June 28, 2021|

Knowle Hospital Farm

Knowle Estate
When Knowle Hospital opened on 13 December 1852 the estate was 105 acres of land stretching from near Wickham to Funtley on both sides of the River Meon.  The land included woodland, meadow, grazing and pasture.

In 1898 the London and South West Railway (LSWR) purchased 7 acres of land from Knowle for the construction of the Meon Valley Railway Line.

54 acres of land was purchased in 1900 from the Roche Court estate: Roche Court is now the site of Boundary Oak school.

A further 50 acres of copse land – Ravenswood and Dandy Copse – were purchased in 1912 from Henry Feilden Rawstorne of Roche Court, solicitor, J.P. and Fareham C.C.

By 1924 the Knowle estate had increased to 213 acres: a further 23 acres of farmland, including a cottage, were added in 1933.

Knowle Hospital Farm
Knowle Farm grew crops – wheat, barley and oats – for the hospital’s use: they also sold commercially.

The 1921 accounts show that the farm supplied the hospital with poultry, pork, milk, potatoes, other vegetables and fruit. It also records 20,688 eggs – wonder who had to count them!

The farm’s commercial sales included:

108 Pigs
27 Calves
60 Fowls
1 Potato Digger
1 Boar and 3 Sows
48 Sheep
Wheat, 14 qrs.
Barley, 9½ qrs.
11 Cows

Plans of Knowle Hospital Farm show the layout of the farm yard, pens, runs, stores, milking parlour, stabling, etc. There were 5 cow pens, 2 calf pens, and a bullpen with bull run.  The pigs – fed on the kitchen waste – were housed in a purpose-built piggery.

One former Knowle resident remembers when that when he was a lad in the 1930s, one of the boys decided to take a ride on the back of a pig!  Cheered on by the group, they were unaware of the farmer coming upon them and giving them a whack on their backsides.

Farm Cottages
The 1911 census records that there was a house for the farm bailiff and four cottages housing the farm workers, including a carter and a cowman.

The farm cottages were solidly built houses with a parlour, kitchen, scullery, three bedrooms and a water closet (toilet).

The front door opened into a hall leading to the kitchen at the back of the house.

The parlour was off the hall, at the front of the house.  Parlours were kept ‘for best’, used on Sundays, holidays and to entertain visitors.  It was a cold room for most of the year as lighting the parlour fire would have meant extra work as well as additional expense.

A staircase led up to three bedrooms: two with fireplaces for open coal fires although they were probably not often lit.

The kitchen was used for cooking, eating and general living and kept warm by the coal range and oven.
There was a small range, where pots could be boiled on its hob with a small oven beside an open coal fire.

Coal fires were a lot of work – hauling the coal, raking the embers and ash, and cleaning the grate. .The range and the fire grates would have been cleaned with black lead – a polish for cleaning and polishing cast iron. The outer rims were steel and kept bright with emery paper.

Off the kitchen was the scullery which had a sink with running cold water.  This was the only water supply in the house.  There was a built-in ‘wash copper’ where water was heated by a fire under a boiler.  A ‘copper’ was usually made of iron although the best type was copper.  They were used for domestic laundry – cotton and linen were boiled to whiten them.

If you wanted a bath, then a wooden handled ladle would be used to transfer hot water from the copper to the enamelled bath kept in the scullery.

Although the water closet – loo – was part of the house, it was only accessible from the yard – a cold trip on a winter’s night!

The coal for the fires was kept in a ‘coal hole’ under the stairs. There was no electricity in the cottages until the 1930s so oil lamps were used for lighting.

The word ‘kitchen’ has changed its meaning over the years. In the early 1900s the kitchen was where the family really lived, ate, worked and played.  The scullery – just off the kitchen – was where the food preparation and washing took place, and where brooms and brushes were kept.

By the 1940s the kitchen was referred to as the ‘living room’ with the ‘scullery’ becoming the ‘kitchen’.

Jane Painter

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