Braithwell, Micklebring and Clifton History and Heritage

Hall Farm Smallholding and Gracelands Stud

Trudy Pankhurst Green

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Tithe Map 1838 showing the Hall Farm Smallholding Fields: Well Hill (35), Well Yard (34), the Croft (33), Well Ings (36) and Beacon Hill (24, 23, 22)

After the 1857 Enclosure the only land in the village not claimed were (T)odd Hill (the waste) and the track from the Haig buildings to Well Lane (35). The Act divided the track, Well Hill, in two and split it between the owners of the land on either side: John Staveley Shirt and Rev J F Woodyeare. Well yard gained this extra land, but maps, including those used until 2000, continued to mark the track as a highway!

When the Milnes bought Hall Farm in 1925 the Well Yard (34) was included in the sale and the tenants used it mainly for animals. The limestone slope was too great and the soil too shallow, except towards Well Lane, for crops.

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  Joyce and Hugh prepare the good soil

Hugh Carson, who bought Hall Farm in 1933 after renting it for a year, used the land for chickens and  planted an orchard, many   trees commemorating national events. He had a useful contract with the Yorkshire Egg Marketing Board.

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 Building the Chicken Sheds on Well Yard

The chickens were free range and by the 1940s were housed in 3 large home-constructed sheds.

 

Hugh wanted better land to grow vegetables and after renting the Croft (33), a piece of land belonging to Holly House, he was able to buy it from Mrs Theodora Farren in 1941. This strip of land along the south of Well Lane linked Well Yard with Common Lane and thus made access to Hall Farm easier. The produce from the Croft helped to feed the family: Hugh and Florence and their daughter, Joyce Green, during the War, and afterwards they added Sidney Green and their grandson, Philip. Hugh continued gardening until the later 1960s.

Joyce returned to teaching after the death of Sidney in 1953 and she saved her money with the aim of building her own house. In 1966 Hugh finally gave permission for her to build on his garden. The Croft was sited close to the road, but with a good-sized garden at front and back so that Joyce could indulge her desire for a cottage garden. It was modern and brick, but had a cladding of stone at the front.

In January 1969 Hugh died and Florence left Hall Farm to live with Joyce. Phil had the small bedroom at the Croft as he needed it only when visiting. Joyce had the back double bedroom with its view of the chickens in the croft and of the Well Yard, while her mother had the front double bedroom. Joyce had a hard time teaching, caring for the remains of Hugh’s flock and her own layers, and looking after Florence, who was becoming increasingly confused. She locked up the farmhouse and outbuildings, creating a time capsule.

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 Phil's vegetable garden and under gardener, Rip
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  Joyce and Hugh at The Caravan

Phil did his best to maintain the smallholding when we visited about once a month and became interested in vegetable gardening. When Hugh’s birds had died, we pulled down the sheds and the remains of the wooden ‘gypsy’ caravan. It had been moved from South Farm land at the top of the village to the Well Yard Orchard . Hugh had used this sturdy vehicle as his shed and den, but before that it had housed Ernest Haigh (Manor Farm blacksmith) for a short time when he vacated the Manor House and also Albert Shaw before he married Beatrice Goakrodger from Hall Farm in 1931. The Iron rings from the  wheels were still by the site of the caravan when we left in 2018.

 

Phil and I were married in 1970 and intended to move to Hall Farm from Staffordshire as soon as a career opportunity arose. It was not until 1985 that Phil secured a job in Sheffield, but his ‘weekend gardening’ meant that the croft was not in bad shape. The Hall Farm cottage had undergone considerable improvement and continued to be extended for several years to come. (See Hall Farm)

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  Chinese and Pomerainian Geese

There was much fencing to be done on the croft and Well Yard. The chickens were fenced off from Phil’s vegetable garden and the orchard was divided into runs for the growing number of Pomeranian and Chinese geese that I was breeding for showing and to keep the grass down. They were protected by a fox-proof fence, which worked, except when someone cut a hole in it and pushed a sick black and white rabbit through. I lost my best gander and Bunny cost a lot in vet’s bills!

My mother had hated animals, so I wanted as many as possible! Dogs were out while we were both working, but the farm had always sheltered numerous beautiful cats who wandered in and took up residence.

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  Jack and Billy on the Well Yard

Joyce had let local girls keep their ponies on the Well Yard hillside after the chickens had gone, and the question arose as to how to keep the nettles and other undesirables down when the last pony moved on. We had had experience of other people’s goats. They would eat most weeds, but preferred the ones on the other side of the fence! Donkeys on the other hand, we believed, would eat thistles and there were plenty of those!

We offered a winter home to Billy and Jack, who were resting after a long summer on the beach at Whitby. A.A.Milne was wrong! They didn’t like thistles – or docks, but they were lovely. When Jack died, Tallulah, my friend’s pony joined Billy and when Billy died, Stevie came to us from Thornberry Rescue Centre.

After I retired I went looking for a dog. Roger, a long-legged terrier, who had been abandoned in the village and taken in by friends, was offered to me. He is now 14yrs or 15yrs old, rather deaf, but otherwise very fit.

The donkeys needed better pasture and in 1991 we were able to buy the 6 acre field,

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  Well Ings - 6 acre field

Well Ings, to the north of Well Lane (36 on the Tithe Map) from Denis and Ian Peat of South Farm. They had bought this field in the sale of New House Farm in 1989 by the South Yorkshire Residuary Body. The retirement of Mr Newsome left South Farm as the last of the 3 local authority farms to the west of Common Lane. The Peats were able to buy their farm and wanted to consolidate their holdings near to the farm. Luckily, we were able to buy Well Ings and thus create the core of Hall Farm Smallholding.

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John Dixon's changes to The Croft

In 1989 Joyce Green moved into a residential home and her house was sold to John

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  The Croft

Dixon. It was agreed that part of the croft would be a garden for the house and the rest, which was Phil’s vegetable garden, would remain part of the smallholding. John updated and extended the house and became a close friend.

 

 

 

 

 

It is interesting the way that land in Clifton, either rented or owned, changed hands over the years, but the field plan remained much the same as on the 1838 Tithe Map.

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The Beacon Field sloping down to Conisbrough Parks Farm

In 2000 We were able to expand Hall Farm Smallholding by roughly 10 acres. The Beacon Field (21, 22 and 23 on the Tithe Maps) can be accessed at the end of Well Lane and is thus adjacent to Well Ings, and Well Yard. It stretches up the escarpment to the end of Todd Hills where the Tithe map indicates the Haig Homestead (see ‘Haig Homestead and the Clints’)                                               

GRACELANDS STUD 

The Beacon Field had been allocated to New House Farm by the local authority and was sold in 1989 with the farmhouse to the Mazzarella family. They moved in 2000 and, although there was another bidder, we were lucky enough to purchase the field. We hadn’t a clue what we would do with so much land, having bought it to provide the ‘Good Life’ when we retired! A few days later there was a knock on our door and there stood Jo Aykroyd, the other bidder, who had wanted to buy Beacon Field for her horses. Jo and her partner, Tim Frankland, were prepared to manage the land in return for grazing. They were young and full of energy; the answer to our prayers!

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 Jo and Bannvalley Pride of Midnight (Elvis)

Photo by Wendy Collins, Photographer

We made an agreement and they set to work clearing the brambles and self-set undergrowth that had accrued over the years since the last time the field had been used for livestock. Asti, Claude and Daisy, Jo’s riding horses, moved in and gradually Jo and Tim, with the help of Jo’s parents, fenced paddocks, and built stables. They took the first hay crop from the Well Ings.

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  Daisy and Isa 2000

The first foal, Isa, was born to Daisy in the spring of 2000. Jo took in several horses over the years but she was interested in old breeds, particularly Irish Draught horses. In 2007 she came back triumphantly from a trip to Ireland with Bannvalley Pride of Midnight or ‘Elvis’ for short. He was a well-conformed Irish Draught colt, who would turn into a magnificent grey stallion with an elegant movement.

 Graded in 2011 with the Irish Draught Horse Society, Elvis is a fully approved Class1 RID stallion . He scored highly in all aspects of his conformation and movement and became the highest scoring class 1 stallion standing in the UK. His first pure bred foal was born in 2013 and since then he has sired many award winning youngsters who follow their father’s conformation and movement. In 2009 Jo acquired two Irish Draught mares, Chloe and Sunshine, who became the core of her breeding programme.

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  Gracelands Daisy May

  Photo by Wendy Collins, photographer

       

 

 
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  Bannvally Aprilsway at the Dublin Show

 

 
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 Percy (Gracelands Midnight Dancer)

Photo by Wendy Collins, photographe

A Selection of Prize Winners!

 

 
 
 

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  Elvis, the King!

  Photo by Wendy Collins, photographer

 

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 The Quiet Woman (Millie) and Gracelands Wilber

  Photo by Wendy Collins, photographer

Having reached retirement in 2006, while Phil showed every intention of working as long as he could, we realised that we would never fulfil our ‘good life’ dream. Phil Worked hard on his organic vegetable garden, but we couldn’t cope with more than that. We sold the Well Ings to Tim Frankland in 2012. Jo and Tim continued to develop the stud and in 2017 gained planning permission for a school and hay barn. I have never seen anyone work so hard to fulfil a dream.

                                                          

 

Jo deserves success!

We sold the Beacon Field to Jo Aykroyd when we moved in 2018, but we kept the Well Yard and the garden part of the croft. Well Yard is still the home of donkey Stevie and the pony, Tallulah. They are well looked after by Tallulah’s owner and I visit as often as I can. This land will become part of Graceland’s Stud eventually.