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Scratby House, Norfolk, designs for alterations to the house for John Ramey Esq, c1777, unexecuted (7)

John Ramey Esq. is recorded as an attorney who later became a barrister. He also served as Mayor of Great Yarmouth and Receiver-General of Norfolk. On his retirement he moved to his property at Scratby Hall in Norfolk, which he had previously leased to the noted diarist, Sylas Neville. Several members of the Ramey family were buried at St. Nicholas’ Church, Great Yarmouth, including Ramey’s mother Elizabeth who died in 1758. The Church also holds a monument to his father, John Ramey, who was lost at sea in 1718. Ramey married Abigail Brown/Browne, whose portrait is held within the National Trust collections. The couple had at least one daughter, Abigail, who in 1768 became the third wife of the Reverend Alexander, 9th Earl of Home.

Sources record Ramey’s death as both 1794 and 1796. He was buried at the Church of St. Michael in Ormesby where there is a black marble monument incorporating an oval inscription dedicated to him. This is combined in a composition with further family monuments, including one to Abigail Ramsey, possibly Ramey’s wife and another to Caroline Home (d. 1794), Ramey’s granddaughter.

Ramey’s daughter Abigail was his sole heir and following her husband’s death in 1786 she took up residence at Scratby Hall. Her son Alexander Ramey-Home (d. 1841) became the 10th Earl of Home.

Scratby Hall has a complicated architectural history. It is thought to have been largely built from c1750 for John Fisher. However late seventeenth-century elements have been observed within the building’s fabric and it is possible that the eighteenth-century building was constructed around an older, smaller core. The eighteenth-century building was constructed as a two-storey, five-bay house of red brick, with rusticated quoins.

Bolton notes that Adam’s 1777 scheme for additions to an earlier building as ‘not interesting’ and suggests that it is unlikely that the designs were carried out. However Sylas Neville, who had lived in the house, returned to visit in 1783 and found it ‘greatly altered’ and irregular. Significantly, this was six years after the Adam scheme was produced, highlighting that modifications were indeed carried out. It appears that Adam's designs for Ramsay were passed to a local builder who executed a simplified, variant version of the scheme.

In 1866 the house was extended with substantial alterations to the south and east fronts. Further additions were made towards the end of the nineteenth century, including the addition of a single-storey bow window. As a result the building is now a mixture of eighteenth and nineteenth-century elements.

In 1898 Scratby Hall was opened as a school by Mr W. Tompkins. Following the Second World War the house was established as Duncan Hall boarding school. In November 1989 the property was damaged by fire. It is now a private residence.

M. J. Armstrong, History and Antiquities of the County of Norfolk: Volume IV, 1781, p. 57; D. Turner, Sepulchral Reminiscences of a Market Town as afforded by a list of the interments within the walls of the Parish Church of St. Nicholas, Great Yarmouth, 1848, p. 68; A.T. Bolton, The architecture of Robert and James Adam, 1922, Volume II, Index pp. 27, 84; N. Pevsner and B. Wilson, The Buildings of England – Norfolk: Norwich and North-East, 1997, p.630; ‘Duncan Hall School’, www.historicengland.org.uk; ‘Church of St. Margaret’, www.historicengland.org.uk; ‘Abigail Brown, Mrs John Ramey (fl. 1785) – Andreas van Rymsdyk (d. 1786), www.nationaltrustcollections.org.uk; ‘Parish Summery: Ormesby St. Margaret with Scratby’, www.heritage.norfolk.gov.uk; ‘Norfolk Heritage Explorer – NHER Number 15112’ www.heritage.norfolk.gov.uk (accessed March 2021)

Anna McAlaney, 2021

Updated, Frances Sands, 2022, with many thanks to the current owner of the estate who provided updated information.
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