JESTY FARMS, etc.

Many of the Jesty family have been farmers, but my generation--Old Charles's great-great grandchildren-- is probably the last of them in Dorset, at least for the present. This page collects some of the Dorset farms that Jestys have farmed. Most were tenant farmers. These are in approximate order of Jesty occupancy. [Click on the thumbnails to see the pictures. These files are fairly small; if you want an original (all except Frankham)--good for a high-quality print up to 6x8 inches or so--contact me.]


Winterhays was farmed in the 1700s by Robin (Robert) Jesty (1696-1751). It is about 1 mile south of Yetminster on the Chetnole road, immediately beside the railway, a good part of which was built by his great grandson, Charles Jesty (1800-1897). The farmhouse, which was likely built in Robin's time, and the barn, which is possibly earlier, are now, I think, separate from the farm.


Frankham Farm was farmed by Robin's eldest son, Robert Jesty (1722-1778). It is about 2 miles west of Yetminster on the road to East Coker.


Upbury Farm in Yetminster was Benjamin Jesty's (1736-1816) first farm, until the 1790s. He was the 4th son of Robin and brother of Robert. It is when he was living here that he did the first recorded vaccination with cowpox. The farm is immediately by Yetminster church. It is the oldest Jesty farmhouse that we know, probably dating (my guess) from the 1500s. The handsome plaque, donated by the Yetminster Hundred History Society in 1994, is on  the wall of the house opposite the farm.


Downshay, or Dunshay, is Benjamin's second farm, to which the family moved in the 1790s. It is a beautiful Purbeck manor house, from the 1640s. It was the home of Mary Spencer Watson, a well-known English sculptor for more than 50 years, who was kind enough to talk with us about the house and its history. She died in 2005, well into her nineties, and still sculpting. Benjamin and his wife Elizabeth died here, and are buried in Worth Matravers churchyard, about 2 miles south. Downshay is about 1 mile south of Harman's Cross, between Corfe Castle and Swanage.
    We don't know if Benjamin actually lived in this manor house, but Mary Spencer Watson certainly knew well of the Jesty history at Downshay/Dunshay. The present Downshay farmhouse on the adjacent farm (just to the south) was not yet built, but it is feasible that Benjamin lived in a previous farmhouse on that site.


Druce Farm was farmed in the 1800s by Benjamin's son, George (1782-1845). The farm, which is still substantial, is about 1 mile NE of Puddletown on the Piddletrenthide road. George died in 1845, and his sons Thomas and George farmed it until 1852, when the business was sold. (See Sheet B for details.) Druce was Thomas Hardy's model for the farm of Mr Boldwood, Bathsheba's suitor in Far From the Madding Crowd.


Philliols Farm had at least two Jesty tenants. "Old" Charles was the first, and then his son William Ainsworth. But I don't know if either of them actually lived there. The farm is about 3 miles south of Bere on the Hyde road, near where Bere stream runs into the Piddle. The odd house was built by the Drax estate, probably about 1900, and perhaps after the Jesty tenancies.


Roke Farm had three generations of Jesty tenants: Old Charles, his son Henry Robert, and grandson Harry Robert, until the 1950s. The farmhouse is now occupied separate from the farm. Roke is about 1 mile NW of Bere Regis on the Milborne road, beside the outlet of Bere Stream from Roke Pond, and there was a mill here for many (probably many hundreds of) years. The undershot wheel, a fairly modern steel one, and the driving gear are still there--but no longer in working order--beside the stream.


Almshouse Farm, Hermitage, was farmed by William Ainsworth Jesty (1850-1917) towards the end of his farming career and then by his son Robert (1880-1964), from ca. 1880-1950. It is now farmed by the Mayos.


Clinger Farm, Buckland Newton, is 2-3 miles south of Almshouse, west off the "high" road from Middlemarsh to Charminster. It was farmed by Robert's son William Albert (1906-1989) until the 1970s. A spring on the farm is a main source of the Caundle Brook (see pond in photo). After more than 600 recorded years (see A.D. Mills's Dorset Place Names), Clinger's name was recently changed to Lyons Head by a new owner.


Doddings (or Dodding's) Farm, Bere Regis. William Bedford moved from Hertfordshire to Doddings in the 1890s to grow watercress, and this new house was built in 1904, using bricks from the Doddings brick kiln. (The house includes bricks signed by his three daughters before firing.) His second daughter, Emily Rebecca (Reca), married Henry Robert Jesty's son, Frederick Thomas of Roke Farm (1889-1934), and the company Bedford & Jesty was formed to both farm and grow watercress at Doddings. This business was sold in the 1980s, ending the 140-year links with the Drax estate and the farming history of Jestys around Bere Regis.


Holywell Tunnel. Charles Jesty (1800-1897), "Old Charles", was a surveyor and major road and rail contractor before he retired to farm. A major early piece of work (for the Great Western Railway system)  was a part of the Dorchester-Yeovil railway line, including the 1/2-mile tunnel at Holywell. The line runs right through early Jesty territory from Yetminster to Holywell (past Winterhays, Chetnole, Melbury Bubb), and is still in operation. This is the south entrance of the tunnel in Holywell.


Blackmoor Vale and the Wriggle Valley. The early Jesty territory, from the time of John Justy in the 1600s, is at the west end of the Blackmoor Vale (some say it should be Blackmore), bounded on the south by the high downs of Batcombe Hill and Telegraph Hill. This is a view from Batcombe, looking north towards Leigh,Yetminster, and Longburton. The far horizon (barely visible) is the Mendip Hills in Somerset. The Wriggle River rises below Batcombe and flows north through Chetnole, Yetminster, and Beer Hackett before joining the River Yeo.