Monday, March 5, 2012

Padbrook Farm

At the time of the 1900 sale, Padbrook Farm in Lydiard Tregoze was described as a freehold farm with ‘five Enclosure of productive old Pasture Lane.’

Bounded on the north by the railway line and on the south by the Wilts and Berks Canal, details of Padbrook Farm can be found in rate books and census returns, but this modest little dairy farm has more fascinating facts and figures for the foraging family historian.

Victorian record keeping was phenomenal and family historians researching tenant farming ancestors may be fortunate enough to come across a set of farm accounts, such as those dated 1843-1967 deposited by the Vines family at the Museum of English Rural Life, University of Reading.

Charles Vines, a young farmer from Bremhill, took over the tenancy at Padbrook Farm in Lydiard Tregoze in about 1843.  He appears on the 1851 census, farming 35 acres and employing two labourers.

The account books reveal the workings of Padbrook Farm where Charles lived at for about eight years.  In 1844 he sold 8 calves for £5 10s.  Production improved across the years of his tenancy and in 1850 he sold thirteen.  However prices had fallen that year and according to the accounts each calf sold for about 10s.   Prices improved the following year when Charles sold a calf for £3 10s on April 3.

In 1846 cheese production at Padbrook netted £93 6s 11d. Together with the sale of butter, calves, pigs and lambs the farm income for that year was about £160.

Cheese production was a major source of income and 1848 proved to be a bumper year.  With the cheese room shelves groaning under 48 cwt of cheese, the account book records £119 in the farm coffers.

Outgoings are recorded alongside sales and in 1845 Charles paid a hefty £5 6s 6½d in parish taxes with two instalments of Poor Rate at £2 1s 11d plus 10s 6d Highway Rate and 12s 2½d Church Rate. 

Robert Freeth took over the tenancy at Padbrook in the early 1850s and is farming there at the time of the 1861 census.  Charles Ferris was tenant at Padbrook from at least 1871 to 1881 and Robert Archer was there in 1891.  The census of 1901 records Mark Church as ‘cattleman on farm’ living at Padbrook and in 1911, the last census available for consultation, Charles B. Hill was the dairy farmer there.

Meanwhile Charles had moved on to the much larger Vicarage Farm at Studley where the account books record a yearly income of £400 in 1852.

Between 1867-1889 Trade Directories show the Vines family farming at the Vicarage Farm in Bremhill. Charles died in Bremhill in 1884 but the book keeping continued with accounts in the hands of his son Jacob.

By the end of the 19th  century Jacob worked Manor, Vicarage and Glebe Farms where in 1901 milk sales topped £1,300.

The farm accounts were presented for photocopying by the museum by Charles’ grandson in 1967.

The Museum of English Rural Life contains the most comprehensive national collection of objects, books and archives relating to the history of food, farming and the countryside visit the website on

Chloe Spencer and Ruth Goodman making cheese in the BBC 2 series Tales From the Green Valley available on DVD

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