A little bit of history – a farm of 30 acres

A little bit of history – a farm of 30 acres

When Ed’s Mum and Dad bought Low Rigg Farm in 1970 they didn’t really know how old the farm was, or how long people have lived and farmed on our windy hillside. In the first lockdown when the nights were long I decided to see what I could find out!

We expected that over the years the farm may have changed shape, lost or gained fields, or even changed completely when the road at the end of our lane was put in. What we were surprised to find was that it has barely changed in the last almost 200 years! The google map above I took a screenshot of today and the map to its left is the tithe map from around 1844 – the modern map fits into the old one almost perfectly. The extent of the farm has not changed either – the boundary of the farm owned by Christopher White in 1844 is the same as it is now. It seems it is, and always has been, a farm of 30 acres. Indeed in the subsequent census entries we can always locate our farm by looking at who is the farmer of 30 acres.

I also really love that the tithe map gives us the names that Christopher knew his fields by (top right). The field that has our spring in it now was called the Well Field and the field we’re hoping to turn into a wetland area because it’s so wet was known as the Bog Field! It seems very little has changed in that time. The farm buildings themselves also seem to have stayed the same shape in all that time, so it seems the farmstead that Christopher White lived in was probably very much like the one we live in now.

We know that Christopher inherited Low Rigg (then Long Rigg after the beck) from his father, another Christopher and he from his father William. The first entry I can find of the Whites at Long Rigg is in 1721 and the last is when Christopher’s daughter Ann dies here in 1887, a single woman and landowner in Victorian Whitby, she must have been quite something! We found a Victorian brooch in the Well Field and I do wonder if it belonged to Ann?

All of the Whites lived to a grand old age, with Christopher White senior dying here in 1815 at the age of 96, his son at 90 and Ann at 82 – quite something when you think how hard farming must have been in those days and the life expectancy in the 1700 and 1800’s. We have a theory that it’s the water from the spring that gave them such amazing longevity, I sincerely hope it’s still working it’s magic!

Verity Bellamy
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