Heather Elaine Barcham of NSW Australia


First of all I must say how fortunate I feel to have been able to make the journey from Australia to be at this special family gathering of the Barchams. My reasons for attending were partly for my father, Frank Herbert Barcham youngest son of William Henry Barcham who would have been enthusiastic of such a project and partly my own interest and curiosity; especially after taking part in circulating all the invitations to the various members of the Australian branch of the family. 

Although I have been to the UK before it was my first visit to Norfolk. My home for seven days was a B&B called ‘Green Ridges’ located in the market town of North Walsham residing in ‘the garden suite’ looking out at the lush back garden. As I arrived on Wednesday night I was able to enjoy the atmosphere of market day in the town on Thursday which was a hub of activity.

On Friday 20 June, the first day of the Gathering, I made my way to the Baptist Chapel at Meeting House Hill about 12.30 p.m. to be warmly welcomed by Chris Farrow. Whilst registering, I met Chris’s wife, Hilary, as well as a lady councillor from the North Norfolk Council who welcomed me to the district. Chris then showed me the massive family tree going around the walls of the Chapel and pointed out the Henry Barcham section for me to study.  After being introduced to other family members and having a welcome ‘cuppa’ I was able to go upstairs to see the Worstead Weavers at their looms and look at their work. I now have a lovely rose pink and cream runner on my bedroom chest of drawers as a reminder of them. Later in the afternoon we all climbed into cars to be taken to the various places frequented by our ancestors: All Saints’ Church at Edingthorpe, a beautiful old church standing by itself in the middle of green countryside where William Barcham  (b.1717 d.1782) is buried; St Margaret’s Church at Paston; and then on to Barcham’s Farm at Edingthorpe where Brian Durrant, the current owner, showed us around and we saw the sheep, geese and cattle. Lastly we drove to All Saints’ Church at Mundesley  where we walked among the graves of our ancestors. This church stands high on the clifftop and has a commanding view of the North Sea. (I was drawn back to this lovely little church and revisited it a couple of days after the Gathering). By this time we were ready for dinner at The Ship Inn overlooking the water – sitting back with a glass of wine and eating fish and chips was just the way to end day one of the Gathering.

Saturday dawned bright and warm for our second day. I was able to look at various family exhibits before attending a presentation given by Elizabeth Scott-Taggart on Henry Barcham, my great-grandfather, who started the Australian branch of the family in Victoria.  Listening to the history of Henry and his father Captain William Ayres Barcham and his mother Anne (née Edwards) was a highlight for me. It gave me an insight of the hardship experienced by seamen’s wives in those days. Henry followed his father and became a seaman – he was fortunate to be chosen to attend Christ’s Hospital, a Blue Coat School, and then served a sseven-year apprenticeship as a mariner.  At the age of 21 as Second Officer of the barque Nestor he set sail for Australia carrying free settlers. He fell in love with Jane Richards, who, with her family was on board the Nestor, and married her soon after arriving in Portland, Victoria. The act of getting married caused him to be discharged. The Nestor was scuttled whilst in Portland Harbour. It is believed that the ship was deliberately sunk by the crew who wanted to journey to the goldfields, but this was never proven. I was able to show the Gathering a brooch made up of two of Henry’s buttons from his seaman’s coat. The letters B I S N Co on the buttons stand for British India Sailing Navigation Company. 

The Chapel supplied a buffet lunch for us and then we went on our various trips around the countryside. I followed the trail of Benjamin Barcham, seventh child of William Barcham and Sarah (née Dyball), and their descendants with Peter and Margaret Jarrold.  Our journey took us to Upper Sheringham and Cromer visiting All Saints’ Church at Upper Sheringham where Benjamin and his wife Mary are buried as well as many of their children; John the Baptist Church at Aylmerton where the children of Benjamin’s eldest daughter Mary Ann Barcham and Samuel Fuller are buried.  We also saw Barcham’s Yard but unfortunately the sign is no longer there. I enjoyed seeing these two towns where the buildings and homes are such a contrast to those that we have in Australia. When we arrived back at the Worstead Baptist Chapel we were treated to a recital by Bill Waterhouse and other members of the family (the Barcham Ensemble) comprising four violins and two cellos – I loved the ‘Waltzing Matilda’ rendition!  The musicians received a rousing ovation from the audience! Under a big marquee in the grounds of the Scarborough Hill Hotel, eighty of us feasted at the Traditional English Banquet on tender roast beef and Yorkshire pudding as well as various delicious entrées and desserts and a good time was had by all!

On Sunday I decided to worship at the Worstead Baptist Chapel mainly due to the fact that my grandfather, William Henry Barcham, was a leading figure in the Baptist Church in Melbourne. I joined Carol and Peter Woodcock of Norwich and Anne-Louise Barcham of Toronto, Canada. Sylvia Spencer, the Chapel Secretary, welcomed us to their meeting house and recited a poem that she had composed for the Barcham Family Gathering – the poem starts: 


For over two hundred years history has stood still

Until the Barchams came back to Meeting Hill


and ends:


If only their ancestors could see how great they number

From their lonely graves, wherever they slumber.


At this point I have to say how impressed I was with the interest and hospitality afforded us by the Worstead Baptist Chapel, North Norfolk District Council and other members of the community. Thank you all so very much as it made our visit all the more special.


After lunch Chris called us all for the commemorative tree-planting of a young fig tree from Barcham’s Farm, Edingthorpe Green.  As I had journeyed the furthest I had the honour of planting the tree.  A plaque is now on the wall near the planted tree titled Barcham’s Tree and tells everyone that this tree commemorates the first re-union of the descendants of William and Sarah Barcham of Church Farm.  After the ceremony we gradually said our adieus with everyone voting the Barcham Family Gathering a great success.


Thank you Chris Farrow for your passion and obsession with the Barcham Family and for wanting to find your roots because you were able to give us an experience that not many other people have had.



Anne-Louise Barcham, Toronto, Canada


The Barcham Family Gathering was the highlight of my month in England and proved to exceed all my expectations of a family reunion. I commend Chris Farrow and Mary Rix, as well as others who worked with them, for their creativity and very hard work in organizing the Gathering. It was a brilliant success!

In the early 1960s when I worked in London for a year I followed up on the few names and approximate dates I had about my grandfather, Fred, and discovered relatives I hadn’t even known existed; for instance, my now deceased great-aunt and great-uncle, as well as several cousins whom I have visited over the years and most of whom were at the Gathering. I was very surprised during the first hours of mingling to hear people who looked at my name tag, exclaim: ‘Your name is actually Barcham! As Chris pointed out since, many of the men emigrated, including my grandfather, and the women who stayed, married; hence losing the name Barcham. I am very thankful that my great-aunt and great-uncle and their children stayed in Norfolk, and included the approximately eight of us wearing Barcham name-tags.

Although I didn’t necessarily feel that I was related to anyone except my cousins, I found everyone to be extremely friendly. I hope to keep in touch with some of them and would like to have met more of them. I wish I could have had time to find everyone there on the tree, to see the connections. However, that is something I can do at home from the trees done by Chris Farrow, Carol Woodcock, Norman Barcham, and Mary Rix. What a huge task you each undertook.  Thank you!

Never having been to a family reunion – there are so few of us in Canada, sprinkled across the country – I was delighted by the variety of activities:  trips to villages, a welcome by the local Councillors, wonderful music by the Barcham Ensemble, presentations, displays, a cocktail hour, banquet, and tree planting. I thought it was very special to visit Barcham’s Farm and to help plant the tree from the farm. 

My late father, Reginald, who died about 18 months ago, would have loved the Gathering, as he valued family and always looked forward to meeting his English relatives on his several visits to Norfolk.  He was the highlight of my family display which I’m glad seemed to attract quite a lot of interest.

I enjoyed meeting Heather Barcham from Australia and was very interested in Elizabeth Scott-Taggart’s presentation on the Australian Barchams. My only disappointment was that there were so few Barchams from overseas. Of course, some of us are hoping that in our lifetime there will be another Barcham Gathering, maybe in one of those overseas countries!

I loved the setting for the Gathering – the tiny church set on country roads – and the flow of the weekend, starting for many on Friday with tours to villages, the fish and chip supper, and ending appropriately on Sunday with the tree planting to commemorate the occasion – one I will never forget.  Congratulations again to all who were involved in the creative, thoughtful, planning and smooth carrying out of the Barcham Family Gathering!



Judith Constantine, Committee Member for the Barcham Family Gathering


You may be thinking ‘what does a family gathering have to do with computers’? In this case a great deal, as without computers an international gathering would have been very difficult to organize and our mailing and printing costs would have been astronomical.

In January 2002 a distant relation, who lives in Canada and who had done a great deal of genealogical research on the Barcham family, had the idea of organizing a family reunion in Norfolk, where the family has its roots. A committee was formed with the convenor in Canada, two members in Suffolk, one in Norfolk and one in Hertfordshire, and additional contacts in Australia and New Zealand.

Over the course of the next 18 months, hundreds of e-mails were exchanged as arrangements progressed. Various software proved to be generally useful such as spreadsheets for the accounts, databases for keeping records of the registrations, invitation lists and so on. A domain name was purchased and a website set up with news and local links.

We were lucky that one of the committee members is a computer expert who specializes in software for family historians ( He and his wife compiled a ginormous family tree, using Family Tree Maker, covering most branches from 1600 to the present day. When printed out for the gathering, it was about 15 metres long and 1.5 metres high! Using a ‘gedcom’ format this tree was mailed to me and downloaded in just a few minutes – it was then a simple matter to open the file using my Family Tree Maker. This proved invaluable for reference purposes while I was editing the family history book.

As the ‘publications and communications’ person, my tasks were to write a press release (easy using Word 2000), prepare and arrange printing for a new edition of a booklet first published in 1857, emulating the typefaces used in the original (Word 2000 again, but much more complex), and not least design and print a book and several other publications. A menu and an invitation card were not too difficult to design and print myself using Serif PagePlus, but the real challenge was to design a 12-page souvenir programme and edit and produce a 136-page book, both A4 format, which had to be printed professionally. Putting these publications together (Serif PagePlus), improving old photos (Corel Photo House), writing background articles, commissioning others, keeping the ‘boss’ in Canada in order(!), and finally interfacing my files with a digital printer has been hard work, but an interesting and enjoyable experience.


[reproduced from The Link, newsletter of the Blackbourne U3A Computer Study Group]