The Great Fire at Little Ropers Farm
Little Ropers Farm is located on the Bures
to Assington road, dating back to approximately 1694.
John Blandon age 50 Servant
The following day in a letter to Trinity College, the Tenant Farmer Mr William Taylor wrote:-
I am very sorry to inform you that the Little Ropers Farm buildings and house were entirely burned to the ground last night about 9.0 clock and there is little or nothing left but it was the act of incendiaries. We have taken up three men on strong suspicion who have this day been examined and remanded for a week.
There is scarcely any timber belonging to the building saved, it being all on fire in an instant and it was with very great difficulty the inmates of the house were saved. Had it been half an hour later I have no doubt they would have been burned in their beds. I am sorry to say I have lost 3 horses, 3 Cobs 3 sows, 7 Pigs, Wagons, Tumbrel's, 26 Combs of barley, 7 sacks of Tares and various other things which I cannot at present recollect.
And although insured I must be a considerable loser. Perhaps you would like to send someone to look over the ruins as there will be nothing moved until I hear from you. If you wish it, I will come presently to Cambridge and give you all the information I can but I hope I shall hear from you by return of post.
I am yours sincerely,
It was subsequently reported in the local newspapers:-
Article in The Bury and Norwich Post and East Anglian newspaper Wednesday May 7th 1845
It was first discovered
by Mr Phillips, who resides about a quarter of a mile from the farm,
and about the same time a boy on the premises was awakened by the cry
of the terrified horses, who were then surrounded by the flames.
Note:- The Mr Phillips who discovered the fire, resided at Gt. Ropers. He was listed as Samson Phillips age 20, in the 1841 census.
Essex and Suffolk Free Press, 1845
Notes taken from Bury Gaol Book. Ref. no. Q/AGR Vol. II
James Cardy Age: 24. Height 5ft
Report in The Bury and Norwich Post of Quarter sessions for July simply states that George Cardy was acquitted.
The 1841 Census revealed the Cardy family lived in cottages at Marshalls Green, just along the main road towards Bures. This area is now known as Bures Green, The collection of farm labourers cottages situated there, have long since been demolished.
Coincidentally this outbreak of arson occurred during the period of the "Corn Laws".
The Corn Law of 1815 were introduced to prevent
the import of wheat unless the price of British grain rose to £4 a quarter
(2.91 hl/8 bushels). To a degree, the law was a success. It did help to protect
British farming from foreign competition and to stabilize prices. As they were
receiving a high price, farmers were able to continue to introduce improvements.
However, the Corn Law pushed the price of bread too high, causing distress to
the poor. Business interests argued that, by driving up prices, they also forced
up wages and put British industry at a disadvantage in world markets. It was
also argued that the Corn Laws allowed British farming to stay inefficient,
and actually held back improvement. In 1838 the Anti-Corn Law League was formed
to campaign for the repeal of the laws.
In 1846 they were eventually abolished in the face of militant agitation by the Anti-Corn-Law-League
The Cardy`s were acquitted and legally not held
responsible. It is not known whether this act of arson was the result of these
three disgruntled employees who had previously been sacked, or the militant
action of persons unknown as a result of the Corn Laws ?
During the Corn Law period, damage to farm property was commonplace as workers vented their anger against land owners.
|By November 1845 the farmhouse had been rebuilt on the site we see today.|
Today the farm is no longer owned by Trinity
Hall College but owned privately.
Trinity Hall College dates back to 1546, the time of Henry 8th and has always been a substantial landowner. Today it remains the third largest landowner in the UK apart from the Crown and the Church. For example, they own part of the Port of Felixstowe and Cambridge Science Park
Letters have been reproduced from the original text.
If you can help out with any additional information concerning the farms history, then contact the web site.
Material supplied by Ellie and Andrew Mead, Farm owners