Heritage Model Farm
Chillington Model Farm
1780 – 1880 is generally seen as the era of the agricultural revolution when great progress was made in farming techniques and scientific approaches to farming began. New farming methods require new types of farm buildings such as improved livestock accommodation, steam engine houses, larger barns and plenty of provision for cattle. Farms containing these were known as ‘model’ or planned farms because they were built as a whole and concisely laid out, normally around a courtyard by an architect or agricultural engineer.
Chillington Model Farm is a Grade II* listed building from the 18th Century. The earliest part is the dovecote at the centre and these dovecotes were often built as decorative central buildings in a courtyard.
The buildings that form the quadrangle around the dovecote were purpose built to house the stables, hay barns and cattle sheds a well as living quarters for the grooms.
The final phase was the construction of the Acorn boiling house the pig sties and cattle feed shed.
The gradual decline of the 18th Century model farm at Chillington Hall led to its inclusion on the Heritage at Risk register. Brick walls and a truncated flat roof were all that remained of the once stately octagonal dovecote standing at the heart of these Grade 2 listed buildings.
The remarkable reconstruction of the dovecote using old photographs and drawings together with major repairs of the surrounding ranges were carried out by local tradesmen.
The restoration began in 2007 in the East Range Stables with repairs to the roof and windows. Maternity roosts of Brown long eared bats were found so window hoppers had to be made to maintain access. In 2008 work of a similar nature was carried out on the North range with the addition of new barn doors and repairs to the Dutch wood barn.
In 2009 work moved to the Central range, where the pig sties were rebuilt and the Acorn roasting house was repaired and a stone acorn was reinstated on the top. Work was now ready to begin on the reconstruction of the dovecote, using the original frames as templates.
In 2010 major restoration works began on the West Range which was in the poorest condition. It required extensive repairs to the brickwork, roof and walls which had started to lean out at the top by 6 inches. Despite this the upper part of the brickwork had remained practically intact and a fine example of early 18th century agricultural buildings. It was during the restoration of the West Range that agricultural graffiti was discovered, mostly recording the crops of the time although there are a few more personal sketches of a World War 2 bombing raid and a horseless carriage, earliest Graffiti dates to 1743.
The last and final phase of the restoration began in 2011 with minor repairs to the South range which houses a rare example of an 18th Century malt oven which is practically intact.
Today a new educational room is located on the first floor of the West Range. What was once a hay loft has been sympathetically converted into a welcoming room for school visits and groups interested in the restoration works. The bricked up windows have been reinstated, new oak floors have been laid and an additional staircase added. Below are washroom facilities which have been added to support the education room.