About Hazelford

The following account of Hazelford has been valuable as my factual starting point for the project.  It was written in 2002 by Margaret Taylor of Broughton Grounds Farm, upon whose land Hazelford is situated, and she has kindly given me permission to include it here.

Near the farm where I live, lie the ruins of the old village of Hazelford. My late father-in-law, Eric Taylor, said that the last inhabitants of Hazelford moved out about the same year that his father moved to Broughton Grounds Farm - 1914. It was a very small village - more of a hamlet - situated in a valley on the millstream, and surrounded by trees. All that is left now are two stone walls of a house, partly covered in ivy, but you can see the mounds of grass covered stone where three other houses and the Mill once stood, and you can trace a garden wall. In the south-east corner of the village is the remains of a large brick lined pool. This may have been the water supply for the village or a pool for dyeing cloth. There are fruit trees, and until a few years ago you could still find some rhubarb. Cattle graze the village (and the rhubarb) in the summer, so it's not too overgrown. It is still very peaceful and tranquil- all you can hear is the sound of the waterfall. There is no road access to the village- the track from the road was ploughed up by my husband's grandfather in the 1920's, but you can still see the contour of the path going up the hill. So Hazelford has remained undisturbed for nearly a century.

Hazelford is mentioned in a Saxon charter of 956 as a ford over the Sor brook. It is thought the village was built on the site of one of the Doomsday mills. Earliest records show that in 1444 a man called Thomas Hazelford rented the village together with an acre of land from the Wykeham Estate for 13 shillings and 4 pence as part of a knight's fee. In the late 16th and 17th century it was held by the Fiennes-Trotman family, lords of Shelswell Manor, under their relatives, the Fiennes family of Broughton Castle. It was a corn mill, and as late as 1797 was known as either Hazelford or Upper Fulling Mill. By 1792 it had been converted to a paper mill and leased to a man called George King. In 1841 the Mill was leased to William Sellers and all the adult inhabitants were employed at the Mill. A map of 1851 shows a number of buildings for either industrial or agricultural use, but shortly afterwards; Hazelford paper-mill closed down and the people found work elsewhere. Why it closed is not recorded, but it is interesting to note that in 1881 a man called George Morby lived at Hazelford, for he was a dyer. Perhaps the pool was used for dying cloth - a very popular industry in the late 1800's with the Fulling Mill and Dye Works less than half a mile away downstream. However the population of Hazelford decreased and by 1891 only 10 people - 3 families - lived there. By 1900 the village had deteriorated and some of the houses were falling down. By 1922, only the brick house and the Mill remained.

The story is told that a fire nearly destroyed the village but this cannot be proved. Apparently, the fire brigade was called, but by the time they arrived the fire was well under way. However, one local man, the late Ken Riley, told me that one of the houses - the only red brick house in the village - was charred black from smoke. Some of the bricks from that house were later taken by my husband's grandfather, and used to line the floors of some of the barns at Broughton Grounds Farm. So, in some small way, Hazelford lives on!

Another local man, the late Lanc Mollington, worked for my husband's grandfather, and actually ploughed up the track from the rood to the village. He recalls how difficult it was, but for me, his most priceless memory is that the walls of the stone house still partly standing had “blue wallpaper with flowers on it!"

A local farmer, the late Harry Whitmill, remembers the Mill working during the early 1900's - I wonder what it was used for? But during the First World War, my late father in law recalls the Mill being blown up and the metal used for munitions supplies. As a young boy, he had a day off school to watch it!

Hazelford is in the parish of Broughton, and there are records of some of the people being baptised and buried at Broughton church. The late Harry Whitmill remembers children from Hazelford attending North Newington School (a mile and a half away, across fields). Stories live on of village fights between the lads of Tadmarton and Broughton who met at Hazelford, until one was accidentally killed. Another of a man losing his thumb as a sack was hoisted up. Tales like this, passed down by generations, help to bring a place alive, but it is important to remember the hardships a small, remote community like Hazelford had to endure.

I have often stood in Hazelford and tried to imagine what is was like all those years ago. I have often said; “If only I could find someone whose family lived here!” By far the most established family were the Cooling's who lived there for 50 years. Edward came from North Newington, and Lucy (nee Adams) came from Marston St Lawrence. They had 6 children before Edward's death in 1868 at the age of 42. Lucy lived at Hazelford with her family and died in 1903 at the age of 82. They are buried in Broughton churchyard. I have recently discovered that their eldest daughter, Eliza, (B.1857), went to America in 1890 to marry George Hunt, from Long Compton. Eliza died in 1901, but her grand daughter, Cleo Hunt Ossenkop and her great grand daughter Gayle Faubion, live in Brier, Washington, USA. I have now been able to help Gayle trace another branch of the Cooling family who were born at Hazelford. So in another small way, Hazelford still lives!