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Toy Farm: 1844-1942
Toy Farm, Beddingham, photographed 24 April 1942, from the East, probably by H Victor Brown, agent for the Glynde Estates. The caption on the back read: Toy Farm Cottages (used as one Farm House).
Toy Farm, Beddingham, photographed 24 April 1942, from the East, probably by H Victor Brown, agent for the Glynde Estates. The caption on the back read: Toy Farm Cottages (used as one Farm House).
The caption on the back read: Toy Farm Buildings and one pair of cottages, including Cottage let to one J D Hemming (left one of pair) and the cottage previously under requisition by the War Dept. (right one of pair).
The caption on the back read: Toy Farm Buildings and one pair of cottages, including Cottage let to one J D Hemming (left one of pair) and the cottage previously under requisition by the War Dept. (right one of pair).
Advert from the Sussex Express: 11 Jun 1892
Advert from the Sussex Express: 11 Jun 1892
1850Glynde Estates1942
1851Baker, Moore & Duplock families1851
1861Baker, Moore & Duplock families1861
1871Baker families1871
1881Ansell, Baker, Kemp families1881
1891Baker, Turner, Collingham & Hilton famil1891
1899Thomas Hilton1899
1901Balcombe, Gausden & Sherlock family1901
1907Alfred William Swain1928
1911Swain, Day & Shirley families1911
1930A G Guppy1930
1931W H Jackson1932
1933Ivan S Mason1940
1940East Sussex War Agricultural Committee1942

This is one of the lost farms of Beddingham. Toy Farm was built by the Glynde Estate in the far south-east corner of Beddingham parish and part of South Heighton. Its history is intertwined with those of Blackcap Farm and Preston Farm, and it can be very difficult to distinguish the boundaries or independence of this farm at any given point in time.

In his personal record of the development of the Glynde Estate, Henry Brand wrote in November 1875: ‘My father after a few years took Preston Farm in hand and occupied it till his death in 1853. During his occupation he reclaimed much of the Down Land about Toy Farm and Blackcap. All the buildings on the Preston Down were built by him’.

The estate account books show that Henry Griffiths and Sons built ‘new cottages on Beddingham Hill’ in 1844. This cost £33 6s 8d. However, this would not have been enough to build ‘new cottages’ and it seems probable that at least part of later amounts paid to Griffiths, including £50 in 1845 ‘on account of building cottages’ and another £50 the same year ‘on account of building two double cottages’, were the cost of the new buildings on Beddingham Hill. The following year Griffiths would be paid a further £300 – the balance of a ‘contract for building cottages’.

The reference to ‘two double cottages’ appears to confirm this is part of the cost of building the two pairs of single-storey cottages at Toy Farm but, unfortunately, the position is unclear as Bank Cottages, Glynde, were also built in 1845.

Toy Farm cottages were definitely built by 1851 as the census of that year shows four families of farm workers living there.

In May 1858, the Glynde Estate reached an agreement for a right of way to Toy Farm across the Firle estate. Henry Brand’s entry in Glyndiana (above) that his father had built ‘all the buildings on the Preston Down’ can not be correct. Henry Otway Trevor did die in 1853 but it can be seen in the Glynde Estate annual accounts that £825 2s 10d was spent on erecting new buildings at Black Cap Farm, Beddingham, in the financial year ending 6 May 1860 – 6 years after Trevor’s death.

A series of surviving estate farm account books show that Preston had been farmed ‘in hand’, along with Toy Farm, from 1853 to 1860. That is to say the Glynde Estate was managing the farm itself.

In November 1862 the Glynde Estate had a plan of the farm drawn, entitled ‘Black-cap Farm situate in the parishes of Beddingham and South Heighton’. This shows sets of buildings at both Blackcap and Toy Farms and the assumption has to be that Toy Farm had merged into Blackcap Farm.

Despite the expenditure on new buildings at Blackcap in 1859/60 the farm was still being farmed ‘in hand’ with Preston Farm, although the farm was now described as Preston and Blackcap, rather than Preston and Toy Farms.

Preston, with Blackcap Farm, remained in hand until 1866. That year the Glynde Estate exchanged 200 acres of land in Alciston with Lord Gage for a similar amount in Beddingham. This improvement meant that, after a period of managing them ‘in hand’ for at least 14 years, Blackcap, with Toy, and Preston Court Farms were leased to John Crosskey at £700 a year.

Crosskey gave up the farms in 1872 when they were leased for 21 years to Frederick Henry Harvey Ravenhill of Millthorpe House, Horsham, at £666 10s for the first 12 years and £900 for the last 9 years.

Ravenhill gave up the tenancy, which had included Toy Farm, in 1884 when William Hodson rented it ‘less the part known as Toy Farm in Beddingham and Heighton computed to contain 171 acres’ for £500 a year.

In 1889 T Colgate was renting Toy Farm, and in 1892 the estate placed an advert (see above) in the Sussex Express when the farm was described as a capital hill farm, comprising about 300 acres of which 152 were arable, 13 meadow, 130 downs and four of wood. Only three cottages were included with the farm.

Unable to let the farm it was taken back ‘in hand’ from 1892 until 1896.

Another advert in the Sussex Express of 13 April 1895 identified the farm as a flock and grazing farm, containing 74 acres 2 rods and 38 perches of arable, 91 acres 1 rod and 19 perches of temporary pasture and pasture, 5 acres 1 rod and 21 perches of shaws and buildings, and 107 acres 1 rod and 6 perches of downland. The farm once again had four cottages plus the farm buildings.

This made a total of about 279 acres, so it may have become slightly smaller in that three year period between 1892 and 1895.

Kelly’s directory listed Thomas Hilton, market gardener, as tenant in 1899 and on the 1891 census three people were listed as either living or sleeping in the barn at Toy Farm.

In 1902 Thomas and Annie Gausden, who lived in one of the cottages at Toy Farm, were prosecuted for the neglect of their children.

Albert Sherlock, of Blackcap Cottages, was paying £2 a year for the use of the garden at Toy Farm in 1903.

By 1907 Albert William Swain was the tenant at £60 a year and he became the first settled tenant since 1884, remaining at the farm until 1927. In 1930 A E Guppy rented Toy Farm, with part of Heighton Farm, at £67 16s a year. Like many small farmers at this time Guppy did not remain tenant long and he was succeeded by W H Jackson in 1931, paying a rent of £65 a year. Jackson also lasted only a short time on the farm and in 1933 Ivan Sidney Mason (described as a poultry farmer in Kelly’s directory in 1938) occupied the farm and remained there until 1940. At Ladyday (March 25th) that year the East Sussex War Agricultural Committee became tenants.

At the outbreak of the Second World War the farm became part of the drive to improve food production. Under the heading ‘Increasing the County’s Food Production’ the Sussex Express reported on 6 December 1940 on the work of the East Sussex War Agricultural Committee:

All the hand labour was engaged from the local Labour Exchange at Newhaven. Persons of widely different classes and occupations sought eagerly for this work, and proved both willing and efficient.

About the same time another 400 acres at Blackcap and Toy Farms above Firle was taken in hand. The whole of this land was fallowed and has now been sown with wheat, which looks very promising.

Things looked so promising that a series of publicity photographs of land girls gathering the following year’s harvest was taken for the News Chronicle in 1941.

However, the future of the farm, along with Blackcap and America Farms, became bleak. The farm and cottages were photographed on 24 April 1942 in preparation for the farms on the Downs at Beddingham to be requisitioned (requisition number E/SX/5074) by the War Department who wanted to use this part of the downland as a training ground for the army in preparation for the liberation of Europe.

A list of the structures on the farm exists in an East Sussex War Agricultural Committee file [LINK] of the return of land requisitioned by the War Department under the Cultivation of Lands Order 1939. The file contains a piece of paper, dated 19 May 1948, giving a description of Toy Farm [LINK]. It comprised about 128 acres. There were four cottages of which three were occupied with the farm, together with the usual outbuildings and fenced gardens. The farm buildings were more extensive than in America and Blackcap Farms and included barns, granary with loft, stables, implement sheds, cattle sheds, pig and poultry houses and cattle yards. Water was obtained from a well with pump and rain water storage. The land was divided into various enclosures partly fenced.

In the case of each farm the dwellings and buildings had been either totally destroyed or were so seriously damaged as to be useless and not worth renovating. It was suggested that the identity of each farm should be maintained approximately as in the past, possibly with slightly modified boundaries. A range of farm buildings would be required in each case on the same sites as before with approximately the same accommodation as formerly, except in the case of Toy Farm where they might be a little less extensive. A similar design might be adopted on each farm – barn, implement and tool sheds, granary and cattle sheds arranged around a cattle yard.

In order to maintain the greatest possible production it was proposed that the land should be farmed on the ley system and therefore divided into fenced enclosures. A piped water supply should be connected to the buildings and each large enclosure. This might be obtained from a neighbouring property or from a borehole to be sunk at the foot of the hills on the estate and pumped up to the summit by electric pump.

Two cottages would be required for each farm to take the place of the six dwellings destroyed. As the sites of the farm buildings were isolated it was suggested that, in accordance with modern ideas and practice, the six cottages should be built at the foot of the hills near the village of Glynde where most amenities would be available for the workers and their families.

In the end no new farm, or cottages in Glynde, were built by the estate. New farm buildings were erected on the site and, once again, it became part of Blackcap Farm.

Toy Farm: Now


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