Sunday, September 4, 2011

Brook House Farm

Brook House Farm pub and restaurant enjoyed a refit in advance of the 2007 'no smoking' restrictions, but despite the latest alterations to the former farmhouse it is still possible to identify some structural features from its glory days.

Standing on the corner of Middleleaze Drive and Tewkesbury Way, just inside the Swindon borough boundary, with views across Lydiard Park and its back to the sprawling town, today Brook House Farm straddles the divide between town and country.

Once belonging to the St. John family at Lydiard House, a farm has stood on the site for at least 200 years. Along with Wick Farm it made an early appearance on the 1773 Andrews and Dury map of Wiltshire. Nineteenth century particulars of the Lydiard Estate reveal that parcels of land, gardens and cottages on the two farms appear to have been interchangeable.

Called Brook Farm until the beginning of the 20th century, the 165-acre dairy farm perched on the parish boundary of Lydiard Tregoze and Lydiard Millicent. The farm took its name from the brook that ran through the St. John's former estate and meandered across the fields to the small settlement at Shaw in Lydiard Millicent.

The farm complex, auctioned at the Goddard Arms Hotel, Swindon on Friday June 28th 1901, was described in the sale particulars as including a substantial house, brick built with slate roof, facing due south.

On the ground floor there was a drawing room with bow window, a dining room 21ft by 14ft, (6.4 x 4.2 metres) a morning room, large entrance hall and a kitchen 'with a capital dresser as fixed.' Above the dairy, 'a capacious Cheese Room fitted with tacks and stands' - and of course there were the 'usual Domestic Offices.' With five bedrooms and a box room on the first floor and two servants' bedrooms on the second, this was definitely a desirable residence.

At the time of the 1901 sale the owner was Joses Badcock. His wife Sarah, had grown up at Brook Farm, the daughter of Thomas and Joan Plummer. Widowed in 1863, Sarah married Joses Badcock, himself a widower, in 1868. The couple lived first at Millicent House in Lydiard Millicent before returning to Sarah's childhood home in the 1870s.

Brook Farm had just a handful of owners during the first half of the 20th century, among them Miss Elizabeth Akers, Alfred Leonard Purkis and Harold Pears. When Harold Pears sold the property in 1939 a note is made that: The Owner is at present renting a further 61 acres from Lady Bolingbroke, the tenancy of which could no doubt be transferred.' So nothing much had changed!

From the Census Returns
1841 Thomas and Joan Plummer, three servants
1851 Thomas and Joan Plummer, Sarah 19 and Thomas 16.
1861 Thomas and Joan Plummer and Thomas.
1865 Thomas died - Jonas Clarke at Wick Farm takes over management 1871 William Breadmore, farm bailiff, wife Caroline, son George.
1881 Sarah Badcock , Henry 21, Kate 20, Elizabeth 17, Ellen 17, Sarah 11, Edgar 10 and three year old Millicent.
1891 Joses, Edgar 20 and Millicent 13.
1901 Joses, Sarah and daughters Sarah and Millicent.

A photograph from Lydiard House archives thought to be of Brook Farm

All Saints Church, Lydiard Millicent

Lydiard Millicent milestone re-positioned behind Brookhouse Farm.

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Lower Shaw Farm
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Padbrook Farm
National Farm Survey

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