Hopewood Farm

  Hopewood Farm, Coxhill, Shepherdswell

Before this farm was developed, the land was covered with trees and the area was  known as Hope Wood. Originally there was some discussion about which parish it lay in, as the boundary between Shepherdswell & Coldred parish and Wootton parish ran through the land and the farm is situated at the top of Lydden Hill. When the farm came into being, the main road from Dover to Canterbury carried less traffic and was single carriageway but the new A2 duel carriageway that was built is now an extremely busy road, with the farm by the junction with traffic lights that leads into Shepherdswell.

Hopewood Farmhouse was erected around 1922 by a local Shepherdswell builder; it is not mentioned on the 1921 Census but was definitely built before the beating of the parish boundaries took place in 1924.

It was a fruit farm growing mainly soft fruit – strawberries, raspberries, currants and gooseberries, etc. The fruit was sold in the farm shop and later as pick-your-own. During the 1940s and 50s, fruit sold at 6d for 1lb (6 pence for 1 pound weight), equivalent today to approximately 2½ pence for 500 grams.

Remarkably little is known about the occupants of the farm. The first known farmer was Herbert Cecil Nash, who would have been in his 20s when he arrived with his widowed mother, Cecilia, and unmarried sister, Joyce. He had had some experienced of farm work when he was a teenager, working with his father, Herbert Henry Nash, at Little Bursted Farm in Upper Hardres near Canterbury. Herbert senior had come into farming late in life, having previously worked as a tobacconist and an assistant senior ledger clerk for a gas company. Herbert junior adapted to life in Shepherdswell, playing cricket and becoming scoutmaster. 

Apart from the fruit, Herbert must have had 1 or 2 animals as in 1936, he sold a pure-bred middle white sow at auction. Joyce was classed as a poultry farmer in the 1939 Register so there would have been chickens on the farm as well.

Hopewood Farmhouse 2023 (photo courtesy of CH)

Currently, it is not known when Herbert gave up the farm or who took it over but the next person that has been found to date is Leslie Morford on the 1945 Electoral Roll,  with the possibility that Edward Haste, described as a fruit grower in the local Shepherdswell directory in 1964, was the next owner. He and his wife continued working for many years, with their son John later joining the business. Many local people will remember getting their fruit there in the summer months, walking up the drive to the building housing receptacles for filling if they hadn’t brought their own, and the old-fashioned scales used to weigh the fruit. You can just see the building shown in the photo below.

Entrance to Hopewood Farm 2023 (photo courtesy of CH

At one time they also grew Christmas trees which local people very much appreciated. 

John worked as a blacksmith as well as working on the fruit farm but subsequently became unwell, dying recently. The farm is no longer trading and it is not known what its future will be.