LANGLEY BOTTOM FARM

Langley Vale Road, Epsom KT18 6AP

Langley Bottom Farm from Epsom Downs, 1983.
Langley Bottom Farm from Epsom Downs, 1983.
Image courtesy of Bourne Hall Museum.

The history of Langley Bottom Farm and surrounding land is detailed on this website in the article entitled 'A farm called Langley in the Parish of Epsom' and, as will be seen on that page, it is complicated. Langley Bottom Farm eventually covered a substantial area and looks to be another Epsom estate which was owned by absentee landlords and leased to tenants. During the span of the currently available censuses (1841-1911) it would seem to have been occupied by bailiffs or other farm personnel. This is borne out by the fact that it was never mentioned in Kelly's Directory from 1859 to 1938.

Langley Bottom Farm.
Langley Bottom Farm.
Image courtesy of Bourne Hall Museum.

The 1841 and 1851 censuses do not reveal who the occupants might have been (specific address detail for people living/working on or around Epsom Common was non-existent), but we can pick it up as a named entity in 1861, with Thomas Bowyer farming 113 acres, assisted by two labourers and two boys. There was also a Thomas Weller (farm labourer) at the Chalk Pit, which will prove to have a connection with the farm later in this piece. Additionally we know that Langley Bottom had a large area of woodland, used for pheasant shooting and suchlike, and in 1861 the gamekeeper was Joseph Earl.

Thomas Bowyer died in 1861. The 1871 resident was a labourer named James Ezzard and at the next census the farm was occupied by a bailiff, George Vincent: unhelpfully he did not know the acreage he was responsible for. From 1891 to 1911 a farm servant called James Skinner was at the house.

Derelict outbuildings at Langley Bottom Farm.
Derelict outbuildings at Langley Bottom Farm.
Image courtesy of Bourne Hall Museum.

I recognise that the information shown so far tells us nothing about the ownership of the farm, or who the real tenants might have been, so we should now rewind. In 1887 the lease of Edward Catchpole, who lived at Chalk Pit Field, expired and we know that from at least 1887 until his death in 1908, the actual owner was James Stuart Strange, Lord of the Manor of Epsom. Following Mr Catchpole's departure Strange leased the farm to one Dr William Henry Vipan, formerly an army surgeon: he rented or owned a significant amount of farmland in and around Canterbury and other places (including farmland at Worcester Park in the 1880s), but was certainly an absentee landlord as far as Langley Bottom was concerned. I do not know if Vipan retained the lease long-term, but in 1908 Strange, or possibly his executors, let the farm to Herbert Brooks JP, of Woodcote Park

Working farm buildings at Langley Bottom.
Working farm buildings at Langley Bottom.
Image courtesy of Bourne Hall Museum.

As yet, I know nothing further about owners and occupants until the present day and that is only because it has recently been in the news. As of spring 2014 the entire estate comprised just over 700 acres, most of it being owned by St Quinton Estates, and at that point it was the last significant piece of agricultural land in the borough. 547 acres were arable farmland and woodland (pheasant shoots) totalled 144 acres. The Epsom Guardian of 23 March 2014 told us that 640 acres of the estate was being purchased (at a price of around 7 million) by the Woodland Trust to create a World War 1 centenary forest, to be known as Langley Vale Wood, one of four in each country of Britain*. The first tree has been planted and the aim is for there to be 200,000 trees of native species and a wildflower meadow by 2018. You can read more about this project on the Woodland Trust website and even make a donation and dedicate a tree if you wish. Surrey Life magazine of 8 December 2014 has a nice article on the plans for the wood and also says that the remaining farmland will gradually disappear over the period until 2018.

Tree Planting in the WW1 Centenary Wood, Langley Vale.
Tree Planting in the WW1 Centenary Wood, Langley Vale. November 2014
Image courtesy of Keith Lelliott © 2015.

England's WW1 Centenary Wood, in Langley Vale now occupies 640 acres of the approx. 700 acres land previously occupied by Langley Bottom Farm
England's WW1 Centenary Wood, in Langley Vale now occupies 640 acres
of the approx. 700 acres land previously occupied by Langley Bottom Farm
Map courtesy of the Woodland Trust
Contains OS data © Crown copyright [and database right] 2015

* The other three woods are:-

Linda Jackson © 2015.