Many guests are keen to know the history of Robin Hill Farm Cottages and in October 2015 some more pieces of the jigsaw fell into place.
The ‘manor’ of Littleham has been farmed by tenant farmers for centuries with ownership passing between wealthy landowners up to the 1920’s. Originally named Hole Farm, the core of Robin Hill farmhouse maybe 400 years old – it has half metre thick Cob walls made of mud and straw and would have had a thatched roof. The farmhouse was extended in Victorian times along the drive.
Hole Farm continued to be owned privately and farmed up to the late 1960’s when all but 14 acres were sold to a neighbouring farmer and it became a smallholding. The name change to Robin Hill Farm happened a few years later – reputedly named after Bideford’s football team, The Robins, however, we do have lots of robins here as well!
When one of the small holding families from the 1970’s came to stay in Heron Cottage in October 2015 we learned much more! They were fascinated to see the changes made to their barns, house and garden and we were delighted to see some of their wonderful pictures. The barns, stables and sheds housed cattle, horses, hens and ducks and stored hay, tractor and farm implements. It was exciting (for a farmer’s daughter) to see cows in the courtyard and interesting to discover that the footprint of the 1970s barns was very similar to the current day cottages.
Gull Cottage was the stables - a previous visitor had told us that cattle were milked here in the 1950’s.
The tractor was parked in the ground floor of Puffin Cottage, however Puffin’s living spaces are built on an upper paddock! Kingfisher and Swallow Cottages have been created from one large hay barn with tall doors that the fully laden trailer could fit through. Last but not least, their pretty Jersey cows lived in Wren Cottage.
Perhaps the most visible change has occurred behind the present day cottages in the outdoor play area. This plot was planted as an orchard with stream running through it. Today you’ll find the stream is flowing underground through a culvert and the ground has been landscaped and terraced with the all important swimming pool block set at the top of the site.
The barn conversion work started in the early 1980’s with the pool and games room added in the 1990’s. Landscaping work, adding the guest conservatory and decking platform and side-ways extension of the farmhouse to create the laundry/information room all took place c.2008.
We choose to keep our 8 acre field as a hay meadow because we like having it as a wide open space for our guests to explore and use for dog walking or kite flying. The grass is harvested by one of our neighbour farmers two or three times each Summer. Meanwhile we are gradually clearing the invasive Laurel from our woodland which has Silver Birch, Beech, Hazel, Ash, Sycamore, Oak and Pine trees and the very pretty Jennetts River as its boundary.