DATA BASE REF: A/F 1008
THEO AND MEENA HENSMAN OF VILLAGE FARM CASTOR
Theo farmed Village Farm Castor, with his wife Meena. The first member of Theo’s family to be farming in the village was his grandfather George Wade.
George Hensman m Clara Warr George Wade m Mary Slack
Sidney Catherine George Alfred
Hensman m Wade Wade Wade
Theo m Meena Mary Ruth Grace Claude Lorna Robin Robina
in Canada in Germany m Frank
Farms Associated with the Wades and the Hensman:
Theo’s paternal grandfather, George Hensman lived in Thornhaugh, where he had the Post Office, bakers and a milking round. They kept cows for the milk round, and if the weather was bad the milk was carried round the village in pails on a yoke, for the pony could not get up the hill if it was icy. The cows were kept in a paddock in and around the house. Theo’s maternal grandfather George Wade farmed at Sacrewell Farm, which was then owned by William Abbott, brother of Wyman Abbott the solicitor. By coincidence they lived there in a cottage where Meena’s aunt was a maid. George Wade came from Black Ham, Holme Fen, worked first for Mr Goodale at Glinton, then Mr Glue at Wittering, before going to Sacrewell. Sacrewell was a mixed farm. The mill there at the time was not in operation, until one day when Mr Alfred Wade investigated the mill to see if it would work. Having looked he left the restraining chain off. In the middle of the night came a great storm, the water level rose, there was a great thundering sound, and the rusting machinery started working, the wheel turning! In the days at Village Farm Castor, they used to take the corn for stock feed to be ground at Sacrewell Farm Mill until Mr Hipwell restated Water Newton Mill; they would then take the corn as far as the lock-gate on a cart, then had to carry it across the lock to the Mill.
In 1928 the Wade family, Theo’s grandfather George and his wife Mary, moved to Village Farm Castor. It came about this way. They used to go from Sacrewell to Peterborough Market to shop. If they could not get a lift on a carrier’s cart they would walk the whole way. The route took them through Castor. One day when passing, Grannie (Mary) Wade noticed that Village Farm seemed to be derelict, so she inquired of the Church Commissioners to see if it was vacant, for they felt they were at the beck and call of William Abbott at Sacrewell and decided to branch out on their own as tenants. It turned out that Village Farm had been empty for ten years, so they took on the lease. To start with there was 80 acres, mixed and arable, with the grass round the house and in the empties (the fields opposite the farm across the Peterborough Road.) Their livestock included at first long-horn style red cattle, quite vicious in temperament. In those days a bullock had to be three years old before it could be slaughtered. As a result of discussion with a Mr Burke, the Church Commissioners agent, they took on a further 50 acres of arable land down Station Road, near the railway line. One day George Wade told Mr George Fitzwilliam that if he had any more land they would take it up at Village Farm. Within a few weeks he was sent for and biked up to the Hall, and was told “there is more land for you Wade, between Duckpaddles, Oldfield Pond and White’s Pond.” Mr Wade replied, “I can’t take that on, for it is farmed by a widow woman (Mrs Sharpe). “Take it or leave it” replied Mr Fitzwilliam “for it is all you will have from me.” Mr Wade took it; this was a further 180 acres. He was given it rent-free for the first three years, then for ten shillings an acre thereafter, but of course this was not written down.
Farming Life at Village Farm, Castor:
They had no dairy at Village Farm; the milking cows were used for suckling calves, milk for the house and any excess used to feed young pigs. They had five horses that Theo remembers; Pearl was a lovely chestnut, Gilliver a dapple-grey, and Gypsy a chestnut. Pearl had a foal that used to run from the back of the farm to the front. One lambing time Mr Wade put a sheep-cane across, and the foal ran into it, broke a leg and had to be out down. Pearl was struck by lightning during a thunderstorm in the Empties, and died in the field. Mr wade bought a horse called major, a dapple-grey, from Mr Jarvis. Mr Wade did everything; he was his own horseman. He would get up at 4 or 5am, feed the horses, have breakfast, and then go out to the fields at 6 or 7am. He would come back home at about 3pm, have dinner and sleep in a chair. He wore this large, long coat which smelt of horse, sweat and binder string, with deep pockets. Theo remembers asking to sleep in granddad’s “potit” (pocket). Grandpa wade died in 1948 age 67. Grannie wade remained at Village farm until her 80th year, although it was too big for an elderly lady, so Theo in his teens moved back into it, and did it up a bit, and then Alf Wade and Doris also moved into it. Theo’s father Sid Hensman also worked on the farm, having married George Wade’s daughter Catherine. Sid moved in and worked for his keep, with no wages when he was just 21. All Catherine and Sid’s children were born at Village Farm. When Sid married his second wife Ivy he moved into Rose Cottage. The year Theo and Meena married, 1963 the weather was very bad. Thoe gave up the farmhouse at Village Farm in 1978, but kept on the farm. He and Meena moved to 2 Splash Lane (a tied cottage for the Limes Farm) when Jack Longfoot moved out, then to Maffit Road (where Gladdy Craythorne now lives), then to Church View (41 Peterborough Road, a Milton house), then finally to 5 Andrews Close Ailsworth which they bought of Miss Goodyear.
Notes made by W Burke talking to Theo and Meena on 12 November 2002 at their house in Andrew’s Close, Ailesworth.