Merry’s Farmstead, Hay Street

There was an ancient farmstead in Hay Street, which over the years has become these three separate properties:

78 Hay Street, The Carriers

80 Hay Street, Rose Cottage

82 Hay Street, Fox Cottage  

Fox Cottage was previously Fairview and for a time a public house No Name Public House, Charter, Hay Street

Merry’s Farmstead

Merry’s Farmstead is a given name used here, as Chandler Merry, father and son, were long term owners from 1735 to 1845. The ancient farmhouse and farmyard with buildings covered an area of 0a 3r 1p, about three-quarters of an acre, with access onto Hay Street. Other land may have been owned or rented and run together with this holding

Early History

It is difficult to imagine Hay Street with open fields on both sides, with the occasional farmstead or cottage. This farmstead was likely carved out of the adjoining open field known as The Crofts or Crafts, in the 1500s, when there was a spate of enclosing pieces of land. Certainly, the history can be traced back to 1737, with the owner as Wilson and suggestion that Revell and Rowell were earlier owners. John and Thomas Revell active around 1718-1749 fit the bill. The Rowell family was an extensive and significant one in Steeple Morden from at least 1547 until the late 1600s and could have been the earlier owners. Indeed, one of them may have enclosed the land and even created the farmstead.

Enclosure 1808-1817

At the time of enclosure of the open parish fields in 1808-1817 Chandler Merry was the owner of the farmstead and through the process of enclosure he was allotted two pieces of land in lieu of copyhold right of common.

One was a small plot, No 22 on the map below, and measuring 0a 0r 12p, which extended the farmstead on the west side, fronting the road, to make it 0a 3r 13p in total.

In the Award the plot is described as an allotment to Chandler Merry in lieu of copyhold right of common Hay Street 0a 0r 12p. Copyhold of Shingay Manor. The adjoining properties were north allotment to Earl of Hardwicke, east homestead of Chandler Merry, south allotment to Mary Williams and west North Brook End Road. [Hay Street]

Merry’s second allotment was also in lieu of copyhold right of common and was a close of arable land in The Crofts, measuring 1a 1r 14p, copyhold of Shingay Manor and abutting the east side of the farmstead. The adjoining owners were north allotments to Earl of Hardwicke and Ann Carrington, south and west old enclosures, south and west allotment to Earl of Hardwicke.

Tithe Apportionment 1839

Charles Charter was the owner of both farmstead and land, part of which was tithe free. He also owned a couple of cottages the opposite side of Hay Street. The plot numbers are shown on the Tithe Map extract below.

Owner Occupier Plot No Description Extent
Charles Charter Bennet Charter 63a Cottage and garden 0a 0r 14p
Ditto William Elsom and another 63b Cottage and garden 0a 0r 12p
Ditto Himself and others 64 Cottage and garden 0a 3r 13p
Ditto Himself 65 Part of allotment arable 0a 1r 1p
Ditto Himself 464 Tithe free part of allotment arable 1a 0r 22p


Purchase by Charles Charter 1835

Charles Charter was a Steeple Morden resident and village thatcher, who acquired the farmstead in 1835 for £300. He built a new farmhouse, which was also used as a beerhouse. The exact date is uncertain, although it might be expected to have been soon after he purchased the farmstead? However, it does not show on the 1839 Tithe Map and one wonders if that was simple omission, as the style of the house suggests it was built before 1840.

Sale of Building Plot 1851-1861

At some point between 1851 and 1861 Charles Charter sold a small building plot in the south-west corner, adjoining Hay Street to William Medlock. The subsequent tale of that plot is told here 78 Hay Street, The Carriers

Sale by Charter in 1867, Pearmain in 1878 and Pearce 1900

in 1867 Charles Charter decided to retire to Chesterton and sell the farmstead. A copy of the sale particulars are below and Lot 1 included the main house (“for many years held as a Beerhouse”), the 4 room tenement and range of four cottages. It was bought for £400 by John Pearmain, a local farmer, who had decided to construct a substantial portfolio of local properties.

In 1878 John Pearmain’s property empire collapsed and his properties sold at auction. Lot 7 included the same properties: main house (“for many years held as a Beer Shop, and now held by Messrs Wells & Co and their undertenant, Mr Jesse Pearce”‘) 4 room tenement and range of four cottages. The purchaser was the tenant Jesse Pearce.

Stephen Pearce son of Jesse, sold at auction in 1900 and Lot 1 was the main house, with no mention of beerhouse, although more is now made of the Farm Premises. The 4 room tenement is still present but the range of four cottages is not mentioned.

Modern History

George Russell Blake Fordham, who lived next door at Ethelden Cottage on the south, bought the farmstead in 1945 upon the death of the last owner occupier Miss Ann Elizabeth Harper, who died 12 February 1945, with probate granted 27 March, which would suggest completion of purchase by Russell Fordham around july/August time? Rose Cottage was let to Frank Kirbyshire but the other house was obviously empty and Fordham let it to Albert David Kirbyshire, who had been running the beerhouse The Carriers next door, but was more inclined to a farming life. The Electoral Rolls of that period suggest that Albert and Mary his wife moved in during September 1945, remaining there until 1970

Breakup of the Farmstead

Russell Fordham remained owner until his own death in 1965, when ownership passed to his daughter Constance Margaret Hickman, who in 1970 dispersed the farmstead by selling Rose Cottage to John & Kath Lunness, Fairview to Frank and Florence Margery Foster and a square of garden land to the owners of The Carriers. There could no longer be any talk of a farmstead as all three original properties were firmly private houses.


Summary of Owners

Dates Owner Description & Notes
Pre 1737 ? Wilson
1737-1753 William Warboys Messuage and half acre of land late Revells or Rowells
1754-1778 Sarah Kirbyshire wife of Benjamin Messuage and close adjoining half an acre
1779-1781 Sarah Bellamy wife of John Widow of Benjamin remarried
1782-1784 John Bellamy
1785-1813 Chandler Merry senior
1813-1835 Chandler Merry junior
1835-1867 Charles Charter In 1867  “for some years used as beerhouse, erected by Mr Charter”
1867-1878 John Pearmain
1878-1883 John Braybrooks Of Potton and briefly of Great Chesterford.
1884-1892 Mrs Braybrooks
1893-1895 Jesse Pearce
1896-1899 Stephen Pearce
1900-1901 Exors of Stephen Pearce
1901-1937 Miss Emily Ann Harper
1937-1945 Miss Ann Elizabeth Harper
1945-1965 George Russell Blake Fordham
1965-1970 Constance Margaret Hickman Daughter of GRB Fordham.


Summary of Occupants

These are the occupants of the farmstead, living in the original farmhouse upto about 1835 and then the new farmhouse come beerhouse, which today is 82 Hay Street, known as Fox Cottage. Previously, it was known as Fairview.

Dates Occupier Notes
1810-1831 William Charter
1835-1867 Charles Charter He built new farmhouse also used as beerhouse
1867-1895 Jesse Pearce Beerhouse
1896-1899 Stephen Pearce
1899-1900 Mrs Pearce
1900-1930 Miss Emily Ann Harper
1930-1937 Misses Emily Ann and Ann Elizabeth Harper
1937-1943 Misses Ann Elizabeth and Maria Goodchild Harper
1943-1945 Miss Ann Elizabeth Harper
1945-1970 Albert David and Mary Kirbyshire


Occupants of Four Tenements

In the farm yard, behind the farmhouse and what today is The Carriers, there were four tenements in one building. There is good evidence that these were a conversion of the original farmhouse. They stood for most of the 19th Century and were still standing and occupied in 1891, although perhaps not fully occupied and already in decline They had gone by November 1900, when the farmstead was sold by the Exors of Stephen Pearce. It is possible they became a barn or outbuildings? These are the occupants of the four tenements deduced from census returns and other documents. Complete accuracy cannot be guaranteed.

1841 1851 1861 1867 1869
Thomas Hammond Thomas Hammond Thomas Hammond Thomas Hammond Thomas Hammond
Joseph Pearce William Pearce William Webb William Pearce William Pearce
Thomas Newman Charles Clark Charles Clark Charles Clark
James Pearce James Pearce James Pearce James Pearce
1871 1878 1881 1891
Abraham Pearce No name No name No name
William Pearce Jonas Webb Samuel Wenham No name
Charles Clark John Mynott John Mynott William Wilson
James Pearce James Webb Ann Williams William Huffer


Occupants of Four Roomed Tenement

This also stood in the farmyard and was a barn, which was converted to residential use in the 1840s. Today it is 80 Hay Street and known as Rose Cottage, the name used from at least 1945. Further research is necessary to fill out this listing.


Dates Occupier Notes
1851-1867 Jesse Pearce
1868-1891 William Watts
1891 Alfred Pearce
1900-1931 Arthur Kirbyshire
1932-1938 ?
1939-1954 Frank Kirbyshire
1954-1964 ?
1965-1970 Michael J & Brenda M Good


Personal Memories

Some Memories of The Carriers, Rose Cottage and Fairview (now Fox Cottage) in Hay Street, by Geoff Kirbyshire. These were first posted on the Steeple Morden Archive page on Facebook in 2020. We are grateful to Geoff for agreeing to publication here.

My Mum and Dad Albert and Mary Kirbyshire kept the Carriers Arms pub which was a Wells and Winch house. They took it over from my grandfather William Kirbyshire and ran it for a number of years until I was born in 1950. I still have the old clock that used to be on the wall of the tap room which was the two RHS windows as you look at the carriers. The old boys back in the day always used to stop and look through the windows to see the time as they didn’t have watches. My family have kept the clock going which must be getting on for 100 years old and it’s on my wall today after one major restoration.

My family left The Carriers in that year of 1950 and moved into your house which was then known as Fairview. It was owned by Russell Fordham of the Ashwell brewing family who lived in a large house where the 4 houses to the right of The Carriers now are. My dad rented the house as a small holding which consisted of the yard with 2 barns one of which remains and has been restored (it was also the tractor shed) there were pig sties further up on the left hand side and a pig run up until you drew level with Rose Cottage. My aunt Gertrude and Walt Kirbyshire lived there at the time. Further up was the stackyard and then behind Rose Cottage a fruit orchard from where we sent fruit to Spitalfields Market. Behind the orchard was the top field now a meadow and owned by John Lunness. We also had some cows and of course chickens and in the year we moved in my dad bought a brand new Ferguson T20 grey tractor to farm with. He owned the field in Hay Street where the four bungalows stand opposite Andy Holts and also farmed one on the bottom corner of Trap Road and one on the corner of Cheyney Waters where there is still a small orchard. When we lived there we had no flush toilet (Dad had to make a trip up to the orchard once a week with the “Honey Bucket” and a spade. We had a tin bath that came in once a week from the barn and the water was heated in a small boiler. I had first dibs then mum and dad last by which time it needed a kettle full pouring in to warm it up a bit. The floor was brick laid straight on soil and the walls clay batt (probably still are) the roof was galvanised tin not the posh thatch that you have now. We had no heating in common with most people just an open fire. After we left the property in around 1970 to move down the road (ill health caused my dad to retire) it was sold and was bought by Frank and Marge Foster who partly renovated it. Tell you one thing it certainly makes you appreciate the houses that we live in today. Still you didn’t know any different back then and just got on with it but I’ll tell you that it was no fun if you needed the loo on a cold and windy night and you had to go out the back with a torch and sit with the spiders no fun when you were 7 and not very brave. Funny what a difference 60 years makes to everything around us!

Rose Cottage from 1954 to 1964 was rented out to a couple of tenants from what I can remember but I was very young. One of them worked for Derwent tv rentals and I remember my dad buying me my first transistor radio from him. This was probably around 1960 I can’t recall the tenant’s name at present but I am sure it will come back to me. The next guy Good was something to do with cars I remember Steve Parrish and I buying an old Triumph 2000 from him to rag around the old airfield.

Census Returns 1841-1911

The Census returns covering all the houses on the farmstead are included below, with family details for the occupiers.

Click on any image below to view. Click again to enlarge. Drag to view entire image.

Shingay Manor Quit Rentals 1737-1797

in respect of Merry’s Farmstead, 78, 80 and 82 Hay Street, part copyhold of Manor of Shingay cum Wendy

Extracted from Rental Book 1737-1768 and Quit Rental Receipt Book 1760-1797

1737 onwards            William Warboys with 1s quit rent

1737                            William Warboys now Wilson

1743-54                       William Warboys

1749                            William Warboys paid 1s. Messuage and half an acre of land late Revells or Rowells. Paid for 5 years leaving 2 years in arrears

1754                            William Warboys late Wilson now Kirbyshire

1755                            Sarah Kirbashire wife of Benjamin late William Warboys
A messuage and close adjoining with ye appurtenances containing half an acre in Steeple Morden

1768                            Sarah Kirbashire wife of Benjamin late William Warboys of Steeple Morden sometime Wilsons
Steeple Morden copy messuage & close containing ½ acre.

1761                            Sarah wife of Benjamin Kirbyshire paid 14 years rent 14s

1772                            Sarah Kirbashire paid 11 years 11s

1779                            Sarah wife of John Bellamy paid 2 years 2s

1782                            John Bellamy paid 3 years 3s

1785                            Chandler Merry late Bellamy paid 3 years 3s

1787                            Chandler Merry paid 2 years 2s

1788                            Chandler Merry paid 1 year 1s

1790                            Chandler Merry paid 2 years 2s

1792                            Chandler Merry paid 2 years 2s

1794                            Chandler Merry late Warboys paid 2 years 2s

1796                            Chandler Merry paid 2 years 2s

1797                            Chandler Merry paid 1 year 1s

Shingay Manor Court Surrenders 1835 & 1869

in respect of Merry’s Farmstead, 78, 80 and 82 Hay Street, part copyhold of Manor of Shingay cum Wendy

Document in possession of Mrs Florence Marjorie Foster, 82 Hay Street, Steeple Morden. Abstract made 14 December 1980  [MISC 27]

Absolute Surrender dated 25 Nov 1835 Chandler Merry to Charles Charter Manor of Shingay cum Wendy.

On 25 Nov 1835 came Chandler Merry late of Orwell now of Croydon farmer a customary tenant of the Manor. In consideration of £300 paid to him by Charles Charter of Steeple Morden thatcher in purchase of estate in fee simple……..

All that customary or copyhold messuage or tenement with the close of land and pasture to the same adjoining half an acre in Steeple Morden and late in the tenure or occupation of John Bellamy and now of Charles Charter.

Also, that allotment in the field called the Crofts in Steeple Morden one acre and a half allotted on Inclosure to Chandler Merry the elder father of Chandler Merry and now in occupation of Charles Charter.

All of which were the estate of the late Chandler Merry the elder and to which Chandler Merry the younger was admitted 27 September 1813 on the death….

Conditional Surrender by Charles Charter to Chandler Merry to secure £250 [or £200 as the 50 has been scratched out?] plus interest lent by Chandler Merry to Charles Charter.

Absolute Surrender 24 March 1869 Charles Charter to John Pearmain

Manor of Shingay cum Wendy

On 24 March 1869 came Charles Charter late of Steeple Morden now of Chesterton thatcher a customary tenant of the manor and did in consideration of £400 paid to him by John Pearmain of Steeple Morden farmer in purchase of the absolute estate in fee simple…into the hands of William Pain and William Pain Miller two other customary tenants of the Manor.

All that messuage or tenement now divided into and used as four dwellings and in the respective occupations of Thomas Hammond, James Pearce, Charles Clark and William Pearce with a close of land and pasture now partly used as an orchard to the same adjoining about half an acre formerly in tenure or occupation of John Bellamy and afterwards of Charles Charter [No 11 in margin]

And also all that other cottage or tenement sometime since erected or built upon or converted out of a barn or other building theretofore standing on part of the before mentioned close of land and pasture or orchard and now in the occupation of Jesse Pearce. [11a in margin. Mrs Foster said this is Rose Cottage owned by John and Kath Lunness]

And also all that allotment in the field called the Crofts adjoining the above mentioned close of land… acre and two roods but in the Inclosure and Map stated to contain one acre one rood and fourteen perches and allotted to Chandler Merry and late in the occupation of Charles Charter to which Charles Charter was admitted tenant on 22 June 1836 on surrender of Chandler Merry.

And also that plot of land containing six and a half perches lying in Hay Street and constituting the northernmost part of a certain other allotment of land containing twelve perches which was allotted on Inclosure to Chandler Merry, adjoining on north allotment to Earl of Hardwicke, on east by the homestead of Charles Charter (being the tenement first mentioned, on south by the residue of the same allotment lately sold by Charles Charter to the use of William Medlock, on the west by North Brook End Road.

And also all that messuage or dwelling house now and for some years past used as a Beerhouse with barn and outbuildings erected and built by Charles Charter upon part of the said lastly described plot of ground or partly thereupon and partly upon his said adjacent homestall. And which said messuage tenement or dwelling house is on land forming part if the twelve perches of land.

To the use of John Pearmain for ever.

Last Updated on May 29, 2023