Truggers Farm, Chiddingstone Hoath, Kent - 1940 - 2005

My grandfather took over the tenancy of this farm in the 1930s, and farmed here until his death in the 1960s.  When my parents married, their first home was a 'flat' in the farmhouse and I have many happy memories of my early childhood at the farm.

This first image is from a card posted in 1919, so I would guess it dates from about 1915 some years before my grandfather's tenancy.  I have made the image slightly larger than usual so you can see some of the details.  The picture is taken from Hilly Field, Truggers lane runs along the bottom to Rock Corner off the right of the picture.  Notice the chimney on the nearest corner of the farmhouse - gone in  pictures taken after my Grandfather's tenancy.  This chimney, according to my aunt, was home to wild honey bees.  The whole farm looks very neat and trim, with new fences, and the oast house cowl nicely painted.

Truggers Farm, Chiddingstone Hoath - c.1915

The next three photos were taken by my uncle in the 1940s.

This first one is of the farm house, a lovely rural home indeed - although it was freezing cold in the winter, neither central heating nor insulation were in vogue back then!  In fact so cold one year that aftershave froze in the bottles in the bedrooms.  The spaces under the upstairs floors were full of wild bees and their honeycombs.  There were two large bedrooms in the attic space, accessed by a steep staircase which split half way up, with stairs going round the chimney into each room.

Truggers Farm, Chiddingstone Hoath - c.1940

Truggers Farm was also known as Geers, as early as the 1600s.  Local legend, according to Jill Newton's book, "Chiddingstone, an Historical Exploration", has it that the rebel leader, Jack Cade, met up with the Chiddingstone rebels here.

This was taken at a similar time and shows the whole of the Truggers Farm complex as it was in when my Grandfather was the tenant, but before the milking shed, Dutch barn and other buildings were erected behind the dairy (to the right of the farmhouse).  It makes interesting comparison with the postcard at the top of this page, where the farm looks much tidier!

Truggers Farm, Chiddingstone Hoath - c.1940

This rather blurred image is a view from Hilly Field in the 1940s, and shows the hay barn and other farm buildings with the farmhouse behind, and the dairy and milking shed in the distance.

Truggers Farm, Chiddingstone Hoath - c.1940

The next view was taken by my father in 1968 after my grandad, after farming here for many years, had sadly died.  It all looks rather more run down, but the view is largely the same, although the lack of leaves on the trees make the view of the farm clearer.  It would also seem that at least one of the large trees in the field behind the oast house has fallen, and the cowl on the oast could certainly do with a coat of paint!  It is now, of course, a residence.  The buildings to the right of the barn, which were pig stys, appear to have been demolished in the intervening years.

Our little mongrel dog, Velvet, appears in the foreground.

Truggers Farm, Chiddingstone Hoath - 1968

Here is a closer view of the farmhouse from the same picture.  The outline of the former chimney can be seen on the brickwork of the wall closest to the camera.

Truggers Farmhouse, Chiddingston Hoath 1968 RCC

In September 1996 an advert appeared in the local newspaper with the headline "Charming Listed Farmhouse in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty".  Truggers farmhouse was for sale, with offers in the region of 390,000.  Earlier, in 1993-4 the  old hay barn had been advertised for 319,000 having been converted into a dwelling.  My grandfather would have been flabbergasted at such large sums!

Nowadays the barn, granaries and oast house are all dwellings, and the Dutch barn, cow and pig sheds (which were erected during my Grandfather's tenancy) are all demolished after a life of perhaps 30 years.  When the oast house was being renovated, together with the pond adjacent to it, the original oak boards which had lined the old pond were found, still in good condition. 

Here is a view taken by my uncle about 1990 of the farmhouse and barn from the drive that leads to the oast house. 

The oast house at Truggers Farm

And another from the same time of the farmhouse from Truggers Lane.

Truggers Farm

I am sure Truggers Farm is a wonderful place to live (and I am not a little envious!), but how sad that our small farms are vanishing from the landscape to everyone's detriment - and what recognition for the poor tenant farmers who slaved over the land for hundreds of years with little reward?

Here is a picture of Truggers Farm taken from the bottom of Hilly Field on 22nd April 2005.  The trees have encroached so much on the bank that a replica of the 1968 picture taken by my father is no longer possible.  On the left is the granary, then the barn and finally the farmhouse.  The small building in the foreground is a former cattle shed.

Truggers Farm, Chiddingston Hoath 22nd April 2005 -  MTC

Apart from the gardens and the (much!) tidier surroundings to the buildings, the view is much the same as in 1968, although the cattle shed (now a garage for the occupants' of the barn) has been shortened and the new windows and chimney on the barn tell their story. 

Apart from the visual aspects,  the most noticeable differences from the farm I remember is the sounds and smells - they have all gone!  The noises of animals and farm machinery and their smells no longer permeate the air;  in fact on a Friday lunchtime the whole area was silent apart from birdsong.  What was once a bustling place of activity is now quiet.  Here is the former cattle shed below the barn - now a commodious garage - compare it with the 1940 view above.

Truggers Cattle Shed, Chiddingston Hoath 22nd April 2005 -  MTC

Here is a view of the converted oast house taken on the same day - the old pond has undergone major enlargement!

Truggers Oast, Chiddingston Hoath 22nd April 2005 -  MTC

Here is the former granary, now a separate residence.  I remember there being large wooden bins in the upper storey of this building for storing grain.  The bottom was open to allow farm vehicles to enter.  I feel the choice of fencing is rather unfortunate.  The lane to the farm yard once left the road here.

Truggers Granary, Chiddingston Hoath 22nd April 2005 -  MTC

A few yards further along Truggers lane is the former 'old' cow shed (the 'new' cowshed was behind the farmhouse). This building was erected with a large drop at the back to allow the manure to be shovelled directly into a cart positioned below the rear doors.  It is also now a house.  My aunt recalls it accommodated about twenty cows for milking.

Truggers old cowshed, Chiddingston Hoath 22nd April 2005 -  MTC

Opposite the old cow shed are Truggers Cottages (below).  My Uncle Philip and his wife Joan lived in the one nearest to the road for a while following their wedding and then when I was a baby my parents occupied the house and finally my grandfather lived there when he retired from farming. Throughout the neighbours were Syd & Elise Cutler, who were close family friends for three generations of my family.  A large garage has been erected in the garden in recent years, and of course the driveways are all modern!

Truggers old cowshed, Chiddingston Hoath 22nd April 2005 -  MTC

I was pleased to see that the Scotts Pines are still thriving at the end of the garden.  I played in the naturally occurring sand beneath these trees as a child - although the little wood looks very overgrown these days!

Here is an interesting article about Truggers and Chiddingstone  with pictures, dating from 1891.

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Photographs Mark Collins 2006

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