North Runcton

Sir Somerville Arthur Gurney (1835 - 1917)

Somerville was the fourth son of Daniel Gurney and Lady Harriet; he was born in 1835. In 1857 he married Katherine Hammond (1836 - ) and together they are refered to frequently in "Life Amongst the Troubridges", as Uncle Tum (or Uncle Sommy) and Aunt Kitty.

They lived at Valleyfield, a house about a mile to the north-east of Runcton, on the site of the present-day Parkhill housing estate. It was reached on foot via the "long walk". Somerville and Katherine had 10 children. At the time of the Troubridge children's arrival at Runcton, six of these cousins were at Valleyfield - Audrey, Mabel, Lily, Rose, Philip and Walter.


Somerville moved into North Runcton Hall in 1881. Following the death of his father in 1880, North Runcton hall was inherited by the eldest son, Francis Hay Gurney. However, Francis was in his sixties, and had no wish to move from Keswick Hall, Norwich. After a year in which the hall stood empty, it was agreed that he would sell the house and some of the land to Somerville. In May 1881 Laura Troubridge wrote in her journal "Hear that it is settled that Uncle Tum And Aunt Kitty are to live at Runcton" and in December that year it was "strange and unreal" to be visiting the Valleyfield household, but at Runcton.

In 1887 Somerville Gurney began a series of major alterations to the North Runcton Church. Also worthy of note is that Lady Katherine is commemorated in a stained glass portrait of St Catherine in a north window of the Church. The window shows a representation of North Runcton Church itself in the background.

The portrait above is a detail from a photo that comes from the school archive. Dated 14 April 1907, it commemorates the golden wedding of the Gurneys and was given by them "with many thanks for the Beautiful Present given by the Parishioners of North Runcton, on the occasion of their Golden Wedding."

Sir Somerville and Lady Katherine