The ‘Lost Farms’ consist of nearly 50 farm ruins, all traditional stone longhouses, originally built in the 17th and 18th centuries on Brinscall Moor. Marsdens farm is at the southern end of Brinscall woods, now surrounded by trees.
Elizabeth Jane Dixon (1856 – 1938)
Marsdens farm is a narrow longhouse but quite long (60ft or 18m) including barn and a loo or attached shed at the northern end. It is now surrounded by trees within Brinscall woods. It is notable as it has an almost complete south gable end with bedroom window and was the home of Elizabeth Jane Dixon, who kept a daily diary – a fascinating insight into life at the time.
If you scroll to the bottom of the page you can watch Elizabeth’s grandson, Harold Gomersall and his daughter Linda talking about their memories on an episode of BBC’s Countryfile from 2012.
In the south gable end you can see the bedroom window, internal blue-brick chimneys, internal slots for bedroom joists, two ground floor window ledges, carefully laid courses of dressed stonework, external steps down to the kitchen door, a probable well and a walled garden area to the west.
Listen to interviews
From 1886 to 1910 Marsdens farm was the home of Thomas Dixon, born in Kendal and Elizabeth Jane Dixon (nee Wyatt). The couple met near Kendal, where Thomas was farming and Elizabeth was a governess to a Westmorland family. They married in 1881 and moved to Marsdens where Thomas Dixon was the nigh watchman at the Print works. They had a large family: Annie, William, Henry, Thomas, Nathan, Christopher & Ellen (twins), Herbert, Elizabeth, Dorothy, John and James. Elizabeth wrote a daily journal until at least 1932, which has since been published and is a wonderful record. The journal shows that until 10th October 1910 Marsdens was both a flourishing mixed farm (with horses, cattle and poultry but no sheep) and also the home of young factory workers. The majority of the children worked down in the valley from the age of twelve either in Withnell Mill or in the (calico) Print Works. In 1910 the Dixons moved to Calendar house.
Goose Green farm (250m downhill from Marsdens) in the 1930s
This project was largely inspired by David Clayton’s book, ‘The Lost Farms of Brinscall Moors’, which is available from Carnegie Publishing: https://www.carnegiepublishing.co.uk/product/lost-farms-of-brinscall-moors/
The book contains a wealth of information on all the farms which has not been covered here, as we have focused on the farms for which we could find oral histories. If you would like to find out more, please do buy a copy of the book!
BBC – Countryfile season 23 episode 5, first aired 12th April 2012
Thank you to Carnegie publishing for permission to use photographs from David Clayton’s book, ‘The Lost Farms of Brinscall Moors’ and to Jed, creator of the www.white-coppice.co.uk pages who took many of the photos of the farms in modern times and to the many people who shared memories and photos. In particular Barbara Butler (Richard Robinson’s granddaughter), David Fairclough (who has compiled an extensive collection of historic photos) and Linda Fonseka (descendent of Elizabeth Dixon).