Hole Farm

From Historical Hastings
Hole Farm circa 1900 (Ernest Rumble 1874-1952)

Originally part of the estate owned by Sir Howard Elphinstone[1] having been purchased by him on the 9th of July 1831[2], Hole Farm ultimately was consumed by the development of Ashford Road and surrounding roads. The farm itself covered 90 acres in 1952[3]., although would have been much larger prior to this.

Known leaseholders & produce

The earliest known occupier is Bernard Lingham in 1805[4]. This is then followed in 1869 by a George Clement, athough the context would suggest that he had an interest in the land rather than being a farmer[5].

A butcher John George Hickman then appears around 1872[6] and 1916[7] whose family went on to create the Hickman Bros chain of butchers. A valuation of the site as being at £1230 8s 10d including all inventory was given at this date. From additional records held at the ESCC archive, Vidler & Co. of Rye would appear to have been acting as managing agents for the landowner around this period.[8] It would appear that the valuation may have been when John Hickman acquired the farm from the Elphinstone Estate, for later records appear to show him as being the owner.

Circa 1900, there is an advertisement for some poultry having been for sale from the farm with the name of J. S. Naylor being listed as the vendor[9]

By 1932, there is a John Hickman[notes 1] (it is not yet proven whether he is a descendent of the John Hickman above although there was a son named John) resident at the farm mentioned in connection with sale of land for the construction of the Hastings Grammar School on the 22nd of August 1932[10] and a further sale of land, this time to the west of Hillside Road being the playing fields of the school (later the 'new' Grammar School site)[11]. The farm remained in his hands until his death when his executors sold the land in parcels.

In 1952 it is recorded that there were 50 cattle, 90 sheep, 300 chickens and 80 bacon pigs producing 16,000 gallons of milk and 50 tons of corn per year[3].

Other uses of land

John Hickman was obviously something of an enterpreneur, for one of the fields in the farm (named Hickman's Field) was regularly utilised for various events during his tenure. On the 30th of August 1890 there was a visit to Hastings of Barnum and Bailey’s 'Greatest Show on Earth' circus. 20,000 people visited the performance, in Hickmans Field[12].

Encroachment of Urban development

In 1873, it is recorded that fifteen pairs of semi-detached villas were to be built on Baldslow Road, Laton Road and the road leading to the farm[13]

Part of the farm was valued for sale to the Corporation with a view to the extension of Alexandra Park in 1878[14], with a further portion to the south of the farm then being sold by Sir Howard Warburton Elphinstone (1830–1917) in 1897 for housing[15].

Proposed indoor bowling rink

In 1937 interest in developing the site of the farm into an indoor bowls rink with tennis courts above was suggested by the Covered Courts Company and featured prominently in the local paper. Drawings of the proposed ​building​ covering approximately half an acre were given with a suggested cost of £13,000 for the steel framed structure which would then be operated on a ten year leasehold basis[16]

1952 Inquiry into town's development plan

As part of the development plan proposed for the town, 17 acres of land from the farm were to be allocated to provide a playing field for the college, plans for which were in place to bring all of the disparate places of study together on one site. This plan noted that the farm had 50 cattle, 90 sheep, 300 chickens and 80 bacon pigs producing 16,000 gallons of milk and 50 tons of corn per year.[3].

Development into Housing

Coming up for sale in 1945 as the result of the death of the last tenant (John Hickman) in January of that year[17], the farmhouse was described as having eight bedrooms, two bathrooms, lounge hall, three reception rooms and billiards room in about 2½ acres of land stocked with pear, plum and apple trees and a soft fruit and nut plantation all capable of conversion into a nursing home etc or two private residences for £3,750[18].Having built two villas on the west of the farm around 1950,[19] the owner then advertised the sale of the farm in its entirety aimed at property developers in 1954[20]

The farmhouse remained for a number of years, becoming part[21] of the fledgling Ashford Road. By 1959, planning permission was granted for construction of a housing estate on the land[22], the area being described as the 'Hole Farm Estate', with the farmhouse finally disappearing under the housing of Hole Farm Close by 1972.

Blacklands County Primary School was built on part of the site, which had been purchased from the executors of John Hickman by Hastings Corporation in 1964. The school opened in September 1973 and is situated in Osborne Close[23]


References & Notes

  1. Pevensey Bay website Record of Conveyance of land at Pevensey Bay
  1. East Sussex County Council Archive 7028/27 The Keep ACC 7028/27
  2. East Sussex County Council Archive 6805/2/1 The Keep AMS 6805/2/1
  3. a b c Hastings & St Leonards Observer 18 October 1952 pg. 7
  4. East Sussex County Council Archive The Keep 369/32/4/15
  5. East Sussex County Council Archive The Keep 3/2/4/218
  6. Valuation book (75): Vidler and Co. archive Valuation book (75), accessdate: 30 January 2020
  7. East Sussex County Council Archive The Keep 7275/1
  8. The Keep: Schedules of repairs, works and plans to Stockwood Farm in Ewhurst, St Helen Nursery in Ore, Morgay Farm in Ewhurst, Ellenhall farmhouse in Ewhurst, Edgerton Farm in Ewhurst and Hole Farm in Hastings, accessdate: 30 January 2020
  9. Hastings & St Leonards Observer 1 August 1896 pg. 8
  10. The National Archives: Site of new grammar school (HT 4373) | The National Archives, accessdate: 30 January 2020
  11. East Sussex County Council Archive The Keep DH/B/83/77 Conveyance of land from John Hickman, Hole Farm
  12. The Hastings Chronicle: 1850-1899 – The Hastings Chronicle, accessdate: 30 January 2020
  13. East Sussex County Council Archive The Keep DH/C/6/1/1560
  14. Valuation book (105): Vidler & Co Archive -Valuation book (105), accessdate: 30 January 2020
  15. The Keep: Conveyances of part of the site of Hole Farm, St Helen's, Ore, Hastings, accessdate: 30 January 2020
  16. Hastings & St Leonards Observer 6 March 1937 pg. 18
  17. Hastings & St Leonards Observer 13 January 1945 pg. 66
  18. Hastings & St Leonards Observer 20 October 1945 pg. 15
  19. East Sussex County Council Archive The Keep DH/C/6/1/1950
  20. Hastings & St Leonards Observer 10 April 1954 pg. 13
  21. Kelly's 1956 Directory
  22. Hastings Borough Council Planning application ref HS/OA/59/00563
  23. ESCC Archive: Blacklands County Primary School, Hastings, accessdate: 30 January 2020