Friday, August 12, 2022

Obden Farm - sometimes known as Hobden Hall

Obden Farm ©

The earliest description of Obden is by Thomas Habington who, in the early 1600s, said that ‘Obden exceedethe nowe all Wychbaud in buylding’ and that it was ‘so fayre a house’. The present house is made of stone on older stone foundations, so it is possible that this first house was stone built, as were many of the prestigious buildings in the area. The importance of Obden estate is reflected in the lay subsidy rolls of 1603, where Sir Samuel Sandys and John Harris, the then owners of Obden, paid 16 shillings, the largest amount collected in Dodderhill. Richard Saunders of Upton Warren was the bailiff of Obden before his death in 1613. We have been unable to identify the occupiers of Obden when the hearth tax was taken in 1662 but the occupier of Sagebury was Edmund Daunce and his wife Alice. They paid for one hearth, which was probably in the hall or kitchen and would have been used for cooking as well as heating.

The walls of the cellars of the present house are made of large rectangular blocks of dressed sandstone. One of the blocks has a crude carving which could be considered ‘ecclesiastical’. A very large rectangular block, which has moulded detailing, today forms a lintel across an opening between two parts of the cellar. It was obviously never originally carved for its present location, as one end of the block disappears into the wall at right-angles to it making the carving at that end hidden from view. It is probable that this particular block once formed an arched lintel for a doorway in a completely different building.

Another cellar built in a similar manner with similar sandstone blocks, also owned by the Dethick family in the 16th century, is at Whitford and Dodderhill School, formerly known as Hill Court. It is possible that these cellars were built using stone from the dissolved nunnery at Westwood or the hospital of St. Mary in Droitwich which was closed some years before the dissolution of the monasteries began in 1536.

By 1676 Obden was occupied by Richard Edwards and his wife Susanna. The main room of the house was the hall, where all the cooking was done over a fire. The room was furnished with a table, forms, stools and chairs, for the family and farm workers to sit at. It was what we today would call a dining-kitchen. The draught from the door was excluded by a screen, making this the warmest room in the house. The stone cellars were used for storing the drinking vessels and a powdering tub. This was a tub used to soak pork in brine when bacon was being made. The pantry, near the cellar, housed the cheese press and some spinning wheels and was used as a storeroom. It may have held food but this is not listed in inventories because of its perishable nature. There were three other chambers, including one known as the matted chamber. This room probably had woven rush matting on the floor. It held a table which was covered with a carpet (at this date carpets were not put on the floor) and chairs, chests of linen and yarn, a trunk and a cupboard. The room was also used for storage and held cheese, malt and wool as well as some French beans. One of the other chambers was also a storage room and held threshed wheat and muncorn (a mixture of grains) and a cheese rack or ‘cratch’. The remaining room was the bedchamber. Richard left over £221.

Richard Edwards had died in 1676 but his wife remained at Obden until her death in 1685. There were some changes made after her husband’s death and it seems that Susanna moved into the matted chamber as she bequeathed a bed there to her granddaughter, Susanna Chellingworth. Susanna had fallen out with her son whom she accused of being ‘undutiful ‘ and showing ‘great unkindness’ to her and made her daughter, Susanna Green, her executrix. She claimed that her son had £52 in cattle and money from her and part of this was to pay his children’s legacy left to them by their grandfather. Richard had been ‘a loving son’ to his father and his children had been left £10 each by their grandfather. The rest of his money was to be distributed by his executors after the death of Susanna; Richard and his wife Margery were to receive 30 shillings each. Susanna wanted Richard to pay back the money he owed ‘peacably’ and then she would give him an extra £10 ‘if she could spare it’ but if he caused ‘disturbance’ or a law suite then he would receive only 12 pence.

It is possible that the house was divided at this time as Edward Howel died at Obden in 1681. Susanna Edwards and her son-in-law, John Green, and his wife, Susanna, were witnesses to his will. He had a kitchen and possibly two other chambers, one of which was a bed chamber, listed on the inventory of his goods and chatels.

John Green died suddenly in 1685 shortly after his mother in law, leaving £274 1s. The rooms are not described in his inventory but the hall was still being used as a kitchen, suggesting that the house was still divided. His brother in law Richard Edwards was the appraiser of his goods, so it is possible that he carried on running the farm at Obden.

By 1728 the house is described as having a kitchen, hall, buttery and cellar with chambers over the kitchen, hall and buttery and a toploft which held two old beds. There was also a cheese chamber, day house (dairy), malt house and an area called ‘The Space’. The Space was where the cheese press and churn were stored. There are no further inventories after this date to add to the picture of the changes made to Obden and its rebuilding.

The main house, as it appears today, was built sometime after 1733 when Lazarus Wilson, who was already in occupation of the property following in the footsteps of his father Mathew, signed a 21-year lease with the landowner Daniel Nott. Lazarus was to have the existing farm buildings, plant flax and hemp, maintain the grazing, and erect a new messuage (farmhouse), cart house, pigcote and sty, at £105 pa rent.

The house Lazarus built was erected on the same foundations as an earlier house on this site. The front elevation of the current building is built entirely of dressed stone, but the sides and rear of the property have stone walls to about 7ft or 8ft high with the remainder of the walls to roof height built in brick. It is possible that the earlier house on the site was made entirely from stone and that was reused in the c 1733/4 rebuild, until it ran out, and that brick was then used for the remainder of the build. In 1802 the owner of Hobden, Miss Ann Wilmot, married Thomas H Bund, and it is at about this time that the north wing of the house was greatly extended, increasing its size by about a third. However, in the late 1980s this addition to the main house became unstable and had to be demolished.

Hobdenhall Farm 1920

Hobdenhall Farm was sold in 1920 as part of the Corbett Estate

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