Trinity Manor Farm

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This article by Brian Blench was first published in the 1964 Annual Bulletin of La Société Jersiaise

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The farm in 1795

The period of agricultural depression immediately after the Napoleonic wars is particularly significant in the history of British agriculture. The importance of the stability of wheat production and prices was one of the first lessons of the wartime blockades and it was only then, after the post-war problems had been solved, that experiments with the "new husbandry" could be attempted under more normal conditions. The major difficulties which had faced the Jersey farmers since the 1780s were being surmounted and experiment and change were becoming more common. The object of this paper is to illustrate some of these experiments and changes as they were carried out on one of the manor farms.

Philip de Carteret

At the period to which the manuscripts relate, Trinity Manor was owned by Captain Philip de Carteret (1776-1828), who, after a brilliant career in the Royal Navy, had retired in 1817 to the Manor which he had inherited 21 years earlier. In 1822 he had added his mother's maiden-name, in its anglicized form, and was afterward known as Carteret-Silvester.

The map of the farm has been traced from Gardner's map of 1795. The field names have kindly been provided by Joan Stevens from her current survey of Jersey field names. The names of fields have changed considerably since 1830, and therefore only those which can be located without question have been mapped. Since the survey of 1795, some minor changes in field boundaries have taken place but, when this survey is compared with the present-day Ordnance Survey map, there is a surprising lack of any major change. The field boundary shown on the map by a dotted line is probably the one whose removal is described in Carteret's diary. The plan of the manor-house itself is as it stood in 1795 though by 1820 a new manor house had been constructed to the south of the building shown on the map.

[Editor's note: It is not clear on what the writer has based this assertion that a new manor was built between 1795 and 1820. This is not supported by Joan Stevens' article in Old Jersey Houses Vol 1 which refers to the central part of the current house having been built in about 1601, nor by the 1922 article by Athelston Riley, which refers only to a 'doubling in size' of the manor around the beginning of the 19th century, not to the construction of a new building]

Annual work

It will be of value to consider at the outset the year's work on the farm as far as it is described in the manuscripts and then to study, in more detail, some of the methods and innovations. There was a period of intense activity during the autumn of 1820. The earliest sowing of wheat, mixed with vetches, was recorded on 27 September and much of October was taken up with skim-ploughing the Grande Promenade for wheat, and La Masse du Sud for a spring planting of oats. The labourers were at work "grubbing and trenching" Les Vieux Manoirs at "1s 2d a perch of 22 feet square". Another important task was the removal of the bank between the Grande Promenade and the Clos de Thomas Nicolle. An entry for 30 November 1820 states that "the bank of earth remaining on the side of the hedge . .. has been in part levelled by throwing abroad by the plough which operation has been repeated eight times and as much rain has fallen, it is probable that wheat might this first year succeed". The removal of the bank had taken over a month. At the same time rye was sown in the Parcq Mollet for sheep feed in the spring.

November 1820 was taken up with finishing the planting of wheat in the Promenade which had been started in October. The Grande Garenne was ploughed for wheat but not planted till 9 February 1821. After de Carteret's visit to the Isle of Wight between 7 and 15 November, work was started on the new plantation. Breaking of the ground for spring sowing continued throughout November and December for the diarist comments "the whole of our time will be taken for the purpose of finishing the plantation and fencing while Leonard drags the Grande Garenne with four horses". Little activity was reported for January except the completion of the pulling of parsnips and the dunging of the land for wheat.

The beginning of February again saw great activity. The Parcq Blampied and the Grande Garenne were sown with wheat, St Maurice with rye, La Pralaine with vetches, and Les Vieux Manoirs with a mixture of rye and vetches. In March 1821 clover was sown by machine in Le Parcq Blampied, oats in Les Sourcins, La Masse du Sud and Le Parcq a Coinn, potatoes in the Park, parsnips in Les Champs de Cabot and, on 8 March beans "in every alternate furrow, leaving a space of two feet between the rows into which it is intended to plant mangel wurzel, raised in seed plots". The parsnips failed and were replaced in May by swede turnips (which also failed), and potatoes; in June the mangel wurzels were added successfully.

In April and May oats and vetches were sown in Les Vieux Manoirs and Les Sourcins, and barley mixed with clover or lucerne was sown in Le Clos de Gruchy and Le Long Parcq. By this time the October-sown rye was up and served for sheep feed for about three weeks, and at the same time the drainage operations described below were undertaken. The last oats and vetches were sown during June and haymaking commenced on the 19th. By August the wheat was ready for cutting and the last entry in the diary notes that the barley was carried on 28 October 1821.

Though this account of the year's work is incomplete, it provides an interesting picture of the work of the farmer through the year and we can now examine some of the methods employed.

A visit to the Manor farm in the 1960s

Isle of Wight visit

One of the most interesting sections of the memorandum book is the account of de Carteret's visit to the Isle of Wight between 7 and 15 November 1820. The objects of his visit were varied and included the purchase of wheat and oats for seed, a winnowing machine, and implements for use in the dairy. He was also interested in obtaining permission to import long-woolled sheep into Jersey. After arriving at Yarmouth on Wednesday 8 November, the author immediately walked the eight miles to "Brixton" (probably the modern Brighstone). The next day he was able to buy the winnowing machine, the wheat and some castings from the iron foundry at Newport. He was also greatly impressed by "a steaming apparatus on an immense scale for cooking potatoes for cattle, potatoes very large, some weighing 2½ lb each".

During the tour de Carteret showed great interest in the dairy herds and the use of mangel wurzel as a feed for them. With all his missions accomplished, he was able to spend a considerable part of the time discussing methods with many of the local farmers. On the return journey he sailed from Southampton, (where he had spent Monday 13th), at 3 pm on Tuesday 14th. The ship laid to from midnight till 6 am and he did not reach Jersey till 2 pm on Wednesday 15th.

Trees

The Monday which he had spent in Southampton had not been wasted for it was then that he ordered the varieties of fir for the new plantation which was to occupy so much of his attention in the autumn and spring. He recorded his surprise in finding the nurseries "drained of almost everything measuring 2 feet in height as landowners ... [were] going up to planting much of that land which has been brought into tillage ... [and] no thorn plants larger than a straw stout."

On 25 November the trees, which had been ordered from Rogers' nursery in Southampton, arrived. The consignment was of Scotch firs, Larch, Weymouth pine, Balm Giliad, Carolina poplar, Spruce, Laurel and Portugal - all in batches of 25. There was also a batch of 25 Chestnuts which as "they were not ordered, nor charged, nor wanted for planting" were returned. The new plantation had been carefully planned and a full description of the method of planting is given.

"In forming the new plantation the following order is intended to be observed. The first row to consist of evergreen shrubs, and not a deciduous plant to be allowed a place in it, the second row to be formed of an evergreen and a fir alternately, the fir to be either the spruce, the silver or the Weymouth pine as these varieties send out branches from near the ground, which in time will penetrate the evergreens toward the front, and so form one green surface. The third row of Scotch firs, to be planted so as to appear from the front as breaking the insterstices remaining between the evergreens and branching firs in the second row, a fourth row will be formed of a mixture of Scotch and larch with here and there a spruce and silver fir, mountain ash and other deciduous trees might be dotted amongst them and the back row will be formed by stout larches. The wall has already been covered with evergreens which will hide it from the view when the back row of larches have shed their leaves".

It is difficult to follow in detail the development of the plantation because comparatively few of the field names have remained constant, and it is therefore difficult to decide whether the planting of trees mentioned in the diary refers specifically to the new plantation or merely to small additions to other existing stands. The new plantation would appear to be the large stand immediately to the south-west of the present manor-house. Part of the planting was begun on 8 December. The rest of the planting was held up during March "for want of some more Scotch firs to fill the inner part of the plantation", but by April 1821 the whole operation had been completed, as well as the planting of some "large oaks in the back avenue".

Park drainage

Immediately after the completion of the plantation, another major improvement, in the draining of the park, was undertaken. It has so far not been possible to trace the exact location of the Park, but it seems likely that it lay to the north-east of fields 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6. Here again the author of the diary shows his willingness to try out new methods. His method, as he describes it, appears similar to the experiments of James Smith of Deanston who returned to the 17th century ideas of Elith and Worlidge.

During the operation several old shallow drains were discovered running down the slope. These had very few stones in them but they were "large to fill completely the drain". In addition, the placing of bushes under the stones had been done so inefficiently that they had been crushed so that no water at all could pass down the drains. The new drains were dug "to the depth of the peaty subsoil in some places. However, after digging 4 feet the peat appeared as though it were as deep again", and across the slope running into a central channel downslope; the whole system thus formed a pattern of superimposed Y's. This method appears to have been successful for it is recorded that "although these drains have been dug but a few days, the land is become so dry and firm that a cart loaded with stones, passes close to the edge of them ... without making much impression".

Land use

When considering arable farming methods in Jersey, it is important to remember that fields lying fallow throughout the year were virtually unheard of during the period to which the records of Trinity Manor refer. Le Couteur, writing 20 years later in 1842, stated that land prices in Jersey made it uneconomic to allow any land to remain idle and it is unlikely that this was then a new attitude to farming practice.

It was as a result of this attitude, rather than of the influence of the publicists of the Norfolk course, that the crop rotations, as illustrated by the diary, were put into practice. However the final pattern of land use is similar in essentials, with clover, turnips or other root crops being planted between successive grain crops. It is interesting to note here that only one field was sown with spring wheat, the rest of the wheat crop being sown in the late autumn.

This suggests that, in one respect at least, Jersey farmers suffered some isolation from the newer techniques. As was by this time common practice, the seed was "brined and limed" as a precaution against smut.

The amount of seed sown is given in great detail and by comparison with English practice at the time, appears to have been very high: "The quantity of wheat sown on Promenade is less than a cabot and a half per vergee, on Blampied it is one cabot and a half and one third per vergee ... two cabots are calculated to be equal in quantity to one bushel." This amount was considerably less than the Jersey average, as the author states later that it was "customary to sow 3 cabots per vergee, which is full 3½ bushels per acre."

Ploughing

It is unfortunate that no yields per acre are given in the granary record for 1820-21; but a few years later, 30-40 bushels per acre are given as a normal wheat crop. The credit for these high returns was attributed almost entirely to the use of the trench-plough, the functions of which were described in detail by Le Couteur, who noted that the use of the trench-plough was limited to soils that were turned to a depth of at least eight to ten inches but could be turned to a depth of eighteen inches or more.

The objects of using the trench-plough were set out by Le Couteur to the Royal Agricultural Society of England and were "to compress three or more ploughings and harrowings, spread over the whole fallowing season, into two ploughings and harrowings, hence affecting a saving of much labour" and "to increase the weight of all the subsequent crops". The method of ploughing found in the manuscripts seems to have been very similar to that described by Le Couteur. The memorandum book shows that a skim-ploughing was given in October or November and the land then allowed to lie exposed to the winter frosts, and was then manured. Just before the sowing, the second ploughing probably with the trench-plough was given.

Animal husbandry

One very significant feature of the diary is the interrelation of the crop and animal husbandry, which is especially well illustrated by the description of the ploughing of the Parcq Mollet in May 1821:

"Began plowing Parcq Mollet preparatory to turnip crop. The rye has given about three weeks to the ewes and lambs at the most trying period of the year, and they have left in return a coat of most excellent manure, added to this ... on turning up the land the weedy surface which was buried by the plough on 11 October is found to be completely decomposed and become a manure, so that the advantages arising from an autumnal sowing with rye are very great."

It was realised that this close connection of animals and crops was not always of value, and describing the hay-making of 1820, the diarist noted that it had been usual to turn the cows into the meadow before cutting the hay, but the result of this was obviously very unprofitable "for the cows pick out all the best grass and the remainder is almost a caput mortuum as we found on feeding the hay this winter, for the cattle would not eat the hay."

From the beginning of November the cows were normally taken into the "stables" for the night, where those which gave the most milk were fed on turnips while the rest had oats and straw. Some of the heifers were allowed in December to eat the rough grass in some fields so that it was short enough for skim-ploughing. Few cattle were slaughtered for meat, most of them being kept entirely for their milk, while the production of butter appears to have been an important item in the farm economy.

Butter production

During the year covered by the diary book 3 October 1820 to 27 September 27 1821 - 893 lb of butter were produced; 585 lb, some 65 per cent of the production, were sold. The monthly production was subject to great variation. In the three winter months of December, January and February, butter was made only once every fortnight, whereas in June, July and August it was made every five days. Throughout the rest of the year a weekly butter-making was common. The price of butter also fluctuated, ranging from 10d per pound between June and September, increasing to 1s 4d and 1s 5d per pound between October and March and declining during April and May. The total income for butter for the year amounted to £25 14s 5½d. In contrast, eggs and poultry realised only £2 12s 6½d, but it must be noted that eggs fetched only 6d per dozen.

The only other animals of major importance in the farm economy appear to have been sheep and hogs. Little is said about the latter, but they appear to have spent much of the year grazing in the various grass areas of the farm till April when they were removed and fed on potatoes. The granary record shows that throughout the year they consumed an average of one sack (7 cabots) of barley per week.

It is of interest to note that the farmer relied on Colonel Touzel's boar for breeding purposes, until he received a gift of a boar and a sow from a friend in the Isle of Wight.

Sheep

About the diarist's method of sheep rearing, we are given a little more information but it is not possible to decide whether the sheep were kept mainly for wool or for mutton. The only clue is that during the visit to the Isle of Wight, their owner attempted to gain permission to import some long-woolled sheep into Jersey.

It should be recalled that in the early 19th century the wool trade of the Channel Islands was declining and it seems likely that the wool would, in any case, have been for local consumption only. The Trinity Manor flock in 1821 consisted of 53 sheep and 28 lambs; these totals included 3 rams and 3 dry ewes; 32 of the 53 sheep had been born in 1820. In 1821 the first lambs were born on 8 January 8.

In addition to their normal grazing, the sheep were fed from January to April on turnips, and great care was taken to ensure the maximum benefit. It was estimated that one-third of the whole turnip crop was ruined by fieldmice, which apparently ate the inside of the turnip leaving the outside whole, and the turnip apparently perfect. In feeding the sheep a careful division was made across the middle of the field to prevent the dry flock from feeding on the green turnips which were reserved for the ewes and lambs. On 10 April the memorandum book entry states: "It is calculated that the turnips in the Clos de Gruchy have held out until this day ... so that six vergees [2½ acres approx] of turnips are sufficient and plenty for so many sheep and lambs for 71 days at this time of year". The turnips that the sheep pulled but did not eat were left for 15 cows and heifers which were expected to finish them in about 15 days.

Household accounts

In comparison with the farming memoranda, the household accounts are tantalising in their brevity. Most of the normal items of household purchase are mentioned, but not their quantity, so that it is difficult to estimate prices. Soap, fish, suet, spice, meat, spirit, yeast, black lead, salt and saltpetre all appear, but no quantities are stated - even cheese is recorded as having been bought.

There are other interesting items of expenditure: recorded postage of a letter to the Isle of Wight cost one shilling, a wooden spoon 5d, mugs (number unspecified) for the kitchen 7d and a mop 1s 11d. The glazier who mended a window received 1s 10d. Two items appear regularly throughout the year: a weekly entry of 8d for the char and three shillings per visit to the washerwoman who usually came once or twice a month.

The group of manuscripts certainly repays careful study but it has not been possible to examine in this article all the items of interest. The documents give an unusual insight into the running of one of the more important of the Jersey farms and it is hoped, in the near future, to correlate their detail with that in many of the other manuscripts relating both to Trinity Manor and other farms on the island, which are in the library of the Société Jersiaise. The early 19th century is of major importance in any study of the development of agriculture in the Island as it was the experiments then conducted which laid the basis of many of the later developments which, in many respects, have placed Jersey in the van of agricultural progress.

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