Index  (i)  (ii)  (iii)  (iv)  (v)  Preface.  (1)  (2)  (3)  (4)  (5)  (6)  (7)  (8)  (9)  (10)  (11)  (12)  (13)  (14)  (15)  (16)  (17)  (18)  (19)  (20)  (21) 


The Red House Farm.

Four parish boundaries meet by the Red House Farm; the place is marked by a stone near the lane which leads from the main buildings to the Buxton road and on to Dudwick House. It was not long after the battle of Waterloo, in 1815, that young John and Anne came to live in this lovely old house which had been rather neglected by Cousin Wright's executors. The Wrights had been farming in Norfolk for two hundred years or more, but the Dudwick estate was not, at that time, an economical one; gradually John was able to build it up and in the 1830's he purchased adjoining land from the Anson family, from Robert Marsham and from Samuel Gurney.

John and Anne Wright had no children of their own, but they were very fond of them and she was undoubtedly good with them; the lessons which she later gave to the Red House boys were exceedingly popular so that they were written up and published. The Wrights had earlier built schools for the local children who paid one penny a week when they attended and if they could afford it. Visitors should note the stone over the Buxton village school which was endowed by the Wrights. The inscription was painted over in 1940 when all road signposts were taken down lest they should assist German soldiers who were expected to land on the coast. John was also active in Norwich, both as a trustee of the Great Hospital for the elderly people and in helping discharged prisoners. In 1850, when he was already middle aged, we know that he had young offenders working on his farms. He arranged with the Norwich Castle Goal to take responsibility for them and train them in farm work.

John and Anne Wright were deeply involved with the huge Buxton workhouse which had been built in the previous century and now served a union of nine parishes. Many children were lodged here and tradesmen from Norwich would visit the place to bid for apprentices. On one of these occasions John overheard a Norwich chimney sweep being advised to bid for one particular boy; the child was a waif and had no parents to object as others had done when this sweep had bid for their sons. The Wrights refused to allow the child to be taken by the sweep. This incident, according to the Wright sisters, was what made John and Anne see that help was needed at an early age if youths were to keep out of trouble with law.

As a county magistrate John had wide responsibilities which later became of those of Local Authorities when they were created. In September 1852 he wrote to all county magistrates suggesting that a training school should be started in Norfolk for youthful offenders. A meeting at St Andrews Hall in Norwich, was arranged for the 21st December 1852 when it was agreed:
"That an establishment should be formed for the maintenance and religious and industrial training of forty lads under the age of twenty. It was resolved that it was desirable to induce habits of industry, including the cultivation of the land."

At this meeting a committee was formed....

Sir Edward Buxton, President
John H.Gurney, Treasurer
George Kett
John Wright

The committee was requested "to look for suitable buildings in an eligible situation in the county, where a sufficient quantity of land could he hired". Samuel Gurney and J.Gurney Hoare joined the committee. Land was obtained and buildings were erected a short distance from the Wright's home at Dudwick. The school was to be under the care of John Wright and the location had been selected so that John & Anne could make frequent visits. Anne Wright was described as a "remarkable and gifted lady who had an exceeding love of young people, and possessed of the rare talent of being able to inspire her pupils".

Financial help was provided by the members of the committee; John Wright found the balance of the money required to run the school and pay the staff and no public appeal was ever made.