A brief history of Ivy Farm

Ivy Farm stood on Bircham Road near the bottom of Cross Lane. Its fine barns were converted to residential use in 2004–5, and the old farmhouse was demolished in 2010 and replaced by a new house. Gillian Beckett tells the story of this Stanhoe landmark.

White-painted Georgian farmhouse with tiled roof

Ivy Farm started as the home farm of Easthall Manor, part of a large manorial estate which was owned from the 14th until the late 17th century by the Townshends of Raynham. The first reference to the farm is in 1532 when it was leased to Thomas Oughton, a freeman of the village; his son, John Oughton, followed him. When John died in 1595, he made a will which survives, as does the inventory of all his goods in the house, barns and fields.

Apart from a few tenants’ names we know little else until about 1725 when the whole estate, including Barwick House, its main property, was bought by John Glover. Since then, it has descended through marriage and inheritance but has never been sold out of the family.

Great BarnRobert Glover, son of John, was known in the county as one of the most modern and progressive farmers. In his time the lands of the village were re-organised, new, bigger fields set out and new, larger barns built in anticipation of large corn crops. He built the fine barns in the yard of Ivy Farm, including the largest Grade 2 listed brick barn of the period in the county. These have recently been converted into dwellings.

Aerial view of farmhouse, yard and barns

From the materials and styles of the present Ivy Farm, we can deduce that the original farm was probably rebuilt at about the same time, as a two-up two-down flint and brick building with a loft. Some time later – at a guess in the early 1800s, a boom time for agriculture – the building was virtually doubled in size using flint, brick and chalk as the materials.

The first named tenant was John Wright, tenant farmer in 1801. He left land to be rented out and the profits used for the education of village children. Wright’s Charity is still awarded annually.

Victorian farmer photographed in his Sunday best Victorian farmer photographed in his Sunday bestBy 1831 the tenant was Philip Wright, who with his brother Joseph is listed in the 1841 census as “farmers of 560 acres, employing 24 men”. By 1861 the brothers employed only 12 men and 5 boys, a sign of the agricultural depression of the time. Philip died in 1864 and Joseph in 1866. They had no sons.

By 1871 the tenant was Edward Long and at one point the farm is called Long Farm, presumably from his name. None of the Stanhoe farms in this period had their own names.

By 1881 James Reeve had taken over, and in 1891 Dennis Cook. After the 1914–18 war, when agriculture was in a state of severe depression, farming activities seem to have been amalgamated with those of one of the other estate farms, and no farmer is mentioned as living at Ivy Farm.

Peeling plaster around a windowOnce the house had no obvious farming use it was divided into two dwellings – by the cheapest method of building a wall up the centre of the broad staircase – and lived in by farm staff. In the last 20 years little maintenance has been carried out. By 2008 the last tenants had left and the building was becoming derelict.

The main house was demolished in autumn 2010. The new owners have built a new house on the spot, preserving the dairy and other outbuildings.

More Ivy Farm photos

In February 2010, with the kind permission of the owners, Stanhoe Archive made a photographic record of the building. You can see the results in our web gallery.

Also see our news story on the demolition of the old house in September 2010.

The former Norfolk Archaeological Unit surveyed Ivy Farm before and during the demolition. You can download a copy of their report here.