Glottenham Farm

Glottenham is a 160 acre family working farm set in the High Weald area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It is a mixed farm, with around 20 acres of woodland, plus arable and grazing for sheep and Sussex beef cattle. There are a handful of chickens, plus mischevous Indian Runner ducks that resist rehoming and just keep coming back...

The farm lies on a hill between two valleys, with streams on each side. The local ironwork research group has identified the site of an ancient bloomery site in Glottenham stream, probably dating from Roman times, and the woodland was possibly planted by the Romans as it is predominantly hornbeam, which makes the best charcoal for this purpose. It is a very historical landscape, with ancient sunken roads dating from pre-medieval times, and archaeological finds from prehistory.

At the highest point is the site of Glottenham Castle, a scheduled monument. The medieval castle itself was removed in the 16th century, but most of the medieval boundary ditches and banks are still in evidence, as well as platforms which were again used for charcoal making or ironworking. Rob and Emma are creating a wetland area, restoring another ancient feature of the farm – huge dams border the upper wetland field, which date back at least 600 years, and created lakes for game and fish for previous occupants.

By the 19th century Glottenham was famous for its hop growing, and at this time it was owned by the family of Barbara Leigh Smith Boudichon, a leading light in the women’s rights movement, artist and educationalist and cousin of Florence Nightingale. This bohemian family had connections with the pre-raphaelies, and Christina Rossetti stayed at Glottenham and wrote poetically of her stay, “the greenness and flowers to refresh our London eyes, and a small population of beasts and birds around us.”

Initially the farm continued the tradition of growing hops, and even used the oast house for drying. Sadly the demise of the hop industry left Glottenham, like many other farms, in decline, and this coincided with the retirement of Robert’s parents. Emma and Rob were offered the chance to take over the management a couple of years ago, and after thinking about which direction to take, felt that they wanted to become involved in the HLS scheme, and to run educational courses for schools. They obviously love the farm and appreciate its environment, and feel that it is a great place for people to be able to get away from the bustle and stresses of everyday life.

The farm has recently gone into the Higher Level Stewardship scheme and some of the woodland is under a forestry commission woodland management plan. Coppicing has begun again, after a gap of up to 80 years, and the farm is beginning to produce firewood, charcoal and forestry products.

Old maps show the historical boundaries of the farm have remained the same to the present day, meaning it retains an unusual, unspoilt natural beauty.