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Borough Farm

The spacious farmhouse of brick and tile with stone flagged passages and kitchens stood in a hollow with the farm buildings nearby. These were enormous barns with thatched roofs and boarded sides and wonderful oak beams and floors with huge mows for the unthreshed corn, much stabling and big yards.


My father (Charles Pain) rented Borough Farm, a twelve hundred acre farm which his father (William Pain) had held before him. Principally arable, with water meadows in the bottom near the stream, it ran back for about a mile to the chalky down land.

The spacious farmhouse of brick and tile with stone flagged passages and kitchens stood in a hollow with the farm buildings nearby. These were enormous barns with thatched roofs and boarded sides and wonderful oak beams and floors with huge mows for the unthreshed corn, much stabling and big yards.

We were a large family: the elder boys at boarding school, a faithful old governess, quite one of the family, who looked after the intermediates, and a nursemaid who looked after the three youngest.

As the lanes were rough and muddy it would have been difficult for her to wheel a perambulator, so we rode forth to take the air on a black donkey, one on the pad and the other two in panniers, the youngest with a brickbat under the seat 'to keep the balance true’.

Of course the baking and brewing were done at home. The first in a huge brick oven in the back kitchen, the latter in a brew house adjoining. The brewer was old Joe, the thatcher, and excellent beer, brewed with true malt and hops: strong beer for best occasions when it was poured out into high tapering glasses and small beer for the men. The carters were allowed so much every day taking it out to the fields in little kegs which cook filled every night to be ready for the early start next morning. Extra was allowed at harvest and haymaking and on many other occasions. How we children loved to steal into the brew house and peer into the big vats and mash tubs. The weekly baking too was a joy to us if we could escape to the kitchen, where cook had placed the flour and yeast to rise in a big wooden kiver. Sometimes she would allow us to help knead it, and give us a small piece to make a loaf for ourselves, and let us watch her throw faggots into the blazing oven, stir the embers vigorously with a long iron poker, draw out the embers with a long hoe, and put in the loaves with a long handled wooded spade called a peel. Then the door would be shut and banked up with the glowing coals and we would heave a sigh of satisfaction and retire, to return if possible an hour or so later when the door would be opened and the crisp loaves withdrawn on the peel. We would beg a 'kissing crust' torn from the hot loaf. I have never tasted bread so good since.

Many pigs were fattened and slaughtered by old Charles Tull, the yard man, then salted and smoked up the big chimney in the back kitchen. The hams were cured after some particular recipe, each housewife had her own, and mellow and delicious they were, often being kept two or even three years after being smoked.

The cooking was done over an open fire, the roasting before a glowing hot fire on a bottle jack, a big shallow tin with a depression in the centre to catch the dripping, and a long ladle for basting. Then we had the true flavour of the meat. A coursed hare roasted before the fire and basted with cream would be a revelation to the gourmand of today.

Our light came from tallow candles carried in flat brass candlesticks with snuffers and extinguishers. For the dining room were candles in high Sheffield- plated candlesticks. For the stables horn lanterns and tallow dips.

As I have said, we were a large household: eleven in the parlour, three maids and a groom in the kitchen, with old John Brown the gardener for dinner, and the undercarters and Johnnie Dobbs, (who all slept in the loft over the coach house), for supper in the back kitchen, added to which the farm men were often sent in for a meal, if they had taken a load of corn to market, or sheep to the fair. So my mother had to keep a full larder and her store cupboard contained quantities of every commodity. The stores were ordered once a month from Winchester eight miles away. If she ran out of anything it could only be replaced on market day when my father drove into Winchester to sell his corn. It was the event of the week. The gray and the carriage horse was brought round to the front door. In the roomy wagonette sat my father with his sample bags. Mother with her long list of articles required mounted the front seat. Some of the children might be taken as a treat and occupied the space behind with the parcels. It took the old gray an hour to trot the eight miles, though some young fellows in high dog carts and fast trotters would flash by us at ten or even twelve miles an hour. The road would be condemned by modern motorists for there were no steam rollers, cracked stones were spread all over the surface intermittently for the traffic to wear in. This restriction of length that might be stoned at one time was a survival of the old coaching days when long stretches of new stone road would have hindered the fast coaches. I have heard my father tell how twenty coaches a day traversed that road, and how my grandmother used to take her daughters to a school near London, going up with them one day and making the return journey, sixty odd miles, the next.

Also he told how in his youth the only postman for the village was old one-armed Dinah, who once a week walked into town and returned with the letters, generally so drunk that she could not deliver them round the village until the next day. I have a dim remembrance of Father pulling up at the toll bar outside the city to pay toll, but tolls were soon abolished. The city entered, the horse was put up at an inn, and the business of shopping began in earnest. The shops were small and dark, very unlike the modern palaces, but the things were all British made and lasted for years. The shopkeepers knew their customers and brought forth what they thought most suitable and pro'ed and conn'ed over them in a friendly manner.

The return journey was usually impeded by the carrier carts, each of the surrounding villages sent in two or three. How the carriers, many of whom could not read, remembered the various commissions they had received from the village housewives, was a wonder. On their way home they were tired and sleepy and left their horses to wander about the road as best they could. Thanks to their sagacity, accidents seldom happened, though on a dark night travelling was difficult. The carriers' carts were lit by a lantern swung under the tilt; we had two candle lamps, one on either side of the wagonette.

Most of the nursing was done at home in those days and my mother kept a large stock of simple
remedies that were in great demand. The farm people having unfailing belief in her skill, she was
sent for at all hours and never failed to respond. If her pony could not get her low basket carriage up the deeply rutted farm lanes, she would go in a cart seated on a chair, but get there she would and her kindness and skill made her most welcome. There were no professional village nurses then: certain old women took the midwifery cases, calling at the farmhouse for the bag of infant's clothes that was  always kept for such emergencies.

The farm population was considerable: ten cottages on the farm let at one shilling (5p) per week with garden, and some men lived in the village. On the farm were two six horse teams each with carter, under-carter and two boys, a team of three horses looked after by Johnnie Dobbs and his mate, an odd horse and boy. At the Down Farm there were eight horses with a head carter, two under-carters and a boy. A head shepherd with an under shepherd and boy cared for seven hundred and fifty ewes, and a lad, the three hundred tegs.

Charles Tull, the yard man, brought in the barn keys each evening and hung them on a nail just inside  the dining-room door and Father would call out, 'Ask the cook to draw you a pint of ale'. If he failed to do this, Charles would fumble with the keys until he did.

Joe Hill, the thatcher and brewer, was a quiet man on whose opinion my father placed great reliance. Robert Hooker was the hedger and ditcher, and there was old Will Avory of whose prowess with the flail my father was very proud. Will liked to be on piece work and could earn one guinea (£1.05p) per week threshing. Wages were then eleven shillings (55p) per week. George, twice as big as his father,  made but a poor show with the flail - 'would not kill a mouse under the lane,' was said of his swing  of the flail. Chris Paice, Bob Wheeler and Michael Chivis were general labourers and Charles Dixon looked after cattle at the Down Farm. All these men could use the flail when there was nothing else to do. Winnowing the corn from the chaff was done with a machine with four fans, a man at each end turning the handle. One man fed the corn and chaff into the machine with a big wooden shovel, another  collected and winnowed the grain and a woman raked away the chaff. It was a dusty business and I hope and believe that small beer was sent out from the farmhouse. I must not forget the horse thresher that for some years had supplemented the men with the flails. The thresher stood in one of the barns and was worked by four horses attached to four long arms outside the barn. A man, sat in a cage in the centre of the arms, kept the horses moving round, giddy work, and some of them had to be blind-folded with a cloth over their blinkers.

It was machines like this, when first introduced years before, that were bitterly resented by the farmhands who believed, rightly, that they would take away their jobs. The first portable threshing set I remember was not self-propelling but the engine and other parts had to be drawn by horses from farm to farm.

The women on the farm always turned out for haymaking, harvest and weeding when required. Harvest meant a great deal in those days, the chance of the extra money that they so much wanted. It was all piece work. The men cut the corn with sickle or scythe, the women following after them bound it into sheaves which the elder boys stood up into stooks. They would work from early morn till moonlight. After it had stood some time in stook and was thoroughly dry it was carted in big wagon loads into the barn mows. After they were filled the rest went into stacks which later would be carted into the barns to take the place of that threshed by the men.

When the fields were cleared of stooks the gleaners would swarm in, an eager crowd of women and children, even the tinies could gather little bunches, and they laboured with might and main. We loved to go out and help them. A large family working hard would pick up sacks of ears which the farmer threshed free. It was ground at the local stone mill, most villages with a stream had a mill then, and their gleaned bread helped out the family budget. Every cottage had its brick oven. After all was gathered in came the Harvest Supper. The coach house was cleared and decorated and long tables erected, great cooking had been going on for days: large meat pies, plum puddings, big joints of beef boiled in a copper and vegetables. All men and women and boys who worked on the farm sat down to supper, with Father and Mother heading the tables. Beer was the drink and many songs were sung.

During the winter the corn when sold would be sent in the big wagons each drawn by four horses, every horse decorated with ribbons and brasses and a chime of bells on a stand over each collar. A fine
sight was a good team, and the carters were justly proud of their horses.

Table of Wages

Extract from the Wages Book of Wonston Manor Farm dated 10th March 1905

           Name                  Job                 Weekly wages

  • George Knight          -  Ploughman  15d (75p)

  • Sidney Knight           -  Ploughman  14s Od

  • George Moore          -  Ploughman  15s Od

  • F Monk                         -  Ploughman   13s Od

  • H Mildenhall              -   Shepherd  15s Od

  • Charlie Mildenhall   -  Shepherd's lad     8s Od

  • Hatcher                        -   Heaping dung  13s 6d

  • Gradidge                     -  Cattleman  13s Od

  • Miller                             -  Waiting on shepherd  14s Od

  • Bramble                      -  Hedgecutting  15s Od

  • Hobbs                          -  Uncovering mangolds 12s Od

  • Kirby                             -  Press **  13s Od

  • Lovell                            -  Carting hurdles and straw 11s Od

  • Baverstock                 -  Hedgetrimming  12s Od

  • Holandby                    -  Assisting Shepherd   7s Od

  • Charlie Moore           -  Press **   5s Od

  • Rawlins                        -  Groom  14s Od

                                          Total   £10 l1s 6d  -  £10 :57 & a half new pence!!

** Pressing was driving a team of two horses pulling a heavy roller over the newly ploughed ground to consolidate it

Freda Pain - Daughter of Charles Pain
Dever & Down

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