Agriculture and environment

Kresen Kernow looks after a large and varied range of records relating to farming and land in Cornwall.

The archives of local gentry families, who owned much of the land, contain many documents – including maps – which show estate management and land usage, as well as experimentation with crops and livestock, involvement in agricultural societies and shows, and information on those who worked on their manors and farms. Manorial and court records highlight disputes over land ownership and boundaries.  Individual wills and diaries can reveal detail about the lives of those farming the land in Cornwall, as well as equipment, stock and associated industries. Sale catalogues also give very good descriptions of farms and livestock.

Kresen Kernow also looks after the archive of H W Abbiss, Cornwall’s Horticultural Advisor in the mid-20th century, which contains numerous pamphlets, reports and publications about flower farming, spring shows and Gulval Experimental Station, among other items.  Council documents from the Agricultural Committee (1920-1967), including more than twenty minute books, can help shed light on formal agricultural policy.

The Historic Environment Record includes  detailed landscape surveys especially of Cornwall’s upland areas, aerial photography of crop marks and earthworks taken over the last 30 years, detailed guidance on farmsteads and hedges, support and advice for agri-environment schemes, estate holdings, Scheduled Monuments and local heritage assets, parks and gardens, ornamental landscapes and parkland.

Key search terms: farm, agriculture, harvest, weather, storm, livestock, arable, pasture, horticulture, botany, plant names, trees, garden, and individual farm names

Key collections: AD233 (H W Abbiss), CC/17 (Agriculture Committee), AD1592 (Newton Farm, Tregony)

Recommended reads:  Old farming days:  life on the land in Devon and Cornwall by Robin Stanes, 2005; A Cornish farmer’s diary: selections from the diary of James Stevens of Zennor and Sancreed (1847-1918) edited by PAS Pool, 1977; The Cornish landscape by WGV Balchin, 1983