Hope Farm, Dunston Heath

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Lord Hatherton's Journal, 7th October, 1841


Shot over Handy's farm at Dunston Heath to which he has given the name "the Hope Farm". I have not a tenant on the estate who has done so much for his land. He has not far from 300 acres. When he came his house was a hovel and the fields of old enclosed land about it were very small, divided by alder hedges and almost swamps, while the common land, by far the greater part of his farm was of hopeless quality and appearance, a bed of heath and rushes.

He was originally a gentleman's coachman, then a gardener at Lichfield, then a small farmer. The "Hope Farm" is almost entirely his own creation. I know no man of his description anywhere who by sheer industry has done so much for himself.

Lord Hatherton considered Mr. Handy to be the most meritorious tenant on his estate. He took over the farm in the 1820s and brought no capital to the business at all except, "experience, skill and industry". Lord Hatherton had already begun to drain the area but Handy improved it. He then dug the land, limed it and grew potatoes. He always took the potatoes to Wolverhampton market and brought back lime or manure. This process continued for years. As Handy improved the land Lord Hatherton improved and increased his house and farm buildings.