BIRDS FARM

PHOTOS WANTED!!

Birds Farm is now the Mushroom Farm, but in the past it has been a mixed farm with the emphasis on dairy cattle. The owner had grazing rights on Flordon Common so could keep a larger herd than the amount of land with the farm might suggest. The name comes not from birds of the feathered variety, but from a family of that name who owned the farm for decades.

As far back as 1818 a small estate at Flordon was for sale, 'now in the occupation of John Limmer'. It is almost certain this is the land back on the market in 1827:

Norfolk Chronicle, 21 July 1827
At Flordon, within Seven Miles of Norwich, with possession at Michaelmas
To be SOLD by AUCTION by Wm. BUTCHER, at the World's End, Mulbarton, On Friday, the 27th day of July, 1827, at Four o'clock in the Afternoon.
A Desirable Small ESTATE; consisting of a farm-house, barn, stable, granary, other convenient outbuildings, good orchard, and several Inclosures of excellent land, containing together 26 acres; about 3A.2R.0P. (adjoining the premises) are Pasture and the remainder is Arable.
The Estate adjoins the Common of Flordon, over which there is an unlimited right.

This was the land bought by John Bird (c.1751-1842) who moved from Kirby Bedon. He is listed in the 1841 census as 'Farmer' aged 90. When he died in 1842 his executors put the land up for sale, but it seems to have stayed within the family. The 1842 Tithe Apportionment lists Michael Bird, owner & occupier of House & premises + 11 fields. Michael Bird (1785-1852) was John Bird's son and executor who was a farmer in Kirby Bedon, married to Elizabeth nee Pilgrim. One of their 7 children, another John Bird (1814-1892), bought the Flordon farm and is listed in Directories and census returns. Below is part of a large document relating to the Will of John Bird snr (made in 1831, 10 years before he died) and the purchase by John Bird jnr in 1851 entered in the Copyhold register of the Manor of Flordon.

To make the purchase, John seems to have borrowed £810 from the Norfolk Dissenters Benevolent Society of which Jeremiah James Coleman (of mustard fame) was one of several Trustees. He was repaying the loan (+ interest) at £32. 10 shillings each April and October. The 1881 census states that John Bird was a farmer of 28 acres. White's 1883 Directory lists him as 'Farmer & road surveyor'.  By 1891 he is a 'retired farmer' and the farm is being run by his nephew James Bird (1865-1922), son of William Pilgrim Bird (c.1811-1896) and Elizabeth nee Drake. James's father had been landlord of the Crown Inn, Shotesham in 1851, though he is listed as a Farmer in Kirby Bedon after that. James seems to have enlarged the farm slightly according to documents that relate to land surrounding Harvey House.

James didn't stay in farming for long after his uncle John died. By 1901 he and his wife Harriett nee Warnes are in Lakenham running The Cock, the (now somewhat derelict) pub near Lakenham Mill, and were still there in 1911. Whether Birds Farm was sold, or whether James rented it out is uncertain - William & Mary Fish seem to be living there in 1901, but the 1911 census is very difficult for finding actual addresses in villages.

William & Esther Cousins had it as a dairy farm in 1939 and villagers remember that Ruby Cousins, the post lady, lived there; her brother Lindsay fed the pigs for the Websters at Hall Farm. Allan Moore remembers walking there from Tasburgh on a Saturday morning to have a ride in the milk lorry; Donnie Carlton remembered the mule that never did any work.... Then the land was sold in 1968, the catalogue for the sale of 'Live & Dead Farming Stock' listed 18 cattle, 12 pigs, a Fordson Major Diesel Tractor with Implements & Equipment, all to be sold by auction on 17 September 1968.

The Goldens bought it and started a mushroom farm there. The old thatched farmhouse was knocked down and replaced with a modern thatched house built of pale bricks. They sold the mushroom business to Russell Howes whose boxes proudly displayed 'Birds Farm Mushrooms'. He retired in 1992, and now it is run by the Waveney Group. The thatched house was sold separately as a private house along with a small area of land now used as paddocks for horses and dogs.