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Farmyards and farmhouses
in bygone times

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old farmyard and farmhouse

Drawing of an early farmyard and farmhouse, courtesy of Bill Hogg

map of old farmyard showing functions of buildings

Map showing the functions of the various buildings.

The drawing is of a British farmyard and farmhouse as it was in the 1940s. Bill Hogg who supplied it and gave much useful information, points out that the perspective is not entirely accurate in that the farmyard was wider and the farmhouse larger than shown in the drawing.

Underneath is a map of the same farmyard and farmhouse showing the functions of the various buildings.

Most people in Britain before the 1950s would recognise the features of the farmyard because the countryside was only a short bus ride away from most towns. Double-decker buses gave an excellent panoramic view of the fields, and the walks from bus stops took us into fields and through muddy farmyards. Farmers never seemed to mind strangers walking through their farmyards, provided of course that they did no wanton damage. Transmission of farm diseases like foot-and-mouth and salmonella didn't seem to be issues then.

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What the farms were like

Farms were relatively small, such that in rural areas, there seemed to be a different farm every few miles in any direction. In general they were rented from a fairly wealthy landowner.

In general farming was mixed in that, unlike in more recent times, there was no single speciality such as, for example, just dairy farming or just vegetable farming. There were cows, horses, pigs, chickens and crops. There were no sheep on the farms that my informants knew, but if you have any information about sheep farming, please let me know.

If you can add anything to this page or provide a photo, I would be pleased to hear from you.

Pat Cryer, webmaster

There were between twenty and thirty cows and one bull. The cows were taken into the cowshed at night and led out to the fields in the daytime. The bull, though, was not allowed in the fields with the cows because he could be dangerous. He lived inside a barn except for when he was brought out to service a cow. Farmers knew when a cow was ready for servicing because her milk was drying up or it was some time since she calved. The bull had a ring through his nose. The cows were bred for meat as well as for milk.

The pigs were kept in the pigsty and not allowed out. When they were fat enough, they went to market or to a butcher.

The farm's horses were the heavy sort who were there for heavy work where there were no petrol driven vehicles. They lived in the stables when not working.

Much of the farming was what was known as 'subsistence farming' because the mixed farming was inefficient and profits were low.

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The farmers, the farmhands and their families

The farmers who worked these small farms were known as tenant farmers because they rented their farms. They, their families and their farmhands had to work extremely hard for long hours because the mixed farming required so many different tasks to be done.

The farmer's family lived in the farmhouse, while the farmhands and their families lived in cottages some short way away.

  

old farmyard and farmhouse

Drawing of an early farmyard and farmhouse, courtesy of Bill Hogg

map of old farmyard showing functions of buildings

Map showing the functions of the various buildings.

My grandmother worked in the farm's dairy each day churning butter which was made on a thick marble table. This was stored in a large marble box that was lowered down the well in summer to keep it cool.