Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Stacey Bushes Farm

Farms, as such, probably emerged in 1654 when the land enclosure was finally completed. Stacey Bushes farm is very remote from Wolverton so we might speculate that there had been some operation on this site prior to that. Nearby Bancroft was a much more ancient farming settlement and it is unlikely that the land in this area was ever completely abandoned.  The land that slopes down to Bradwell Brook, although a heavy clay soil, is quite good for arable farming, although the uplands, mostly bush and at one time common land, was used for grazing livestock.

The farm house and outbuildings was located on the north side of Bradwell brook and it can be seen on early maps. This map from 1825 shows its location clearly.
The earliest records of the farm date from 712-13 when the Wolverton estate was up for sale. A careful inventory of all the assets, including the farms and their rents, was compiled and at this date the tenant was William Harding. he held 289 acres for an annual rent of £180. This was not an insignificant amount of money in 1713. Those who were dependent on the parish for welfare would be paid from 1/6d to 2 shillings a week; if they were sick or disabled or widowed in the long term this would amount to no more than £5 a year. Against this figure £80 was a large sum.

But no doubt William Harding made more than enough money in the year to pay his rents and his workers an provide for his family. He was probably, among the five other farmers and some of the innkeepers on Stony Stratford High Street, a member of Wolverton's small middle class.

Nevertheless this was not a good period for farmers. The years 1725 to 1728 were extremely wet and yielded poor harvests, and even the years before that were not especially productive. The farm did not stay in the Harding family and after 1722 it was leased to Richard Gleed. Possibly his son William took over but since he had taken over part of what was to become manor Farm, it is possible that the Gleed family interests moved to the more fertile land in the north. At any rate richard Godfrey took on the tenancy in 1766.

The tenancy after that is not altogether clear but in the 19th century the Battams family, who also had interests in the inn trade, appear as  tenants. Thomas Battams was the tenant at the end of the 18th nd beginning of the 19th century and it was probably when William Battams, either his son or grandson,  was a tenant  that a decision was taken in 1848 to build a completely new farmhouse on the hill at the centre of the farm.

The reasons for this decision are not completely clear from the mites but it seems that the old farmhouse was past saving and a new build was necessary. It is possible that the farmer and the land agent felt that a more central location mad for better administration, and so Stacey hill farm came into being and the old Stacey Hill Farm was demolished. I am not sure that anyone in the past bothered to look for any remnants of the old buildings, but if there was something there it is now lost to recent development.

The new farmhouse, which is now part of the MK Museum, was built by Charles Aveline, Wolverton's first builder. I may have a follow up post on Aveline's legacy.

The building today has been enlarged over the centuries.


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