Monday, May 28, 2012

Windmill Leaze Farm

Lady Johanna St John of Lydiard Park would have been perfectly at ease with internet shopping – she was operating her own version of it in the 17th century. 

Based at their Battersea home for most of the year, Lady Johanna sent regular shopping lists to her steward Thomas Hardyman at Lydiard - ..make for us 4 lofe cheeses and some cream ons as thick as ordinary chees...and when you send us any venison you may send us a dozen or 2 of butter..reads one letter.  Bullocks were driven up to London from Lydiard and requests for rabbits and swans appeared regularly in the letters.

Mr Hardyman’s chief source of supply was the Lydiard estate home farm, then called Windmill Leaze.  The present farmhouse is about 200 years old but the farm itself dates back much further than this.  In Lady Johanna’s day an estate ‘Rent Rooll’ dated 1672 records Anthony Street paying an annual rent of £116 for lands at Winmill Leeze.

At the beginning of the 19th century Elizabeth Beames was the tenant but by the 1820s Thomas and Maria Kinchin had taken over the reins, a tenancy that would last for more than 80 years. 

Following Maria’s death in 1837, Thomas married for a second time but died in 1840 and census returns for 1841 show his widow Martha running the farm with her two stepsons.  At this time the farm measured 290 acres with fields named Great and Little Spannells, Gooses and Green Down.

In 1851 Thomas’ son William married Catherine Plummer from nearby East Leaze Farm, the daughter of another of Lord Bolingbroke’s tenants, Richard Plummer, and the dynasty continued.

Their children William J.P. and Kate A.E. Kinchin took over the farm following their father’s death in 1898 but by the second decade of the new century the Kinchin family had gone.  The 1911 census records Frank H. Allen and his wife Ella at what was then called Park Farm, but a new dynasty would soon make an appearance.

Frank Rumming had been born just up the road at Hook Farm where his father farmed 133 acres in 1881 and he was anxious to return to Lydiard Tregoze.  He married Annie M Tucker in 1915 and the young couple soon moved into Windmill Leaze.

Following Lady Bolingbroke’s death in 1940 what remained of the Lydiard Park estate was sold by her trustees.  In the 1943 sale catalogue Windmill Leaze was described as an exceptionally attractive dairy and grazing farm with a substantially built brick and stone farmhouse.  The long time tenant Frank Rumming, who was paying £264 annual rent, bought the farm where the Rumming family have remained ever since.

Portrait of Lady Johanna courtesy of Lydiard Park visit their website on
19th century view of Windmill Leaze Farm with the Kinchin family is courtesy of the Rumming family.


  1. Lady Johanna is certainly worth further investigation. As you say, 17th century women are fascinating and not nearly as shy and retiring as their male counterparts would have us believe.

  2. Hi Anita - Johanna is indeed one of my favourite Lydiard ladies. Her 1680 Booke of Receipts is available to view online at the Wellcome Trust Library and is inspiration for many more posts! Thank you for stopping by - you might like to visit an extension of this blog.