In the latter 20th Century most of the farms around Basingstoke was sold off to make way for housing.
Their names live on in some of the districts, but what
I didn’t expect to find was that many of the farm houses still survive…
Oakridge, South Ham, Buckskin, Brighton Hill, Hatch Warren, Merton, Chineham & Viables are all areas with names taken from the farms they were built on. We can extend this further to farms known as at Popley Field, Bury (Winklebury), Binfields and Lickpit, which is now know as Lychpit.
The case for Park Prewett Farm is slighly different, as the site was selected for the Hospital way before the post war development of Basingstoke, and besides the farm would still have a role tp play in recouperating the patients.
Hatch Warren Farm
The Farm buildings are still part of Portsmouth Estates, the historic land owner in the area. And whilst all traces of farming have gone and the surrounding land was sold to developers in the 1980’s, these buildings are still in use as offices. Several design studios have located there for its location.
Its worth mentioning that Hatch Warren Farm was where the pioneering farmer
Rex Paterson O.B.E. based himself and developed his practices in grassland diary farming that have widely influenced the industry post war. (I found this history quite fascinating it its own right, and how important it was to modern farming).
Richard W Hoyles book ‘The Farmer in England”‘ 1650 -1980 has more detail here
Merton Road gets its name from the farm that was here till the 1950’s. Merton Farm was named after a previous farm, which was closer to town and the ancestral home of Walter de Merton, later a Bishop and Chancellor of England, and founder of the Oxford College.
If you are interested in finding out more about one of Basingstoke’s famous sons see
Rupert Willoughby’s article on his website here…
Farms North of Basingstoke
There was a cluster of neighbouring farms to the north of Basingstoke, where the ‘Oakridge’ and ‘Popley’ estates are now, and a couple of the farm sites still survive.
With the creation of the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment at Aldermaston, Houses were needed for the new staff, and in 1952 the first estates in Basingstoke were built. This plan predated Basingstoke being designated as a ‘London Overspill’ town, but was the start of rapid change for the borough.
Popley Field Farm
Notice the 1896 map above shows a farm called ‘Poplar Field Farm’ I can’t see a Popley anywhere around on this map, but by 1912 the farm was called ‘Popley’. As with Hatch Warren, there are now businesses based in and around the old farm buildings.
What I assume is the Farmhouse now looks a private residence.
By the 1950’s Oakridge Farm had vanished from the maps, and the A339 Ring Road goes right through where it would have been anyway!
Chineham House and Farm
Easily the biggest selection of farm buildings were alongside Chineham House.
Although some suffered the same fate making way for housing, there is still a collection
of farm buildings to see, alongside the listed house. Its quite amazing how these have survived next to the estate, but I’m glad they have…
Chineham House is 17th Century, but most of the farm buildings are 18th Century structures – but still impressive.
Lickpit / Lychpit Farm
With its proximity to Old Basing, the old farm buildings of Lychpit exist around community use, and are therefore much restored in the context of the modern
housing estates. A ‘farm’ was part of a manor dating from the 10th Century,
but the buildings preserved here are 17th Century.
The farmhouse is now Lychpit House – a private residence, in the background
of the photo below.
South and West of Basingstoke
Another cluster of farms that were sold to make way for the growing town amongst others included Buckskin and South Ham farms.
The farm was created late 18th Century from South Ham Farm. Today the farmhouse survives, hemmed in by its neighbours, and whilst the property looks ‘safe’ it appears to be in a state of flux with its usage. I think out of all the farms visited this one looks the most ‘isolated’ with it surroundings.
I couldn’t find a photo of the farm, but I believe the above photo shows the hedged lane up to the farm, (to the right), looking towards Fiveways and Kempshott.
South Ham Farm
Now one of the largest estates in Basingstoke. South Ham was also the main farm in the area. Like Oakridge, there is no traces visable as the farm was demolished, but this and Buckskin are in living memory for some. At South Ham, land had been slowly sold off for housing projects for a while, so when in the 1950’s the demand for housing grew, that was it for the farm. Whilst located close to Worting Road there is nothing to see now.
Viables, with its history around it just being off the ancient Harrow Way and The Alton Light Railway, ceased being farmed in the 1960’s. It had been part of the Portsmouth Estateand it was known for its pedigree milking cattle. By the 1970’s the council and local campaigners saved the farm from demolition and now is a complex of arts & crafts units and businesses. Many of the old farm buildings are in use. The farmhouse built in 1939 was renovated.
Not so much an area, but an important road for businessses is named after the farm so gets an honourable mention…
So you can see there are some fine examples of old farm architecture still surviving around Basingstoke. When I started this project I thought I would be just be a case of highlighting the link between the names to the areas of Basingstoke. However, when looking there was a lot more surviving than I thought, and have since found there were and are even more farms out there! It shouldn’t therefore be a surprise that Basingstoke had a Cattle Market until the 1960’s and its industry supported agriculture. Basingstoke changed a lot in the 1950-60’s from a market town to an overspill town for London. Sadly some of the past has been erased, but with closer examination much of the farming past is still in touching distance and brings the countryside very close to the heart of the town.