Wickhurst Farm and Oast

Although there is no documentary evidence currently, Wickhurst Farm probably was owned at one stage by Wickhurst Manor two and a quarter miles to the north of the Farm, off Baylis Hill.  (There is also Wickhurst Road which runs from the Manor to Weald).  The farm is in the Parish of Leigh and probably always has been – see the 1279 ‘Perambulation’ round the Lowry of Tonbridge where the Farm lay within Tonbridge owned by the Clare family.  The Farm is, in fact, nearer Charcott (½ mile across the fields) and Chiddingstone Causeway (1½ miles) than it is to Leigh (2½ miles).

There was a 14th century hall house on the site – it is still there – but in essence Wickhurst is a mid-Victorian ‘Model Farm’, largely built by a gentleman farmer (who was a relative of the neighbouring rich gentleman farmer at Camphill Farm, Chiddingstone Causeway).  It was originally intended to be a farm where they would do experiments – particularly with fertilizers.  However, in fact, the experiments did not seem to get very far because the prime mover – the gentleman farmer – died.

Around the courtyard – with the hall house – there were various buildings – a barn; what was thought originally to be a dairy but which now seems more likely to have been an abattoir; and a large stable block.  There were cottages for the workers – separated from the ‘proper’ residents to the north and the two oast houses – one Victorian and one probably c. 1920.  At one stage there was also an apothecary at the farm.  Clearly although some of the land was used for hops, it was really a mixed farm.  As so often with Kent farms, there was an orchard or orchards around the main buildings.

All these buildings were converted into residential homes in the late 1980s/early 1990s.

Chris Rowley (March 2019)

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