ASKETT FARM

On 12th. August 1461 Robert Sloo and his wife Joan signed a feoffment (agreement for fee) with John Goodman and William Alkanor for the messuage and garden and 3 acres 1 rood in the fields which had been left in the will of Nicholas Sloo, his father. This property of course was still under the jurisdiction of Canterbury, and the Prior also held the assize (tax) on ale within the manor, so William Alkanor - the ale­keeper established his 'shop' on land over the road from his friend Goodman the farmer.

By 1517 William Sloo, son of Robert, re-assigned the property to Thomas Clarke who, on 13th. December 1530 bought the lease from William Sloo, and re-let it to Francis Lee and William Janyn.

In 1580 King Henry VIII had sold the abbey lands in Meadle and Askett, to Thomas Clarke and another Alkanor, (there is no mention of the name Alkanor in the sixteenth century records for Askett, so one can only assume that he sold his land here to Thomas Clarke).

On 3rd. August 1600, another Thomas Clarke was born, so continuing the family tradition. Apart from other sisters, on 20th. January 1615 Ginkin Clarke was born, and so the family increased and the cottage was refurbished in 1634. On 7th. July 1637 Thomas Clarke died and the land was sold.

It is at this point where mention must be made of one of the oldest and long recorded names in Askett - that of BALD WIN. The links between the famous names in history and Askett are tenuous but it is necessary at this junction to explain this occurrence. At the time of the Norman Conquest. Great Hampden Manor belonged to BALDWYNE. It became part of the lands of William, son of Ansculf, who granted them to Baldwyne's son Osbert, who in turn passed them to his son Baldwin de Hampden. The descendants of Hampden are traced from him; the office of Sheriff in the thirteenth and fourteenth century; Alexander, the great, great, great grandson signed the first Askett charter. The name recurs again, as Henry VIII sold Ellesborough to Sir John Baldwin for £623.18s.5d.

It may be supposed that these people of note were all descendants of the local Baldwin de Hampden, who held the title until 1754 when the link was broken, as the Hampden lands were transferred to the Hobart family.

Several of the names were evident in the Parish Register for Monks Risborough - for instance Silvester of Askett died in 1620, named after the owner of Dunsmore Manor - possibly a cousin.

By the early seventeenth century there were four Baldwin brothers and their families living in the little white cottage up the lane, the original home of the Baldwin family in the earlier centuries, built on their own land and with farm land distributed in parcels throughout the area.

With so many wives in the kitchen, two brothers and their wives decided to buy the corner cottage and land after Thomas Clarke died.

Richard the elder brother had several children, Sarah being the first to be born after the move, and Richard later.

Young Richard was obviously the leader of the village youth, as in 1684 at the Christmas Sessions at Aylesbury he was discharged after being accused of 'forcible entry and detainer'. The other brother Michael outlived his elder brother, and in 1722 he was listed as a free- holder, entitled to vote in the election that sent Montague Drake Esq. to Parliament. He had a daughter Elizabeth born in 1716, and in 1719 a son, Jacob, who by 1784 was the head of the family and voted for Earl Verney in that election. There is a note in the Parish Records of his death in Askett at age 84 in 1798, an unusually long life for the period.

It is in Richard's family that the line continues. In 1743 Henry Baldwin was born and by 1784 this Henry Baldwin also voted in the election, from the older property, and Richard had named his youngest son Henry, born in 1772, and it is this Henry that became head of the family, marrying Mary and becoming both farmer of the Baldwin lands and also Maltster - thus returning to the tradition of adjacent properties.

In 1831 Henry Baldwin was listed as freeholder entitled to vote in that election and the next year, his son Henry, who had also married a Mary, presented him with a grandson, to carry on the tradition of the oldest son being named Henry.

Maps of the early nineteenth century show that a good deal of land in Askett was still owned by the family, so one can assume by this uncontroversial evidence that they contined to contribute to the life of the hamlet, although the Baldwin lands became split up as the sons each claimed his share.

In the census returns for 1841 Henry the farmer and Mary his wife are listed as grocer and lacedealer.

His father Henry is Maltster and Registrar by 1851 and son Henry is apprenticed wheelwright, as is also Peter aged 14.

By 1861 Henry the farmer had died and Mrs Mary Baldwin continued to run the· grocers shop. This shop was at one end of Askett Farm Cottage, selling bacon and sugar etc.

A grandson to this Henry, born in 1854 continued the family tradition of grazing his cattle on the green, and it is remembered that he roasted the pigs on the green to provide the ham for the shop! The tradition continued until 1911, when the farm was sold.

Early twentieth century has been re-collected by Dick Frost, whose father Augustus, as a London coachman at the beginning of the century met and married a lady from Stoke Mandeville. With the coming of the 'motorcar, Mr Frost senior, came from where there were still four footed animals, and as suggested by his brother-in-law settled at Askett Farm in 1911 with his young family.

At the cottage they strengthened the wattle and daub between the wooden supports with concrete, and closed the shop which faced the main road. Young Mr Frost, after attending school at Monks Risborough (which was lit by gas in 1917), planted the willow trees at the edge of the stream to provide the willow canes for re- thatching the cottage. The stream was much wider then, between what is now Crockett's, and Askett Farm, and water cress was grown there and cut once a year. These beds were let to Mr Williams of Longwick for twenty five shillings a year in 1913.

The dairy farm flourished, and although milk was sent to London at one penny a pint, there were times when a young Miss East for instance, was seen pedalling frantically along on a bicycle with several cans, to collect milk when there was none available in Monks Risborough!

Usually though the wives of farmers separated the milk to make butter, which they took to Thame or Aylesbury market together with the pigs and ducks they had reared. Ducks were reared in large numbers for the London market too, and sold at two shillings plucked. Not all was hard work though, as the village green opposite Askett Farm, was used for fun, at various times of the year. As time went on Mr Dick Frost turned to poultry farming, but then sold the property in 1965 and retired to live in Letter Box Lane. Mr Roger Raymond next owned the property, redesigning the interior and garden. New owners have made more changes.

 

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