Redgrave Hall Estate 1849

By Jean Sheehan

One of the documents in the Holt-Wilson papers is a small shabby exercise book which looks as if it has been chewed by a mouse in one corner but it contains a wealth of information on the farms on the Redgrave Hall Estate as it is a Survey and Report, dated May 1849. The owner of Redgrave Hall at that time was George St. Vincent Wilson and the property was situated in the parishes of Redgrave, Botesdale, Hinderclay, Rickinghall, Wortham, Burgate, Gislingham, Wangford, Billingford and Thorpe. The major properties included are Redgrave Hall Farm, New Waters, West Hall, Broom Hills, Facon Hall, Slough Farm, Burgate Hall and the Wangford Estate. There are other properties just described by the name of the tenant which are unidentifiable although there may have been a map to go with it originally. The survey was drawn up by J. Oxley Parker of Woodham Mortimer Place and was drawn up to review the rents of the holdings.

Each entry includes the acreage and the condition of the main house and the outbuildings, and the way in which the farmland is cultivated. The following is the entry for Broom Hills:

T.C. Burroughes, Broom Hills, Rickinghall. Quantity 164 acres, 23 perches. Rent 184.

The house is partly brick partly lath and plaster and tiled. It has been lately repaired and made suitable for a respectable tenant. The back Kitchen, Dairy, Woodhouse etc. are lath and plaster & tiled.

The buildings consist of
A Wheat Barn with plank floor, timber built and part weatherboard part clay daubing and thatched. Oat Barn of same materials adjoining with clay floor. Both very old and much out of repair.
Nag stable and harness house - Cart Stable with collar house and chaff bier - cowhouse with calf pens - and Turnip House and Hospital adjoining and under the same roof - part timber and part claywall - part brick and pantiled - cattle shed on north side of yard all in good order. Waggon Lodge with 2 story Granary over timber and pantiled and chaise house - Drill house etc. stone walls and pantiled requiring slight repairs - Range of piggeries, timber and pantiled requiring repair and new weatherboarding.
The upland fields are all on gravely subsoil, part of fair depth - part on the Hills, thin, and subject to burn in dry seasons. The Marshland is part ploughed - part grazing land. It is a loose peaty soil and difficult of drainage and would be better if all laid down to grass - The upland pasture is good.

I do not see ground for lowering this rent beyond the old amount.

The condition of the holdings vary considerably depending partly on the tenant. Facon's Hall was let to a tenant who obviously did not look after it.

The house is timber built lathe and plaster and tiled and capable with some repairs of being made a most commodious Residence but it is not kept in any sort of order or ever furnished by the present tenant who is of a lower grade than ought to be the occupier of such a Farm. The buildings are scattered about without any kind of management and are some of them entirely worn out. As it becomes necessary to repair them they should be removed so as to form more convenient yards in connection with the Barn which stands South East of the House and such abundance of material will arise out of the old Buildings, that the cost of the labor in reconstruction will be the chief item of expence. It is hardly worth while to incur any outlay during the occupation of the present tenant, as [he] hardly makes use of the sheds which he has now standing upon the Farm. The arable lands are partly Clay bottom differing in value and partly mixed soil of good quality and are fairly farmed but the pastures are sadly neglected and might be greatly improved by better management.
Considering the state of the premises - this rent is as high as any on the estate.
It has been proposed to break up a portion of the pasture land and improve the fields at the back of the House by cutting new fences but it is not worth while to carry out these improvements with the present Tenant. They may be reserved as inducements to a future occupier.

Some of the properties mention woods, tithes, business other than farming and employees. The largest holding was the Wangford Estate comprising 3255 acres, 3 rods and 35 perches, which was later sold to the Maharajah Duleep Singh.

It is surprising that such a small insignificant book holds so much information on properties in our our villages over 150 years ago, and it would be interesting to know how these descriptions compare with these properties now.

Jean Sheehan, Redgrave Parish Magazine, December/January 2006/7. With acknowledgements to Mr. Peter Holt -Wilson for permission to publish this information.

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