Local historian Frances Bevan tells the story of a gathering place for family and friends
Standing on the corner of Middleleaze Drive and Tewkesbury Way, just inside the Swindon borough boundary, with views across Lydiard Park and its back to the sprawling town, today Brookhouse Farm straddles the divide between town and country.
Once belonging to the St. John family at Lydiard Park, a farm has stood on the site for at least 200 years. Along with Wick Farm it made an early appearance on the 1773 Andrews and Dury map of Wiltshire. Nineteenth century particulars of the Lydiard estate reveal that parcels of land, gardens and cottages on the two farms appear to have been interchangeable.
Called Brook Farm until the beginning of the 20th century, the 165-acre dairy farm is perched on the Wiltshire parish boundaries of Lydiard Tregoze and Lydiard Millicent, and the new West Swindon Parish Council. The farm took its name from the brook that ran through the St. John’s Lydiard estate and meandered across the fields to the small settlement at Shaw in Lydiard Millicent.
The farm complex, auctioned at the Goddard Arms Hotel, Swindon on Friday June 28, 1901 was described in the sale particulars as including a substantial house, brick built with slate roof, facing due south.
On the ground floor there was a drawing room with bow window, a dining room 21ft by 14ft, (6.4 x 4.2 metres) a morning room, large entrance hall and a kitchen ‘with a capital dresser as fixed.’ Above the dairy, ‘a capacious Cheese Room fitted with tacks and stands’ – and of course there were the ‘usual Domestic Offices.’ With five bedrooms and a box room on the first floor and two servants’ bedrooms on the second, this was definitely a desirable residence.
At the time of the 1901 sale the owner was Joses Badcock. His wife Sarah, had grown up at Brook Farm, the daughter of Thomas and Joan Plummer. First married to Richard Frampton Tuckey, Sarah was widowed in 1863. She married Joses Badcock, himself a widower, in 1868. The couple lived first at Millicent House in Lydiard Millicent before returning to Sarah’s childhood home in the 1870s.
Brook Farm had just a handful of owners during the first half of the 20th century, among them Miss Elizabeth Akers, Alfred Leonard Purkis and Harold Pears. When Harold Pears sold the property in 1939 a note is made that: The Owner is at present renting a further 61 acres from Lady Bolingbroke, the tenancy of which could no doubt be transferred.’
The farm was sold again in the early-1990s and was converted into a restaurant which is run by the Hungry Horse chain.