Agriculture

Agriculture

In late medieval times there were many small farms in the villages and on the slopes of Mendip.

Over the centuries they have been absorbed and amalgamated into fewer, bigger farms. Sheep once dominated but with enclosure of the common land in the late 18th and early 19th century cattle, and in particular dairy cows, have predominated. Arable fields on the lower slopes and valley bottom produced corn for bread flour, and hay and roots to feed livestock.

Eastwood Manor Farm, East Harptree was totally rebuilt in the 1860s to house, under one roof, all the animals and activities of a farm following the principles of modern ‘scientific’ farming.

The theory proposed that all of a farm’s arable produce primarily should feed the cattle thus saving on the cost of transporting crops to market and buying in food for livestock.

Using high quality materials and fixtures, the building incorporated all the latest ideas and equipment to increase efficiency and reduce manpower. Utilising the natural slope of the land, the building had three levels and covered 0.5 hectares. The large span cast iron construction was influenced by the structures of the new railway termini.

This National Heritage Grade I listed building is still a private working dairy farm.

Six ponds, which predate the model farm, step down to the farm. The top pond originally fed a water wheel which powered all the machinery within the building. The present top pond once fed two fountains in the cattle courts, and still supplies all the farm’s troughs.

Our Heritage and History