Farming at Speke

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On the estate at Speke there was approximately seventeen farms and seven woodlands that were all rented from Speke Hall, below is a summary of the crops and records of the fields and woodlands mentioned in the various records found

After the poor harvest of 1888 Mr Graves proposed to Miss Watt that she should ‘ meet them at the next June rent, by this means you will prevent them from taking any steps to agitate the matter’ It was feared that the tenants might act jointly and ask for rent reductions due to the poor yield. By 1896 there was a clear gulf between Miss Watt and her tenants with Mr Graves saying ‘ the kindly feeling that used to exist between landlord and tenant is now a thing of the past, perhaps never to return’ Eventually the rents were reduced for the whole estate.

Cultivation and Crops
Once the land had been cleared and drained, it could be fertilized using manure or burning. Gate and fences were made and hedges and ditches were recorded.

  Cereals

Wheat was sown in Autumn to be harvested the following year.

Barley and Oat were sown in Spring to be harvested in the same year.

Hay

Potatoes

Root Crops such as turnips

Other crops such as beans, hops, apples and hemp.

  Animals (numbers recorded in 1524)

            Oxen (27) Cattle (61),  Horses (7), Sheep (68), Pigs (28), Poultry (118), Pigeons , Fish and Deer

Extract from a Farm Sale at Speke 17th April 1866

  Wagon team
Boxer a brown gelding, 16 hands, 7 years old
Captain a brown gelding, 16 hands
Star a grey roan mare, 15 ½ hands, 5 years old
Derby a bay gelding, 16 hands
Merryman grey half-bred gelding, 16 hands
Farmer a bay gelding, 16 hands
Half-bred mare, 15 ¾ hands

  Pigs
Porket pigs

Poultry
Six geese

Cattle
Pure bred Guernsey cow, in full milk

3 Pure bred Guernsey cows, in calf                           A Guernsey cow
Cross bred cow in calf
Cross bred heifer in full milk
Pair of yearling Guernsey heifers

 

Extract from a Farm Sale at Speke Thursday 21st December 1871

Prince Bay mare, 10 years old, very powerful, a good worker, 17 hands
Flower grey mare, very powerful, a good worker, 17 hands
Badger grey horse 10 years old, very powerful, a good worker, 16 ½ hands
Star grey mare, 11 years old, very powerful, a good worker, 16 hands
Derby bay horse, 16 ½ hands
Merryman grey horse
Captain 16 ½ hands
Chestnut horse, 7 years old, upwards of 16 hands

  Produce of the farm
Scotch Down potatoes
Red Down potatoes
Early Pinkeye potatoes
White Kemp potatoes
Ash-leaf kidney potatoes
Brown potatoes
Wheat
Barley
Mangolds

The Demesne

The demesne land could be retained by the lord for the direct support of his household. In Speke its exact extent is known in 1781 when it was held as one unit and worked from the Hall.

  Thomas Norris’s rental of 1468 lists ‘The Demayn Lond Lynge to the Halle – Ogglott Wode with the Brendhurth… The 2 faure acre heyes with Daynes crofte fylde… Mollenex fylds… the wedyrs fylde with the calf hey… the 2 Plombe fylds… the hey ben greenway side…’ These would seem to have been enclosed fields. The list continues ‘… the narrer 2 ac ub tge Nisse… the fyrse 2 ac  with the Mdo in the mosse… The medowes in Hale… 2 ac in the Mosse Shotyngs on Hameswh… (added in another, undated and unidentified hand) ye Wynde mylne…’ At this time the Norris Speke demesne, then, included strips in the open fields and even land outside the town but there is no complete early list of demesne land. Other rentals do not always mention fields, but five a total acreage: one, a Charnock rental, undated, but perhaps late 14th century includes ‘… Walt de Gerstan in demesne lying together 25 ac  for a term of 6 years and 3.5’butts  2 marks 6d’.

According to general manorial custom, which might vary in detail from area to area, free tenants carried out certain duties on demesne land, the duties varying according to seasonal activities. Thomas Norris’s 1468 list stated: ‘This belongs to the Auerage  in primis Euery tenant that pays 10s of rent or a bone gyffes a day with a plogh and a nother day with his worthynge  Carte. And if hit be under 10s he schall brynge his horse and his you are to fill a day and also euery tenaunt that holds a bone 10s. Shall fache a cartful a hay from Redall Medow and  yf he be under 10s a day to make hay or elles gyffea ld and euery man a day to delfe Turces and euery house a day to schere in harvest or els to pay 2d’. Boon work was still being done in 1693: coal carrying, hay making and reaping.

  Though at least two of the demesne fields were rented out in 1718, many of the demesne fields referred to by Wiswall evidently supplied the Hall, as the accounts include payments for day-labour in them.

Stockton's Wood

  Originally noted as “Speke grave” (grave being an area were cattle would be stockaded) in 1334 and “The Heath” in 1781 the area is now known as “Stockton’s Wood”. The woodland has spread to include the areas known as “Green Slate Hay” and “Barncroft” and now covers 8.25 hectares (35 acres?)

Always part of the original Demesne of 850 acres, the woodland has survived nearly 600 years intact. Originally heathland, with a scattering of hardwood trees, the remains of these sparse tree’s gives Stockton’s wood the characteristic of ancient woodland. With this history the wood has a richly diverse fauna, especially the many insect species that rely on dead or rotting timber as their natural habitat. Stockton’s Wood is now an important deadwood site and is managed accordingly.

The heath was planted with timber in the 17th Century as part of a movement towards self-sufficiency on the estate. Some of the remains of these trees still exist and are part of the historical mosaic that is so important to the woodland habitat.

Attempts were made in the 18th Century to drain and cultivate areas of the woodland and several drainage ditches were cut. By 1800, however, cultivation was abandoned and the woodland allowed to regenerate. The drainage system is still a marked feature of the woodland today. In 1716 the bark of two trees was sold.

Further planting of trees and Rhododendrons occurred in the 19th Century to provide cover for game birds. The Rhododendron has spread out of control and is now a threat to the woodland ecosystem.

  Extract from letter2/11/1870 from Geo Whitley

  Pinnington’s farm buildings

      I went over to Speke on the 26th with Mr. Shelmerdine Jnr. and fortunately met with Mr. Lunt on the premises. I fully explained to him your views and desired him to furnish me with an estimate of every thing remaining to be done which I now enclose. We made a thorough investigation of the drainage wanted and it is perfectly clear that the roof water cannot be carried off except by means of a drain from the back of the building down to Stocktons wood, if left to find its own level it will flood the pit near the cart shed and cause it to overflow. An old drain, part stones and part tiles, in the proper direction has been discovered but it is

-?- up and is too small for the purpose, the tiles being only 3½ but as the estimate is £85.0.0. the determination as to making the drain had probably better remain open until you visit. The building must be completed with the least possible delay though there will not be a difficulty as to the spouts

  Extract from letter from 13/8/1872 from Geo Whitley

  Speke Church

        I received your letter of the 12th instant at 12.15 to day. Our train at Speke station this morning was half an hour late and as Mr. Pearson had not then arrived I suppose he must have altered his plans. I am however going out by the 2.40 train & I hope to find him somewhere and talk over the drainage which is most important. Mr. Shelmerdine has all the levels and is decidedly of opinion  that the drain should be carried through Stockton’s wood on to the Shore and not in the direction to which you have alluded.

 

Extract from letter from 28/9/1872 from Geo Whitley

 

Lunt’s estimates

                                   

Rob. Edwards farm buildings                                                          30. 0.  0.         do            flooring dining room                                                         18.10. 0.

            do            Spouts                                                                       6.10. 0.

                                                                                                                         55. 0. 0.

White’s cottages                                                                                               9. 5. 0.

Repairs at Stockton’s Wood                                                            38.10.0.

Gate &c                      do                                                                             12. 0. 0.

                                                                                                                   £104.15. 0.

 

            I have gone fully into these estimates with Mr. Lunt and he says that in the present state of trade it would not remunerate him to reduce them. The dining room floor (flagged) he thinks ought in fairness, in such a house to be boarded as independently, of being very cold the carpets are very quickly worn out.

  Extract from letter from 18/12/1872 from Geo Whitley

Stockton’s Wood drain

 

            Has, owing to the state of the fields through which it will have to pass not been proceeded with nor any of the estimates accepted. This is fortunate as I feel convinced the whole scheme will have to be revised and to include in it a branch drain from the upper land behind Miss Jenkinson’s. The lane by her house was, yesterday morning, flooded to the depth of at least two feet and foot passengers were obliged to make their way through the fields & independent of the estate this will not be tolerated by the authorities. The Speke Town lane is not in a much better condition but I have had the ditch by the road side cleaned out which has temporarily relieved the nuisance. I have this morning had a long conference with Mr. Shelmerdine on the subject and he says from what has occurred recently he cannot guarantee that 21 inch pipes will carry off the volume of water now apparent on this part of the estate and that the brick drain will be requisite but as this would be a heavy cost he will calculate what it could be done for. Admitted that this is quite an exceptionable year a similar occurrence ought to be provided against.

 

Extract from letter from 14/8/1873 from J Bubb

  Will you please let me know if you have made up your mind wether the large pit in that 6 acre field by the side of Stocktons Wood which is rented by R Sutton should be emptied into the sewer & filled up with overplus soil which is dug from cutting there will be plenty to do it with & would gain a great deal of land the pit is not used for anything

  The Clough

  The Clough is an area of secondary and planted woodland situated in a semi-circle between the hall and the river Mersey and covers an area of approximately 10 acres.

The area was originally the site of an ancient woodland called “Le Clough” it is reputed that trees from the Clough were used in the construction of the hall. During 1650 the area was clear felled and the timber was given to the Liverpool Corporation which defended Liverpool Castle. The woodland was replanted during the late 17th Century and early 18th Century after restoration. The large Beech tree on the corner of the moat dates from this period.

The area was clear felled again, with a few exceptions notably the large Beech tree on the corner of the moat, by the Air Ministry in 1942 and was then left until 1986. During this period the area regenerated into secondary Sycamore woodland.

Speke Dam

Originally called the “Green” Speke Dam is a natural feature fed by drainage from surrounding fields. The Dam is marked on Doomsday records and was used to supply the moat around the Hall with top up water.

  Oglet Wood

Oglet Wood had already been partly cleared by 1647. Wilswall accounts: Oct. 9, 1711 ‘Pd to Wm Bridge… helping to get Roots up in Oglet Wood & filling holes 5 days and a half…’  Other work carried out in the wood was also recorded, John Banner and William Bridge were paid for ditching and leveling in 1712, in 1714 John Banner cleared away roots after ploughing in the part of Oglett Wood that had been cleared. In 1715 gathering chips and wood took place and in 1725 Mr James Chadwick, who drew up the first map of Liverpool in 1725, was paid 2s 6d for measuring “ye marl pitt in Oglett Wood”. Later Mathias Garnett and James Berry marled Oglett Wood, 41 rodds and 39 yards at 16s per rodd total £33 5s 9d ?. Ditching work was done about the marled ground in 1727 and hedging followed. As the area was cleared and made ready it was ploughed.

April 10th 1717 ‘Pd ti Richard Barrow… for making and setting a Gate at Oglett Wood, making a Pale (fence) at Banks lane…’

Addisons map of 1781 shows the area almost completely cleared of trees and he marks the pits.

April 21st 1713 ‘Pd to Mary Wilkinson for gathering stones off marled ground in Oglett Wood…’

Garston Wood

  Extract from letter from 6/11/1873 from Geo Whitley

 

Richd. Atherton’s house

 

            The length is 420 yards – what distance apart should the stumps be? We can get them out of Garston Wood, they should be rather closer

together in this neighbourhood than usual.

  Banks Lane

April 10th 1717 ‘Pd ti Richard Barrow… for making and setting a Gate at Oglett Wood, making a Pale (fence) at Banks lane…’

January 14th 1711 ‘Pd to Jno Charnely for hedging… at bottom of great Branderith... And… ditching at side if banks lane…’

  Great Branderith

January 14th 1711 ‘Pd to Jno Charnely for hedging… at bottom of great Branderith... And… ditching at side if banks lane…’

Coney Tree Wood

  The wood is mentioned in 1714 and is shown as wooded in Addison’s map of 1781.

  Extract from letter from 1 /4/1873 from Geo Whitley

 

The Hall

 

            You recollect the field, occupied by Mr. Leyland adjoining the wood, the rails are all rotten and many of them fallen down and the cattle can have access to the lawn in front of the Drawing room by trespassing in the wood, the length of the fence is about 200 yards and we should consequently want 600 rails and posts, these, Richd. Sutton tells me, may be procured from a number of oak trees in the “Coney tree wood” which are fast decaying and are valueless for any other purpose. What must be done?

 

Extract from letter from 20/10/1873 from Geo Whitley

 

Main Drain

 

            I went with Richard Sutton through the Coney tree wood and found an abundance of Oak trees in a dying state and entirely without branches and neither useful or ornamental and ought to be fallen & I should have no hesitation in doing so, at present however there is a difficulty as the woods have not been shot through and the wood in question is the best on the Estate as a cover for pheasants, so I suppose we must wait a little longer.

  The Hall Field

This field evidently contained some Birch trees at the side as these were cleared out in 1714 and it had hedgerow trees in 1781. Trees are also shown below the field along the shore and continuing below Lower Orchard and Hop Yard as far as the clough.

The Orchard

 The Orchard was covered with tre es in 1781.

  Lower Orchard

This area contained some Oak trees which were felled and roots cleared in 1710-1711. Various crops have been cultivated there, hay was cut in 1711 and in later years, with Oats and Potatoes grown in two separate areas. The area had some tree cover in 1781.

Work recorded by Wiswall included: June 16th 1711 ‘Pd to Tho. Hardman for plowing in the lower Orchard and Burned ground…’ (f 11). The push plough was also in use: May 10th 1712 ‘Pd to Edw Wbster and Wm Bridge for Pushplowing in Gardens Lower Orchard and Swine Pasture for potatoes’

October 9th 1711 ‘Pd to Edwd. Webster for 4 days shearing Barley in Lower Orchard and Green Hea’

  Molyneax Meadow

  Bark and timber from 87 trees was sold in 1716 and it appears it was clear of trees in 1781 except for hedgerow trees.

To the west of the Hall three adjacent fields: Molyneux Meadow, Wilders Brook and Banks lane Meadow, together with Round Meadow close to Garston, Yielded 139 loads of hay in 1696, the only year for which a full record survives. Details of storage are given: barns were used and some was stacked in the open

  Round Meadow

To the west of the Hall three adjacent fields: Molyneux Meadow, Wilders Brook and Banks lane Meadow, together with Round Meadow close to Garston, Yielded 139 loads of hay in 1696, the only year for which a full record survives. Details of storage are given: barns were used and some was stacked in the open

  New Park

  New Park was cleared of trees, especially Hollies in 1715.

  Green Hey

Oct 2, 1710 ‘Pd to (Jno Charnley) for Ridding (clearing) and Guttering in Green Hea…’

May 24th 1715 ‘Pd to Edw. Webster for…sowing Pigeon dung in Green Hea…’

May 24th 1712 ‘Pd to Roger Thomasson for leading Gorse from Ms Croft to burn ground in Green Hea’

October 9th 1711 ‘Pd to Edwd. Webster for 4 days shearing Barley in Lower Orchard and Green Hea’

January 29th 1715 ‘Pd ti Edw. Webster & Geo: Laurenson for Thrashing Barley formerly of the course sort that grew in Green Hea…’

Clover was grown in Green Hey in 1714

Swine Pasture

May 10th 1712 ‘Pd to Edw Wbster and Wm Bridge for Pushplowing in Gardens

Lower Orchard and Swine Pasture for potatoes’

Barn Hay Croft

Barn Hey croft which had oats in 1710 and 1712, had hay in 1711 and hay in each year from 1713 to 1718.

Nearer Three Crofts

The 1700 inventory, complied in July, notes standing crops of 5 acres of wheat in bank field, 14 acres of oats in Three Crofts and 4 ‘in the field towards Oglett’ together with wheat, barley and oats in the garner (store).

Wilder Brook

To the west of the Hall three adjacent fields: Molyneux Meadow, Wilders Brook and Banks lane Meadow, together with Round Meadow close to Garston, Yielded 139 loads of hay in 1696, the only year for which a full record survives. Details of storage are given: barns were used and some was stacked in the open

Banks Lane Meadow

Land in Banks Lane Meadow was evidently still divided up in 1601, since measurements of a half acre and a road land of it are mentioned

To the west of the Hall three adjacent fields: Molyneux Meadow, Wilders Brook and Banks lane Meadow, together with Round Meadow close to Garston, Yielded 139 loads of hay in 1696, the only year for which a full record survives. Details of storage are given: barns were used and some was stacked in the open

July 24th 1717 ‘Pd to Edw. Webster… for mowing…half Banks lane meadow…

  Banks Field

The 1700 inventory, complied in July, notes standing crops of 5 acres of wheat in bank field

 

Speke Brook

Extract from letter 5/6/1867 from Geo Whitley

 

Speke brook

 

We are likely to have a dispute with the Woolton local Board of health as they seem determined to turn their sewerage into it. The owners of the adjoining estate of Allerton Hall will join us in an opposition if necessary.

  Mills

  A windmill at Speke is mentioned in 1282 and 14th Century references locate it in the Moss Field. Moss Fields were to the north of the demesne beyond Banks Lanes 1781 boundary. The mill was perhaps rented out in 1468 and 1500, a grant from Sir William Norris included his mill of Speke then in the holding of James Robinson. By 1566 there was a windmill and a watermill, a valuation of the Norris property in 1610 refers to the mills of Speke and Gaston and the Commonwealth sequestration of 1650 various wind and watermills in Speke and Gaston.