Farms of Calverton in the
19th & early 20th Century.

Calverton Farm Boundaries C18-19.

(© Crown copyright. All rights reserved. Licence number AL100034117)

George Cowley recalls conversations which took place in the 1920s with three senior residents of the village at that time on the subject of farm ownership. Given the ages of those involved, both then and now, this account must reach back just about as far as it is possible to go within the definition of an oral history.

The following is a list of occupiers of agricultural holdings in the Nineteenth and Twentieth centuries from information given some seventy years ago by three senior residents of that time, being Noah Neal of Upper Weald, and Reuben Tompkins and Robert Miller of Lower Weald.

1. Two Mile Ash Farm

During the latter part of the last century and early this century Two Mile Ash Farm was farmed by the Read family as part of Manor Farm. It was subsequently leased to Bucks County Council by the landowner, Lord Carrington, for the creation of small- holdings. It was divided into three parts and let to three Stony Stratford businessmen: Harry Beckett - a coal merchant, Henry Higgs - a butcher, and a Mr Jones - a colt breaker who kept his horses in the stables at the Bull Hotel, Stony Stratford.

In about 1935 the individual holdings were recombined and let as a whole to W Stanley & Sons, then to King in 1940, followed by George King, and now R W Harrison & Sons.

2. Oakhill Lane Farm

This farm was formerly part of Manor Farm. It was created in 1940 and originally occupied by F Read then R F Fountaine. In 1940 it was purchased by F W Canvin, a butcher, who took up farming. It was subsequently sold in 1946 to A W Webb.

3. Common Farm

The first known name to occupy this farm was Smith who came from Nash around 1885 and left in 1890, moving to Hanslope. Joseph Bryant followed until 1895, when he moved on to Potash Farm, Beachampton.

Henry Hassell, a travelling salesman of hardware, bought the farm and moved in, staying until 1899 when he moved back to Stony Stratford. Thomas Mason succeeded him, staying until 1920 when B Cowley came from Nash and stayed until 1938. Since then the farm has been occupied by the Cox family.

4. Back Road Fields (now part of Fairfield Farm)

In the late 1800s it was occupied by Bailey who was followed by John Richards who farmed there until 1913 when it was taken over by Albert Canvin, a butcher of Stony Stratford. It was finally taken over by B Cowley in 1931 as part of Fairfield Farm.

5. Upper Weald Great Farm

First known occupier was a member of the Read family, also of Manor Farm, followed by Syratt who did a moonlight flit. John Richards from Cynholdy Carmarthenshire took over from 1880 until 1908, then they moved on to Stacey Hill Farm, Wolverton. Looking back, his wife and Tudor Cowley's great-grandfather were sister and brother.

Subsequently the Great Farm and Two Mile Ash Farm were leased by Lord Carrington to Buckinghamshire County Council who created a number of small-holdings. The tenants - seven in all - paid from five shillings to thirty shillings per acre rent.

The original tenants were Morgan Morgans (thirty shillings/acre), Thomas Goodyer £1/acre), Cappel (£1/acre), Manasseh Watts (£1/acre), Benjamin Hopkins (ten shillings/acre), John Hopkins (six shillings, eight pence/acre) and Robert Miller of Whaddon (five shillings/acre). (Prior to UK decimalisation there were 20 shillings to the pound and 12 pence to the shilling. There are 2.471 acres to the hectare.)

6. Fairfield Farm (formerly known as Little Farm)

The first known name to occupy the farm was Clarke who moved to Church Farm, Loughton about 1875 when George Lovell of Lower Weald Farm (6a) took over from him. Lower Weald farmhouse was the cottages now known as 18 and 19 Lower Weald. The two holdings became one and in 1877, Fairfield House was built in Upper Weald. George Lovell retired in 1926 and was followed by William Cooper until 1932 when E Harper arrived. Harper left in 1938 to be followed by the Cowleys.

7. Middle Weald Farm

The Syratt family had a long association with this farm going back more than one generation. The last one to live there was George Syratt who died about 1948. It was bought by the Bunker Brothers of Hockliffe who had been farming the land for about ten years. They sold it the day after purchase to Mr S N Frost - father of Mrs Missenden, the present owner.

8. Rectory Farm, Lower Weald

Some time during during the last century it was occupied by the Syratt family, followed by G Verey who came from Salden near Mursley, moving on to Mountmill Farm, Wicken. George Bennett then took over. He also came from Mursley. His son, George, took over but was dispossessed by the Ministry of Agriculture in 1940 so he let it to Messrs S S Luckett and the family is still there.

9. Manor Farm

The Read family apparently farmed there for more than one generation and at one time farmed a large area of the parish. Fred Read farmed there until it was taken over by R F Fountaine and sons during the first world war.

In London Road, Stony Stratford, opposite the London Road garage, stands an old farmhouse which was last occupied by one of the Read family who farmed the land in the latter part of the last century before it was built on in the expansion of Stony Stratford.

George CowleyGeorge Cowley was born in 1914 at Yew Tree Farm, Nash, and moved to Calverton some 77 years ago. He lived with his parents and sister at Common Farm, Upper Weald until 1938, when they moved to Fairfield Farm. He went to Calverton Church of England Village School in Lower Weald from 1920 until the year it closed in 1924. Thereafter he was educated at Stony Stratford until 1926, and then at Wolverton County School.

In 1947 he married Edna Powell, of Tattenhoe Bare Farm, and took over the running of Fairfield Farm, some 275 acres of mixed farming. In 1966 he was instrumental in forming the Calverton Residents' Association, which together with their legal advisor, Mr Neville Wallace, successfully fought to keep Calverton out of the proposed designated area of the new town of Milton Keynes, arguing that "it was one of the few remaining villages in the area with natural unspoilt beauty".

After the death of his first wife in 1985, he married Ivy Maeger and still lives in Fairfield House. (George Cowley died in March 1998.)

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Last updated 24th February 1998.