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33 Little Church Lane

The oldest domestic property in the village.
'Double click' on the photograph for larger pictures and more notes.

Known as Church Farm, the house can be dated to the mid-15th century through the dating of its roof timbers. However, the earliest that the property can be traced back in the records is to the 1590s and to a villager called Lancelot Barradell. Throughout the early records, the farm is described as a “Messuage and 2½ virgates of land”, in other words, a (farm) house with about 70 acres of land.

The Barradell’s held onto the farm throughout the 17th century, most probably as owner-occupiers. In the early years of the 18th century, they sold the property to Thomas Noble, who in turn, around 1715 sold it on to the Herrick family of Beaumanor. This was to herald two centuries of Herrick ownership, albeit as absentee landlords. During this period the premises was used as a dower house in Herrick family marriage settlements.

For a number of reasons it seems that the Herricks’ never actually lived in the property, therefore our attention is focused on the tenants. The evidence for early 18th century occupiers is difficult to find, and it is not until after the Sileby Enclosure of 1759-60 that the names of tenant farmers become known. After 1770, taxation records enable a basic list of tenants to be assembled. Families such as Morris, Crafts (or Crofts), Hemsley and Fletcher worked the farm throughout this period and up to the end of the Napoleonic Wars.

In 1818 Isaac Sharpe, a recent arrival to Sileby from Earl Shilton, began his tenure of the property. His tenancy agreement for the farm survives. It shows that he took the farm on from year to year at an annual rental of £110. After Isaac’s death in 1826 the tenancy stayed within the family, eventually going to Isaac’s daughter Elizabeth, and so on to George Payne, her husband, after their marriage in 1833. The Payne's continued their occupation of the property, until in 1853 the Payne family emigrated to Australia.

The departure of the Paynes saw the arrival of new tenants, the Smiths. Firstly Henry Smith took over the reins, and then in 1898, his son Alfred. Great changes occurred during their long tenure. Firstly, Henry expanded the farm: by 1870, he was working 290 acres, and many of farm buildings were rebuilt or upgraded by him. Alfred consolidated the holding, and upon the break up of the Herrick estate in 1915 he purchased the property as the sitting tenant.

Alfred held on to the premises until the mid 1950’s when the property was sold to the Middleton family. Recently the property has changed hands again.

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