There have been Howe’s at Hartwell Farm since 1914 when Algernon, father to Dick, took over the rental of the farm. It was a Quaker property and as a result, all monies from the rent paid were used to provide accommodation in Alms Houses in the village for old folk. There was also provision for firewood, and Christmas treats too. The ‘Hartwell’ Alms Houses are on the High Street in the village, and until very recently, still provided accommodation for older residents.
The actual farmhouse dates back to Elizabethan times; it consisted of two floors and was seen as quite an upmarket establishment because of this! There are a wealth of beams in this section of the house with many of them coming from abandoned ships. The large façade was built in the early Georgian period and has most of its windows filled in due to the window tax implemented by the government during the 1800’s.
The Quaker influence is very interesting. We have looked at archive material showing that in the late 1600’s Richard Hartwell left the farm to go to the New World. He was one of the early pioneers and worked on the designing and construction of roads in Massachusetts. He also built his own house in New England and also called it Hartwell Farm.
The farm was badly damaged in the war when a bomb dropped close by to the house. Almost all of the agricultural buildings were destroyed including a small house in the farm yard. The main house survived apart from a few collapsed ceilings and broken windows. Dick remembers the night very well as a youngster terrified in his bed.
When Dick left college he returned to work on the farm. From the 50’s onwards he grew a range of crops on the 50 acres of agricultural land including potatoes and Brussel sprouts. The main business, however was pigs and poultry. It was very hard work with very little mechanisation involved.
During the 80’s it was clear that this size of farm could not be financially sustainable. At the same time John left school, and completed an apprenticeship in agricultural engineering. Slowly but surely there were less pigs around, we no longer sold farm fresh turkeys at Christmas nor eggs at the back door. Instead JR Trolleys began. The pig units disappeared and in their place we built the workshops and filled them with all the equipment a small engineering business would need. John and Dick began making equipment for the baking industry and this has continued ever since. They supply all sorts of companies from Mc Donald’s to the local baker. They make anything from fencing and sofa frames to baking trays and racks and trolleys. John and Lucy got married in 1990 and built their own house on the site of the pig farrowing pens. At this point Lucy joined the thriving business. Later Charlie and then Tom were born. Both boys have been involved with all aspects of the business as well as completing their own formal education.
Throughout the 90’s Dick began a huge project of planting trees and digging out ponds on the land. Now they are established the land has reverted to a tranquil and quiet place with beautiful trees and walkways. In recent years we have acquired 3 pigs – nothing like the numbers we used to have. They are happily grazing in the woodland and busy providing ourselves and our friends with plenty of delicious home reared pork from their off spring.
In 2003 John and Lucy built the indoor pool where the tennis court used to be. Lucy had long suffered from arthritis and the pool has become a definite must for her in helping her with sometimes very acute mobility problems. She uses the pool every day and is testament to swimming being great for health and wellbeing. In the summer of 2017 we decided to look into running the pool in a more commercial way after some very basic Facebook feedback about the need for more facilities in the growing village of Cranfield and surrounding areas.
So after lots of careful consideration, loads of paperwork and numerous courses we set up Hartwell Leisure Swimming Pool in October of 2017. It is brilliant so see the pool being used so much by all generations.
We remain and always will be a family farm. We all love living here in this very special and quiet area of Cranfield and we love sharing our beautiful pool with our local community.
25 Court Road
Beds MK43 0D
© 2018 Hartwell Lesiure Ltd. All rights reserved.