Market Lavington Museum

19th century farming on Salisbury Plain

At Market Lavington Museum we are lucky to have some of Joshua Hampton’s farm records to give us an idea of what was produced on some of the hill farms before Salisbury Plain was taken over by the military. The saying ‘like chalk and cheese’ to describe greatly differing qualities comes from the recognition that chalk lands like Salisbury Plain were not suited to the same kind of farming as the richer soils more able to support dairy cattle. In our local parishes, the dairy and cheesemaking was mostly confined to the northern parts, where lusher grass was available.

We see from Joshua Hampton’s notes that there were some sheep and cows on the plain as well as the draft horses, but vast acreages were used for arable farming.

One of the farms tended by Joshua Hampton was Pond Farm and his notes mention the sowing of rye, vetches, cabbage plants, wheat, barley and oats as well as rape and turnips.

We will look at the detail of his farm work and crop yields another time.