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Hole Farm

Written By Peter Day

Hole Farm was built in a hollow beside a brook fed by springs, which eventually flow into the River Colne. The original name for this farm was 'The Kings Hole Farm' and it is said that it was once used as a hunting lodge by King Henry VIII in conjunction with Gosfield Hall, nearby across the fields.

Sadly the house no longer exists as it was allowed to fall into disrepair and was demolished in the early 1980's. The oldest part of the house would seem to have been quite small, two up and two down, a later alteration consisted of a large downstairs room and one above, later divided to make a bathroom. There was a large inglenook fireplace with warming cupboards either side and a Dairy and kitchen with brick floors set in earth. Across the yard was a large brew house which contained the pump for drinking water, large coppers and a large fireplace for boiling the hops. All the fields on this farm had names, which was very common, one of these was called 'Hop Ground' and this is where the Hops were grown to make the beer. The Hedinghams were well known in the past for growing Hops and wild hops can still be found growing in the hedges nearby.

Next to the Brew House was a huge thatched Essex Barn, which still remains now tiled, built around the yard in front were the cattle sheds, pigsties and stables. Further round is the red brick Granary used for storing the grain. At the back of the house were large sheds built to house traction engines and threshing equipment. Thomas (John) Metson and his father were agricultural contractors when they lived here and owned three traction engines and a threshing machine. They were hired to go round to all the local farms to plough fields and to thresh the corn. One of the traction engines was called 'Sybil' & was built in 1905 by Ransomes, Sims & Jeffries of Ipswich. It was purchased from the Metsons by a Mr Beavis of Stapleford, Cambridge & with his family & friends restored it to is original condition. In June 1962 it appeared at the East Anglian Traction Engine Clubs Annual Rally where Dick Joice, of the Bygones TV show, went for a ride on it. Photo's of this were printed in the Braintree & Witham Times the following week. A photo of the engine can be seen to the right of this page.

The surrounding fields contain a wealth of history. Ponds on the farm, and in the area, were created by the removal of clay for brick making at the brickyard at Southey Green. Half way up the lane towards the main road was the stack yard where an archaeological dig was held in the early 1970's. This dig found, buried under 6 feet of earth, a complete kiln thought to be Medieval or even Roman, but not enough time was allowed to find out more and it was carefully re-buried. Previous to this in the 1920's another Roman kiln was found on the site where the tennis court was to be built. In those days they were not of much interest to locals and amazingly it was destroyed and the bricks used to make the garden paths! In one of the fields near 'Tile Kiln Farm' (across the road) Thomas (John) Metson found a complete Saxon Icon. This was eventually taken to Colchester Castle Museum and unfortunately they have since lost it! Archaeologists were also very interested in 'Gravel Pit Field' as the possible site of a Roman Temple as very old building rubble was regularly ploughed up. This rubble was often used to fill the potholes in the lane! At the top of the lane by the road was a Post Mill owned by the Metson family. It had a large red brick base and a wooden top. Beside this, also owned by the Metsons, was the Windmill Public House where beer made on the farms, from the local hops, would have been sold.

Tile Kiln Farm used to be part of Hole Farm and may well have got its name from the Kilns found or perhaps it has one of its own yet to be unearthed! On this farm is a field called 'Boleyns' and this too regularly revealed building rubble. It is said that this field contained a Manor House which at some time belonged to Anne Boleyn's father.

One moonlit night during the Second World War a German plane crashed in one of the fields near to the house. Just before hand the pilot managed to bale out, bruised and bleeding, he managed to walk up to the house and tapped on the window. Thomas (John) Metson saw him grabbed his shotgun and went outside he then took him into the house where his wife bathed his cuts. He then went up the lane to the nearest phone and called the Americans at Gosfield Airfield. Shortly after six Air Police came and took him away and it turned out the German spoke perfect English. He had told Mrs.Metson that he knew more or less where he was as before the war he had attended Felstead school!



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