The information below comes from a Parish Magazine article written in January 1996. More information on Home Farm is available in our Archive.
By 1996 the buildings we now know as Home Farm had been converted into 13 homes by Woolwich Homes. The following is a note on its ownership during the past 500 years and on its listed buildings.
Home Farm was formerly known as Clarks Farm. Clarks Farm was bought in 1557 for the sum of £650 by William Lambarde, the author of “The Perambulation of Kent” which was the first history of an English county. Since then and until the recent sale and conversion, the farm had only been transferred by sale on three occasions.
Firstly, in 1640 when William Lambarde’s grandson sold to William Dixon.
Secondly, in 1854 when the executors of William Dixon’s great granddaughter sold it to Thomas Farmer Baily, owner of Hall Place.
Thirdly, in 1870 when Thomas Farmer Baily sold it to Samuel Morley.
The transfer of Clarks Farm by inheritance through Lambarde and Dixon families is set out on page 13 of Lawrence Biddle’s book “Leigh in Kent 1550 to 1900” and information on the families and Clarks Farm are held in the Leigh Archive. Therefore, the information below is concerned with the actual buildings which have been erected on the site.
In reconstructing the history of these buildings, we are able to use several maps – which are available on the website.
In 1758 Anne Lady Yonge had a map prepared showing the part of the Penshurst Estate which she had inherited Clarks Farm adjoined Kennards Farm which she owned and the location of Clarks buildings is shown.
In 1767 a map was made of the whole of Clarks Farm by John Bowra, the well known surveyor of Groombridge. This sows the farm buildings and names each of the 29 fields totalling 110 acres. Today these 29 fields have been joined up to become 6 fields.
In 1840 the Tithe Map was prepared and showed the farm buildings virtually unaltered since 1767. The field boundaries are also similar.
In 1870 a printed map of the Home Farm was included in the Particulars of Sale (copy held in Leigh Archives) and shows a small increase in the acreage of the farm from 110 to 113. The plan of the buildings shows that substantial alterations must have been made when Thomas Farmer Baily bought it in 1855.
In about 1875 a large scale plan was prepared by L. Caley showing the buildings which were there in 1870 and the new buildings which had been erected in 1874/5. Apart from the erection of a large Dutch barn and of a building for pigs (both have been pulled down) no farm buildings have been erected since 1875.
Buildings which have been demolished without trace: all the early maps made in 1758, 1767 and 1840 show substantial farm buildings in the area south of the farmhouse where the farm track joins the road. None of these buildings appear in the detailed 1870 map so we can assume that they were pulled down when Thomas Farmer Baily became the owner in 1855. The site of these buildings is the highest point in the area and in all probability the early farm buildings were erected here to avoid the risk of flood which may have been more serious then than it is today.
The Farmhouse: the earliest building now standing is the farmhouse itself. It is a listed house and is described as 16th century recased entirely by George Devey in 1855 as shown on the date plaque on the road front. He was also probably responsible for the porch at that date.
The Granary is shown on the 1767 map which makes it the earliest of the existing farm buildings. Unlike the Granaries at Great Barnetts, Pauls Farm (now destroyed), Moorden Farm and Hawden Farm which are all built on brick piers about 3 feet high, the Granary at Home Farm is a wooden first floor building erected on the walls of a cart shed below. It now forms part of No. 1 Home Farm Close.
The next oldest building is the brick stable building standing behind the 1874 large barn. This is not shown in the Tithe Map or earlier maps but is very clearly shown on the plan contained in the 1870 Particulars of Sale and it is therein described as “Harness Room, Stable containing 6 stalls and loose box and chaff house”. It was clearly built by Thomas Baily after he bought in 1855. Its alignment fixed the alignment of the large barn which was built in 1874. This building now houses nos. 3 and 5 of Home Farm Close.
With the exception of the Dairy all the remaining farm buildings were erected to the design of L. Caley in 1874/5 with Ashley and Sons employed as the Builders. The plans, which are to the scale of 16ft to the inch are sufficiently detailed to show the buildings then considered adequate for a farm which in 1870 was 133 acres in extent made up of pasture 57 acres, arable 71 acres and orchard 5 acres. It is possible that the pasture may have been substantially increased by grazing rights over other parts of the Hall Place Estate.
The Stable building provided for 7 farm horses and the new building provided for the following:
At the northern end, now garages, there is standing for 12 cows;
At the southern end, now Nos. 2, 4 and 6, there is standing for 14 cows.
There were also 2 yards each with 3 bays of covered standing where the gardens of Nos. 8, 10, 12 and 14 are now located.
At the back of the stable building there was a range of cart sheds which have now been pulled down and at the southern end of the stables a range of 6 pig sties of which the outside runs have been demolished.
The upper floor of the big barn was a large granary and/or hayloft with a range of corn bins at the northern end. It also included a very large galvanised tank supplied with water from the Estate Waterworks in Kiln Lane. The ground floor included facilities for boiling feed, slicing roots, cutting chaff, etc.
The wing of the large barn nearest to the main road, now no. 9 Home Farm Close, seems to have been constructed as a chicken house as the walls contain a large number of low arched exits to small yards and the plans show the perches. All these exits were bricked up many years ago and the building was then used as a bull pen.
The latest building to be constructed was the Octagonal Dairy, a listed building described in the official list as “probably by Devey”. A dated Plan shows that it was designed in 1856 but, as it was not shown in the 1870 Particulars for Sale, it had clearly not been built when Samuel Morley bought it. It was built about 20 years after the 1856 design by Hope Constable, the Penshurst builders, after the rest of the farm buildings had been completed and making use of the old plans. The type of bricks and the high quality of the brickwork differ substantially from the work on the 1874/5 farm buildings. It was lined with Minton Tiles but sadly some of them have been stolen. It now forms part of No. 7 Home Farm Close.
In 1870 Home Farm was only 133 acres and even if Samuel Morley planned to add Lucy’s, which he had purchased at the same time, the increase would only have been 22 acres making 155 in all. Though there were at least 11 other farms in the Parish of Leigh with greater acreage, no other farm had comparable buildings, so the buildings erected in 1874 were on a lavish scale on any argument.