Sibford Scene Archive

Sibford Scene Extra-02 May 1997

Click on the cover image to download the complete edition

Pages 11 - 14 are missing from the Archive copy

Text, letter

Holly House

Holly Tree Close, now Holly House, was the ancestral home of the Harris family, who were living in Sibford Ferris from the early seventeenth century and probably longer. Violet Harris is the one remaining person in the village with the Harris surname, although there are several descendants of the female line.

Up to the end of the nineteenth century it would have been a working farm and a wooden floor was put in the centre of the barn so that the farmer could hear the flails and know that his men were still working, without leaving his fireside.

Holly Tree Close was sold by the Harris’s in 1873 along with 143 acres of land in 3 lots, and was bought by Richard Holtom Lamb, who at one time used the house for storing wool. This venture was not a money spinner as wool was imported from Australia at just that time, causing a slump in prices. After Richard H. Lamb died in 1897, his son John (grandfather to Frank and Bill Wealsby and Winifred Stewart) took over the property and renovated the house and created a beautiful garden. He and his brother, Joshua, grew some oak trees and planted them to form the row between Holly Tree Close and The Piece.

The next owner of Holly House after John Lamb moved to Elm Ridge in Sibford Gower, was his brother Charles who let it to the local doctor, who had his waiting room and surgery in part of what is now the school sanatorium. In about 1932, when Dr. Taylor moved his surgery to Nicholas Corner, the house became a guest house, which was used largely by visitors to the Friends School. The guest house was run by a niece of Charles Lamb and she was married to the Woodwork master at the Friends School. The school bought the property in the 1940s and used part of it to house a resident mistress and about a dozen senior girls, with the rest of the house still occupied by the Woodwork master and his family. In the 1950s it was converted into a headmastcr’s house and the barn was made into the San. Other outbuildings were made into garages and a roadway made through to the Hill buildings, which had till then been served only by the Back Lane.

A Farmer Writes

 As the winter disappears with the comet Hale-Bopp it looks like we could be in for yet another dry summer. We have recorded 8mm of rain in March and none in April and as we begin to turn the cows and calves out it is probably one of the earliest springs I have known.

Having started calving at the beginning of February one begins to get tired of late nights, early mornings and interruptions at 2 or 3 a.m. to assist with a difficult birth. However, calving has been fairly trouble free up until now unlike last year when caesarians were occurring at about one a week and at one stage two in one night. Talking to the Vet it seems that problems are generally less frequent in the spring calving beef herd this year. You still get disappointments, for instance when a calf of 6 days old is found dead, probably having been stepped on when the cows decided to have a rampage round the yard. Generally calves’ problems are down to one of three causes – scour, pneumonia or navel infection, the latter being the most difficult to clear up as it often gets into the leg joints (“joint ill”) or into the liver (very serious). Spraying the navel with iodine for a few days to help dry it up and scrupulous hygiene usually keeps the problems at bay.

However, once they are turned out walking through them on a summer evening makes it all worthwhile. I know many people are concerned at having bulls in fields they walk through but beef bulls, especially the Belgian Blues, are pretty quiet. It is in fact the cows with their instinct to protect their calves who should be treated with caution. When walking please make sure you shut all gates, keep dogs under control as it is these that cause the cows most concern and if they are grazing or resting on a footpath please give them a wide berth, walking as far away from them as possible. Grass fields are for animals as well as humans and if the codes are respected it is a beautiful place for all.

Above, you may see one or two items of historical interest from this edition. To see the whole edition, click on the front-page image to download it as a pdf.