Built between 1420 and 1700 Littliff was originally a preachers residence. Expanded over the next two hundered years Littliff was a coach stop (the road is now under farm land) and more laterly a farm with over 150 acres. Mixed farming until the early 20th century and primarily dairy farming until the late 1970's. Rendered uninhabitable by fire in 1986, Littliff was sold in portions until the buildings and remaining land-around 6 acres-was sold in 2006.
The farm was owned until 2006 by the Gilkes family, and I spent my childhood there during the 1970's and 80's. In it's prime, Littliff was a magical place to spend time. Rich with history and reputedly haunted Littliff occupies an idealic position, and a place in the hearts of all who ever visited.
The name Littliff was that of the farm, not the gate manufacturer, nor the family that lived there. The family name was in fact Gilkes and I am one of their many grandchildren. The farm unfortunately has lain in a derelict state for quite some years -approx 20- after a house fire (caused, it is believed, by washing drying over the range cooker in the kitchen). It is now no longer owned by my Grandmother (my Grandfather passed away some 14.5 years ago). It was sold during the early part of 2007 and I believe is for sale again now. The history of the place is fascinating, and it was a wonderful place to spend weekends and school holidays while it was still a working farm!
I lived there from when I was about eighteen months old in late 1944 until I married in March 1965. It was a wonderful place to live, although we had no mains of any sort, no gas, electricity or water. The only "mod con" we had was a telephone which was put in after I had meningitis when I was four and my father had to walk to the village to get the doctor in the middle of the night!
The farm was originally aquired by my grandfather in the early 1920's after he had owned the Five Bells public house in the village for several years and he farmed there for many years. He and my grandmother raised their three sons there. In 1944 my father took over the farm where he and my mother raised seven children, of whom I am the eldest, five daughters and two sons. In the summer it was totally idyllic, but the walk to and from school in the winter was a bit of a nightmare. In those days that monstrosity of a bridge was not there, there was a level crossing as the only way into the fam then was via what is now the footpath. The crosssing was kept by Jimmy Rainbow who had a cottage to the left of the path right beside the rail track. To the right of the crossing was a hut, about six by four feet with a coal burning stove in it. We weren't allowed to cross the railway until "Uncle Jim" let us across, and many mornings we were late for school because he hadn't heard us yelling at the tops of our voices. When he retired the crossing was manned 24hrs a day by a couple of railway workers, but the rail company decided that was too expensive and they were replaced by a telephone. The cottage and the box were both demolished. Eventually the crossing was closed altogether and a road was put in from the top of Birds Hill, changing the access to the farm and eventually the foot crossing that still existed was replaced by that awful bridge.
When my father took over the farm it was about 100 acres and it was a mixed farm and viable at that time, but it gradually became more and more difficult to make it pay and eventually he sold off most of the land, retaining just the farmhouse and the field in which it stands, and went out to work. Soon after he retired the farmhouse was destroyed by fire, and as he was not in a position to rebuild it, the family moved out. He still however used the field and the buildings as at that time my youngest sister was a keen equestrian and the horses were kept there, along with a few hens. My grandmother, who by that time had died would have been delighted. She hated Littliff with a passion ( I don't know why ) and she said many times that the best thing that could happen to it would be that it would burn to the ground. The farmhouse has its own ghost, a lady who apparently was a nursemaid at the farm who committed suicide when she was jilted by her lover, and only appears to pregnant women. Both my mother and one of my sisters have seen her.