Wednesday, January 04, 2006
30 years - History repeats itself
Coate Farmhouse and its out-buildings are in a very poor state at the moment. The Trust has lodged a formal complaint with Swindon Borough Council, the owners of the Grade II listed building, asking that restoration is undertaken now.
There was a similar appeal launched in 1975 by Sir John Betjeman. Mark Daniel's sketch of the farmhouse and outbuildings is illustrated above.
COATE FARM APPEAL 1975
An appeal by Sir John Betjeman with
Henry Williamson – Vice-president Richard Jefferies Society
Coate Farm, near Swindon, where writer Richard Jefferies was born and spent most of his short life, is in great danger through decay. Several thousand Pounds are needed urgently if the outbuildings are to be saved. This place is important for two reasons:
First, most of the remaining buildings have survived from before the middle of the last century, gaining importance from Jefferies’ descriptions of the farm, the countryside and its people during a period critical to English rural life;
Secondly, Jefferies’ work has been a source of inspiration to imaginative people for a hundred years and has profoundly affected modern country writing.
Parts of the farmhouse date from about 1700 but the outbuildings were constructed by Jefferies’ father, James, about 1840, largely with his own hands. At a time when agricultural depression was forcing many small dairy-farmers off the land, James hung on grimly – and built to last. Eventually he was ruined but his patience with young Richard, who preferred scribbling in notebooks to physical work, gave the world a great writer. The old buildings stand as a monument to a brave farmer and his son, whose vision helped inspire some of the best literature in the world.
It sometimes happens that Scheduled buildings are restored by some official body particularly if, like Coate Farm, they are actually owned by the local authority. However, the Council cannot now spend money on work to which it is not already committed – and the buildings cannot wait. Private support is the only hope.
I would be most grateful if you would help to save Coate Farm by sending a donation to: The Coate Farm Restoration Fund
c/o Mark Daniel etc