Farming People and Practices

Agriculture has been very important to the Stowupland’s economy. Until the mid 20th century most local men earned their living from the land, as agricultural labourers, horsemen or dairymen. Even though village people spent their lives toiling in other peoples’ fields they still needed to grow their own crops to feed their family. Their garden might be large enough for some vegetable crops for the family pot but those with chickens or a pig to fatten might rent an allotment.

The 1840 tithe apportionment gives us valuable clues as to former and contemporary usage of the land in Stowupland. It tells us where ponds were situated, where orchards grew and which areas had been used for pasture. All of which would have been invaluable for Stowupland’s biodiversity.  Of course even by the early 19th century many of the field names only represent earlier land use but it gives us clues to the landscape and earlier crop growing. Hop Yard Meadow (tm 391) hasn’t been used for hop growing for many years but the field name is a useful indicator of lost farming practices.

In 1912 Stowupland’s chief crops were wheat, barley, beans, sugar beet and clover.hops had previously been grown but American cheap imports made growing this as a crop unsustainable. At the time of the outbreak of WW1  only 20% of wheat was home grown and 40% of meat was imported.

Horses and Horsemen played a major role in the  19th and early 20th century economy.

Horse and Horseman
Rusty Wade

Rusty (John Wade), worked with the horses on Gipping Farm and Stowupland Hall. Read more about the horseman with the gift of second sight.

By the early 20th century horse power was supplemented by steam. In the village T. Lambert’s occupation was a Steam Thresher, with a certificate. After the first static engines came moving traction engines.

By the mid 20th century as Traction Engines were supplanted by Tractors, steam engines were no longer used to work the land but became objects for people to enjoy at country fetes.

B & W photo of ladies

Ladies working in a  field on Brames farm in 1917 ( Newspaper Archives, Stowmarket weekly Post, 2nd August 1917)

Fruit growing has been an important crop for the Stowupland economy.  Local maps show that we have always had many orchards and in the first half of the 20th century apple growing was an important  crop (See also Davy’s farm).

In the 1960’s the press reported on the Do-It-Yourself directors of Mid-Suffolk Growers Ltd. They had built their own cold-storage unit in Mill Street,  to provide ‘cold-storage for 250 tons of fruit grown in  the Stowmarket district.  There were 17 members growing apples on 235 acres, pears on 27 acres, and plums on 2 1/2 acres. By 1966 they had a thriving direct sales business even exporting to West Africa.


Hops and flax.

Neither  hops nor  flax are grown commercially in Stowupland today. Neil Langridge has been able to give us a picture of the importance of hop growing to Suffolk, but we know very little about the production or cultivation of hemp. Ena Carter tells us that there was a ‘retting pit to the East of Stowupland’.

This photo shows Lenny Wade in September 1966 on an International B275 tractor towing a Massey Ferguson 701 baler and bale sledge.  He is bailing straw on Little Reeds which is now part of the playing fields by the Village Hall. (Thanks to a local farmer Roger Carter for this information).

See Green Farm

Arthur Melhuish and Lenny Wade harvesting using Green Farm's first combine

Unfortunately at the time of writting few details are known about these photos, other than a comment on the back ‘reunited with Allis 55 years on still with hoes fitted underneath’

Poultry Dealers

Kellys 1912 &16 -Oliver Miller

Kellys 1912 – Jessie Baker

                      –  James Colthorpe

Kellys 1904 – George Wilden was a beer retailer, & poultry dealer on Thorney Green

Kellys 1904 – Geo Kerry on Thorney Green.

1885 (Whites): George Wilden poulterer

1879 (PO directory): Wiliam Colthorpe, poulterer

                  Edward Palmer beer retailer & poulterer on Thorney Green.

Cattle dealer

1885 (Whites): Robert Wickes, on Thorney green,