SANTO’S HIGHAM FARM HISTORY
The settlement was an important one and is proved by the fact that the 2 cruck buildings were part of the original hamlet. Higham Farm seems to have been the main cruck building, and it stands on the western side of the Roman road (B6013) its long sides facing east and west with its farmyard on the west. Many old coins, bottles and clay pipes were found at Higham Farm. Some of the walls were still covered in wattle and daub.
Many, many years ago the timber walls were re-built with stone walls and the roof stone-slated, this meant the two remaining sets of great cruck beams were buried by interior stone walls. The great ridge-tree (which had rested on top of ridge ties above cruck tops) was removed and the roof of the building raised. The height from the ground to ridge was 20ft. and the bays 18ft. square. The length of the building suggests that there were four sets of cruck beams. The separate kitchen, which is now demolished stood near the south end of the building, and the well was alongside. In 1970 the building was “modernised” once again the removal of the interior walls to make the lounge revealed the two hidden sets of enormous crucks. A carbon test was carried out on the cruck beams and they were dated 1490. Fully restored they now make a feature of the new room. It can be seen that the demolished crucks were re-used as wall ties when the first “modernisation” took place. Wall plates and base-plates with their necessary mortice-holes to hold the wall timbers are also re-used. Around the original fire hearth a stone chimney was built at the stone-walling period, with a salt-cupboard in the thickness of the wall.
Long before Higham Farm was a hotel it was of course as its name suggests a farm. This according to our history books went through many changes of acreage and ownership. The first records seem to date back to 1724. Here is a list of the changing pattern of Higham Farm:
- In 1724 – 29 acres belonging to Edward Barker Jnr
- In 1768 – (unknown acreage) belonging to Thomas Siddall
- In 1814 – 60 acres belonging to William Siddall
- In 1829 – 36 acres belonging to Mathew Siddall
- In 1851 – 55 acres belonging to George Holmes
- In 1883 – (unknown acreage) belonging to Mathew Hitchcock
- In 1947& – (unknown acreage) belonging to Chris Hitchcock
All the above dates seem to suggest that from the first date to the last it was always a farm but at several points the farm must have been split because Higham Farm’s history is simply not that straight forward. During one of the many changes made to the hotel a well was found with the date of 1471 cut into the hand-hewn solid sandstone. The well is 90 feet deep and was within 5 yards of the front door. After three weeks excavation a compressor was used to force down air to clear the deadly “black damp”.
There is evidence that at some point between 1877 – to possibly 1899 that the farm was in fact a police station. In 1895 the police sergeant was called George Thompson.