When Forncett was powered by horses


Today we are all familiar with the large (in some cases very large!) tractors that are used to cultivate the land around Forncett. However, it was actually only about one hundred years ago that tractors began to appear in the village, and even as late as 1939 there were many more men in Forncett who identified themselves as "horseman on farm" than as "tractor driver".

Recent research on the history of Hill Farm in West Road, Forncett End led us to the photograph below, taken in the early 1900s, showing the farmer, Gerard John Chapman (centre), and one of his workers with three of their magnificent horses.

Photograph courtesy of Paul Gardner

The importance of horses on the farm is emphasised by the fact that when Gerard Chapman died in 1908, aged only 41, his widow decided to sell the farm and the sale included fourteen horses, which sold for a total of 259 guineas (£272), or the equivalent of around £32,000 today.

Sale details - Eastern Daily Press, 9 Oct 1909

Mike Merrick