Places…..Farms, Mills and Orchards
Historically, farms would be modest in size and mixed; growing crops and raising livestock. There was a time when the parish was full of cattle, horses, sheep and pigs and plenty of hens.
In the past, a farm might be as small as 5 to 15 acres, 100 to 200 acres was considered a good size and 300 acres or more in the 19th Century was substantial. The manner of farming changed dramatically with Parliamentary Enclosure in 1816, when the large open fields, in which numerous different owners had strips of land intermingled with others, were divided up into the varied single owner fields that lie around us today.
Farming was labour intensive, requiring care of livestock and cultivation of the land. Those who toiled had to be housed and this was often in the farmhouse, adjoining buildings or in cottages clustered nearby. There was no point in the walk to work, being further than necessary.
In 1870 an economic depression fell over agriculture and this did not lift until the First World War. Farming was very tough and unrewarding and there was a move to fruit growing and market gardening to supply produce to the growing population of London. The railway provided a convenient and quick mode of transport.
Included in this section will be the histories of ancient farmsteads, significant farms of the 19th Century and their modern successors. Mills were a key part of the agricultural economy and the last closed in 1978. Distinct orchards, market gardens and small-holdings will also be chronicled here.
Last Updated on September 1, 2021