Built of red brick rather than the typical ironstone of most other village properties, Manor Farm sits in an elevated position overlooking Towns Lane on the edge of Goadby Marwood village. The farmhouse, originally known as Highfield House, was probably built sometime in the early-1880s.
The census returns of 1891 recorded joiner and grazier, George Thomas Kemp, living at the farmhouse with his wife and family, and his wife’s grandfather, James Dent. George Kemp was from the nearby village of Harby, but his wife, Kate Dent, was the illegitimate daughter of Mary Dent and was born in Goadby Marwood, probably at her grandparent’s cottage, Inglebrook, on the lower part of Towns Lane, which at that time was known as Frog Lane.
A few years after Kate’s birth, her mother, Mary Dent, married Thomas Bentley, an iron worker who was originally from Broxholme in Lincolnshire but who worked as a labourer at the ironworks in Ironville, Derbyshire. Kate lived with her mother and step-father in Ironville for a few years before moving back to Goadby to live with her widowed grandfather at Inglebrook Cottage.
Kate married George Kemp in Nottingham in the spring of 1883, and their first daughter, Mary Lizzie, was born in Goadby Marwood just a short time later. George and Kate had a further five children, all born in Goadby. Nellie b. 1885, Ruth Anne b. 1886, Ada Blanche b. 1891, George James Richard b. 1893 and Florrie b. 1895. In 1895, the same year as Florrie’s birth, George Kemp emigrated to California leaving his wife to raise their six children alone. Around the time George left his family, Kate’s mother and step-father, Mary and Thomas Bentley, who had no children of their own, moved from Derbyshire to live at Manor Farm with their daughter and her family.
The Bentleys and Kemps lived at Highfield House (Manor Farm) for over three decades. Thomas Bentley died in 1916 and his widow, Mary, continued as tenant until the Belvoir Estate Sale in 1920, after which the Bentley/Kemp family moved to Ivy Cottage on what was then known as Sparrow Lane, but which today is known as Kemps Lane. Youngest daughter, Florrie, known to her family and friends as Flo, never married; she lived in the village all her life, initially at Ivy Cottage and later at The Brooms, and is fondly remembered by long-standing residents. She died in 1987.
Eldest daughter, Mary, married James Akerman Dewey, a miner from Croxton Kerrial who later became a farmer and butcher at Jacksons Farm in Harby. They had two sons, George James Thomas and Akerman Charles, the latter was killed in action during the Second World War. Mary died in Harby in 1962. Nellie Kemp married Edgar Moulds from Harby, and they ran The Three Tuns public house on King Street in Melton Mowbray until Edgar’s death in 1947, after which Nellie moved back to Goadby Marwood to live with her sister, Flo. She died in 1961.
Ruth Kemp moved away to Nottingham, she worked at The Wheat Sheaf Inn in Radford for a while, but it is not clear from the records whether or not she married. Ada Kemp married the family lodger, George Hoyes Bailey, who worked at the local ironstone quarry. Following their marriage, they lived at Station Cottages in Scalford where their four daughters, Kathleen Ruth, Dorothy Ellen, Eileen and Mary Winifred, were born. Ada died in 1967.
The only son in the family, George James Richard (known as Dick) married Gladys Russell from Chesterfield. The couple lived in Chesterfield after their marriage but later moved back to Goadby Marwood where they lived at Ivy Cottage on Kemps Lane. George died in 1969, he and Gladys had no children.
At the Belvoir Estate sale in 1920, Highfield House (Manor Farm) was purchased by Clement Nidd for £1,650. Clement was born in Counthorpe, Lincolnshire, in 1855, but had moved to Eaton Lodge near Eaton Grange with his mother, step-father and his three sisters sometime after 1891. Clement never married and neither did his two full sisters, Sarah and Elizabeth Nidd. Half-sister, Annie Thorpe, married Edward Wild of Eaton and the couple continued to farm at Eaton Lodge, where their three sons, John, Clement and Edward, were born. Clement Nidd died in Goadby Marwood in January 1937 and following his death, the farm was put up for sale.
The sale particulars of March 1937 describe the property as:
“….substantially built of bricks with good tiled roof, and in excellent state of repair, and contains Entrance Hall, Living Room, Kitchen with modern cooking grate, sink and soft water pump; Dairy, Store Place and four bedrooms. The outbuildings comprise brick and tiled wash house and closet. Pump of good drinking water”.
The farm came with 24 acres of land, and the whole was purchased by John Holmes. John had moved to Goadby Marwood in 1924, when his father, Frederick Holmes, purchased the property on Main Street which we know today as The Manor, but which in old census records is described as Goadby Marwood House. Prior to moving to Goadby the Holmes family had lived at Saxby Manor, and it is likely that they chose to call their new home by the same name. When John purchased Highfield House, he renamed it Manor Farm.
John, his wife Hilda, and their two children, Catherine and Frederick Michael (known to the family as Michael), had been living at The Lodge, a small farmhouse on the outskirts of the village which had been purchased by John’s father as part of The Manor estate. The facilities at The Lodge were basic so it must have been exciting for the small family to move to the well-equipped farmhouse. John and Hilda Holmes lived and farmed at Manor Farm until the 1970s when they decided to build a modern bungalow close to the farmhouse. They named their new home, Holmwood, and it remained in the Holmes family until the 1990s with John and Hilda’s daughter, Cathy Holmes, living there with her husband and family.
When John and Hilda moved from Manor Farm, they retained the farmland, but the farmhouse was occupied by Ronald Fitton and his wife Sylvia Peers who moved there in 1974 with their son Peter, daughter, Christine and twin daughters Karen and Sharron. Eldest son, Stephen, had already left home before the family moved.
When he finished school, Peter Fitton left home to join the Royal Marines. He served in Northern Ireland before being posted with 45 Commando Regiment to the Falklands when war broke out in 1982. Peter was killed in action on June 11th during the ‘Battle of Two Sisters’. He is commemorated on the National Armed Forces memorial at Alrewas, on the Portsmouth Falklands Forces Sea Memorial, on the Royal Marines Condor Memorial in Arbroath, and at a cairn memorial at the place he was killed in the Falkland Islands. He is also commemorated on a special plaque in St. Denys’ Church, Goadby Marwood.
Karen Fitton, who still lives in Goadby with her husband and family, recalls growing up in Goadby during the 1970s and early 1980s:
We moved to Manor Farm on November 5th, 1974, after dad finished his army career and left the camp at Old Dalby. Mum said there were bonfires on the sides of the roads.
I grew up at the farmhouse with my twin sister, Sharron, and elder sister, Christine.
I can’t remember my brother, Peter, being there that much as he was away at Pangbourne training to be a Royal Marine. I remember him coming home when not serving in Ireland and before he went to the Falklands. He was the most caring, funny, wonderful brother I could have wished for!
Manor Farm was lovely in the summers but freezing in the winters with ice on the inside of the windows. No heating upstairs and just a Rayburn in the kitchen and a gas fire in the living room.
Dad was in the R.E.M.E. (Royal Electrical Mechanical Engineers). He then worked for Frank Skinner before buying the business from him which he named M.E.D.A.S. (Melton Electrical and Domestic Appliances Services).
Mum was a stay at home mum who was extremely loving and funny, and the best baker ever. Saturday morning without fail was baking, and Sunday was wash day - twin tub style!
We had a strict upbringing down to dad being over protective, but we loved growing up here in the village. It was safe in Goadby!
We loved playing outside - we made so many dens in the fields. Sundays, in mushroom season, Sharron, mum and I would go mushroom hunting and the first one to find one would get to start the Cadbury Dairy Milk when we got home. Then there was blackberry season!
Following Ronald Fitton’s death in 1999, his widow, Sylvia, continued to live in the farmhouse until her death in 2004, after which the house was sold. Today, the solid old farmhouse is still a much-loved family home with a new generation of children growing up in the beautiful village of Goadby Marwood.
In the late 1990s, the derelict brick outbuildings on Towns Lane that had originally been the bake house and cottage garden buildings at Manor Farm were demolished, and pretty Stone Cottage was built on the site. A few years later, in the mid-2000s permission was granted by Melton Borough Council to build three new homes on the footprint of the old and derelict agricultural buildings at the back of Manor Farm. The first, Jubilee House, was completed in February 2011, with the second, Ironstone House, following a few months later. The third property, Meadowview, was completed in 2019.