Valley Farm is the oldest building on site at Flatford. Built in the mid-15th century, Valley Farm is a medieval Great Hall House that was home to wealthy yeoman farmers up until the early 1900s.
Valley Farm is a good example of a medieval, open hall house which is now a Grade 1 listed building.
At one time Willy Lott's grandparents (English and Mary Lott) lived at Valley Farm and it was later owned by Willy Lott’s brother John (a farmer like his brother) who lived there with his wife and 14 children. Up until the 1930's Valley Farm was surrounded by buildings for all sorts of different agricultural uses. A fire in the 1930s destroyed nearly all of them.
Outside, the walls were timbered and painted with lime wash at regular intervals to preserve the timber frame and seal the gaps between the timbers and the wattle/daub infill - whilst allowing the whole building to breathe.
Valley Farm was called an 'open hall house' because there was no upper floor, the central hall being open up to the roof rafters. Originally the fire in the room would have been laid on the stone floor with the smoke going up to the underside of the roof ridge and escaping through the roof tiles or through a smoke hole in the gable end wall.
In the sixteenth century a massive inglenook fireplace and chimney were built to replace the open fire and an upper floor was added for use as bedrooms.
In the 19th century, census information tells us that residents were: John Lott (Willy Lott's brother) 1851, 1861 and 1871, Joseph Lott 1881, William Butcher 1891 and 1901.
In 1901 Leonard Richardson bought Valley Farm. He lived there with his wife and three daughters Kathleen, Sylivia and Margaret and farmed the surrounding land. In the late 1920's he became increasingly anxious about the condition of the house and between 1928 and 1935 wrote repeatedly to the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings asking them for help with the cost of repairs - but no financial help was forthcoming.
Leonard Richardson sold Valley Farm in 1935 to the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings for £1,500. The Society undertook major repairs and restored the building to its near original state. The upper floor was removed - although the marks on the vertical timbers clearly show where it was. The inglenook fireplace and chimney were retained and can be seen to this day.
Valley Farm was acquired by the National Trust in 1959 with the Field Studies Council as a sitting tenant.
By the early 1970's, Valley Farm was falling into disrepair again. The National Trust undertook a further programme of repairs as advised by the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings
The National Trust continues to lease the building to the Field Studies Council for student accommodation but the National Trust still holds various family events inside the grounds and the building itself. The house is also open to the public on Heritage Open Days .
To the rear of the building is the restored Valley Farm Kitchen Garden which is maintained by a group of expert garden volunteers.Their produce supplies not only the Tea room but also a barrow next to Bridge Cottage where you can pick some up for a small donation to take home with you.