Other Farms of Hethel & Bracon Ash
Corporation Farm, Hethel
Corporation Farm, formerly Hospital Farm, on the Wymondham Road had over 200 acres of land, belonging to the Corporation of the City Norwich acquired when holdings of the Great Hospital were given to the City at the Dissolution of the Monasteries.
At the time of the tithe apportionment in the 1840s (and the 1841 census) it was farmed by William Stannard. In the 1851 census it is 'Stanard's Farm' with William (age 50) as farmer of 210 acres employing 10 men. By 1861 he is farming 470 acres with 11 men and 6 boys. In the 1869 Post Office Directory (and again in 1877), Fryer Benjamin Stannard is among a list of farmers, though not necessarily at Corporation Farm. The farmer listed in the 1871 census is Samuel Cann and his large family, farming 240 acres with 7 men an 3 boys, and also an Auction Valuer. Then comes another long-term tenant: George Millard is there in 1881, 1891 and 1901 (224 acres, 3 men, 4 boys) - with a note that both he and one of his daughters are deaf. The farm name is not given in 1911, but by then the farmer may have been John Rowe, whose daughter, Pansy, was a teacher at Bracon Ash & Hethel CP school.
Jumping ahead to 1939, Knyvett Millard (born 1879) was farming Corporation Farm and his wife Phyllis entered her work as 'poultry & dairy work & domestic duties' in the 1939 Register. However, Knyvett Millard propelled both Corporation Farm and Hethel to fame through one horse: Colonel Harry Llewellyn's horse Foxhunter, who together won the only gold medal for Britain in the 1952 Olympic Games in Helsinki, was born and bred at Corporation Farm. '....and my goodness, wasn't the whole village proud of the fact that this super-star had originally come from Hethel', writes Michael Coates.
After the war, Hugh Rackham took on the tenancy. His father, George William Rackham, had farmed Hill Farm until he retired to Stanfield Hall. Hugh's brother (also George) continued at Hill Farm and Hugh farmed next-door Corporation Farm. During the war he had served with the 1st Battalion of the Norfolk Regiment which had been captured in Singapore and Hugh had been a POW in Japan. His daughter remembers that cereals and sugar beet were the main crops of Corporation Farm, along with beef cattle for fattening and potatoes. Over the years, land was also given over to growing blackcurrants for Norfolk Fruitgrowers and peas and beans for Birdseye. Hugh Rackham also took on the tenancy of Church Farm where he kept a dairy herd: the two farms were adjacent, linked by a cart-track.
When Hugh Rackham retired in 1987, Church Farm returned to the Myhills and Corporation Farm was put up for sale rather than going to another tenant. It was bought by Mr Gray of Hill Farm who kept the land but sold the buildings. Today the barns adjacent to the old farmhouse, and the workers' cottages across the road, have all been converted and extended to become a small hamlet of Hethel parish.
Potash Farm, Hethel
Michael Coates, who lived at Hethel Camp, remembers: 'The farmer with whom I had most contact was Mr Walker of Potash Farm. The Walker family as a whole involved themselves in local activities. Mrs Walker was an excellent organiser of jumble sales, etc. She was usually assisted by her daughter (or maybe daughter-in-law) who lived in the half-timbered house known as "Little Potash". Mr Walker was a typical bluff Norfolk farmer who didn't say very much. He had a wooden leg and would often be seen riding around on an old bicycle with the pedal disconnected on the side with his wooden leg. With only one leg for propulsion his progress was normally slow but his unique style of riding made him easily recognisable from some distance.... the Walker family did have a car, an old Vauxhall with registration number BCL 22. The Walker's younger son was Peter and he was well-known throughout the village because he delivered the milk in a traditional horse-drawn milk cart.
I recall one occasion when I fell foul of Mr Walker. He farmed the field next to the chapel, half of which was grass and the other half cultivated. Although there was a proper footpath through the residential area, it was common practice to take a shortcut across Mr Walker's field. One afternoon I was making my way across the grass when I saw Mr Walker making his slow way along the road on the far side. He clearly saw me and stopped by the gate... I was in the middle of the field with nowhere to hide so had little choice but to continue walking. When I was almost there he asked me where I thought I was going. 'Just to the road', I told him meekly. 'No you're not', he told me, 'you're going all the way back and round the proper way'. He then remained seated on his bicycle and watched me sheepishly retrace my steps back to the other side of the field. My main worry was whether he had recognised me and would report me to my parents.... Much to my relief I never heard any more, but I certainly never took that shortcut again because the consequences of getting caught twice were unimaginable.'
Hall Road farms
There were several small farms reached via Hall Road - formerly the road to Hethel Hall.
Again, from Michael Coates: 'My father disposed of a quantity of poultry equipment to the farmer at Wood House Farm, which he passed every day on his way to work.
....By the Hall Road entrance (to Hethel Camp) was the Wharton's farm where there were two boys. These boys were unusual in that they were some of the few village children who went to the camp school.
Much more recently, Hethel Hens was established when the owners put in a successful bid for land that had belonged to Colin Chapman (of Lotus fame) and was commandeered by the government after the DeLorean debacle. The office is next to the former base chapel, and the farmer does much to help those who keep the memory of the 389th Heavy Bombardment Group alive and organise monthly open days throughout the summer.
Hens were the mainstay of Hope Farm in Cranes Road, Hethel. This small-holding was given over to egg production in the 1950 and '60s, run by Geoffrey & Monica Wright. There was one large broiler-house, the concrete base of which still remains. Pigs were a by-line, but became the mainstay after fowl pest closed down poultry-rearing in the late '60s. The farmhouse stayed in the family when the current owner bought it from her aunt.