|Stocks Farm last updated 1.8.2008|
Picture of Stocks Farm, and map showing the extent of the farm in yellow
The present building appears to be Victorian, but there has been a farm of this name at the junction of Church Road and Manor Lane for at least 500 years. It is first mentioned in 1451, when a John Cotyer of "le Stokke" was witness to a document. The Cotyers wre prominent Hartley landowners and other members of the family owned Woodins, Mintmakers and Middle Farm. The next time we hear of it is in 1576, when an inquisition post mortem found that "Stockhill Farm" with 20 acres of land belonged to Robert Gens of Southfleet, who also counted Middle Farm and possibly Hartley Wood among his possessions. The tenant then was Henry Ashdown and the net income of 30 shillings per annum comfortably exceeded the 8s 4d quit rent.
Like Middle Farm it appears to have been purchased by Richard Best in 1589 from Mr Gens' successor. Thereafter we lose sight of Stocks Farm for another 50 years, by when it has come into the hands of the Edwards family, who had also purchased Hartley Cottage and Forge Cottage from Richard Overy, the younger brother of the owner of Fairby. It may be that John Edwards and Denise his wife may have lived at Stocks Farm. He is mentioned as the owner in a 1658 conveyance of Hartley Wood Corner.
In 1660 a Richard Boycott of Horton Kirby (d 1703) bought the farm from Mr and Mrs Edwards for £41. Then it consisted of a barn, garden, 9 acres of arable land and 3 acres of woodland. Richard's widow sold the same to her son-in-law, John Young of Fairby, probably in c1703-4. In his will John left Stocks Farm and two other properties to his younger son Thomas. His grandson John Young still owned the same three properties when he died in about 1796. Each of his three children received one cottage each under the Kentish inheritance system of gavelkind. Thomas Young received Stocks Farm, but promptly sold it to his brother in law William Wharton. He in turn sold it to William Bensted of Hartley Court in 1815. It was later purchased by Colonel Evelyn of Hartley Manor. His family sold it to James Thomas Smith of New Cross in a conveyance dated 26 January 1888. By then Mr Smith owned nearly all the land in Hartley and the descent of Stocks Farm follows that of Fairby Farm.
Over the years Stocks farm has seen many tenants. When John Young bought it the tenant was William Mugg. The family was a fairly recent arrival in Hartley, and do not appear to have remained in the village after 1730. For many years in the middle of the last century David and Sarah Wellard lived here. In 1925 Rev Bancks received a letter from Edward Wellard, the youngest of their 15 children. He said that his farther had been a farm labourer to Mr Bensted, and that the family had moved away from Hartley in 1861. The next tenants wre the septuagenerian John and Ann Ware. Ann was a well known figure at Church, for she wore a striking long scarlet cloak in winter, which came out the day the schoolchildren switched to their winter red cloaks. She like many others wore pattens (overshoes) which were left in the porch during the service. In 1892 Henry Outred lived here, he was by trade a carrier - the earliest known example of public transport at Hartley.
In this century William and Ellen Lockwood owned Stocks Farm from 1912 to 1942, a fact recorded on their grave in Fawkham Churchyard. He was an architect, while his wife was a poultry keeper. The land belonging to the house was by now just 2 acres. The remainder of the farm was bought in 1927 by a Mr R Hales of Parsonage Cottage, Church Road, for a building speculation (according to the Ministry of Agriculture) but continued to run it as a fruit and poultry farm. When Mr Lockwood died in 1942, he left most of his estate to the Chancellor of the Exchequer for the war effort. Just after the war the land opposite Stocks Farm was developed, which involved the demolition of the old barn.
Stocks Farm, Church Road
I have enjoyed reading the articles by Peter Mayer, acquainting us with the results of his time consuming research into the histories of some of the older residential properties in the village. We are much indebted to him. So far none has interested me more than that in the October issue relating to Stocks Farm.
Our first home after our marriage in 1938 was on land immediately adjacent to the land owned by Mr Lockwood opposite his home at Stocks Farm House. At that time the land was scrub orchard, and on summer evenings he would cross the road to release his little terrier for its nightly exercise.
Some of the farm buildings were used for domestic use, for keeping a few chickens. Commercial egg production had ceased. Mrs Lockwood was bedridden and after her death in 1942 the house with its gardens, a barn on the west side of Church Road, together with a large barn, stockyard, farm buildings and orchard on the east side were sold in 1943 to Mr Hubert Gladdish, who lived there with his wife, son, and daughter.
After a short period the farm buildings were extended and brought into use for commercial fruit bottling, initially of home grown rhubarb. Later of fruit from very large cans. Each morning the bus from Gravesend and Longfield, destination Hartley Church, would disgorge half a dozen or so chattering ladies at the Stocks Hill bus stop, and collect them again about 5.30pm. The business lasted until canned fruit came back into the shops, some years after the war ended.
Our house was one of a pair built in 1937/8 by William Sale on part of a plot of land acquired from Small Owners by Mr Pentland of Barncroft, who was still living there. Mr Bradford was living in a similar property at Nairobi at the Manor Lane - Church Road junction, north of Stocks Farm land; and south of Stocks Farm house was yet a third Small Owners property owned by Mr Owen Barfield, and let to Mr Goodwin and family. He operated as a smallholding. When Mr Bradford died, Nairobi was acquired by Mr Freeguard.
Mr and Mrs Gladdish went to Ash to become licensees of The Swan, and Stocks Farm split up with the house and land west of Church Road going to Mr and Mrs Neary; and the farm buildings to the east to Mr Freeguard, who went into egg production in quite a big way. For a time he kept pigs, and also had a joint operation with a market gardener, growing chrysanthemums. A final venture was to let the farm buildings for lorry repair and storage. This ceased as the result of action by the planning authority.
In May 1968, following the widening of Church Road, the farm buildings on the east side were demolished and burned. The barn on the west side adjoining the roadside pond had already been demolished and burned in association with the road widening.
In early Spring 1969, a bungalow was being erected on the site of the east side barns, and a few months later Mr Freeguard vacated and sold Nairobi, and together with his housekeeper Miss Williams, took up residence in the new bungalow "The Garth". At some time in the late 1950s Mr Freeguard sold part of his Stocks Farm land, which had been given planning permission for Mr Gladdish's son as an agricultural worker, to Mr Stubbs, a Dartford plumber, who built a detached dwelling by direct labour - "Cranbrook".
In mid 1944 when the V2 flying bombs were frequent, barrage balloons were sited south and east of London to intercept them. I remember two sites in Hartley, one adjoining the footpath that crossed Rectory Meadow at the bottom of Hoselands Hill, and the other behind Stocks Farm house, approached from the landway between the farmhouse and Westfield.
T H Iddison