Little Witley Farm, now known as White House Farm, was the largest farm in the parish of Little Witley.
Edward Pickernell is the earliest known tenant. He was at the farm when he wrote his Will in 1763 and probably also when his children were being born to his wife Elizabeth throughout the 1740s and 1750s. He was a churchwarden in 1745. Edward had a quarter share is a small property in Strensham to the south of Worcester. Throughout the 1840’s he entered in to various leasing and mortage arangements for the property, finally giving it up in 1851. Edward’s will mentions several Okey grandchildren, born of his daughter Mary and son-in-law John Okey, including Samuel O(c)key who went on to farm at Hurst Farm. Several decendants of Samuel’s brother Thomas went on to farm in Herefordshire. Edward Pickernell also left cash legacies to his children and the balance of his estate to his son Thomas who succeeded him at Little Witley Farm.
Thomas died on 10 July 1790, having had at least two children, Thomas Jun. and Sarah, by his wife Mary who died in 1779. He had served as churchwarden in 1764, 1769 and 1781. Thomas left most of his estate to his heir, Thomas Jun.
In 1793 the farm ran to 244 acres, inc1uding 33 acres that was previously known as Walls Farm. There were 98 acres of grass, 121 acres of arable and 11 acres of hops in addition to small areas of orchard and woodland. Thomas Pickernell Jun. had just seen the rent increase from £213-16s to £240 per annum. The farm was taken over by Thomas’ son, John Pickernell, in l829, three years before Thomas’ death. Both Thomas and John are witnesses to the will of James Paine of Little Witley, in 1823. Living with John in l84l was his 75 years old mother and three servants. Four years later had left Little Witley Farm to manage the Home Farm at Holt Castle. The farm increased in size slightly between 1793 and 1839, with the addition of 15 acres of grass and 20 acres of arable.
Joseph White took over Little Witley Farm directly from Pickernell. White was from Astley, he was newly married to Sarah Wall from Dodderhill. In 1851 White was farming 300 acres with eight labourers. He had four house servants. Joseph’s son was Alfred John White. By 1871 the latter he had taken over the farm although his father was still living there in retirement. Joseph obviously found farming difficult to give up, for four years later, at the time of writing his will he was farming at Puxton near Kidderminster. He died there two years later. Meanwhile Alfred stayed at Little Witley Farm where he raised a family of his own. He had none children by his wife Mary, one of which was burnt to death in a tragic accident. In 1881 White was farming 258 acres with seven men and a boy. Three domestic servants lived-in. Ten years later he had only one servant, but had taken on a live-in governess to educate his children.
White was still at the farm in 1920, but only had the house and 27 acres at that time. William Weavers farmed the remaining land that was recombined to make the 248 acre 1920 sale lot. The farm remained unsold. White died there in 1921. Richard and Albert Tombs farmed it in until the 1925 auction. At that time 73 acre Rose Cottage Farm was separated from Little Witley Farm to create a new sale lot. Dewhurst and Arliss apparently purchased the remaining 174 acres farm, but Joseph Harper has acquired it by the time of the Second World War.
The farm has changed hands subsequently, with the traditional buildings having been converted in to desirable residences during the 1980s. The house is also now a private residence.
The house and a stable are grade II listed buildings. The listing for the house reads ‘White House – GV II Farmhouse. c1800. Painted brick, tiled hipped roof, brick stacks. Two rooms deep, central entrance, end stacks, lower adjoining former service/dairy wing to north gable. Two storeys and attic, dentilled eaves cornice, attic lit by 2 mid-C19 gabled dormers with decorative barge boards and finials. 3 windows, glazing bar sashes with cambered heads, the central one on first floor is narrower; central projecting gabled porch with partly glazed door; single storey and attic to adjoin- ing wing has 2 similar dormers, 3-light casement with cambered head to right of outshut porch extension on ground floor, ledge door, square side light.’ The listing for the stable reads ‘Stable with loft over and adjoining barn approx 35m north east of White House – GV II Stable with loft over and adjoining barn. Stable/loft dated 1784, barn probably contemporary. Red brick, tiled roofs. Stable with loft over to east of fold yard adjoins barn to north, barn aligned east – west. Stable and loft: 2 storeys, altered, coped raised verges and lozenge pattern perforated brickwork to gable end with datestone; sandstone inset with carved head in relief and date inscribed below. Elevation to fold yard: altered stable openings, central loading hatch to loft above, 2 rows of perforated brickwork, external stairs in angle with barn. Barn: altered, 5 roof bays, 2 threshing floors, perforated brickwork, obscured by C20 extension to south face (not included). Included for group value.
Summary of occupants:
1763 EDWARD PICKERNELL [Will]
THOMAS PICKERNELL [Died 10 July 1790]
THOMAS PICKERNELL Jun. [In 1793 farm ran 244 acres, including 33 acres at WALLS FARM.
At Recapitulation of 1793 – new rent of £240.0s.0d to Lord Foley for Little Witley Farm]
1820 [THOMAS PICKERNELL, farmer, Worcestershire Directory 1820]
1829 JOHN PICKERNELL [THOMAS his father died in 1826]
1851 JOSEPH WHITE [300 acres with eight labourers]
1871 ALFRED JOHN WHITE [In 1881 farming 258 acres with seven men and one boy still farming in 1920, but only had the house and 27 acres]
1920 WILLIAM WEAVERS [Farmed 248 acres in the sale lot, farm remained unsold]
1925 RICHARD and ALBERT TOMBS [Farmed it until 1925 auction]