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North Arreton

Briddlesford Lodge Farm

PIT (Late Iron Age - 100 BC to 42 AD) SUB SURFACE DEPOSIT

Site 20: Late Iron Age/Romano British Settlement Activity

Scattered Romano-British features, around 200m south-west of Briddlesford Lodge Farm, included a small oven and three other shall charcoal-filled pits, at least one of which may be of prehistoric date; a flint-packed post pit, and a small posthole. The substantial remains of a pottery vessel and sherds of a second vessel were also recovered.

The nature of the features suggests that this site is the remains of domestic activity, though their sparseness would seem to indicate that it was not within a substantial settlement. The charred seed remains indicate that some cereal crop processing was taking place, but perhaps not in the immediate locality.

Flint-filled Pit 620 is tentatively interpreted as a substantial post-pad. No other post positions were found nearby; ploughing may have removed any other evidence of a structure, or the feature may have held a single centrally-placed support of a circular structure. No charred plant remains were found in the fill, but a substantial amount of charcoal was present.

Pit 607 contained charcoal from seven different tree species, in contrast to Oven 605, which contained only one. The finds from within its fill indicate a prehistoric date and it is possible that the shallow linear depression (618) was the remains of a hedged boundary. A boundary would be a natural point of deposition for safe-keeping of the pottery vessels, where they would be beyond the ploughed area of the field. Though the dating of the features is uncertain, those to the north seem to be firmly within the Roman period, while the three features to the south were possibly all of prehistoric date.

The Vectis-ware urn (615) was clearly placed deliberately in the ground, but, unfortunately the purpose its deposition is unclear. Sieving of its fill (616) revealed very little, although a fragment of iron slag was recovered. A fragment of a chaff-tempered fired clay found in pit (634), in which Urn 615 was placed, was possibly from a briquetage container, and hints at the possibility of salt production.

The site had clearly been damaged by later ploughing: most of the rim of Urn 615 was missing; Pit 626 was poorly defined and amorphous and the pottery within it appeared to have been disturbed and dragged about.

Depression 318 may be a man-made or enhanced feature or a natural feature that had a significant function. It is also possible that it was purely natural, formed by the differing erosion properties of the two deposits with the flint-rich area being more durable than the adjacent ground to the north. As a hollow, it is likely to have supported thick vegetation which would have provided a natural focal point for concealment of valuables or for offerings.

MIDDEN (Late C18 to Late C19 - 1800 AD to 1900 AD) SUB SURFACE DEPOSIT

Site 17: Victorian Rubbish Dump and a series of natural channels were recorded.

Disposing pottery, brick and glass rubbish in natural hollows to level the ground, making it easier to farm, was common practice, especially in the nineteenth century.

Network Archaeology, 2005. 'Somerton Farm to Knight's Cross reinforcement 300mm gas pipeline. Archaeological Watching Brief, 2000.' Network Archaeology Ltd for Transco. Report no.162, p.38-40, p.48
Intervention. Ref: IWSMR 5864
Isle of Wight County Archaeology and Historic Environment Service

Briddlesford Lodge Farm, Briddlesford Road, Wootton Bridge

The following is based on a radio talk presented by Judi Griffin.

Frank Griffin was born at Godshill, Isle of Wight, on July 25th 1819. He married Anne Peach who was born 19th November 1822 sometime around 1840, at the time Frank was a casual farm labourer. Anne helped supplement the family income by driving a pony and trap to Newport Butter Market, where she bought butter, which she then sold from door to door in Shanklin, for a penny a pound more, than she had paid for it.

Picture of Briddlesford Lodge Farm
Briddlesford Lodge Farm (Courtesy of Google)

They had 11 children, born between 1840 and 1869, and it is from the youngest of these, Charles, that the family at Briddlesford is descended.

Anne died in 1871 aged 49, at the time Charles was only 2 years old. Frank remarried Mary Anne Bulbeck at Brading in 1874, but the second marriage was childless.

In 1872 the family moved to Grove Farm, Brading, where Frank was able to take on a tenancy of 42 acres, this was due to the hard work Anne had put in selling butter. Unfortunately she did not live to see the benefit of her work, having died in 1871. By 1886 the tenancy had increased to 73 acres at an annual rent of £169, and by 1902, the farm had grown to 115 acres with an annual ground rent of £195 per year.

Frank carried on his business with his 3 youngest children, George, Emily and Charles, the 8 older children having left home. Charles married Mary Ellen Hookey who was born on March 8th 1871 at Hale Common at St George’s Church in Arreton in 1893.

Frank died on 31st July 1903 aged 84 years, 7 weeks after his wife Mary Anne had died. He left the business to Charles on the condition that the profits of the farm were shared equally between George, Emily and himself. The marriage of Charles and Mary Ellen resulted in 5 children.

The family carried on farming at Grove Farm until October 1923. An inventory dated 19th September 1923 lists 23 cattle including 15 milking cows, 7 horses, 21 pigs, various tools, machinery and crops to a total value of £937. Charles paid one third of this to the estate of George who had recently died [1923], and one third to Emily. Then walked with his family and all his possessions, farm equipment and animals across the downs from Brading, to Briddlesford Lodge Farm, Wootton. He had obtained the tenancy of the 138 acre farm from the Stephenson Clark family, at an annual rent of £225, later reduced to £220. All the cows in the current Pedigree Guernsey milking herd you see today on the farm, are descended from those 15 cows.

Charles died in 1925 aged 56, leaving his wife, Mary Ellen, to run Briddlesford with two of their sons, George William Frank known as Will who was born in 1894 and Ernest John [born 1905], known as Jack. Of the remaining children, the two girls, Win and Nance, went into service, and the third son, Fred, joined the Metropolitan Police in London.

Will married Elsie Brown from Apse Heath at St George’s Arreton in 1922 and he moved to Great Briddlesford Farm, which was also owned by the Stephenson Clark family [this farm overlooked what is now the Isle of Wight Steam Railway].

Jack married May Coakes from Bournemouth in 1939, and carried on farming at Briddlesford Lodge. They met when she visited her cousins, the Moody’s, of Fattingpark Farm, Park Road, Wootton which is just down the road from Briddlesford. Bernard Moody was Jack’s best friend and later married Jack’s sister Nance.

There was great pressure on farmers during the war to produce food because Hitler intended to starve the British nation into submission. With young men away fighting, May had to work on the farm as well as bringing up their two children, Richard and Mavis. Milking was done by hand, and horses were used for field work. May’s job was in the dairy, and she carried the galvanised buckets of milk up the yard by wearing yokes on her shoulders. It was no mean task for a slim town girl to carry the heavy buckets 100 yards up the hill from the stable at the bottom of the farmyard to the dairy up by Briddlesford Road – several times a day.

Picture of May Griffin at Briddleford Farm 1940
May Griffin at Briddleford Farm 1940

Two land girls arrived to help with the chores. Later in the war two Italian prisoners of war, from the camp at Havenstreet were sent to help.

Colin Langridge, a fourteen year old boy from Wootton, began working at Briddlesford in 1944, and remained there for over 50 years. For most of that time he rode his bike daily from the bottom of the High Street by the bridge where he lived, to the farm He worked initially with horses, but was there when the first tractor arrived. During his working life at Briddlesford he learned everything about tractor maintenance and fieldwork and kept everything in top class condition. Colin died in 2008 having been ill for a number of years.

Picture of Colin Langridge at Briddlesford Farm 1948
Colin Langridge at Briddlesford Farm 1948

In 1953 the milking stable moved to the building next to the dairy alongside Briddlesford Road, and a milking machine powered by a TVO. engine was used. The milk was put into churns and lifted on to a stand at the side of the road for daily collection by a lorry. Electricity arrived in 1958.

By this time Jack’s son, Richard was working on the farm, but May carried on with the dairy work until she and Jack retired in 1970.

Richard married Judi French, from East Cowes, and they had 5 children. Paul, their son, now manages the farm. Louise, their youngest daughter, opened the shop in the redundant milking stable in 2005, and Paul’s wife, Chris, opened Bluebells Café External link image in 2009 in the former building used for housing the cows in winter.

The Buildings at Briddlesford Lodge Farm

In 1818 a Turnpike Road was built from The Hare and Hounds through to East Cowes. The old farmhouse, known as Culls, was demolished to make way for the road, and a new farmhouse, Briddlesford Lodge, was built, a quarter of a mile further east alongside the road, in 1822.

There were extensive buildings and the farm appeared to be the working centre of the Briddlesford Estate, which, at the end of the 19th century was owned by Mrs. Mary Nunn Harvey of Shankin.

A large number of farm buildings were destroyed by fire in 1892. At that time the house was occupied by Mrs. Nunn Harvey, aunt of Col. Robert Stephenson Clark, to whom she left Briddlesford in her will when she died in 1895.

In 1898 Briddlesford was occupied by Henry Flux, farmer. In 1911it was farmed by Henry Collins and followed by William Collins in 1921.

Charles Griffin moved to Briddlesford in 1923 and the farm has remained in the Griffin family’s occupation since then. Richard Griffin bought Briddlesford in 1986, and still farms today.

Adapting to modern day farming methods has necessitated the building of purpose built barns, and a new dairy, this was necessitated due to the growing number of cows in the herd and the large modern machinery. A huge new slurry lagoon was built in 1995 in to meet environmental requirements.

There was a large corrugated iron barn at the eastern end of the farm. It is said that Queen Victoria, when being driven to Shanklin, had commented on its ugliness! It was destroyed in the Great Storm of 1987. The present modern dairy and winter housing barn for the cows was built on its site.

Another smaller corrugated iron barn stood on what is now the car park for the Farm Shop and Bluebells Café. The shop occupies the former milking stable, and the café occupies the site of the barn used for the winter housing of the cattle.

Yet another corrugated iron building, known as the Granary, was demolished in 2004 to make way for increased traffic to the shop and café.

There are unusual structures at the eastern entrance to the farm. For many years these were known as ‘silos’, but recent information suggest that they were hop kilns, built for drying the hops grown at Briddlesford before the First World War.

This page was last edited on: 26th January, 2022 17:50:22

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