Our beer and spirits both have humble beginnings in the fields we farm. Each field on the estate is uniquely named and chosen year on year for its potential to yield the grain required. The names of each of these fields have a history rooted to them, the origins of which can be traced back over 100 years. We began as farmers and we have very much stayed as farmers, so we have kept each fields’ name, passed down from generation to generation, with each brew and bottle of our spirits able to be traced back to the exact field it began its journey in.
Going back to the beginning of the 20th century, these field names vary from being very straightforward and descriptive, like ‘Green Pond Field’, which does indeed have a pond at one end. Others however, are named after local characters or employees, such as ‘Edmunds Hill’ – or some take their names from churches and schools, whereby the fields adjacent to those institutions invariably pinched the name. A few are more mysterious, the name meanings of which have been lost over time, such as ‘Hoggs Trunk’, ‘Lashes’ or ‘Hillwort’. Though we don’t know where their names began, we have kept them to continue their heritage.
And then we have ‘Chicken Field’. Though not the most glamorous, it is one of the most significant fields both now, and at the beginning of the 1900’s. Situated just 300 meters south of the distillery, it was previously a part of Burney Farm belonging to the estate. As the name suggests, it was initially used for chicken houses and sheds, both pre and post-WWI, and the name stuck. As with a lot of farms, in 1918 during WWI it was used by the British Army for prisoners of war, before returning to a working field again once war was declared over
This wouldn’t have been an easy field to farm either, which is probably why it initially became home to rather a lot of chickens. The reason for this being that it is approximately 450 feet above sea level and it undulates – some of the field faces South and some faces North East. As any keen gardeners will know, this creates a problem with regards to the crop ripening at different times. The South facing ripens a week before the North East facing side, therefore in order to properly work this field, we take an average in normal years.
So ‘Chicken Field’ has played its part throughout history, with its use and landscape changing around it as a result of two world wars, change of industry, climate and also how the estate diversified in more recent years. Last year, it was home to the wheat that is being distilled at present in our vodka and gin. This year’s crop, which we harvested on 17th August, was barley, so the beer for next year will be brewed from grain harvested just 300 meters from the brewery. Looking back, it is fascinating to consider how much just one field has changed in 100 years to create the grain to glass process which we see today.