Historic Russell’s farm

There are two distinct differences between Russell’s Farm and the other former Tollerton Hall Estate farms. One is its location being somewhat detached from the old village and all the other estate farms which were located closer to Tollerton Hall.

In Potter’s ‘A History of Tollerton’ publication of 1929 there is a very brief reference to Russell’s Farm, stating “Among the field names of Russell’s Farm we have Upper and Nether Mill Close. Although there is no other evidence, these names indicate that a mill stood on this high ground above the farmhouse, near to the spinney planted on Far Mill Close.”

In Potter’s publication there is also a 19th Century Plan of Tollerton Parish which numbers each plot of land and then indexes them by name. This plan also shows Russell’s Farm and the fields mentioned in the previous quote.

The second distinct difference between Russell’s Farm and the other estate farms is that it is the only one named after a person. Russell was a very established family name in the village in the 19th Century. The 1861 Census has William Russell (born 1800) listed as a farmer of 83 acres in Tollerton and John Russell is listed in the Wright’s Commercial and General Directory of 1883 as a Tollerton farmer (see below).

There are also two brief references to Russell’s Farm, Tollerton in the British Newspaper Archive in 1859. One is a short advertisement for a cow man, the other a longer piece relating to a hunting accident. In the latter a man (not local) was injured when jumping a fence and was taken to Russell’s Farm whilst medical help was sort.

Despite these interesting snippets of information, we are unable to say exactly when the farmhouse at Russell’s Farm was built. A descendant of a Tollerton family recalls seeing some years ago a photograph of the farmhouse when it was a thatched building and we are trying to locate that photograph.

The links between the Russell family and Tollerton are wide ranging. Cornelius Russell born 1776 was a coachman at Tollerton Hall and appears as such in the 1841 Census. He died in Tollerton in 1852. In 1851 a John Russell, born 1795 in Tollerton, is listed as a master joiner with three journeymen and one apprentice living in central Nottingham and in 1847 when Pendock Barry Barry, squire of Tollerton Hall, died it was stated that his coffin was made by John Russell of Bridlesmith Gate. This surely must be the same John Russell.

We know that there were numerous John Russells with Tollerton connections. John Russell, born 1851 was the son of John Russell born 1824 who was living at Bridlesmith Gate, Nottingham in 1871. John Russell junior went on to live at Waterloo Road, Nottingham at a property called Roclaveston House. He was a school teacher and in 1901 was the Principal of a small preparatory school for boys in Nottingham called Roclaveston House School located in The Forest area of Nottingham. The name Roclaveston is of course very significant as Tollerton Hall was for many years referred to as Roclaveston Manor.

John Russell of Roclaveston School was also a local representative for Nottinghamshire of the Society of Schoolmasters; Oxford Local Examination Secretary for Nottingham; member of the Council of the Thoroton Society and member of Bromley House Library Committee.

The 1911 Census provides far more detailed information and shows Richard Henry Plowright, his wife, Mabel Annie and two daughters (Adeline and Myra) at Russell’s Farm. Richard Henry Plowright was a son of Henry Plowright of Bassingfield Farm, Tollerton and a brother to Frank Joseph Plowright. Richard and Mabel Annie were married in 1909 so it is plausible that he moved from Bassingfield Farm, the family home, to Russell’s Farm around that time. For how long he and his family stayed at Russell’s Farm is as yet unclear. We do know that Richard’s parents, Henry and Frances, and some of Richard’s siblings had moved from Bassingfield Farm, Tollerton to Radcliffe on Trent by 1918.

The 1928 auction details for the Tollerton Hall Estate gives us details of Russell’s Farm since it was still part of the estate then. The auction brochure says the following about the farmhouse.

“It lies well away from the road, enjoying good views, is brick built with a slated roof and contains: large entrance hall, drawing room, large kitchen, scullery, larder, dairy, five bedrooms. There is a soft water pump in the house. A water supply from the reservoir is laid on to some of the fields.”

The farm buildings are described as: “mostly of similar construction, including two pig styes, cow sheds for 16 cows, stabling for 6 horses. A large, two bay, wood-covered yard, barn and an implement shed.”

There was also a small cottage on the farm, containing front room, kitchen, two bedrooms and E.C (earth closet). The whole farm was then around 106 acres and described as fertile land.