Agriculture has always been the major local occupation, although the number of people engaged in it has steadily declined. Prior to the mid 17th century Tixall was farmed on an open field system, with Near, Middle and Far fields, divided up between the various tenants. Records of farm tenancies start with some 17th century wills for (Upper) Hanyards.
    In 1766 a detailed survey of the estate was carried out which shows many small farms with fields scattered throughout Tixall. Only (Lower) Brancote occupied by James Clegg, and to a lesser extent, Upper Hanyards, occupied by John Hathersich/Heddersich, were compact farms. 

   Thomas Clifford set about re-organising the estate, and by 1833 five main farms had been established: 
1833 Farms
Tixall/Tixall Fields
Tixall Heath
Lower Hanyards
Upper Hanyards
Joseph Ward
John Bond
John Cliff
Peter Griffin
Joseph Weetman

Brancote Oxen in 1827

   In May 1827, when Sir Thomas Aston Clifford Constable came of age, these two Durham Oxen from Brancote were slaughtered for the celebrations, weighing 2478 and 2437 lbs respectively.

  When Earl Talbot bought the estate in 1845, his son, Viscount Ingestre entered a partnership with Thomas Hartshorne to rebuild Brancote as a model farm on its present site. All the farms except Upper Hanyards had new tenants:-
1845 Farms
Tixall Heath
Lower Hanyards
Upper Hanyards
James Warner
Thomas Hartshorne
Corbett Whitton
William Bowers
Joseph Weetman

    In the 1851 census there had been few changes, only William Bowers had been replaced at Lower Hanyards in 1848 by Joseph Ford. In 1861 F.Nash had replaced Thomas Hartshorne at Brancote, and W.H.Steward had occupied Tixall Heath since 1860. This pattern of continuity at Tixall Farm and the Hanyards continues. In 1871, William Power had occupied Brancote and Thomas Bottley Tixall Heath, both since 1867. W.H.Avery replaced Bottley from 1870 to 1874, and W.T.Mynors, Talbot's agent, took over Tixall Farm in 1876. In 1877 Henry Dodd arrived at Tixall Heath Farm. 

  The relative size of the farms in the 19th century and the decline in the number of people engaged in farming, can be seen from the Census Returns. The Dog Kennels was used to house agricultural labourers, as was Old Hill Barn, these served the other large farms on the estate, or smaller homesteads based in the village such as at Tixall Villa:-

Tixall Farm
Dog Kennels
Old Hill Lock & Barn
Tixall Heath Farm
Upper Hanyards Farm
Lower Hanyards Farm

   Anson Primary school have some interesting information about current farming in the Tixall area.


View of Tixall Farm from road before conversion     The buildings probably date from the late 18th century when Thomas Clifford reorganised the Tixall Estate. They are red brick, with ashlar and brick dressings and slate hipped roofs. They are build on a quadrangle with a two storey, 17 bay building fronting the road, with a slightly projecting 3 bay centre. The central segmental carriage arch has a 3-light casement above, and a square tower containing a pigeoncote with corner turrets with pyrimidal caps.The tower has an ashlar plaque with a coat of arms, and a round headed recessed panel above with flight perches and openings. The tower is topped by a slate roof an an ornate wooden cupola with weather vane.
    The roadside barn has 5 large segmental arches on each side, and single arches at the ends.There is a slate roof and a continuous ventilator.
Back range of buildings at Tixall Farm before conversion
   The central archway leads to an enclosed yard surrounded by barns and other single storey buildings, leading through a further archway up the hill to the farmhouse behind. 

Demolished Cow Barns behind main entrance arch at Tixall Farm    The yard used to contain additional buildings including 3 large cowsheds with round headed arched entrances. The adjacent large brick threshing barn was partially rebuilt when the farm was converted for residential use. To the north, the stable range has a two storey 7 bay centre, with a central arch flanked by stables with lofts above. Either side are single storey wings, on the left were 6 implement sheds and on the right further stables. It is now fully converted to residential use.
       In the late 19th century and early 20th century, Tixall Farm was predominantly pasture and meadow, with little arable, unlike the other four farms on the Tixall Estate.

KENNELS FARM:-Kennels Farmhouse

    This is a relatively new farm, formed in the 1940s from the old Dog Kennels.


Cottages at Old, Lower, Brancote since demolished    The original Lower Brancote Farm probably dates from Domesday and was by the river as shown in the 1833 map. The present farm was built as a model farm by Viscount Ingestre and Thomas Hartshorne around 1850. Hartshorne removed all straggling fences and laid his arable farm into four fields of about 100 acres each. 
    The land had been drained as necessary and was good for turnips and barley. A four course system was used, applying all dung from the farm to the seeds, except that needed for his mangold wurzel. Artificial manures were used for his turnips.
Aerial view of Brancote Farm
   The extensive new buildings included feeding houses, with a railway in front for wheeling food, a steam engine for threshing, etc. and extensive yards for feeding swine. In 1850 a tank was being constructed to collect the liquid manure, which was to be used on an adjacent field newly sown with grass, as each cutting was removed for consumption to the farm buildings.
   Two hundred pigs were kept, which were cheaply fed on roots in winter and clover in summer. They were driven out each morning, and folded on clover like sheep, returning in the afternoon to the farm yard, where they remained at night well littered with straw.
Since 1932 it has been farmed by the Parrott family. There is more information about Brancote on the Anson School site.


View of Tixall Heath Farm    This was a new farm created by Thomas Clifford on the site of an old barn, following enclosure of more of Tixall Heath in the 1740s. 
    In the winter before1869 Mr T.D.Botteley had cut up 70 to 80 tons of straw, with 25 tons of hay, and mixed this with boiled corn and oatcake to fatten 40 beasts and 200 sheep, besides wintering 50 store oxen and 300 sheep using 7 acres of mangold, 16 acres of middling swedes and a few stubble turnips.
   The buildings were mainly of brick, with few covered yards "which are undesirable in the rearing of cattle for sanitary reasons" - "direct sunlight as well as pure air are necessary for young animals." 
   When Samuel Dodd retired in 1923 the sale included 81 cattle and 13 horses - he had been a member of the Shire Horse society for 25 years. The farm was occupied by R.McCulloch from 1929 to 1932, and by J.Fairbanks from 1933 until it was bought by the Colliers in 1967.

ST THOMAS PRIORY FARM:-View of St Thomas Priory with St Thomas Mill in front.  

    This farm only became part of Tixall in the 1980s, previously it was part of Hopton with Coton. There were two farms on the site, the main farm based on the old Priory buildings and another smaller farm based on St Thomas's Mill. 


Upper Hanyards Farmhouse    There has probably been a farm at Upper Hanyards since Domesday.
    In 1675 there were 2 chambers upstairs, 2 rooms downstairs and a cellar.The stock consisted of 5 cows, a bull and some young cattle and calves; some sheep; 3 mares a cart with hay; corn in the barn and house, threshed and stacked, and growing; and 2 swine.
   By 1727 there were 12 milking cows, a bull, 4 winter heifers, 7 stirks, and 6 rearing calves; 2 mares, 2 yearling colts, a yearling filly, and a mare; and 2 store pigs.Crops included wheat, peas and beans,and oats. The Johnson family occupied the farm from 1898 until 1939 when it was taken over by J.S.Madders, who subsequently bought both Upper and Lower Hanyards in 1967. The two farms are shown on the 1833 estate map, alongwith Tixall Heath Farm.

LOWER HANYARDS FARM:-Lower Hanyards Farmhouse  

    This was a new farm created by Thomas Clifford on the site of an old barn. Like Upper Hanyards, it was separated from the rest of Tixall by the Deer Park. Alongwith Upper Hanyards it is still farmed by the Madders family.

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Last Updated 14.7.09

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