Church Farm

Helen and Roland Daniels and their children Philip and Hannah have lived at Church Farm for the past twenty one years. Roland is Head Gamekeeper on the estate and Helen works from home as an interior designer. Helen is the “Inventor of Lt. Thurlow”. In 1996 Helen thought of the idea of Flatmate (a flat felt dusting agent on a stick, which goes under T.V.’s etc.). She went to see a patent agent and real interest has been shown from a mail order company. Philip is in an office at Stansted and Hannah works with horses in Wickhambrook. Hannah and Philip belong to the Young Farmers’ Association and enjoy country sports.

Helen and Roland arrived in the village in March 1977, and there were only two babies here when Philip was born ­ himself and Daniel Goldsmith (Gt. Thurlow). It was another 18 months before any more arrived and “new blood” entered the village. The boys became good friends and learned the country way of life, rabbiting, learning to shoot and to respect guns. “After all it is the person behind the gun who kills, not the weapon.” Philip and Hannah have been brought up to help rear and fatten pigs and sheep for food. Their school friends were horrified to learn that the meat was home-killed and did not come from a butchers, but the family feel they know what they are eating since it is “natural food” and not bought food, which has nothing like as good a þavour. Years ago nearly everyone had pigs and chickens, but things have changed.

Helen was born in Yorkshire and finds living in Thurlow a nice contrast. They have no neighbours, the nearest being in the church yard. “You worry about the living not the dead.”

Roland originated in Balsham and has known the area all his life. He wouldn’t live anywhere other than Thurlow, “as he has walked many a mile through this beautiful estate over the years”.

The old tradition of son following father working on the land was keeping a good working line going, like breeding good “Blood Stock”. Roland’s family have worked the land in Balsham since the 1700’s. Helen feels this is bred in you. “It is not often the country person moves to town; always the other way round.”

Roland worked as a beat-keeper before being made Head Keeper eight years ago. Keeping has changed. No longer are pheasants’ eggs placed under a broody hen. It is a lot more intensive and pheasants’ eggs are sent to be hatched in an incubator. Ten to twelve years ago there were six keepers and now there are only three. Work is at a different pace.

Living in Lt. Thurlow gives the Daniels family the life style which fits their needs. Their house is provided with the job (a tied cottage). They feel gamekeeping is a way of life and hope this will continue in years to come. The lack of buses is the only real disadvantage of living here.

Helen and Roland have seen many changes. Thurlow was once a working estate village but now is mainly for those “passing through”. They accept that things do change ­ “that’s business”. The village seems to be full of strangers, but this they feel may be partly due to lack of time and eVort on their part to get to know people.