Farms in Great Linford
Tracing the history of farms presents many challenges; farmers come and go, farms change name or fall out of use, and the further back in time we look, the less likely it is that farms even bore a formal name. Additionally, individual farmers can be associated with more than one farm, sometimes at the same time, making it likely there was a degree of subletting going on. But though there are no longer any working farms in Great Linford parish, and some have been completely erased from sight and memory, there are at least a dozen that can be firmly placed within the landscape, and whose histories are reasonably open to study.
The Black Horse Farm
Easily confused with the Black Horse Inn, whose publicans often doubled as farmers, the Black Horse Farm was located close to modern day Marsh Drive but has now vanished from the landscape. The farmstead appears to have been established between 1840 and 1881, but a more precise construction date presently eludes discovery. We know from a sales notice of 1951 that the farmhouse was a substantial three story stone and brick-built edifice, but along with a labourer’s cottage and outbuildings was demolished in the 1970s, the gravel pits now known as the Linford Lakes having encroached fatally upon its farmland. Click here to read more about the Black Horse Farm.
The Black Horse Inn
Though primarily one of the longest running pubs in the parish, the evidence is clear that The Black Horse Inn was also a working farm for many years. Some of its first publicans can be referred to as often as farmers as they are landlords, and a tithe map for the parish drawn up in 1840 confirms that the pub was associated with 161 acres of land. However, by 1911, this has shrunk considerably to just 13 acres, and though there is evidence that subsequent landlords continued to keep a few cows, this marked the end of the Black Horse Inn as a farm in the strict sense of the word. Click here to read more about the Black Horse Inn.
One of two surviving farmhouses on the High Street, the other being The Cottage, the circa 17th century Church Farm can be seen at the top of a private drive adjacent to St. Andrew’s School. The thatched barn within the grounds of the school was once part of the farmstead, but with just 56 acres of land extending to the rear of the farmhouse in 1840, this was one of the smallest farms in the parish. However, by 1910 the farm has almost doubled in size, to 105 acres, and though still small by Great Linford standards, the inclusion of a field directly adjacent to the church may well be construed as the origin of the farm’s modern-day name. Conversely, the modern-day Church Farm Crescent on the High Street has no known connection to Church Farm other than its name. Click here to read more about Church Farm.
Also known for a brief time as Brimley’s Farm, which provides a surprising connection to North Carolina, the private dwelling now known as The Cottage is located on the High Street near to the turning to Woad Lane. This 17th century timber framed cottage undoubtedly once served as a farmhouse. With 161 acres of land ascribed to it in 1840, it is closely associated with several significant Great Linford farming families, the Hawleys and the Clodes. However, by the early 1900s it had transitioned into a comfortable country home of some status, attracting the interest of the owners of Killiney Castle in Ireland. Sisters Dorothea Salesbury Adlercron and Amelia Meliora Ladereze Adlercron (born in Switzerland) were resident at The Cottage circa 1911, though by the 1930s, the house was occupied by the retired grocer George Rose, whose business he had run from the house on the High Street now known as The Old Post Office. Click here to read more about The Cottage.
Grange Farm (previously known as Green Farm) incorporating The Mead
Located on Harpers Lane near The Green, Grange Farm was known circa 1881-1918 as Green Farm, and is thought to have had two phases of construction, one in the 17th century, and the other in the 18th century. While some farmers have always struggled to make a living, there were those that did well enough to amass considerable wealth. The Elkins family, associated with the farm since the early 1820s are one such family. When Eli Elkins passed away in 1877, he left behind 88 ounces of silver tableware. An adjoining 17th century property now known as The Mead appears to have been an integral part of the Grange Farm farmstead. It is never named as a farm in its own right, and the inference to be drawn is that The Mead was the principal dwelling place of the farmers of Grange Farm. Click here to read more about Grange Farm.
Great Linford House
Not to be confused with the modern Linford House adjacent to the Nags Head, Great Linford House was lost to posterity sometime in the mid-1970s, the land upon which it once stood now occupied by Church Farm Crescent and Linden Grove. Less a farm and more a grand country house, it was nevertheless home to several prominent farmers in the parish, including John Clode (1810-1894) whose holdings in the parish (including Lodge Farm) amounted at one time to upwards of 420 acres. Several tenants were also much associated with equestrian matters, and for a time a famous performing horse named Mavourneen was stabled in the grounds. Click here to read more about Great Linford House.
Linford Lodge (previously known as Elmhurst and Ivy House)
Located on Wood Lane close to The Green, those with recent memories of Great Linford may remember this house as a well regarded restaurant, but before it became a dining establishment, it was known previously as Elmhurst and before that as Ivy House. The house was thought to have been built in the 18th century, but the earliest inhabitants we can identify are the Boldings, who were likely living there at least as early as 1833. With just 57 acres of grazing land associated with the house, Thomas Bolding esquire probably considered himself a gentleman farmer, but little is known of his activities and the family departed the parish in 1842. He was followed by another independently wealthy “farmer” named Frederick Garratt, but perhaps the most interesting occupant was Major Harold Edward Charles Doyne Ditmas, who in 1919 found his life turned upside down when a catastrophic fire engulfed the house. Click here to read more about Linford Lodge.
This former farmhouse can be found toward the edge of the old historic parish of Great Linford, on Windrush Close in present day Downhead Park. It has been reported that a tile was discovered on the roof with the date inscribed of 1667, which may give us a clue as to the construction date. An 1808 indenture document provides evidence that brothers Richard and William Bacchus were then occupying the farm, to be followed by several generations of the Jarvis family. William Rupert Edolph Andrewes Uthwatt, the then Lord of the Manor, maintained a herd of cattle on the farm in the 1930s, and during the second world war, the farmstead was home to Walter Karl Otto Stutterich, a German national who along with his wife had been briefly interred as enemy aliens. Click here to read more about Lodge Farm.
This farmhouse is not nearly as old as some others in the parish, though is still of considerable age, likely having been constructed circa 1850. It was also the smallest farm in the parish, with little more than 30 acres ever under cultivation, and this is reflected in the occupations ascribed to its residents. Rather than farmers, they are predominantly described as market gardeners, which alludes to someone growing produce on a small scale to be sold direct to the public. Also of note is the fact that Marsh Farm was tenanted for several generations by one family, the Sapwells. We can trace the name in connection with the farm from the 1840s through to circa 1940, though by this time the Sapwells appear to have vacated the farmhouse for an associated cottage. By 1972, the Milton Keynes Development Corporation were drawing up plans for the compulsory purchase of the farm from its last owners, the Delahookes, and though there were discussions about the potential establishment of a riding school, the farm was sold in 1973. Click here to read more about Marsh Farm.
Windmill Hill Farm
Like Great Linford House, this farmstead was demolished in the mid-1970s to make way for new housing, though a walk along the High Street reveals several remnants that still echo the name Windmill Hill Farm. The farmhouse itself was located on land in the vicinity of Deerfern Close, while the barn adjacent to the cricket pitch was also once a part of the farmstead. We can be confident that this farm was named after the medieval post-mill that once stood in the parish, built around 1285, but though the windmill was dismantled in the mid-1500s, the memory of its existence lived on for centuries, reflected in field names. For many years Windmill Hill Farm was in the ownership of the Knapp family of Little Linford, making it for a time one of the few properties in the village not to be owned by the Lords of Great Linford Manor. Click here to read more about Windmill Hill Farm.
Once located at the junction between Teasel Avenue and Marjoram Place in the modern-day estate of Conniburrow, nothing now remains of this farmhouse and farmstead, but evidence suggests it was constructed circa 1840. As the name suggests, the farmstead was adjacent to Linford Wood, on its south side. A widower from Northamptonshire named Valentine Dunkley was likely the first tenant farmer, remaining until his departure back to Northamptonshire in 1860. Illustrating the potential for factious relationships between tenant and landowner, the Lord of the Manor William Uthwatt locked horns with Robert Murray Wylie, ordering him to vacate the farm in 1915 when terms could not be agreed on the renewal of the tenancy. Click here to read more about Wood Farm.
Wood End Farm
Located on the north side of Linford Wood, the fact that this farmhouse was one of the few in the parish deemed worthy of a label on Ordnance Survey maps implies it may have been a quite substantial and desirable property, yet it seems not to have attracted any obviously wealthy tenants. For a time, the farm seems to have been a satellite of other farmsteads, with Eli Elkins of Grange Farm recorded as the tenant farmer in 1840. A garden, once part of the farmstead, was also recorded at this time in the occupancy of the churchwardens of the parish, perhaps suggesting that it served as a kitchen garden for the poor. One of the more unusual stories concerning Wood Farm is that of tenant farmer Ellis Beckett, who died in decidedly odd circumstances in June of 1910, expiring in his chair during a rent audit called by Lord of the Manor William Uthwatt. The last family known to have been associated with the farm are the Shrimptons, who were resident in the farmhouse until at least the early 1960s. Click here to read more about Wood End Farm.