Saturday, 6 August 2016

Down on Bexley Road looking for Pippenhall Farm and the Grace family

It began simply as a search for information about Pippenhall Farm after my friend Chrissie uncovered an old photograph but became the story of one family.

Pippenhall Farm, date unknown
The farm was on the southern side of Bexley Road almost opposite Glenesk Road and appears on the tithe map of the 1840s, and I have no doubt with a bit of digging I could get much further back in time.

It also features in a few of the books about Eltham which make reference to Mr Grace. “whose family farmed here in Victorian times and into the 20th century.”*

Now the Grace family were here by the June of 1841 but had originated in the Midlands.  Old Mr Grace may have been born in Nottinghamshire and his wife Ann Fryer in Leciestershire, but he had died in 1842 leaving Ann to bring up their four children.

She variously described herself as a “cow keeper,” “dairy farmer” and “market gardener” which was the occupation her son John gave later adding “farmer.”

If I have read the tithe schedule correctly back in 1841 the family were renting a mix of meadow land with a small orchard which would fit with the description of dairy farmer and market gardener.

And the same spot today
In time I am confident I will find out more.

I know that Ann died in 1885 and that her son in 1915 and that he left £2,348.

What I think is quite exciting is that his children continued living here in Eltham and that there are surviving family members still bearing the surname Grace, so as they say it is all still to play for.

But despite finding John  on the electoral rolls for the late 19th century there is no record of either him or his father earlier than the 1890s, nor as yet have the family turned up on land tax records, but we shall see.

Their home has long gone but I know from the 1911 census that it had four rooms which is pretty much it for now.

Picture; Pippenhall Farm, date unknown and the same spot today, courtesy of Chrissie Rose

*Eltham A Pictorial History. John Kennett, 1995

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