•  1861: American Civil War begins•  1865: Salvation Army founded•  1869: Suez Canal opened•  1871: Trades Unions legalised•  1872: Secret ballots introduced for elections•  1873: Dr Livingstone dies•  1876: Bell invents telephone•  1878: Electric light bulb invented•  1881: Pasteur invents innoculation•  1884: Speaker Brand retires•  1884: Fabian Society founded•  1885: Glynde & Beddingham Cricket Club founded•  1887: Queen Victoria's Jubilee•  1894: Manchester Ship Canal opened•  1899: Boer War starts•  1901: Queen Victoria dies•  1903: 1st aeroplane flight by Wright Bros.•  1905: Ragged Lands established•  1909: Introduction of Old Age Pension•  1912: Sinking of the Titanic•  1914: Start of 1st World War•  1916: Battle of the Somme•  1918: End of 1st World War•  1919: 1st trans-atlantic flight•  1920: League of Nations founded•  1922: Irish Free State founded•  1924: Lenin dies•  1926: General Strike•  1928: Women get the vote•  1934: Hitler assumes power in Germany•  1936: Regular BBC TV broadcasts begin•  1939: Start of 2nd World War•  1940: Dunkirk evacuation•  1941: Japanese attack Pearl Harbour
Blackcap Farm: 1860-1942
(Black Cap Farm)
Blackcap Farm Cottages, Beddingham, photographed 24 April 1942, from the north-east, probably by H Victor Brown, agent for the Glynde Estates.
Blackcap Farm Cottages, Beddingham, photographed 24 April 1942, from the north-east, probably by H Victor Brown, agent for the Glynde Estates.
Blackcap Farm, Beddingham, photographed 24 April 1942, from the north-east corner, probably by H Victor Brown, agent for the Glynde Estates.
Blackcap Farm, Beddingham, photographed 24 April 1942, from the north-east corner, probably by H Victor Brown, agent for the Glynde Estates.
Blackcap Farm, Beddingham, photographed 24 April 1942, from the south-east corner, probably by H Victor Brown, agent for the Glynde Estates.
Blackcap Farm, Beddingham, photographed 24 April 1942, from the south-east corner, probably by H Victor Brown, agent for the Glynde Estates.
1850Glynde Estates1942
1861Gates & Prodger faimilies1861
1871Sherlock & Allen families1871
1881A Sherlock1891
1901Sherlock families1901
1911Freeman & Sherlock families1911

This is one of the lost farms of Beddingham. Blackcap Farm was built by the Glynde Estate in the south-east corner of Beddingham parish, just to the north of Toy Farm. Its history up to 1942 is intertwined with those of Toy Farm and Preston Farm, and it can often be difficult to distinguish the boundaries or independence of this farm at various times.

In his personal record of the development of the Glynde Estate. Henry Brand wrote:

‘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 £3 6s 8d. However, this would not have been enough to build ‘new cottages’ and it seems probable that at least of 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’. 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 the cost of building the two pairs of cottages at Toy Farm but, unfortunately, the position is unclear as Bank Cottages, Glynde, were also built in 1845.

For the year ending 6 May, 1860, the estate accounts show that £825 2s 10d was spent in erecting new buildings at Blackcap Farm, Beddingham.

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

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.

There appears to have been no farm house with Blackcap Farm, just a pair of farm workers’ cottages, built in the typical style of William Weller and his family, the firm who built most of the houses on the Glynde estate in the 19th century.

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 Preston Court and Blackcap 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.

Hodson remained the tenant of both farms until at least 1884, by which time the rent was £696 10s a year. In 1891 John Lee, ‘farm manager’, was living at Preston Court Farm and in 1901 Lee, still living at Preston Court, was described as a farmer. In October 1907 George Freeman, who had been tenant of Station Farm since 1896 also rented Blackcap Farm at £70 a year. He gave up the tenancy of Blackcap at Michaelmas 1924 when James Reid rented the farm at £125 a year.

Reid left in 1927 when L A Kerley and H N Marchant became tenant, Marchant becoming sole tenant from 1930 until 1931. Thomas Cosser took over the tenancy in 1932 at £75 a year (reduced to £50 in 1934) until 1940 when the East Sussex War Agricultural Committee took it over at Ladyday (March 25th).

Publicity photographs of women from the Women’s Land Army were taken at Toy and Blackcap Farms in 1941 but the future of the farms were to take a turn for the worse the following year. The farm and cottages were photographed on 24 April 1942 in preparation for the farms on the Downs at Beddingham to be requisitioned 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, along with Toy and America Farms, exists in a 1948 file of the return of land requisitioned by the War Department East Sussex War Agricultural Committee under the Cultivation of Lands Order 1939.

The file shows that Blackcap Farm had the requisition number E/SX/5072 and comprised about 230 acres. Here were two cottages with outbuildings and walled gardens, together with a range of farm buildings comprising barn, stables, fodder store, implement shed and cattle shelters around a cattle yard. The land was in various enclosures, partly fenced. Water was provided by a dew pond and store rain water at the cottages and buildings.

It was concluded that 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.

The identity of each farm was to 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 as shown on an accompanying plan. 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.

It was suggested that 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 further 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 event no new farms were erected at Toy or America Farms. However, a brand new farmstead was erected at Blackcap and a pair of cottages built in Beddingham, opposite 1-6 Trevor Gardens.

Blackcap Farm: Now


Listed under the Topic: Farming

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