History of the Farm


Memories of a Moorland Farmer

There is a fascinating history with the farm but in places it can be difficult to tie the information together, particularly in the earlier years. We have tried to do some more digging into the archives, but always seem to draw a blank on the farm. Something we will pursue over time.

Luckily, we have a wonderful collection of the deeds, giving us an amazing insight into the many owners over the years.

The earliest records we have are dating back as far as 1665 when on the 10th August during the reign of Lord Charles II a, Walter Lord Ashton rented a cottage for the sum of £31.00 This comprised of some land called Rough Pasture, The Meadow, The Croft, Well Croft and a little Coat or Barn.  A total of twenty-five roods (7 acres).

Years ago Highfields Farm was part of a much larger farm, comprising of around 100 acres, a workers cottage & traditional stone barns.  

We also have a copy of a book ‘Memories of a Moorland Farmer’ which was written by Len Ward who use to live at the farm. He was born at Highfields Farm in 1919. His childhood was tough, losing his mother in his early twenties, & had little contact with his father. He lived with his grand-parents, aunt & cousin at the farm. In around 1956 he managed to have the farm tenancy signed over to him. He married & raised his family and built the farm up for a number of years.

During the late 1970’s the farms and land were sold & Len moved to a warmer smaller farm in the village of Onecote down the valley.  The new owner had no interest in the house or cottage, and they were left empty for over a year.  The new owner continued to graze and farm the land until in the early 1980’s the house and cottage were sold separately, and the land divided up.


Mowing at Highfields with a Bamford One Horse Mower


Pitching Hay into the Barn at Highfields

Horse Peggy


During Lens time at the farm, he was also involved in a TV series on BBC2 called ‘Living on the Land,’ which shows the later part of Len’s life on the farm.  We do have a copy of this available to watch in the barns.  Although poor quality in places it does give you an insight into what it was like farming in this area years ago.  I have spoken to the BBC archives to try & get a copy & other titles in the series. Wonderful to know that it is available but unfortunately only on old film and the BBC are unable to convert it to DVD as they don’t have the resources.  Such a shame…

A fascinating watch – don’t take our word for it, you’ll have to come & visit.  Settle down in front of the roaring fire and take a step back in time with some truly wonderful country characters…..

Pitching hay

Pitching hay at Highmoor Farm barn, above and to the west of Highfields

Haymaking at Highfields

Haymaking at Highfields