HIGHFIELD FARM

Woodcote Side, Epsom Common.

Highfield farmhouse in the time of Mark and Edie Loveridge (see below).
Highfield farmhouse in the time of Mark and Edie Loveridge (see below).
Image courtesy of Alice Opoku.

I believe that at some point this farm was split into two different operations with separate owners and certainly that was the case by 1900 (per the Epsom Rate Book). It is not specifically named in the census until 1891, at which stage it was occupied by a farm servant called John Laker, but we do have some earlier information from various sources. In 1827, for instance, the occupant was a man named John Mercer, which we know from fire insurance records.

Extract from the 1843 Epsom Tithe Map
Extract from the 1843 Epsom Tithe Map with the farm highlighted in orange.
Click Image to enlarge.

I feel that the split of the estate had happened by 1878, when John Barnard was recorded in Kelly's Directory as a farmer there. Barnard was never into farming - property ownership and horse-racing were his business interests and it's a fair bet that he was breeding horses at Highfield. The farm side was at that juncture in the hands of the Barton family, although the actual owner appears to have been the Lord of Epsom Manor (James Stuart Strange from 1878 to 1908). Mr Strange was listed as owner of the house, buildings, cottage and chalk pit at Highfield in the 1900 Rate Book.

Samuel Barton (formerly Buggs) was a corn and coal merchant and I imagine that he employed people to produce his grain at Highfield (which is probably why I cannot pinpoint the farm in censuses before 1891 - quite often the enumerators wrote 'Common' and 'agricultural labourer', which is of no use whatsoever to a researcher; additionally, by 1891 they had dispensed with recording the acreage). Samuel died in 1881 and it looks as if responsibility for the farming was taken over by his eldest son, Samuel Junior, although he was also a corn merchant and probably did not do the farming himself. Then, in 1891, he died too, with his executors putting the livestock, implements and grain paraphernalia - but not the farm itself - up for auction: this would tend to confirm that they did not own the farm property.

Side view of the farmhouse.
Side view of the farmhouse
Image courtesy of Alice Opoku.

Front garden of the farmhouse with outbuildings in the background.
Front garden of the farmhouse with outbuildings in the background.
Image courtesy of Alice Opoku.

By 1895 the farm tenant was one William Bishop and it then looks to have been a dairy operation; he departed in 1911. In the 1911 census the occupant was Henry Scott, who, according to the enumerator's summary book, had a barn and waggon shed, but, according to the man himself he was a stud groom. I cannot find the farmer for certain, although this may well be because the property was in the process of changing hands. We have now run out of censuses, of course, but I can tell you that a William Robert Gage of Ashtead, tea merchant, acquired the bloodstock department. He did not move in for a time but was there by 1918 as a bloodstock breeder and had renamed the premises the Turbine Stud. The last mention of him as an Epsom resident was in the 1922 Electoral Register; after that he moved to Surbiton and died in 1930.

Before continuing with the farm, Bill Eacott has researched training/breeding establishments in Epsom, so we know more about the Turbine Stud, which subsequently became the Woodcote Stud: it is still there today (Wilmerhatch Lane, Epsom KT18 7EH), covering 70 acres, and has been run by Barry and Fiona Reilly for more than 25 years: they bred Kingston Hill, the 2014 Derby runner-up. Previous occupants (see the link above) have been Sam Hanley, C Barnett, Christopher Benstead, Tom Griffiths and John Jenkins.

Woodcote Stud.
Woodcote Stud
Image courtesy of Bourne Hall Museum

By 1924 the farm portion was being run by Alec Ross Holly, but in about 1929 he moved on to Barnett Wood Farm, Leatherhead. The next man into the dairy farm was Mark Salter Loveridge. Mr Loveridge ran a pub in London and he seems to have kept that on for a while, but remained at Highfield until his death in 1956.

Mark Salter Loveridge and his wife Edie.
Mark Salter Loveridge and his wife Edie.
Image courtesy of Alice Opoku ©2015

Mark and Edie in later life.
Mark and Edie in later life.
Image courtesy of Alice Opoku.

Harold Loveridge (son of Mark and Edie).
Harold Loveridge (son of Mark and Edie).
Image courtesy of Alice Opoku.

Linda Jackson © 2015.

Mark and Edie Loveridge's sons, Harold and Ted, spent virtually all their lives in farming and in 1944 Ted, then in his teens, began to write an increasingly intermittent diary about his life on Highfield Farm in the dying days of World War II. Please click the link to read Ted's diary.