Prior to the large public sale of Lapford land at the Malt Scoop Inn in May 1910 more than 160 acres of land in and around the village had been farmed by Frederick Saunders until his death in 1909. It was Fred’s death that may have prompted the land owner, George Croote, to sell the land rather than deal with deal tenancy agreements from his South African home.
The land that had been farmed by Frederick Saunders consisted of 108 acres (Higher Town Farm) and 50 acres (Lower Town Farm). Higher Town Place farmhouse still sits at the top end of the village with its lands to the north. Lower Town farmhouse (destroyed by fire in the 1880’s) sat in the centre of the village next to the church with its lands to the west as far as Popes’s Wood and the River Yeo. The two farms combined stretched from the valley floor almost as far as the highest point in the parish at Forches Cross (630feet)
The Lower Town land is shown below:
It was sold off in 5 lots:
Lot 19 Popes Wood and Ball Hill (pasture and furze) to Mr W G Kelland
Lot 20 Cleave (pasture), Down (arable), Shute Park (arable) and Malwell meadow (meadow) to Rev C H G Vivian
Lot 21 Lower Town Place orchard, yard, close (barns) and Long Meadow to Mr G W F Brown (soon to be mayor of Barnstaple)
Lot 22 Beara Meadow to Mr Drake of Highfield, Lapford
Lot 23 Hollow Hay (pasture) to Mr Drake of Highfield, Lapford
Today lots 21-23 are largely developed. Hollow Hay was bisected by Prospect way and Orchard Way bisected the farm orchard (where village cider was once made) running down the north edge of Long Meadow towards Stonegate. Westgate largely follows the northern edge of Hollow Hay, so the shapes of the old field system are in part still preserved. Victory Hall was built on part of Home Close but the rest of Home Close and the farmyard (once site of the cob farmstead destroyed by fire) are now disused. Plans are currently being developed to transform this part of the village centre as community land
The 1910 sale split the land that had been managed by Fred Saunders between different buyers. However most of the buyers had made the purchase for its rental income and much of the meadow and pasture land continued to be managed as a single farm. Albert Arscott not only took over the running of the farm but, in the absence of a farm house, purchased the Railway Inn opposite Home Close as both a family home and Temperance Hotel. Although a tee-totaller, Albert made cider for the village from the orchard crop, crushing it using a horse operated press in Home Close.