Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Farm Cottages at Shaw

Boundary changes in 1928 added areas of Chiseldon, Wroughton, Lydiard Tregoze and Lydiard Millicent to the parish of Swindon.  By the 1960s town planners were looking for a suitable site for a rubbish tip for the growing town and Shaw Farm in the west of the parish was identified as a prime location.

Once part of the extensive Lydiard Park Estate, Shaw Farm appears on the marriage settlement between Frederick, Lord Bolingbroke and Lady Diana Spencer in 1757 described as "Shaw ffarm alias Bailey's ffarm."

In 1809 it was sold by the cash strapped St John family to Robert Hughes who promptly sold it on to wealthy Thomas Packer Butt of Arle Court, Cheltenham.

An indenture dated 1809 between Hughes and Butt provides some fascinating farm details.  The names of previous tenants include 'Christopher Strange afterwards of John Clifford since of Joseph ffurnell and now of John Osborne' and field names such as Marlings Pits, the Motley and Pickett Mead.

In 1962 then owner Raymond Simpkins sold the 125 acre farm with two brick and stone built cottages to Swindon Borough for £20,000, staying on as tenant farmer.

In 1964 the farm was in a poor and dilapidated state with the farmhouse virtually uninhabitable. Fencing was so poorly maintained that cattle kept straying into pastures at Lower Shaw Farm, much to the annoyance of farmer Sarah Maslin who held the animals hostage!

Eventually both farm and former tied cottages 31 and 32 Shaw Road were empty and awaited the council's demolition team.

Among the paperwork of the acquisition and demolition of Shaw Farm held at the Wiltshire and Swindon Archives in Chippenham is a heartfelt letter from Mrs Ivy Brotheridge, licensee at the Sun Inn, Lydiard Millicent.  Regarding the cottages she writes:  'On either side of wall in front are stone pillar heads (if that is proper description).  Rather than they should be smashed by the workman may I ask for them myself?  I've known the cottages all my life having never lived anywhere else than here.'

What happened to those stone pillar heads?  Did Town Clerk David Murray John heed the plea of Mrs Brotheridge?  Perhaps today they adorn the pub garden at the Sun Inn?  Who knows?

Today the former landfill site at Shaw enjoys a greener aspect as the developing Shaw Forest.  With more than 60,000 trees planted since the mid 1990s, Swindon's urban forest is part of the Great Western Community Forest covering an area of 168 square miles from Royal Wootton Bassett to Faringdon and the Downs to the Thames.

Lower Shaw Farm 

Lady Diana Spencer 

Frederick, Lord Bolingbroke

photograph of the Sun Inn today courtesy of Collin West visit http://v4.lscache7.c.bigcache.googleapis.com/static.panoramio.com/photos/original/24578116.jpg

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