Saddlescombe Farm is situated on the scarp slope of the South Downs in a coombe valley facing north. The land behind the farm rises steeply, giving access to the chalk downland. The National Trust purchased the estate in 1995 to form part of their Devil's Dyke Estate. The National Trust considers that Saddlescombe reflects the layout of a farm typical of the mid-19th century (around 1850) which had grown organically from an origin in the early-17th century.
Visitor FacilitiesThe site forms part of the National Trust's Devil's Dyke Estate. Please see: http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/saddlescombe-farm-and-newtimber-hill/opening-times/ More information
Detailed DescriptionThe 1839 Tithe Map shows a ‘garden' to the south of the house with an area of trees. To the west of the ‘garden' is a farm pond which is still there and is not thought to have been part of the ‘garden'.It is suggested that Martin Robinson altered the 1839 layout, creating by 1873 a vegetable garden with compartments, planting an orchard to its south, and having a family ‘garden' with lawn and flower beds. The brick wall shown in the 2001 National Trust map is not shown in 1839 but would seem to be there in 1873. It is thought that the Estate probably built the wall after Martin Robinson took over as tenant.
The 2001 Saddlescombe Farm Garden map shows a layout very similar to that of the 1873 Ordnance Survey map. The vegetable garden to the east of the garden is shown with three ‘compartments' on both maps. The orchard depicted south of this on the 1873 map still exists although a number of trees have gone. The National Trust are having the existing trees (a mixture of apple, pear and so on) identified. It is hoped to replant the orchard with appropriate Victorian period fruit trees.
In 1995 when the National Trust bought the farm the garden was very overgrown. It is thought that the ginko tree was planted by the Robinsons. There was a large area of Japanese knotweed (a favourite Victorian period plant) in one of the beds near the house which has been difficult to clear. Voluntary help has started the process to restore the garden. The vegetable garden is in production again.
- Latest Date:
- Description: The vegetable garden to the east of the garden is shown with three `compartments? on maps of 1873 and 2001.
- Latest Date:
- Description: The orchard depicted south of the vegetable garden on the 1873 map still exists, although a number of trees have gone. The National Trust are having the existing trees (a mixture of apple, pear and so on) identified. It is hoped to replant the orchard with appropriate Victorian period fruit trees.
- Specimen Tree
- Description: Gingko.
- Access & Directions
Access Contact DetailsThe site forms part of the National Trust's Devil's Dyke Estate. Please see: http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/saddlescombe-farm-and-newtimber-hill/opening-times/
Detailed HistoryThe Manor of Saddlescombe was noted in the Domesday Book (1086). In 1237 the lands were given to the Knights Templar. It was a valuable gift for the economic returns from sheep farming on the chalk downlands were very good. An inventory taken in 1308, when the Knights Templar were disbanded, showed they were cultivating 163 acres, had two barns, an ox shed and a stable with a windmill worth 13s 4d., and ran a flock of 600 sheep. The lands were then given to the Earl de Warenne who, in 1397, gave them to the Knights Hospitallers.
At the Dissolution, 1536, the lands were transferred to Sir Anthony Brown (Cowdray Estates). Under the ownership of the Cowdray Estates the earliest of the present farm buildings, the east wing of the Manor House, was constructed around 1600. A south wing was added in late-17th century and the house extended to the west in the early-19th century. In 1825 the Manor was sold to the Earl of Egremont (the Petworth Estate, the Leconfields). In 1853 Martin Robinson took the tenancy. He was a sheep farmer (originally kept 900) but later kept dairy cattle and supplied milk to Brighton. The firm was purchased by his son, Ernest, in 1921 from the Petworth Estate. In 1925 Ernest Robinson sold the farm to Brighton Corporation who appointed a new tenant, Mr Williams.
The site was sold to the National Trust by Brighton Corporation in 1995. The National Trust purchased the estate, after a public appeal for monies, to form part of their Devil's Dyke Estate. The National Trust considers that Saddlescombe reflects the layout of a farm typical of the mid-19th century (around 1850) which had grown organically from an origin in the early-17th century.
Martin Robinson and his family were Quakers and would have considered a garden mainly as a source of produce for the household. His daughter, Maude, who was born in 1859, lived on the farm for 67 years until 1925. She then moved to Brighton. In the 1930s she wrote a series of articles for the Sussex County Magazine which were eventually published as a book, ‘The quiet valley: memories of a South Down farm in the 1860s'.
Maude makes five mentions only of the garden in her book; ‘Old Daddy' mowed the lawn with a scythe, and worked in garden (p.5); Maud was given a root of lilies of the valley on her 10th birthday (p.2S); ‘Plenty of jam from fruitful garden' (p.26); ‘Clumps of daylilies' (p.46) and, finally, the children ‘had a garden each' ‘and a swing and a see-saw under the old yew tree' (p.47).
- Victorian (1837-1901)
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The National TrustHeelis, Kemble Drive, Swindon, SN2 2NA
Sussex Gardens Trust