Woodingdean Farm

Photo:Woodingcote - the farmhouse of Woodingdean Farm c1920

Woodingcote - the farmhouse of Woodingdean Farm c1920

From the collection of Mrs Edna Curtis

Photo:Mr Drake - son-in-law of William Cowley of Woodingdean Farm

Mr Drake - son-in-law of William Cowley of Woodingdean Farm

Kindly loaned by Mrs. Edna Curtis, Mr. Drake's daughter

Photo:Woodingdean Farm photographed from Ovingdean c1920 - what is now the Falmer Road seen in the background

Woodingdean Farm photographed from Ovingdean c1920 - what is now the Falmer Road seen in the background

Kindly loaned by Mrs Edna Curtis of Woodingdean

Previously known as Woodendean Farm

By Jennifer Drury

Woodingdean Farm existed from before 1714 until about 1979. The farm's original name was 'Woodendean', i.e. a wooded valley. The name originated from the woods which used to cover the adjoining land and are very evident in old photographs of the area.

The Tithe Award Map
The earliest record of the farm is on the 1714 map which shows a symbolic drawing of a small thatched type farmhouse. This farmhouse was situated in the area of what we now know as Ovingdean Road and Falmer Road. The Tithe Award Map of 1839 shows Woodendean Farm as one of the five farms of Balsdean; 'Woodendean' appears in maps, directories and documents up till 1881.

First recorded mention of 'Woodingdean'
The first time 'Woodingdean' is mentioned is in Kelly's 1890 directory and subsequently the farm is always mentioned in this way. The Woodendean farmlands were measured at 439 acres in 1839 and 392 acres in 1900. In the 1920s these farmlands were sold and a large part of the present suburb of Woodingdean is built on them. Although these lands were sold, Woodingdean Farm continued as a working farm.

William Cowley
William Cowley, who farmed in Ovingdean and lived in Ovingdean Grange, moved to Woodingdean House in 1919 and in 1929 bought the farmhouse and land to the immediate north and south of the house. He also rented a considerable acreage of other farmlands and so he had quite an extensive farm. William Cowley's son-in-law Percy Filkins continued to farm at Ovingdean, but in 1945 he moved to Woodingdean Farm and farmed there until he died in 1979. During this time the locals referred to the farm as 'Filkins's Farm'.

Demolition of the farm
Woodingcote House and Gable End Cottage which were the original farmhouse were extended and sold privately. The farm buildings were demolished and a group of six private residences were built between 1985-87.

Contributed to website on 26-06-04
This page was added on 22/03/2006.
Comments about this page

On a Sunday when I was in the orphanage (roughly early 1950s), we were taken for walks down the Falmer Road past the cottages. We used to love to see the pigs and one night there was a huge fire there and lots of the pigs were burnt because of it. Gosh it was a long walk there.  Also where the Downs memorial site is is a small wood as we called it - we would some times play in that wood. To the left of it were fields of cows. Any one remember those times?

By Carol (31/07/2007)

Hello Carol, Please can you tell us more about the orphanage - and maybe some names? martin.phillips97@ntlworld.com

By Martin Phillips. (23/02/2008)

We bought Woodingcote House from the Filkins family in 1984 and have lived here ever since. I would be interested to find out about the history of this area, going back as far as possible.

By Pam Wright (26/03/2011)

Hi, I installed the heating at Mr Filkin's farm and every day I was loaded with eggs to take home. The staff used to arrive at certain times to partake of cakes and tea. 

By T Denney (28/08/2015)

I used to keep my pony at Woodingdean Farm from about 1957 until 1967. I remember Percy Filkins very well and all the farm labourers who lived in Ovingdean.  Mrs Filkins' maiden name was Cowley, hence Cowley Drive which is nearby.  There were loads of other girls who used to keep horses there - Jill Dade, Wendy Loveday, Kathleen Barham (sadly deceased), Tina Fearman. I can't remember any more names but I do remember all the horses!

By Christine Preston (Haworth) (03/06/2016)