Farm History

FLINT arrowheads, knives and scrapers found across many of the farm's fields indicate activity on the land since Neolithic times. The ancestors of today's organic farmers were hunter gatherers who also cultivated small patches of wheat and barley and kept cattle and pigs. An unexplored long barrow (c. 3800BC) could contain the remains of these Neolithic farmers.

The excavation of a late Bronze Age enclosure (C.1200BC) in 2007/8 produced evidence of continuing occupation. Finds included a large quantity of animal bones (cattle, sheep/goats, pigs, dogs and red deer), 2 brooches, coloured glass beads, oak charcoal, an antler pick and 2 dog tooth pendants.

A large quantity of Roman pottery fragments collected on the surface of one of our fields is a clear indicator of a farmstead site. Finds include a silver coin of Emperor Hadrian's reign struck between 134 - 138 AD.

Aerial photographs show evidence of medieval and post medieval habitation as well as several fields with ridge and furrow cultivation.

Following the dissolution of Cirencester Abbey in the reign of Henry V111 an area of the confiscated land was bought from Elizabeth 1 in 1564 by Dr Richard Master, the Queen's physician. The present owners, the Chester-Master family are the descendants of Dr Richard and the farm name has its origins in his purchase of ex church property.

The modern day boundary of Abbey Home Farm includes land owned, purchased and transferred over the last 450 years. The layout of many of today's fields has remained almost unchanged for over 250 years and several still retain their original names eg
Dancy's Fancy, Baunton Field Piece, ELdon Cross, Mortar Pitts and South Foss.

Most of the woodland on the farm was planted by Jane Master in the early 1800's. At that time much of the cotswold landscape was bare and open. 150 years later in the 1960's and 70's Richard C-M undertook an extensive programme of predominantly conifer planting.

The Midland & South Western Railway crossed the farm in 1883 connecting Cirencester to Cheltenham and points north and south. The last British Rail train crossed the tracks in 1961 and in 1966 the line was sold back to the family.

In 1996 the Cirencester 'bypass' was built across part of the farm burying many acres under its controversial concrete surface.

1990 was when the organic conversion of Abbey Home Farm began under the stewardship of Will and Hilary C-M - a mere 40 years after the start of agriculture's chemical revolution. Who knows what the future holds for the farm? We hope it will continue to grow food for future generations of local people and safeguard the Cotswold biodiversity.

We have a small museum in the farmyard which can be viewed by appointment. Contact Will 07976423076


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