Wimpole park & Home farm 1828

Filling the barn with wheat sheaves, G.Soper

Delving into the vast archives I have on my computer this christmas I realised that there is an enormous amount of information about Home farm through the ages. However in this blog I’ll deal with the period around the early nineteenth century when the Third earl of Hardwicke became very interested in the modern farming practices of his time.

Part of the  new drive in farm improvements of the time included Modern farms. Home farm at Wimpole dates from this time, 1790, when the landscape architect W. Eames along with Sir J. Soane designed the farm we see today (these buildings used

Flailing the sheaves

red brick, whereas the Fourth earls additions are indicated by the yellow gault clay brick). The main feature of the farm was and still is the Great barn which was built as a traditional thrashing barn that used the traditional man and flail method with a thrashing floor now long gone. This was the ancient method of degraining the wheat ears in the sheaves and winnowing the grain once thrashed.  It was probably one of the last thrashing barns ever built for shortly after there were many other new agricultural inventions, this was the beginning of the agricultural revolution. One such invention were the horse gin gang.

Gin gang building

A gin gang, wheelhouse, roundhouse or horse−engine/gin house, is a structure built to enclose a horse mill, usually circular but sometimes square or octagonal, attached to a threshing barn. Most were built in England in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The threshing barn held a small threshing machine which was connected to the gin gang via wooden gears, drive shafts and drive belt, and was powered by a horse which walked round and round inside the gin gang. At Home farm a much larger  four horse gin was added to Great barn shortly after it was built and its position can be seen as a round addition to the north side of the Great barn. This was used to thrash the wheat sheaves that had previously been stored in the barn at harvest time, a less arduous job for the men but one of the many new inventions that put farm labourers out of much valued winter work and in part led to the Swing Riots.

Wimpole park and Home farm 1828 J. Dunstone Cambridge Library

Of interest you may note that the farm barn complex was not completely enclosed, the reason for this is that the Great barn had to have a breeze through the two massive doors and the prevailing wind was and is from the SW. This allowed the farm labours to thrash and winnow thus separating the wheat from the chaff. The cow sheds you see today which now block the SW winds were added by the Fourth Earl as the thrashing barn had in all intensive purposes become redundant due to the new farming thrashing and winnowing inventions.

Ploughing the fields G. Soper

So what of the man who created the map. His name was James Dunstone and seems to have been born in 1790 but died in 1834 his will dated the 20th June 1834 is as follows:

This is the last Will and testament of me James Dunstone of Wimpole in the County of Cambridge Land Surveyor ( that is to say) I give and bequeath unto my brother John Dunstone the sum of fifteen pounds , to my brother Richard Dunstone the sum of fifteen pounds , to my sister Mary Dunstone the sum of fifteen pounds and to my sister Ann Dunstone the sum of fifteen pounds – I give and bequeath unto my dear wife Martha Dunstone all my household goods and furniture plate linen china monies and securities for money and all and singular other my personal estate property and effects whatsoever and wheresoever to and for her own absolute use and benefit and I appoint my said dear wife Martha Dunstone sole Executrix of this my will and hereby revoking all former and other wills by me at any time heretofore made do declare this only to be and contain my last Will and Testament In Witness whereof I the said James Dunstone the Testator have hereunto set my hand and seal this twentieth day of June one thousand eight hundred and thirty four.

Signed Sealed Published and declared  }
by the said James Dunstone the Testator }
as and for his last will and testament    }   Jas. Dunstone   (Seal)
in the presence of us who in his presence }
at his request and in the presence of     }
each other have hereunto subscribed       }
our names as witnesses thereto            }

Thos.Wortham Jn – Elizabeth Newell

18th August 1834 Martha Dunstone of Wimpole in the County of Cambridge Widow the sole Executrix named in the within written will was sworn to the execution thereof in due form of Law and she further made Oath that the Goods Chattels and Credits late of the written named Testator James Dunstone do not amount in value to the sum of Four hundred and fifty pounds

Before me
Gen Ventris
Testator died 8th July 1834

He now lies in the Wimpole churchyard and the link below is his inventory An inventary and valuation of the personal property of the late Mr dunstone gives you an idea of how he lived.

So to the land. G. Soper

Now onto the land, Robert Withers was the steward for the third earl and he left the terrier for the map and from this we know that the deer park (a darker washed green) contained 245 acres thereabouts and from the Cambridge Natural History book we also know it had 300 head of fallow deer in the 1880’s. So one can assume the count would have roughly been the same in 1828, so more or less one – one and a half fallow deer per acre. Then there was the Home farm, in total there was 459 acres more or less, this was split into grassland and arable land, the grassland would have been grazing and meadow land and amounted to 212 acres (lighter washed green) with a couple of acres of pond and spinners; interestingly there was also five ozier beds amounting to nearly four acres which more than likely would have been used for basket making to carry goods of all descriptions. As to the arable land there was 240 acres (lighter washed brown) more or less but unfortunately there are no records as to its use apart from a set of inventories spanning ten years, however they do give an insight to what was actually grown on the farm.

Part of the 1828 inventory for Home farm

Collecting mangle wurzels G. Soper

Corn & Hay

Wheat thrashed 28 lds
Wheat to thrash in 4 cocks and 2 —– stacks about 250
Barley in the granary 22 quarters
3 Stacks of barley and part of another in the straw about 140 quarters
1 Stack of oats and part of another in the straw about 120 quarters
1 Stack of peas in the straw 70 loads
1 Stacks of beans in the straw 160
Barley wheat in the granary 10 bushels
Pollack? and bran in the granary 5 quarters
Linseed in the granary 13 quarters
Oil cake in the granary 1/2 ton
Potatoes about 4000 bushels
Mangel wurzel about 400 tons
Growing tares 5 acres
4 Stacks of pasture hay about 140 tons
Mangle wurzel seed 350?

Droving to market G. Soper

From the same inventory we can also see what livestock the farm held in 1828, it is obvious that the livestock farm was principally undertaking milk production although I suspect those calves that were male were brought on for the meat market.                In total there was 67 cows, steers and bulls with 21 milking cows.                                   The sheep amounted to 486 in total with 330 breeding ewes with store sheep brought in. These would have come via drovers bringing sheep like Welsh, Cheviots etc from all corners of the Kingdom. Of interest the Third Earl seemed to be experimenting as in some of the other inventories mention Leicester long wool rams which were almost definitely crossed with the Southdown sheep. Elsewhere in East Anglia at the same time Norfolk horn sheep were being crossed with Southdowns which gave rise to the traditional Suffolk breed which is still used as a commercial breed even today. I sometimes wonder what a Leicester/Southdown cross would be like.                                                                                                                                      Also in the inventory are the pigs, quite a few actually and probably used to feed the labouring men.

Cows steers etc
9 Capital milking cows of the improved Shorthorn breed
3 Capital milking cows of the improved Shorthorn breed superior
4 Fattening Shorthorn bullocks
2 Fattening Shorthorn smaller
8 Fattening Shorthorn heifers
1 Capital in calve three year old heifer
4 Capital in calve two year old
4 Steers two year old
2 Heifers two year old
1 Heifer three year old
13 Yearling heifers and steers
7 Calves
6 Calves smaller
1 Capital bull rising four year old
1 Capital bull rising three year old
1 Capital bull rising yearling
330 Capital young Southdown ewes
45 Fattening Cheviot wethers
77 Store Welsh sheep
25 Southdown hogget’s
5 Southdown rams
4 Southdown ram hogget’s
1 Sow 6 pigs
1 Sow 8 pigs
1 Sow 10 pigs
1 Sow 9 pigs
1 Sow 7 pigs
1 Sow 7 pigs
3 In pigged sows
15 Fattening pigs
19 Store pigs
1 Boar
1   Bhorse thirteen year old Turpin
2   Black eight year old Drummer
3   Brown horse severn year old Punch
4   Grey horse severn year old Fergus
5   Black horse five year old Captain
6   Brown horse five year old Duke
7   Black horse five year old Venture
8   Chestnut horse four year old Boxer
9   Chestnut horse four year old Squint?
10 Grey colt three year old
11 Grey filly two year old
12 Brown gelding six year old

Three horse team E. Whydale

So to the work horse, no tractors then just horses, in fact 12 in 1828 although numbers varied in the other inventories by one or two. As a general rule of thumb you need 2 horse per 100 acres but on heavy clay land 3 would have been necessary even so it seems Home farm had more than it needed until you realise that some of those horses would have powered the horse gin and would have also been used for other general duties about the farm and parkland.

It is of note that fowl were either absent or not recorded which in either case seems unusual as eggs would have been in high demand.

Harrowing the plough land G. Soper

So how was the arable land farmed? as it turns out there are other sources from the tenant farms and one of these is dated in 1824 related to Valley farm aka Wimpole Hole farm and  was overseen by Robert Withers the steward.

Valuation of tillage &c from Mr Robt Withers to Mr John Pearse at Wimpole taken February 5 1824

A R P Dove house close
16 2 0 Sown with red clover seed cost
Sowing the same

Mill field
22 3 0 Ploughed once

Dean field for wheat
9 0 0 Ploughed twice
Harrowd 3 times
4 boys 61/2 days each
Forking up pea stubble & picking twitch
2 men 1 boy with 3 horses a day & half drilling
Use of drill 1/6 per acre
2 days 1 man opening ditchs & furrows
27 Bu of wheat for seed  (best sort)

Great resevoir field sown with wheat
29 0 0 Ploughed twice
Harrowd 3 times
6 boys & girls 141/2 days forking of pea & bean stubble & picking twitch
2 men 1 boy with 3 horses half day drilling
Use of the drill on 4 acres
5 boys & girls 7 days springing wheat
1 man 3 days water furrowing
12 Bu wheat for seed drilled in
100 Bu do springed in

New field for barley
9 0 0 Ploughed twice
Harrowd twice

In same field
7 1 0 Ploughed once
1 man with 2 horses drawing and furrows 2 days
1 man 2 days shorching? at lands ends

For wheat
12 3 0 Ploughed twice
Harrowd 3 times
1 man with 2 horses 2 days drawg furrows
2 men 1 boy with 3 horses 2 days drilling
Use of drill 1/6
1 man 2 days shorching? lands ends

Of this piece
10 0 0 dressed? with gravesing?
2 men 2 horses 3 days carting and spreading gra?
38 B 1 —  wheat for seed
8 tons of grans? sown
cost £2 per ton in London
Breaking of Grains? cost 4/- per ton
carriage of the grans? from London cost e/g per cwt (note this seems to be another name for night soil)

In same field for wheat
1 0 0 Ploughed in with the other land viz
2 men 1 boy 3 horses drilling
Use of drill 1/6
3 Bu seed wheat drilled in

In same field
3 3 30 Sown with swedish turnips at per acre

Great sheep walk sown with wheat
24 2 0 Ploughed 4 times
Harrowd 4 times  with large twitch each time
Harrow & 6 horses a man & boy
Harrowed twice with light harrows
Rolled twice
5 men 10 horses 6 days filling & spreading dung
4 boys 6 days driving carts
1 man 6 days laying down dung
5 men 10 horses 2 days filling and spreading soap ashes?
4 boys 2 days driving carts
carriage of 25 tons of soap ashes from London (cost —– expenses)? 1/- ton carriage
1 man 3 days water furrowg
1 man 3 days shorching? lands ends
73 1/2 Bu wheat for seed
2 men 1 boy with 3 horses drilling the wheat
use of drill 1/6

In the same field for barley
25 0 0 Ploughed twice
Harrowed twice with large twitch harrows with 6 horses and man & boy
1 man 1 boy with 4 horses 8 days hoeing thistles
1 man 2 horses 4 days drawing of ridges
1 man 3 days water furrowg &c

Little Dean field with winter tares
7 2 10 Ploughed once
Harrowd 3 times
2 men & 1 boy with 3 horses 1 day drilling
1 man 1 day shorching? lands ends
Paid for opening the ditches & the —–
25 Bu of tares for seed cost 6/6 per Bu
Use of the drill 1/6

In the same field
2 1 20 Ploughed once

Great Dean field
14 0 0 Ploughed once

Horse pasture
3 0 0 Crop of Sctoch? thaile? turnip & small part? turnips cabbages at per acre
3 men with 5 horses & carts 3 days filling dung carting out of the yard into the lane
2 boys 3 days each driving carts
Paid man for turning up dung
1 boy 8 weeks keeping of crows
Paid for cutting 66 acres of halm?
Carting home & stacking the same (cash in all)
1 man 11 days washing & liming of seed wheat
1 man 1 horse & cart 11 days carting seed wheat
1 man 1 boy with 4 horses 5 days ploughing up hedge greens
2 men 3 1/2 days grubbing up roots before the plough

Eight acre field
2 0 0 Lay’d with lucerne last year viz
Ploughed once
Harrowd once
Rolled once
60 ld of lucerne seed
5d pence per ld
sowing the same

Fixtures in the house

West bedroom
A Rumford stove as fixed with 3 cast covers
Middle bedroom
Rumford stove as fixed with3 covers
East bedroom
Rumford stove as fixed with 3 covers
North bedroom
A small Panthion? stove not fixed
Rail with 6 pegs
A wind up bath range with spit racks and 2 round trevils?
Rumford stove as fixed with three cast covers
Drawing room
Rumford as fixed with 3 cast covers
Rumford stove as found with 2 cast covers
a shelf as fixed
Row of pegs
Blue painted cupboard
Shelf under the cupboard

Valuation from Mr Pearce to Mr Withers May 19th 1824
After feed of pastures from Michas 1823 to March 1 1824

5 2 0 Long Dane?
3 3 0 Little mead
5 2 0 Horse common
3 2 0 Little spring close
3 2 0  Nibbs? dane?
21 3 0 At per acre
5 0 0 Bush close old rye grass ley from Michas to 18 March 1824
Range in kitchenas it was sold in the sale
Small stove in North bedroom

2 3 30 Of Swedish turnips at xx
Deduct Mr Withers paid for digging up clamping & turning over once since 77 1/2 chains of borders at 1/-


Burning twitch G. Soper

It makes interesting reading as fertiliser was brought from London for the fields at Valley farm, seeds were lime washed to prevent fungal diseases like bunt and ergot, twitch and thistle were a liability and halm (long stubble and weeds) was mown probably by scythe so I guess the sickle was used to reap the wheat.

What is surprising is how many times the land was ploughed and harrowed, I suspect that this was needed to control the arable weeds. Also of note was the use of seed drills that seemed to be hired in.

Anyway this gives some idea of what farming was like at Home farm for most of the nineteenth century.



About Sadeik

You may ask why "Sadeik" well it means friend in arabic. Worked in Jordan a lot doing tree surgery you see. I have worked in forestry since I left school with a two years in Telecom. Went back to forestry and tree surgery as it may not have paid as much but was far more interesting and dangerous. Spent a lot of years mountaineering, caving and canoeing too. At 29 I went to Bangor University to study Forestry and soil science then did an MSc in Water engineering all very interesting. By a quirk of fate in 1995 ended up helping sort out the woodland and park at Wimpole, funny thing was then I only intended to stay six months or so, but 18 years later I'm still here learning all the time. That's the best bit, if I wasn't able to learn something new every year I would not have stayed and as you get older you realise that the grass is not so green in the next field after all. In fact my patch is getting greener while much of the rest is getting browner.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s