The Stockdale's of Bullpot Farm


Thomas Stockdale was born in Dent in 1803. Along with his wife Ellen they were tenant fanners at Bull Pot, farming some 1400 acres from somewhere around 1810 to 1825 until sometime after 1853 when their youngest daughter Isabella was born. Isabella was my great Grandmother. There were eight children, Henry born in March, 1830, Ann born in March 1833, James born in March, 1835, Betsy born in November l838, Thomas born in August 1843, Ellen born in February 1848, Jane Agnes born in January 1851 and Isabella born in February 1853. Ann Stockdale married James Mason (not the film star!!) in Barbon Church in December 1858 and their daughter Jane was born in 1859. Another wedding and connection with the Masons, James Stockdale married Betsy Mason in Barbon Church in 1862. The family were almost entirely self sufficient. Water was from the beck outside the back door, light was from oil lamps and candles. They made their own candles. Heating and cooking was from the open fire using wood, peat and coal from the open cast mines on the slopes of Crag Hill. I dread to think what toilet facilities existed but probably the old thunder box some way away from the house. They shepherded around 40 sheep (the children knew most of them by name) and after shearing, the wool was spun and made into cloth - the tailor used to stay at the farm for two weeks making clothing for the family. One pig was reared and slaughtered each year to provide ham and bacon joints which were cured and hung from hooks in the kitchen.

Nothing was wasted from the trotters to the snout and, of course, the blood which made black puddings. They had chickens, ducks and a large vegetable and herb garden at the back of the farm.My Grandmother who passed most of this information down never mentioned a cow or a horse but I assume they must have had a horse because visits were made infrequently to Kirkby Lonsdale and Barbon. The children were for the most part bare foot. They had to wear clogs to walk to Church in Barbon but whenever possible they were hidden behind the wall on the Green Lane and collected on the way back!!

There was some doubt about Isabellaís mother. Rumour in the family later was that she was the child of eldest daughter Ann. Whatever was the truth no one verified it and Isabella was brought up and treated as one of Thomas and Ellenís family. About the time when Isabella was a young woman Barbon Manor was being built. Isabella met and married John Simner and in April 1875 they had a daughter Jane (my Grandmother). By this time they had moved from Kirkby Lonsdale to Lancaster and the family lost touch with Bull Pot and the other brothers and sisters. What a pity none of this was recorded. The 1851 census shows only Thomas, Ellen and granddaughter Jane Mason still living at Bull Pot Farm. Another mystery, what happened to Jane's parents Ann and James?

Ron Bliss and Jim Newton have provided help with information about the farm and in one of Jimís e-mails he states - "Guess who was living in Gale Garth in 1861? Nicholas and Sarah Newton with 4 sons, Thomas, Nicholas, William and Henry!!" Jim doesnít lay any claim to this family. The 1881 census list Anthony and Jane Wrathall with 4 sons John, Thomas, Anthony and James and 2 daughters Lucy and Mary Jane.

The next involvement with the farm was when as a 15 year old youth I was transported in George Comes motorbike (The Green Wonder) one dark misty evening and taken via Bull Pot Farm to see the delights of Lancaster Hole. Needless to say I was hooked and became a regular visitor to the farm over the next 20 years. The last Tenants of Bull pot Farm Walter and Cathleen Pearson who were still at the Farm when the Red Rose occupied a room at the back in the 1950ís. We were great friends of the Pearson's until one of our members Peter Kitchen had a pie in the sky idea to install an electric turbine in Bull Pot to provide unlimited free electricity to the farm.

Walter was really excited by this but it did not materialise. Peter stayed away for some time but when he reappeared Walter chased him down the lane in his land-rover (Peter on an old motorbike) armed with a pair of gelding pliers and a blue marker dye that he used to identify impregnated ewes. The lane was un-surfaced in those days so Peter was lucky to escape in one piece. Ron tells me he took a farm in Malham after he left Bull Pot and his wife died a few years later. He lost an eye in a flywheel explosion and was then living in Skipton. Ron saw him last when he came over to collect some stone when we were re-roofing the farm. Ron also tells me that the Fylde Mountaineering club occupied the Farm for at least a year before us. They put the thick rubber tiles down in the boiler room which are still there on the only wooden floor downstairs.


The farm came to us in the early sixties when the landowners closed Leck and Casterton Fells to cavers. The Council of Northern Caving Clubs was formed and I became itís first Secretary. Lengthy negotiations between the Council and Lord Shuttleworth (Leck) and Col. Bowring (Casterton) resulted in an agreement to reopen the fells to be monitored by the Council. After many meetings I had got to know Colonel Bowring quite well and when I mentioned the difficulties the club had experienced in finding an HQ it seemed like a good idea for both of us to have cavers residing in Bull Pot Farm. An agreement was drawn and we became the latest Tenants of the farm. I am sure that the success of the club stems largely to having premises on the doorstep of the biggest and best caves in the country. Let us hope that the current tenancy negotiations keep us at the farm for many years to come. If there is a problem perhaps I could arrange for Great Grandmother Isabela to do a bit of strategic haunting.†††††††††††††††††††† †††††††


Tom Sykes.


(this article was found in Tom's possessions and passed on by his family)


Farm_circa 1960s

Bullpot Farm - circa 1960's


Walter Pearson

Walter Pearson

The last resident farmer of Bullpot Farm























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