p] and those with more than 20 windows paid 8/- [40p]. The windows that incurred tax was changed to seven in 1766 and eight in 1825. Wealthy people would commission a country home or manor house whose architecture would make the maximum possible use of windows. In extreme cases they would have windows built over structural walls, an exercise in ostentation, spurred by the window tax. This is the case on the south wall of Sparrowe’s Nest where two pseudo-window apertures have been built to add symmetry. They were never actual windows. Some houses from this period did in fact have windows bricked-up to avoid tax.

Samuel Gross was born in 1763, son of Thomas Gross of Sutton, Suffolk by his wife Sarah, daughter of Revd Jacob Chilton, rector of Ufford and his wife Sarah, great grand-daughter of Edward Hammond of Ufford, a brother of John Hammond, whose son William Hammond had purchased Sparrowe’s Nest [see tree under Hammond]. Samuel married Anne Barthorp of Hollesley, who died on 5 January 1814, aged 59. Samuel, of Broadwater, Alderton and Hollesley purchased and lived, together with his daughter Rebecca, and farmed from Sparrowe’s Nest and in 1818 is listed in the Whitton parish book as paying £15 tax for the impotent poor in that parish. The following year two men were sentenced for stealing from the farm:-


Samuel’s only daughter Rebecca, married at Alderton on 31 March 1819, Revd Edward Woolnough. Both the widowed Samuel Gross and the Woolnough’s were living at Whitton in 1819 and Samuel continued farming at Sparrowe’s Nest (then the farmhouse) and in 1825 is noted in the sale of cattle at Ipswich Market:-


Samuel continued to pay the Whitton poors’ rate until his death on 24 June 1836, aged 73.

Samuel returned to live at Alderton, leaving his son-in-law and daughter in ownership of the Sparrowe’s Nest estate, when it is probable that Woolnough completed further demolition of most of the remaining old Sparrowe’s Nest, reducing one barn it to single story height and the other wing reduced to the current height. With the bricks, slates and timber being used to reconstruct Sparrowe’s Nest Cottage (now Farm). Signs of the north wing and the gateway can still be seen in the wall fronting the current Sparrowe’s Nest Farm. Samuel died at Pettistree, ‘late of Alderton,’ on 24 June 1836 ‘after a long and severe affliction, borne with great patience…aged 75.’ Part of his household effects were auctioned by Nursey & Elvis at Pettistree on 10 October 1836. However Edward Woolnough was a cleric at Whitton church, when his brother-in-law farmer Samuel Chilton Gross of Alderton, continued to farm the Whitton lands, which then consisted of 205 acres and tithes of 400 acres, paying rents to Woolnough, plus paying the tithes. Samuel Chilton also farmed his own estates at Pettistree and Alderton. Samuel Chilton Gross married at Alderton on 27 December 1822 Edward Woolnough’s sister, Anne and they had several children including Samuel Chilton, jun. who married his cousin Mary, daughter of Edward Woolnough.  Samuel Chilton died on 17 March 1844, aged 47 (his diaries are at SRO/I HD 329).