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*History of Sacrewell Farm*

An overview of the history of Sacrewell Farm…

William Scott Abbott

William scott abbot a black and white photo from the archives.
William Scott Abbott

William Abbott expanded his enterprise by introducing the first form of battery hen farming. He started with more than 1,000 hens. By the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939, the number had increased to 4,000.

During the second world war, young farm workers were once again drafted into the armed forces, leaving the land unfarmed. But, liberated by recent changes in the law, women were encouraged to take their place in the Women’s Land Army. Now 50, William and his wife Mary needed all the help they could get and soon had a draft of Land Army girls of their own.

William Abbott died aged 70, leaving his widow Mary Abbott, and the dream of a legacy. His nephew, David Powell, took over the management of the farm and lived at Sacrewell until his death in 2012.

The William Scott Abbott Trust

The William Scott Abbott Trust logo of the cockerel and charity arm of Sacrewell farm

The Trust’s vision is to create a thriving, innovative and enterprising agricultural education and rural skills ‘centre of excellence’.

The Trust’s mission is to inspire, nurture and promote farm and nature-based education.

We do this at Sacrewell through:

Roman Heritage

mill stream in 1955 with 3 young girls - susie, harriet and martha playing in the water.

The Romans were also the first to harness water power to mill grain at Sacrewell as excavated millstones show. They built a raised ditch from the spring to feed the millpond.

Ermine Street meant that food and produce from the farm could easily be taken to markets in nearby settlements, such as Castor and Water Newton.

Sacrewell and the Sacred Well

In search of the origins of the name ‘Sacrewell’, David Powell recalled: I have only known this lovely place since 1923, when my Aunt, Mary Powell, married William Abbott. I have never known it called other than Sacrewell. But – looking for more evidence – I turned to the Sacrewell visitors’ book.

On the title page is written W.S. Abbott, Thornhaugh, Peterborough, with the date October 1918 at the foot of the page. This is in W.S.A’s own hand and if, at that time, his new home had such a striking and beautiful name, one thinks he might have included it in his address.

And even if the origin of the name could be established, none of this explains why ‘Sacrewell’. 

It is thought The Lodge may have been called Sacrewell Lodge due to the presence of a Sacred well in a field nearby, however, other articles describe the Sacred well as the name ascribed to a spring (still in existence) near the Mill house.

It would be good to know for certain where the name Sacrewell came from, whether the Sacred well ever existed, and where it was located, but it seems unlikely we will ever know!

Shepherd’s Huts

Shepherd's hut at Sacrewell with a view of a play park. Path with grass verges.

Shepherd’s huts were practical accommodation that shepherd’s once used to keep an eye on their flock. They are a kitchen, dining room, bathroom, bedroom all rolled into one space. They generally have a window on either side so a shepherd can keep a look out.

Today shepherd’s huts are predominantly used for glamping accommodation.

Coppicing Willow and Hazel

willow bed at sacrewell - willow growing in osier bed. Orange stems with willow tails.

At Sacrewell we coppice hazel on a 7-year rotation and willow annually.  The wood is used for a variety of purposes including construction, willow weaving, hedge laying, hurdle construction and firewood. 

Scots Pine trees

Majestic Scots pine tree with blue sky and fluffy clouds behind. Green trees with long tall bark.

The Scots Pine once situated immediately in front of the house was the southernmost of the line. Unfortunately, it has also now been removed as it was struck by lightning more than once.

This was David Powell’s favourite tree; “I see it every morning when I get up and look out of my bedroom window.”

Click here for a tree map of the heritage and remembrance trees that can be found at Sacrewell.

Silver Birch trees

silver birch trees - multiple silver barks in a woodland.

David Powell became farm manager on William Scott’s farm at Bransdale in Yorkshire in 1946. He moved to Sacrewell Lodge in 1949, working alongside William and continued as manager after the Trust was formed in 1964. After William Abbot’s death in 1959, David, Jenifer and their five children lived in the farmhouse.


Massey Ferguson tractor with trailer parked by tree and blacksmith forge at sacrewell.

More detail about our tractor coming soon!

Wagon Hovel

More detail about our wagon hovel coming soon!