Billa Harrod

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Billa Harrod
BornWilhelmine Margaret Eve Cresswell
1 December 1911
New Hunstanton, Snettisham, Norfolk, England
Died9 May 2005
Holt, Norfolk, England
Occupationwriter and architectural conservationist
Known forsaving the mediaeval churches of Norwich
Spouse(s)Sir Roy Harrod
ChildrenDominick Harrod
RelativesGeneral Sir Peter Strickland (stepfather)

Wilhelmine Margaret Eve "Billa" Harrod OBE (née Cresswell, 1 December 1911 – 9 May 2005), was a British writer and architectural conservationist, best known for saving the mediaeval churches of Norwich, and the wife of the economist Sir Roy Harrod.

Early life[edit]

She was born Wilhelmine Margaret Eve Cresswell on 1 December 1911 at New Hunstanton, Snettisham, Norfolk, the daughter of Lieutenant (later Captain) Francis Joseph Cresswell (died 1914) of the Norfolk Regiment and his wife, Barbara Cresswell, née ffolkes (1884–1977).[1] She was related to several Quaker gentry families, including the Gurney family.[2]

Her father was killed in action at Mons not long after the beginning of the First World War, aged 31.[1] Her mother remarried in 1918, General Sir Peter Strickland (1869–1951).[1] She had a sister, Puffin, and they grew up in Egypt, where their stepfather was the Commander-in-Chief of British forces.[3]


From the 1930s, she lived between Norfolk and London, where she had a flat in Holborn with her sister Puffin and worked for the Georgian Group.[3]

After marrying the economist Sir Roy Harrod in 1938, she moved to Oxford, where he was an academic, and where she became friends with John Betjeman (who she had been briefly engaged to in the early 1930s) and his wife Penelope Chetwode, amongst others.[1][3]

In 1957, Harrod and her co-writer Charles Linnel published the Shell Guide To Norfolk.[4] As part of the process, she became aware of the poor condition of many of Norfolk's churches.[4]

In 1970, 32 of Norwich's mediaeval churches were being considered for demolition, and with the help of Sir John Betjeman, she was able to save them, and then focused on rural churches in the county, becoming the founding chairman of the Norfolk Society Committee for Country Churches, which became the Norfolk Churches Trust, with Harrod as the founder, chairman and president.[2][4]

She was appointed an OBE in 1992.[1]

Personal life[edit]

She married Sir Roy Harrod in 1938.[4] One of their sons was Dominick Harrod, economics correspondent for the BBC.[5]

Later life[edit]

She died on 9 May 2005 at her home, the Old Rectory, Holt, Norfolk.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Oppenheimer, P. M. "Wilhelmine Margaret Eve [Billa] Harrod [née Cresswell], Lady Harrod (1911–2005)". ODNB. OUP. Retrieved 23 November 2017.
  2. ^ a b 2005, December 1, 1911-May 9 (12 May 2005). "Lady Harrod". The Times. Retrieved 23 November 2017 – via
  3. ^ a b c "Billa Harrod". The Independent. 12 May 2005. Retrieved 23 November 2017.
  4. ^ a b c d Dimbleby, Josceline (9 June 2005). "Obituary: Billa Harrod". Retrieved 23 November 2017 – via
  5. ^ "Dominick Harrod". The Daily Telegraph. 5 August 2013. Retrieved 23 November 2017 – via