VCH Explore

Explore England's Past

Farms and Farmhouses

One of the small farmhouses lining the main streets of Codford, Wiltshire. Its position, end-on to the street, gave easy access to the close of land a

Before enclosure farms lined the village streets of nucleated villages, or lay isolated in areas of scattered settlement. All had farmyards surrounded by individual farmbuildings built over time for a variety of purposes. The barn was usually the most substantial farmbuilding, and many medieval and early modern barns have outlived the other structures. Some information about the character of vanished types of medieval farmbuildings can be gained from documents, especially those produced by major religious houses about their own farms (granges). The farmhouse often survives. Many have have been continuously occupied since they were first built and so contain much older fabric than is evident externally.

In character farmhouses are like other local houses of similar status, but some are adapted to the farming of particular regions.  In the fruit-growing Newent area, most farmhouses have attached cider houses, while those in the dairying areas of Wiltshire have cheese lofts for storing whole cheeses. Farmhouses usually have dairies in the coolest part of the house, in order to supply the household with home-made butter and cheese as well as the local market with the surplus. In pig-rearing areas of Wiltshire, pork for home consumption and sale was cured in narrow smoke-chambers adjacent to the chimney. In remote locations, like the Yorkshire wolds, farmers needed to accommodate large numbers of live-in labourers, who in the East Riding were housed in long separate dormitory wings. As farms were amalgamated to form larger units, richer farmers rebuilt  or remodelled their houses to resemble polite villas or small country houses. Some farms, especially those established post-enclosure outside settlements, were often provided with farmhouse and farmbuildings to a single design, which was perhaps based on a model invented or copied by a surveyor employed by the landowner.

Theme Items

Stone Farm, Exford

Looking across the Barle Valley from Ashway to Row Lane, Hawkridge, on skyline and Birchcleeve wood.

Volunteers surveying a farmyard at Broford, Dulverton

Brushford parish lies outside the Exmoor National Park but is closely bound to it through its neighbours Dulverton and East Anstey.

Cloggs Farm

Nice rubble house, long with brick segmental window-heads. Looks C19 but disposition suggests 3 rooms and through passage.

Late 17th-century Hele Bridge farmhouse, Dulverton.

East Liscombe, East Anstey

This farm and the nearby cottage, now abandoned, were surveyed by a group of volunteers.