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Hole Farm
c.1963
c.1963

Hole Farm and Church Farm have been in the same ownership for some two centuries.

The first two Edmunds Britiffes are buried in Baconsthorpe Church. The third and fourth Edmunds are buried in Hunworth Church. Though Robert's first wife Judith is buried in Baconsthorpe Church he himself was buried at Thorpe Market alongside his second wife.

The Britiffes provide a classic example of a successful 17th and 18th Century family constantly improving their financial and social position. The first Edmund Britiffe was a yeoman and had no arms on his tomb. By the time his son died the family had duly acquired a grant of arms. It was, however, the third known generation who prospered most. The third Edmund became the owner not only of Church_Farm Hempstead but also of extensive lands in Hunworth, Stody and Edgefield. It was this Edmund who rebuilt Hunworth Hall with its newly fashionable Dutch gables completed in 1699. Across the road on the gable of the ball appear the initials “ERB 1700'' and two hearts which stands for Edmund and Rebecca.

The Britiffes’ family house was just outside the parish of Hempstead - in the parish of Baconsthorpe. It is now called Pit Farm. The old house is covered with pebble dash' close to the road to the west of the Hare_and_Hounds, Parts of the house are (apparently) unaltered since the Britiffes’ time, All the rooms interconnect, there being no passages. The windows are small. There was a panelled dining room in 1936 but the panelling was later removed. There is a magnificent barn to the south.

One cannot but admire the bold way in which Edmund Britiffe III broke away from this Tudor discomfort to build Hunworth Hall in 1703. We do not know why or when Robert Britiffe also moved away - possibly following the death of his first wife Judith in 1705. Pit Farm (as it later became known) passed with all his other Hempstead lands under his Will on his death in 1749 to his grandson, the Second Earl of Buckinghamshire. In passing, one can only wonder whether it was the Blickling Estate clerks who christened their farms topographically - with “Pit Farm'' and “Hole Farm'' almost adjoining. Pit Farm was, like Hole Farm, offered for sale to raise Estate Duty following the death of the 10th Lord Lothian (and the departure of the Seaman family) in 1936. The farm was bought by Mr Johnson, hotel owner and entrepreneur, of Sheringham. Mr Johnson decided to farm himself so he instructed Mr George Youngs, grandfather of the present owner Mr Richard Youngs, to stock the farm for him. When the bill was presented Mr Johnson expressed horror and surprise and offered the farm (and the stock) to Mr George Youngs which offer was gratefully accepted. The house and farm passed to Mr Alec Youngs and then to Mr Richard Youngs. (In recent years the spelling has changed from “Pit” to “Pitt”).
Hempstead, A Norfolk Village - Robin Carver, 2000


1983
1983

It is also of interest here to refer to the smugglers route inland affecting both Pit Farm and Hole Farm. There is to this day a minor lane from Weybourne, up the hill to Bodham, from Bodham, past ''the castle”, to the Hare and Hounds and Pit Farm and then via Slushy Lane to Hole Farm. From Hole Farm there were plenty of routes inland, the physical situation being similar to that of Smokers Hole.

Could “Hole Farm'' have originated from its being yet another “Smokers Hole”? The custom was for farmers to turn a blind eye when they heard their horses being removed at dusk and being returned before dawn - plus a keg of brandy under the hay. Mr John Seaman, who tidied up at Pit Farm in 1936 when his family (who had been the tenants for a century or more) moved cut, found a dozen or so very work eaten small brandy kegs. His father told him to burn them adding that his forebears at the farm had never complained at the rewards received when the farm horses were found to be exhausted before the morning ploughing.
Hempstead, A Norfolk Village - Robin Carver, 2000


Robert Britiffe went to Gresham's School in 1676 being described as “Robert Brightiffe son of Edmund Brightiffe Gent of Baconsthorpe,'' He went on to Caius College, Cambridge. His first wife was Judith (daughter of Henry Edgar of Eye) who died young and is buried at Baconsthorpe Church, leaving him one child only, a daughter also called Judith. Robert was called to the Bar by the Middle Temple in 1682. In NRS 14801 29E1 there is a contract between the two brothers described as then being “of Baconsthorpe'' buying, in 1704, land in Hempstead, adjoining land already owned by them, from William Newman the Lord of the Manor. Robert went into public life becoming both Recorder of Norwich (1704-1730) and MP for Norwich. He became the confidant and lawyer to Sir Robert Walpole (who built up a huge estate at Houghton, owned the finest non royal collection of pictures in the country and started building Houghton Hall in 1721). Robert married off his daughter by his first marriage Judith in 1717 to young Sir John Hobart bringing with her a dowry of £15,000 which it is said together with her share of her father's estate effectively preserved the Blickling estate for her descendants. Sir John's sister, Henrietta, was married to the Earl of Suffolk but flourished more publicly at the Court of George II as mistress of the Prince of Wales where her influence was such that she obtained a peerage for her younger brother John and later an earldom - that of Buckinghamshire.

Meanwhile Robert Britiffe helped his son-in-law Sir John Hobart to increase the size of the Blickling Estate, buying up to eight adjoining farms and at the same time consolidating his own estate at Hunworth, Hempstead, Stody and Edgefield.

Most of this estate he had acquired from his brother Edmund who had suffered some major financial crisis in the first decade of the eighteenth century (perhaps he had, like so many others before him, spent too much on his newly built Hunworth Hall). Anyway Robert bought out his brother, allowing him to continue living at Hunworth Hall. Following Edmund's death in 1726 Robert caused an estate plan to be prepared by Robert Corbridge of the Hunworth Estate (in the NRO with a copy in Hunworth Church),

The problems of putting together a large estate are many and have curious consequences. In 1702 Robert Britiffe had bought land (15 acres for £40) from “Edward Butler a clergyman who went to Virginnia and there died”. In 1733 one Ann Gatchell wrote to him when he was a Member of Parliament for Norwich to explain that she was Edward Butler's widow, that she had re-married a master mariner, that her second husband having been captured by “Yee Spaniards and ye Pirats'' had eventually died and that after a five-month voyage when she had suffered ''a great deal of fatigue and five months sickness'' she had come home to enjoy the 15 acre field that her east husband had settled on her. Though Robert had a full discharge from Edward Butler dated 1703 he took counsel's opinion. Mr B Hall of Clifford's Inn described the possible legal process adding ''poor people are most troublesome and she is very poor's. Robert Britiffe accordingly settled the entirely spurious claim for “the sum of five shillings of good and lawful money”. Hempstead, A Norfolk Village - Robin Carver, 2000


It was late in his life that Robert Britiffe bought what is now Hole Farm which adjoined both Pit Farm and Church Farm. This he did in 1744 when he was aged 83.

The proof of title for the sale shows the previous owners as follows-

One Part
1663 Elizabeth Worts, daughter of Thomas Barn, was admitted to part of the land.
1728 William Worts, as son of Elizabeth Worts, admitted
1732 Under William Worts’ will, Sarah Braddock, widow Elizabeth Brettingham and Ursula Chapman were admitted (these were the daughters of Thomas Brettingham)

Another Part
1721 By his will dated June 3rd 1721 Thomas Brettingham of Hempstead a “Worstead Weaver” left his lands in Hempstead in the use and occupation of Robert Nobb “to Elizabeth Brettingham my daughter'' conditional on her making annual cash payment to her sister Ursula. His daughter, Sarah Braddock, was made Sole executor. He spelt his village ”Hemstead”. His will was witnessed by John Barham, Joseph Guy and James Plattin.

1731 Why Elizabeth scooped the pool will be forever unknown. She was unmarried and in her will of February 10th 1731, describing herself as “of Barningham parva single woman”, she, in a very determined way, sets down her wishes. The land she inherited from William Worts and presumably the land left to her by her father “now in the use of Edmund Flaxman'' goes “to Ursula Yaxley my sister'' for life. Ursula was by now the wife of John Yaxley.

Elizabeth requested that William Riches of Barningham Parva should do the farming. On Ursula's death these lands were to pass to Martha and Sarah Flaxman, the daughters of Ursula - by what must have been Ursula's second marriage.

William Riches was Elizabeth's sole executor. There must have been a cousin alive since if the children of Ursula failed to have issue the lands were to go to Christopher Brettingham, presumably the son of Elizabeth's brother, John Brettingham.

However, Martha and Sarah Flaxman did not let their aunt down and duly married, Martha to Henry Sotherton of Holt Market, a saddler, and Sarah to Richard Webber, also of Holt, described as a “CURRIOR” or “CURRIERR”.'

1744
Robert Britiffe must have made an offer for the land of the kind the owners could not refuse since in that year the two brothers-in-law, with (one hopes) the approval of the two sisters Martha and Sarah, their wives, sold the land to him for six hundred and ten pounds. No acreage or maps appear in the conveyance.

1749
Robert Britiffe died and his Hempstead lands went to his grandson the Second Earl of Buckinghamshire.

Thus Hole Farm passed through the female line several times. In the early 18th Century Testators seem to have been quite uninhibited in preferring one daughter to another or even to a son. But equally they required the chosen child to provide financially for its siblings. The papers are to be found at the NRO under Reference MC/184/1/4/1-10 Bundle No. 15.

Robert Britiffe had never been the sort of man to have remained a widower long. For his second wife he married Elizabeth Rant, daughter of Sir William Rant of Thorpe Market, and moved into the Manor House of that village. They had a daughter, also called Elizabeth, who married Sir William Morden Harbord, whose son Harbord Morden Harbord, became the first Lord Suffield, moving to Gunton Hall and thus starting a considerable dynasty. Thus by the time he died in 1749 Robert Britiffe, eminence grise and financial genius, had through his daughters funded two immensely powerful Norfolk estates - those of Blickling and Gunton.

His wealth was seemingly sufficient for both purposes plus a third, support of his third wife, also called Elizabeth, who survived him. By his will made in 1747 he directed his body to be buried without ceremony early in the morning “without any funeral pomp and not so much as escutcheons - and no gloves or hatbands to be given …'' He left three pounds to the poor of Hempstead. His nephew Edmund Britiffe IV received fifty pounds. All the lands at Thorpe Market and in the adjoining parishes went to his daughter Elizabeth Harbord and her son Harbord, whilst all his lands at Hempstead and adjoining parishes (including Hole, Pit and Church Farms) went to his grandson, the Second Earl of Buckinghamshire, as did “the Rectory and tythes of Hempstead holden by lease for twenty one years from the Dean and Chapter of the Cathedral of Norwich”. His grandson at Blickling and his son-in-law at Thorpe Market were his executors. The enormity of their task can be judged by the fact that he left land in over forty named parishes in Norfolk and Suffolk. He asked his second daughter Elizabeth, at the expense of the estate, to put a memorial in the Church at Thorpe Market “for her late mother and myself.'' This monument was duly erected and, despite the rebuilding of the Church by Robert's grandson, it is there to this day. The will, many pages long, was clearly the work of a painstaking, fair and obviously kind man who, dying in his 88th year, seeking no glory for himself, had built up such estate as to have founded two great families - one of whom, the Suffields, waxed in the l9th Century, only to sink almost without trace in the 20th, while the Blickling estates remained intact until major parts were sold and given up to the National Trust owing to the rapacity of the United Kingdom tax system.
Hempstead, A Norfolk Village - Robin Carver, 2000


For the sixty years following Robert Britiffe's death nothing more is known of the history of Hole and Church_Farms. His grandson, the Second Earl of Buckinghamshire, died in 1793 and the estate passed to his daughter Caroline, who married William Assheton Harbord (a cousin who became Lord Suffield in 1810 and died in 1821). No doubt Robert Britiffe, despite his own modesty, would have been proud had he survived to see the great pyramidal mausoleum designed by Bonomi for his grandson’s monument in Blickling Park.

In NRO 14628 29 DI there is a bundle of papers prepared and signed by Mr Benjamin Whitney, who seems to have been Colonel Harbord's Agent at Blickling. Mr Thomas Rump of Church_Farm was then tenant of 163 acres. There were 134 acres of arable land and 29 acres of buildings and meadows. The meadows were “of coarse quality''. There were three cottages, each being described as being ''one cottage with two tenements''. Whitney in August 1809 reckoned the whole to be worth £228.pa.
In the same memo appears:

“9th August 1809. This farm and the one occupied by this tenants brother to be measured, they both expire at Mich's 1810”.

The farm occupied by “this tenants brother'' was Hole Farm. Mr Thomas Rump remained the tenant of Church_Farm where in due course his tenancy was taken over by his son William. Indeed in the 1851 Census Return William E Rump is there shown as farming 171 acres and employing seven labourers . However, Mr John Rump must have decided to give up his tenancy of Hole Farm since on May 14th 1810 Whitney wrote to Lord Suffield (as Colonel Harbord had now become) to say that Mr Stephen Store had come “to treat for the farm in Mr John Rump's occupation at Hempstead, your Lordship having given him the refusal of it”. The rent was to be £434 - showing that it was appreciably larger than Church_Farm (and perhaps with no ''coarse quality'' meadows). Mr Storey remained tenant until 1824 when Mr Johnstone took his place. In his letter Whitney adds the words “Your Lordship reserving to yourself the Pond Hills and the double cottage near the ponds”.

This bundle of papers is the first evidence of the Blickling Estate's active involvement in Hempstead. The reference to “ponds'' in the plural in relation to Pond Hills must show that the pond below the road (where a hefty bank can be seen to this day) was then in existence. And what were the ponds for? Fishing? Or storing water for some sort of mill? After this date any maps of the area only show the pond which still exists.

At the Norwich Record Office (NRS21406) there is a delightful 1824 map of the Pond Hills area by Mr Funnel of Stody. The pond is shown as an exact square (like a medieval fish pond) and the cottage is called “Pond House''. The roadway, passing this house towards the east (and which comes out at the north-east corner of Pond Hills Woods) then went straight across the Hole Farm field to the corner where the Baconsthorpe road and the Plumstead road part company. All the Hole Farm land which appears on the map is shown as being owned by Lady Suffield and occupied by ''Mr Johnson”. Also included is a letter dated January 10th 1824 from Mr Funnel to Lady Suffield enclosing the map and telling her what the various letters on the map represented, where she entered the wood, where she met somebody, where she moved onto land occupied by another tenant, etc. It sounds as though this must have been Lady Suffield’s first visit to Pond Hills (coming as it did only three years after her husband's death) because Mr Funnel writes that he will make a “more perfect plan” after “her Ladyship shall have made such alterations and improvements as your ladyship shall think proper”. Lady Suffield is already shown in the 1815 Edgefield Enclosure Award Map as owning adjoining land to the south, and indeed she had owned all this land since the death of her father in 1793, so it does seem odd that she had never previously visited Pond Hills.

Running through Pond Hills are some gravelled and well graded roadways with all the appearance of being carriage drives. Adjoining them are many splendid oaks and beeches and a fine Wellingtonia. Oaks grow slowly in Norfolk. Those farming the belt to the south of the Pond Hills were planted at the time of the Crimean War and when one was cut down in the nineties this dating was confirmed by the number of rings. The Pond Hills oaks are appreciably larger than those in the belt and hence it seems more likely that not that they were planted by Lady Suffield in the 1820s and that she was responsible for the carriage drives. It was, after all, the date of the craze for the “Picturesque'' and Humphrey Repton was producing his Red Books of many of the neighbouring estates.

Very little has been found about the economic importance of the Pond Hills Woods to the Blickling estate. Presumably valuable timber was taken from time to time when oak trees were felled. However, the underwood would undoubtedly have been harvested on a regular basis. At the NRO ref MC/3/'258 (468x4) there is an account for the years 1857 to 1863 prepared for Lord Lothian by “Robert Fairbarn Forester”. It deals with the woods at Hunworth, Stody, Edgefield and Hempstead, but for the years in question there seems to have been no produce from Pond Hills. Hurdles, “branch bundles'' (kindling wood?) and faggots were all produced. Edgefield produced £59-16-10½ profit for the six-year period, so the operations were profitable enough.
Hempstead, A Norfolk Village - Robin Carver, 2000


In 1824 Mr Johnson was the tenant of Hole Farm. By 1841 William Bird was tenant and with his sister lived at “Hole House'' (White's Norfolk Directory 1845).

The map on the 1841 Tithe Map shows that the field to the west of Slushy Lane, later to be used for brickmaking, was already called “Brick Kiln Close”. The 1851 Census shows William Bird farming 350 acres and employing eleven labourers and two boys. Richard Mack succeeded but in the early 1880s he moved to Plumstead Hall Farm and was succeeded as tenant by Mr John Hagen from Aylsham in 1884. The Blickling Estate was by now once again managed by a widow, Lady Constance Lothian. At the NRO (MC3/551-515x4) there is the builder's estimate for a major rebuilding plan seemingly involving the virtual reconstruction of all the farm buildings at Hole Farm in the form in which it survived until 1990. There is no evidence that any money was spent on the farmhouse. ln his booklet “Norfolk Landowners since 1880” Paul Barnes wrote about the appalling consequences of the agricultural depression of the eighteen seventies onwards, saying that many farms were abandoned by their tenants and “prospective tenants were able virtually to dictate their own terms for taking on farms at favourable rents”. It is therefore no coincidence that in the Parish of Hempstead the Blickling Estate made a huge investment at Hole Farm in 1884, Mr John Mott rebuilt the farmhouse at Beckett’s_Farm in 1885, and the Gurneys rebuilt Hempstead_Hall_Farm on a grand scale in l883. Mr John Alfred Hagen, later of Four Elms, Hempstead, was born at Hole Farm in 1910.

ln 1933 in order to raise the Estate Duty payable following the death of the 10th Marquis of Lothian, the Hempstead and Stody Estate was sold to Lord Rothermere, the founder of The Daily Mail.

The forced sale of (inter alia) Hole Farm and Church_Farm had an interesting result in that it encouraged the 11th Marquis of Lothian (who was an active Liberal politician) to consider carefully the whole question of the breaking up of old estates, the selling off of historic houses and their valuable contents (the wonderful original library at Blickling having been broken up in a big sale in 1932 to fund the self-same death duties).

He wrote to Lloyd George on his accession to the Peerage and to Blickling ''largely as a result of your all too admirable work a well-diluted peerage is now possessed of almost no powers and I discover that I have to pay to our exhausted Exchequer almost 40% of the capital value of a mainly agricultural estate. In my capacity as an ordinary citizen I think highly of these arrangements but as an inheritor of a title and estates thereto they well prove somewhat embarrassing'.

Addressing the National Trust AGM in 1934 Lord Lothian outlined the basis of what was to become the Country Houses Scheme, a system whereby in lieu of cash the Exchequer would accept complete estates including whole houses and their contents. Parliament enacted the bill in 1937 and the gift of Blickling to the National Trust was the first use made of the new Act of Parliament paving the way for the future saving of countless estates and country houses for the nation.
The forced sale of half the parish of Hempstead was thus partly responsible for the law being changed and the huge increase in property accepted by the National Trust in satisfaction of death duties.
Hempstead, A Norfolk Village - Robin Carver, 2000


Wedding 1949
Wedding party outside Hole Farmhouse in 1949
The marriage was between David Lubock and June Baker
At that time the Baker family were living in Hole Farmhouse

Wedding 1949
1 - Reginald Baker; 2 - Elizabeth Baker; 3 - Esme Wisken who married 4 - Richard Baker in 1951;
5 - John Holland; 6 - Doreen Holland (e Baker); 7 - Baby Holland; 8 - Mr. Roberts (uncle); 9 - Mrs. Roberts (aunt); 10 - Margaret Holland (cousin)
11 - Aunt Ginny; 12 - Daphne Baker; 13 - Terry Baker; 14 - Fred Baker; 15 - Regi Baker; 16 - Leslie Baker; 17 - Geoff Baker;
18 - Sylvia Knights (e Baker); 19 - Pat Knights; 20 - Diane Knights; 21 - John Knights; 22 - Miss Holland; 23 - Miss Holland;
24 - Mrs Lubock (groom's mother); 25 - Groom's sister; 26 - David Lubock (groom); 27 - June Baker (bride)
All others are David Lubock's brothers and partners

Reggie and Elizabeth Baker had six sons and five daughters


In 1935 Mr John Hagen died at Hole Farm and his Obituary, headed “Hempstead's Grand Old Man'', was duly published:
Mr. John Hagen died on Tuesday at the Hempstead Hole Farm which he farmed for the past fifty-two years. Before coming to Hempstead, Mr Hagen was for a short time at Ingworth. A thorough churchman, he held the pest of churchwarden at Hempstead for 25 years and served on the Erpingham Board of Guardians and Rural District Council for 23 years, retiring only last year, He was recognised as one of the leading agriculturalists in North Norfolk and always stuck to the old-fashioned Norfolk four-course shift - wheat, roots, barley and hay - with excellent results. Never did he think of changing his system.

He was a noted grazier and his fat beasts were far-famed. As a master he was truly one of the best. A great believer in setting a personal example to his men, he took his place with them at their work, and never asked them to do anything he could not do himself.

Of the fifteen men employed on the farm at present, eleven of them have worked there since they left school. The headman W. Fowle had been there 52 years (from the time Mr. Hagen took the farm in 1883) and W. Clarke, who died two years ago, had rendered forty years service. A message received by Mr. D.W. Hagen, his son, of Green Farm, Hempstead, on Tuesday from the members of the Womens’ Institute paid tribute to the deceased gentleman's attributes as a friend and master.

Mr. Hagen was a wonderful judge of cattle. He could judge a bullock's weight to a pound or so, and at market he was a great friend to many farmers who sought his much-valued advice when purchasing stock. Although taking no part in hunting or any other sport, he was always pleased to have the North Norfolk Harriers over his land and gave them all possible facilities and a hearty welcome.

Through his generosity the large debt on the Village Hall was paid. His last public function was the unveiling of the Jubilee seat in the village on Jubilee Day.”
Hempstead, A Norfolk Village - Robin Carver, 2000


164 Hole Farm
Head Man, William Fowle (with John Hagen? standing behind)
on the road outside Hole Farm c.1920
William Fowle lived in Pond Hills Cottages

Hole Farm workmen - 1962
Hole Farm workmen - 1962
1 - Richard Baker (married to Esme Baker); 2 - Albert Wisken (Esme Baker's brother); 3 - Henry Holman; 4 - Peter Turner;
5 - Billy Newstead; 6 - D. Clarke; 7 - Gordon Burrell; 8 - Albert Chestney

Following Mr John Hagen's death Lord Rothermere’s accountant, Mr James Wilson, came to live at Hole Farm. Mr Jim Wilson, a son of Mr James Wilson, grew up at the farm and remembers Hole Farm accommodating a flock of ''several hundred traditional Norfolk Black Turkeys.” He also remembers visits by Lord Rothermere resulting in tips of 2/6d. During the 1939/45 war the family slept in the cellar when there were raids, there was a search-light in the meadow in front of the house and “poles with wires stretched between them were erected in the largest fields to deter German troops landing by gliders.'' Lord Rothermere built the farm cottage by the pond at Hole Farm and planted larches in Pond Hills between Mr Johnston’s marlpit (see Lady Suffield's Visit) and the road. It was at Stody that he built the present Stody Lodge on a new site and built many other homes and estate cottages. He planted the wood adjoining the Barningham Estate known as ''Devil's Own'' on the site of a sand pit.

Lord Rothermere died in November 1940 and in 1941 Hole farm and Church_Farms with the rest of the Stody Estate were sold to Mr George Knight. Mr Knight died in 1963, leaving a large estate coupled with large borrowings so that the farms again had to be sold off to raise the duty and to repay the debt. Mr Knight’s executors sold Pond Hills Cottage but retained the Pond Hills Woods. Pond Hills Cottage was bought by Tessa Moorhouse, a District Judge, who some twenty years later sold it to Adrian Taylor and Yvette Gibson. Tessa Moorhouse had only used the cottage for holidays. The surrounding area had become very overgrown and the dam below the house had fallen into total disrepair. However, in the nineties, Adrian Taylor and Yvette Gibson were able to restore the dam, open up its surrounds, raise the water levels and make a fine garden running down to the water.
Hempstead, A Norfolk Village - Robin Carver, 2000


1959 2012
Richard Baker holding Tiny the pony on the road outside Hole Farm - 1959
In the cart - son, Alan Baker (left), daughter Gloria Sillis, e Baker (centre)
Alan Holman, (right) friend, living opposite the farm
Esme Baker (married to Richard) with daughter Gloria - 2nd February 2012
Gloria was born in the 1st floor room with the nearest window above their heads

It was in October 1964 that Mr David Johnson bought Hole Farm (317 acres) and Church_Farm (134 acres).

Mr David Johnson, a farmer from the Fens farmed both farms as one. He also farmed several other farms in Norfolk for institutional owners and was largely responsible for the removal of almost all the hedges and trees from the farms - prairie farming at its worst. As a result of this whenever there was heavy rain, the water ran off the land, causing flooding through the Hole Farm buildings. Church Farmhouse was sold off and split up. Hole Farm House was sold off to a pub-keeper in Essex (who left it to rot). Mr David Johnson did not endear himself to the village when his first act was to fell and sell the three walnut trees planted alongside the horse pond at Church Farm. He was indeed the original asset stripper.
Hempstead, A Norfolk Village - Robin Carver, 2000


Hedgeless farming - 1982
Hedgeless farming - 1982
Hole Farm sits in the dip top centre

1982 Similar view in 2012
Start of hedge planting by Robin & Rose Carver - 1982
Similar view in 2012

In 1982 the Carver family bought the two farms. They built a large grainstore and spent the next fifteen years replanting the trees and hedges (but in different positions) that Mr Johnson had removed. The two cottages and the Church_Farm Barn on the Pond Hills Road were sold off - the former were converted from two small cottages into one fine house, while the Barn was also very well converted into two substantial houses.

Having bought the farmhouse at Hole Farm, the Carvers rebuilt it and several of the adjoining buildings in 1990.

By the end of the century the Carvers had planted or replanted 43 acres of woodland involving the planting of 27,000 trees and eight and a half miles of new hedges.
Hempstead, A Norfolk Village - Robin Carver, 2000


Hole Farm farmyard - 1983
Hole Farm farmyard - 1983

Hole Farm farmhouse - c.1980 Hole Farm farmhouse - 1983
Hole Farm farmhouse - c.1980
Hole Farm farmhouse - 1983

Very impressed by the Hempstead web-site which you have put on the internet. I see that I am quoted in the section on Hole Farm from information I gave to Robin Carver a number of years ago. I am the younger son of James Wilson. Lord Rothermere offered my father the tenancy of Hole Farm in 1938. My Dad had previously worked as an accountant for Rothermere in London. When Rothermere left for America in 1939, and subsequently died in 1940, my father took over as agent for the Stody Estate, continuing in that role when the estate was bought by George Knight. My family and I lived at Hole Farm throughout the War, moving to Holt in 1945. In fact Jimmy Clarke, Rothermere’s personal Secretary took over as mine host at the Feathers in Holt when Rothermere died.
In 2011 I wrote a book entitled ‘Nazi Princess’ telling the story of how in the 1930’s Rothermere, although a friend of Churchill’s, became interested in national socialism, using the Daily Mail, which he founded with his brother Lord Northcliffe, and other newspapers he owned, to give support to some of the ideas and policies Hitler and his fellow Nazis were promulgating. Rothermere was steered down this route by the political intriguer Princess Stephanie Hohenlohe a former member of the old Australia-Hungarian royal family, whom Rothermere employed, having been introduced to her by my father’s aunt, Annabelle Wilson. The Princess introduced Rothermere to Hitler, Goering, Goebbels, etc. Meanwhile the Princess was engaged in a romantic affair with Capt. Fritz Weidemann Hitler’s personal adjutant. It is a fascinating story.
Hole Farm is mentioned in my book. I have great affection for the place having spent a happy childhood there throughout the war years. From 1943 onwards the Farm was on the direct route frequently used by the American Day light raids on Germany and many is the time as a boy I counted them out and counted them back again seeing the gaps in formations and damage to shot up aircraft. I often make a detour past Hole Farm whenever I visit Holt. I confess I had never heard the story of the ‘smugglers route’ past Hole Farm.
Jim Wilson - 19th July 2020


Tithe map c.1840
Tithe map c.1840
Courtesy of Historic Maps Norfolk

O. S. Map 1905
O. S. Map 1905
Courtesy of NLS map images

1663: Elizabeth Worts, daughter of Thomas Barn, was admitted to part of the land.

1728: William Worts, as son of Elizabeth Worts, admitted to the land

1732:
The daughters of Thomas Brettingham, Sarah Braddock, widow Elizabeth Brettingham and Ursula Chapman were admitted, having inherited from William Worts

1733: William Riches of Barningham Parva farming the land

1744: Robert Britiffe, aged 83 bought the farm along with Pit Farm at Baconsthorpe for £610

1749: Robert Britiffe died aged 89 and his grandson, the second Earl of Buckinghamshire inherited

1793: Lady Caroline Suffield inherited on death of John, second Earl of Buckinghamshire

1809: John Rump, tenant farmer and brother of Thomas Rump, tenant of Church Farm

1810: Stephen Storey, tenant farmer

1824: Mr Johnstone took over the tenancy

1841: William Bird, tenant farmer living with his sister at
Hole House; Lady Suffield, owner

1851: William Bird, tenant farmer

1880: Richard Mack, tenant farmer

1884: Blickling Estate made major investment into farm infrastructure

1884: John Hagen of Aylsham took over the tenancy from Richard Mack

1910: John Alfred Hagen born at Hole Farm

1933: On death of 10th Marquis of Lothian, farm and Hempstead estate sold to Lord Rothermere

1935: John Hagen
Hempstead's Grand Old Man died at Hole Farm

1941: George Knight bought Hole Farm and Church Farm from Lord Rothermere's executors

1949: Baker family living in Hole Farmhouse

1959: Baker family living in Hole Farmhouse

October 1964: David Johnson bought Hole Farm and Church Farm from George Knights executors

c.1965: Hole Farm House sold to an Essex pub keeper and descended into dereliction

1982: Carver family bought Hole Farm and Church Farm

1990: Robin & Rose Carver having bought Hole Farm House, rebuilt it along with other farm buildings

2000: Carver family had planted 43 acres of woodland, 27,000 trees and 8½ miles of new hedges

If you have any memories, anecdotes or photos please let us know and we may be able to use them to update the site. Please or telephone 07836 675369

Website copyright © Jonathan Neville 2020
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