New Zealander visits her ancestral home

Maggy Roberts, whose relatives were at Dickleburgh orphanage, with her husband Alan. Picture: Rosema

Maggy Roberts, whose relatives were at Dickleburgh orphanage, with her husband Alan. Picture: Rosemary Steer. - Credit: Archant

A woman from New Zealand has visited a south Norfolk village where three of her relatives lived during the 1880s and 1890s.

Maggy Roberts' grandmother and great aunts, Laura, Rosanna and Martha Thurlow, were among the more than 300 orphaned or destitute children from across the country were cared for in Dickleburgh, near Diss, between around 1875 and 1912.

The Charity for Workhouse Children homes was set up by Louisa Brandreth, the wife of the village's rector Henry, to care for those children.

Mrs Roberts was contacted by Rosemary Steer, who is involved with the Dickleburgh Children in Care Commeration Project. After an exchange of emails, it turned out that she and her husband Alan were on holiday in Britain and arranged to visit the village and meet Mrs Steer and other members of the group.

Mrs Steer said: 'It was good to meet with Maggy and see what it meant to her to see the village where her grandmother, Laura and her great aunts grew up in care.


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'In particular she was thrilled to look round the old village school and the former children's home where her relatives were taught and cared for over a hundred years ago. She was also very moved to see the grave of her great aunt Rosanna in Dickleburgh churchyard.'

The Thurlow family came from Diss and the parents and their six children worked at the Depwade Workhouse in Pulham Market. The children's mother, Mary Ann, died of typhus fever and in 1883, Laura and her sister Rosanna were admitted to one of the two children's homes in Dickleburgh. Rosanna died in 1888, aged 11, and is buried in the churchyard in the village.

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