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Extracts from "Haversham Estate And the Parish I Grew Up In" by David C. Brightman April 2000


Field Farm House
Field Farm I will now give a description, as I remember it, of the hose and buildings, perhaps not of interest to older residents who remember it, but might be of interest to newcomers to The Estate as the Old Farm is now a completely unrecognisable ruin.

I think the house was called a double hip type, as I remember it had three of four large bedrooms, a bathroom about 15'x12' with a huge water tank in view above the flush toilet. The bath was a big affair as well which stood on four massive cast iron legs, all the taps were heavy duty brass, I should imagine the water tank was put in when the mains water was supplied to The Estate, unless of course it was a rain water tank, or you hand pumped well water up to it, in this room stood the largest paraffin heater I have ever seen, big and black with brass feet, God knows how long it took to warm that room up. I can't remember what was in any of the bedrooms, beds I should imagine!

The stairway was a rather grand affair, about 5' wide and ornately carver on parts of its length, the hall floor was a complicated pattern of coloured tiles, nearly all brown, cream and a light yellow. The front entrance porch, which us muddy kids were rarely allowed to use, was finished in the same ornate design.

On both sides of the hall were sitting rooms, which always smelt musty and damp, and were, to my knowledge never used, probably due to their connection with the shootings, they were furnished tough with some good old Victorian furniture, the room on the right had a big hole in the floor, through which you could see the large cellar, I never spent much time down there, but there was lots of very old junk dumped below, and also Mr Ferguson's beer supply, usually Nut Brown Ale from The Greyhound.

The kitchen, or parlour if you prefer, was the most used room, this contained a large stone enamel sink with its own hand pump, this was useable and drew a supply from a well outside the back door, this I believe got polluted in later years and was not used anymore, but the supply was crystal clear and chemical free, I think this was why the tea always tasted so good.

In this room was the inevitable grandfather clock, I think it was made in Newport Pagnell, by Knibbs. There was a large highly polished black leaded cooking range, this was always alight, even in the summer. They had an electric cooking oven but I don't remember this ever being used. There were old wall cupboards all around the kitchen and a large pine table in the centre, two old but comfortable armchairs and four pine chairs, there was also a large oil table lamp, but I never saw this in use, but I suppose it was handy during power cuts.

In one downstairs room lived a Mrs Jessie and Donald Fraser, this I believe was Mr Ferguson's stepfather, David called him Grampy, but they were only rarely seen by me, Jessie died in Feb 1951, I only remember one dog, even that was called Jock, he accompanied us on many shooting trips round the farm and on the railway embankment. Our shooting equipment progressed through bows and arrows, catapults, .22 air rifles and finally shotguns, we made the bows and arrows from hazel saplings from Linford Wood.

Ruins of Field Farm

When you entered the fenced and walled off area of the farm buildings, the first open barn on the left was used for storing the Fordson tractor and the horse drawn carts and hay turning machine, and wheat binder and a couple of really old cycles, one with a carrier on the front and an acetylene lamp fixed to it. Next to this was a small double doored barn where Mr Ferguson kept his either a Morris Isis or a Morris Cowley car, I think this ended its days with Simon Ferguson, Jock's grandson. Above the garage up some stone steps was kept the 1cwt sacks for the threshed wheat.

A few yards further on was an old cast iron hand pump, underneath this was another well with a wooden cover, standing next to this was a very large barrel about 4' high, but this and the pump were a bit dilapidated in the late 1940s next to it was a lead lined cattle drinking trough. To the side of this was a gate into the large vegetable garden, which was on two levels, on the left of this grew all sorts of small fruit bushes like blackcurrant and gooseberries but this soon got very overgrown and run wild when Jock left the farm to go to a smallholding at St. Day, Cornwall in October 1971.

Down two steps and you were on the vegetable plot surrounded by an iron railing fence when things were quiet and not much for us to help with we used to help dig this plot, but that was not a popular job, go past the garden and you were in the orchard, with apples, pear and plum trees, some of these are still there but they are very old and well past their prime and gradually falling down. Opposite the rear of the house, in the first yard at the back was the milking shed, on the sides were hovels for winter shelter of cattle, there were also the stables for the two horses he kept and a harness storage room, with a hay and straw loft above it. At the right side of the house and next to it, was a gate which led into the small flower garden, and a long abandoned privy in the bushes. Going back to the inside toilet, this drained into a septic tank under the flower garden and the runoff went into the ditch to the right of the orchard and gradually soaked into the ground. Next to this gate was a general storage barn, hung with lots of old harness and leather strapping and weird types of old fashioned hand tools and leather dressing oil, there was an old open topped animal feedstuff boiler, but I never saw it used, this barn was usually our H.Q. when playing at the farm, next to this barn was a gate into the field and beyond that an old Victorian railway carriage used by the chickens and a few vicious and spiteful geese.

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Opposite the house was the 2nd yard this was all low hovels, which usually had any new born calves in with their mothers. In this yard was an entrance on the North side, these barns were used for storing bales of hay and sacks of wheat and winter mangolds these had usually come out of a clamp and always seemed to be frozen or wet and heavy, though they did have a nice sweet taste. Another job I did was chipping the mangolds in a 3ft wide hopper and turning a 12ins long wooden handle to send the mangolds through, they came out about 4ins long and ½ins thick, the cattle loved those but you mustn't give them too many I was told, this machine had a small electric motor put onto it in later years, and was then an easy job.

The last yard on the right was often used for weaning calves away from their mothers, the noise they made was a bit disturbing for us young helpers, but they were soon untied in the field to lots of licking and mooing, I can't remember any sheep on that farm, or any pigs, and I don't remember seeing any cats either. About 1949 there was a fire in a small barn at the west end of the rickyard, this was started accidentally just outside the rickyard, I was told this by David Ferguson and Dennis Andrews, but the fire was soon thankfully under control, but you could see the charred roof trusses for many years until the building fell down There was a very old L.N.W.R. goods brake van at the top of Jock's field by the footpath, in wet weather this gave us a good hideout, and an ideal play area. We divided it off, girls one end, boys the other. If you used your imagination, this old carriage could become all sorts of transport, it was still there in 1978, but minus its roof and ends, today's railway conservationist would have loved it!

There was another one that the chickens used, by the farmhouse, this was an old Victorian coach, built according to the plate on the under frame in 1901, this fell to bits about 1957. There used to be lots of single compartments of old carriages on Bradwell and Wolverton allotments, but not allowed at Haversham, just as well by the shanty town look of Bradwell's old Stonebridge allotments, the new allotments are not much better. These compartments were sold off by the old L.M.S. railways, at so much per foot, one day through The Estate came a whole 60ft carriage on a low loader, this went toward Haversham village.

Just after Jock left the farm a 12" water pipeline was laid across the fields and went towards the village, and the reservoir at the top of Mr Paton's lane on the Swans Way, it came under the brook by the white bridge, that's why there is a manhole inspection chamber there. The trench this pipe was laid in, was about 9ft deep, I went along this looking for lost hoards of Roman coins, but no luck!

But I never had a metal detector, so who knows what treasures I might have missed.

David Furguson
Maurice Saunders & David Furguson c.1950
David Furguson