(April 2023) Did you know? – Back Lane
The verdant canopy in this month’s photograph, taken by Bernie Jones, is provided by an avenue of British native trees which form an avenue adjacent to the bridleway that is Back Lane in Sibford Ferris. These include beech, sycamore, horse chestnut and ash. In addition, John and his brother Joshua Lamb grew and planted a row of oak trees when John was living in and renovating Holly House in the early 1900s. Before the building of Sibford School on the Hill site in the 1930s Back Lane, which lies parallel to the Main Street, was the only access to the area known as The Piece. The track provided a bridleway for horses and horse-drawn carts. Ina Lamb described ‘cows being brought from pasture down to the buildings behind the Old House (now part of Lamb’s Croft) for milking’. The roadway joining Holly House to Back Lane was only built in the 1950s so all the building materials for the school on the Hill site had to be delivered via Back Lane from the Hook Norton Road.
The first houses on Back Lane were built before the second World War in the 1930s and were associated with the school. The semi-detached homes in Hillfield, two bungalows and Beech Cttage were built for school staff. The entrance and drive to Beech Cottage can be seen in the forefront of the photograph. Holly House Close was owned by the Harris family, but in 1873 143 acres of land were sold to Richard Holtom Lamb. On his death John Lamb moved into the house and some orchards were sold in 1911 to Edward E Boorne to build a new house, Home Close. This land contained the village Bowling Green which formed part of the new garden of Home Close, but villagers retained its use as their Bowling Green which was still accessed via Back Lane. Later, the old farm buildings were sold to David Messenger, a local builder, who converted the buildings into the residence now known as Lambs Croft. The sale of more orchards meant that further housing could be built. This included Cotswold Close in the 1950s and the bungalows at the Hook Norton end of Back Lane in the 1970s. Residents living in properties adjacent to Back Lane have established a right of way through usage, but have no ownership of the Lane which remains designated by the County Council as a Bridleway.