Although I have no conclusive evidence I am convinced that Great Mongeham farm was the demesne farm for the manor, in other words in the occupation of the Lord of the Manor, and thus operated as a farm from the middle ages.

One piece of evidence is that in the North Chapel of St. Martin’s is the Crayford memorial and responsibility for the upkeep of the chapel was with the farm until the mid twentieth century. (more of that later). A further clue is that the old barn which was on part of the farmland near the junction between Northbourne and Willow Roads was known as Crayford Barn, now demolished.

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Another tenuous link is that the Crayford document of 1602 refers to ‘Blakenhill’, a field which is recorded as Black Hill and belonging to the farm in the Tithe Apportionments of 1838. The first clear record of the name is in an advertisement in the Times of 11th July, 1821. The widow ‘Parramon’ was almost certainly one of the Paramors, a family who lived village for at least 250 years. In the will of Ursula Rand (formerly Crayford) 150 acres was stated to be “in the occupation of William Paramor”. The ‘spacious’ farmhouse of the advertisement must have been quite new then as it looks like an early 19th century building (although I might be wrong). The farm was probably bought by Robert Vaughan Richards, Q. C. a Welsh barrister. The Tithe apportionments recorded in 1838 that the owner of the farm is simply ‘Richards’. It is occupied by ‘Edmund Charles and others’. His only daughter was Marianne Catherine, who later married Ramon, Count of Morella. She made her home at Wentworth, Virginia Water, Surrey. The map of the farm is from an auction in 1921.

Robert Vaughan Richards was a substantial landowner, with large estates in Wales. He purchased the farm (I believe in 1821). The farm was leased to Edmund Charles, who lived in Great Mongeham House. He employed Thomas Homersham as his farm bailiff. Thomas lived with his wife and son and two farm servants in the farmhouse in Cherry Lane. The farm at that time occupied 220 acres and included forty acres of marsh. Eleven labourers were employed on the farm. In 1854 Marianne Cabrera gave the best part of one and a quarter acres to the church for building a school.

Marianne Cabrera, nee Richards
Marianne Cabrera, nee Richards

During the Napoleonic wars wheat prices were at an all time high due to lucrative government contracts. The defeat of Napoleon meant the end to these contracts, and furthermore Nelson’s victory had ensured the safety of ships importing grain from overseas. The corn law of 1815 secured high prices for grain, but high bread prices led to increased poverty. The repeal of the Corn Laws in 1846 led to a depression in farming which did not recover fully for more than half a century. Farmers who could not adapt to the changing conditions went bankrupt. In a notice in the London Gazette of March the 28th 1873 Edmund Charles was declared bankrupt.

Ramon Cabrera died in 1877 and the farm must have been sold soon afterwards, because by 1883 the farm was owned by Richard Wilks. He was a farmer, grazier and estate agent living in Little Mongeham with his family. He had extensive land holdings and employed Stephen Brett as his farm bailiff. Wilks also bought the Harrison malthouse and since Thomas Brett, son of Stephen was a maltman, it is probable that he was also employed by Wilkes. Another son, William, was the farmer at Valley Farm House. By 1899 a new bailiff, Richard Ellender, had been installed. He lived in the farmhouse with his wife and seven children. In the other half of the farmhouse lived waggoner James Dennis also with a wife and seven children. He had 2 boarders, William Fagg and Thomas Barnes, both horsemen on the farm. The farm was sold in 1921 to George Wellard.

Of the four cottages which were part of the property bought by Wellard three shared a well on a ‘roadway off Cherry Lane’ and Wellard was responsible for three fifths of the cost of maintenance. Wellard obtained a mortgage for £2,200 from his brother in law, Alfred Solley. The farm brought with it ‘all the rights and interests in the North Chapel’ of St. Martin’s Church. It also brought with it the cost of maintenance. Wellard was able to buy himself out of this arrangement.

In January 1942 Alfred Solley died and in the following month so did George Wellard. In a complex sequence of financial arrangements Wellard’s son, Ernest bought his sister’s share of the farm and paid the mortgage.

By 1948 the tradition of housing farm workers in tied cottages was dying out so Wellard sold Beehive Cottage (now Pippin Cottage) to Henry Baldock. He then sold three building plots, one to Edmund Platt (frontage 55 feet) in 1951, another, to the south east of that plot, to Dorothy Hoskin (50 feet frontage) both on road leading from Great Mongeham to Little Mongeham. The third, on Willow Road, was sold in 1954 to Kathleen Henley frontage 77 feet). Bungalows now stand on those plots. In 1958 he sold another piece of land on the SW side of Northbourne Road to Kent County Council presumably for the footpath. In 1959 he sold most of the farm to Alfred and William Hickson. Finally in 1975 he sold Farm Cottage, the last property from the original farm, to Horace and Phyllis Harrop.