When I started this research I was a New Town citizen and in my ignorance ignored the constant furrow of farming which was to plough throughout the whole history.
This furrow runs straight from the earliest settlers
To the farms highly valued by the Romans to feed themselves and their army, The interest of Nunnery and Monastery
The affluence of the High Street
The building of St Mary's Church
The constant skill and labour of the farmers in improving rather poor soil
To the loss of highly valued farming land
And the compulsory purchase of homes and farmland.
Gradually farms prospered and some people moved up from being peasants, working for someone else. They improved their houses and built new ones and then employed others to work for them. The ownership of the land was spread as plots were awarded and sold, maybe still carrying the obligation of a tithe.
According to the Domesday Book, the word manor, from the Norman term 'mareriow', can be any place from a small farmstead to an extensive building and lands. Eastbrook is described as a farm and was also described as possibly manor.
The labourers had to spend some time working for the lord of the manor in order to be allowed to live on the manor. This tied the labourer to the manor until later when labour could be exchanged for a wage, freeing him to sell his labour elsewhere. After 1914 there was such a shortage of men to work on the land that those who survived could negotiate better wages and conditions.
Long before the road was metalled Cupid Green Lane has been cut deep by the wheels of wagons trying to get up the hill.
At the foot of this hill where the hedge line meets the road is an old coppiced Ash tree. It is hollow where the original tree has died away leaving a crown of new growth. A tree in this condition in a position like this was probably a very old boundary marker. Today the parish boundary passes through the same place.
Houses were traditionally built with timber frames filled in with plaster covered lath or wattle. Walls like this were recently revealed at the old Corner Farm house at Cupid Green when wallpaper was stripped away during redevelopment to make the Barn houses.
Two farm workers' houses opposite Astley Cooper School were built of timber with flint infilling at the front and clunch, a hard white chalky substance, filling on the side.
Fields were cleared and given names. Some of these names live on in street names in the New Town but not necessarily in the same place.
Some houses were made of timber with red brick 'noggin' from the local brickfields.
Most people were living in houses that were little more than huts. The farms that were high up had to depend on ponds dug from the clay and 'puddled' to hold the water but the farms that were lower down, often with 'spring' or 'well' in the name of the farm could get water from wells or springs. Cox's Pond on High Street Green was one of these ponds and has only recently been filled in. The pond in Margaret Lloyd Park is recent
In 1550 most English people were still living in overcrowded, tiny, cramped dwellings.
Father Christmas Bart Simpson could be seen on the chimney at Corner Farmhouse at Christmas 2009. He might visit again. I wonder if the snow and gales in December 2009 were too much even for him & Rudolph.
Farmland was sometimes sold separately from the farm house which has made tracing ownership quite difficult.
Click on the button to see a map of the farms around Grovehill both past and present and pictures and links to more information.