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Hempstead had several farms in the throughout its history. 8 farmers were listed in 1836 and 8 in 1900 but amalgamations became inevitable. By the 1930s, the Hagen family were running 4 farms in the parish, albeit as tenants.
For around two hundred years, virtually the entire parish had been owned and largely neglected by two absentee landlords. In 1941, George Knight bought Lord Rothermere's estate and in 1945, he bought the Gurney's Hempstead estate, thereby coming to own almost the whole of Hempstead.
When George Knight died in 1963, his holding company G.C. & F.C. Knight Ltd., opted to sell off the most distant parts of his considerable countrywide estate to pay government duty and borrowing debts. Thus, Church_Farm and Hole_Farm were sold to new buyers, as was Green_Farm which was held personally by George Knight, while Hempstead Hall Farm and Red House Farm were sold to their respective tenants,

Beckett's Farm

Beckett's farm, like Brownwood_Farm, succeeded in avoiding being swept up by the Gurneys or by the Blickling Estate. However, little or nothing is known of its earlier history though it still has some fine 17th or 18th century barns.

The first known about it is the Garwood family ownership. The Garwoods must have bought it some time between 1812 and 1829. They remained until the death of Frances Garwood in 1869.

In 1785 Thomas Mott had bought the his successors extended the Estate to Barningham Estate from the Pastons. He and his successors extended the estate to Baconsthorpe Hall, more latterly known as Baconsthorpe Castle. The Mott of the day seemingly bought Becketts Farm from Frances Garwood's executors because in 1881 T. H. Mott took down and completely rebuilt the farmhouse which was then called "Hempstead House'' and is referred to as such in various successive O.S. maps.

For many years thereafter the tenant was a Mr Joseph Beckett and in due course of time it became known as "Becketts Farm.''

For two or more centuries the Seaman family had farmed as tenants of the Blickling Estate at Pit Farm, Baconsthorpe - the original home of the Britiffes. Indeed a Mr John Seaman is shown as a tenant of glebe land in the Hempstead 1841 Tithe Map. Like many other farming families trying to make a living in the Great Depression they were encouraged by landlords such as the Barningham Estate to move (by rent-free periods and similar inducements). Mr John Seaman, born in 1918, can remember his father moving out of Pit Farm in 1936 on the death of his grandfather to take on the tenancy of Becketts Farm. At that time Mr John Seaman and his father employed 17 men and boys at Becketts Farm - and had only one tractor.

In 1945 Major Charles Mott-Radcliffe M.P., the grandson of T. H. Mott, had succeeded in buying the Manor Farm at Baconsthorpe (from Mr George Knight following the sale of the Gurney estate) which was surrounded by Barningham Estate land. Becketts Farm was, however, well out on a limb. ln the sixties Major Mott-Radcliffe offered to sell it to the tenant, by then Mr John Seaman. Mr John Seaman was happy to buy but on condition that he too could round off his acreage by buying part of Hall Farm, Baconsthorpe. This was agreed and the Seaman family became owners of a block of 436 acres - half in Hempstead and half in Baconsthorpe.

During the 1939-45 war Mr John Seaman was away at the war and anyway would not have been tempted to buy the neighbouring Red House Farm or any of the Gurney estate when it sold in 1945 - not least because he and his father had only too clear a recollection of the agricultural depression which had followed the 1914-18 war and had continued well into the thirties.

However, he later changed these views and over a fifty year period he and his family were able to expand from being tenant farmers on Becketts Farm's 220 acres to owning more than 2000 acres in several parishes - at one stage owning the largest milking herd in Norfolk, 480 cows kept at great Farm, Saxthorpe. Mr John Seaman has now retired from the active farming, which is carried on by his son Mr Peter Seaman, but still lives at Becketts Farm and enjoys the seat on the lane between Becketts Farm and Hall Farm which he put there at the request of his late wife for her use out walking.
Hempstead, A Norfolk Village - Robin Carver, 2000


Hempstead Lodge Farm

This was originally a small farm of sixteen acres. This could have been the home of Robert Miller in 1833. Charles Miller is shown as occupying sixteen acres on the 1841 Tithe Map.
Captain Mee farmed chickens there and then the Hardys lived there. They had been in the horse and trap trade but had later opened a superior garage in Devonshire Street in London and became very well off. The sons went to Gresham's with the Hagens and were friends. A window in the Church commemorates Richard Hardy.
Later it was a pig farm. It was owned by Mr John Parker. It was sold to Mr Loach in 1995 who has made major improvements to the house.
Hempstead, A Norfolk Village - Robin Carver, 2000


Captain J. T.M. Mee

Mill Farm (1)

Hempstead Hall Farm in 1728 was then in the occupation of Richard Mickleburgh and extended ta 370 acres including ''Mill Farm (1)'' which comprised the fields around the medieval Mill, but by now defunct, which was later called “Smokers_Hole”. (This is not to be confused with the “Mill Farm (2)'' sold by George Knight’s executors in 1964). There is shown a house, on the position of the present day ruins, which must have been the miller's house plus a barn and another large building which could have been another barn, or the original mill or three cottages.
Hempstead, A Norfolk Village - Robin Carver, 2000


Mill Farm (2)

Donald & William Newall of Hempstead_Mill were able to persuade the Gurneys to add additional land to their tanancy so they also extended their activities to farming "Mill Farm (2)" This was an odd shaped farm including the Glaven meadows, higher land towards Holt (later to be built upon by Kongskilde), and land adjoing Hempstead Hall Farm. The combined enterprise employed seven people during the wars.
In 1947 Donald died and Frank (who had retired from working for the Deterdings) took over the mill. Meanwhile in 1945 Donald had fallen out with Mr George Knight who, having bought the Gurneys' estate had offered to sell on to any tenants who wanted to buy at an enhanced price. The Newall family had thought that it had been agreed that they should buy at the price which Mr George Knight paid - so they refused to buy and stayed put as tenants.

Hempstead, A Norfolk Village - Robin Carver, 2000
Further history of this Mill Farm on the Norfolkmills website

Pine Farm

This was once a small independant farm. Mr John Hagen (Mr J. A. Hagen's grandfather) was tenant in 1912. Mr Daniel William Hagen then took the teancy. But it was Mr Fowle who worked for Mr Hagen, later becoming head cowman for the prize Friesians at Green_Farm, who later lived there. In the 1970s Mr Gibbs occupied the farm where he ran a market garden - a business which did not prosper.
This farm was later acquired by the Youngs family of Pit Farm, Baconsthorpe. Mr David Youngs now lives there.
Hempstead, A Norfolk Village - Robin Carver, 2000

Donny and Queenie Gibbs lived at Pine Farm in Marlpit Lane.  They certainly grew blackcurrants commercially and maybe other fruit. I knew them well.
Diana Spalton - 5th May 2020


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