Alnham : 18th - 19th Century Farms
Increasingly from the 18th century, and certainly by the early 19th century, Alnham's social and economic centre of gravity was provided by a small number of the integrated farm complexes rather than a community of roughly equal bondmen or tenants-at-will as had previously been the case.
The farms now represented the focus of agricultural production and economic activity, with the emphasis on the rearing of livestock, with oats, barley and turnips were grown as fodder. The Duke's cottage tenants may be compared with the cottagers of the medieval period - smallholders who provided waged labour on the larger farms just as their predecessors must have worked on the manorial demesne and the more substantial of the freehold plots.
Castle Farm demonstrates this development. Now known as Pennywells and divided into two cottages, the farmhouse dates to the early 18th century when the amalgamation of tenancies was already well underway. The adjacent farm buildings, consisting of byres, stable and shelter sheds, were built as three ranges around a courtyard between around 1830 and 1840.
Picture : Castle Farm Alnham
However, the best surviving example in the locality of this kind of 18th-19th century farm complex lies at Prendwick, in the neighbouring township of the same name. It has been described as 'a classic Northumbrian farmstead, unusual in its grandeur so close to the mountains and still comparatively complete' (Grundy 1988, 51, cf. 55-6: ALN 4-7). The buildings all date to the early-mid 19th century, including the farmhouse itself, the main ranges of farm buildings enclosing a broad yard, plus a smithy of c. 1800 at the NW corner of that group, and a U-plan, two-storey group of four cottages.