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Otterton History - Mullins or Mollands Farm

(“FLINTSTONES” now on site.)

Housterns Farm with yard of Mullins to left. Village to right 1968

Tithe No 1126

Rent No. 22,23 & 24

First named in Auction Prospectus 1779 but farmed by George Molland earlier in 18th. century. He died 5th. March 1785. His son Samuel, in 1779 was holding messuage & tenement in Otterton Fore Street, 33 ½ acres, 3 fields of 9 acres and two fields called Cleales or Clayles of 6 acres. late Bayleis . The rental of £2 plus a “pullet” and providing a “ horse and man at harvest-time” and “Man to clear the leat”. This suggests that his 99 year conventionary lease had been running since about 1710, The Mollands may have held the lease since that time. Samuel was Churchwarden 3 times, in 1783, 1787 & 1794. In 1784/5 he is buying a “slate Register Book and other things for Church use £5.7/1d”. 3 years later he is supplying a “barel(sic) of cyder” 11/ the Church. (see below re Cyder Mill)

Samuel Molland died 28th. October 1806 age 75 as reported by the Exeter Flying Post. The Rolle Estates took over the Lease and put Mullins (corruption of Mollands!) on a Rack Rent annual basis also dividing up the land. Part went to the Bishop family living in the farm to the east, which later became part of Watering Farm. Thomas Bridle was renting “part Baileys, ½ Clayles” in 1814 (Land Tax) and by the Tithe Award 1843 James Bridle is holding Mullins of 38 acres 3 rood, on Rack Rent Nos.7, 23 & 47. The house and courtlage (ie.barns), Home Orchard and about 9 acres No.23 were in and south of the village, but the remaining 16 fields were all at Ladram Bay. All were arable except 4 acres 3 rood of Orchards. The farmhouse faced onto Fore Street and the Home Orchard stretched south to Behind Hayes and was filled with appletrees.

In 1852 Bridle had left Mullins. The Estate then divided Mullins by merging 1) the farmhouse, barns, Home Orchard and the fields near the village into Isaac Halse’s Farm next door and 2) all the land at Ladram to John Skinner of Elliotts Farm in Ottery Street. By 1861 Halse had changed his farm name to Mullins – of 73 acres. It is not known when his farm later became known as Housetern, but probably early 20th.century and is named after a field “Houseteren” south of the village and part of the farm since 18th.century.

In 1865 the Estate built Sea View Farm at Ladram leasing it with all the fields, including Mullins fields to John Skinner. They then closed down Elliotts, leasing the farmhouse to the Gosling family, the village blacksmiths. Today it is now renamed “The Barn”.

From the evidence it seems that the Mollands built up a lucrative cider producing business at Mullins during the 18th. and early 19th. centuries. They had a fair acreage of apple orchards and they probably had supplies of apples from other farmer/growers. Their cider mill was housed in a round house with a donkey/pony walking a wheel powering the press. A substantial machine compared to the other mills known in the village. By 1888 the O/S map marks the round house as joined to a barn and Halse’s farmhouse.

The Round House had been pulled down by 1968.

A Cider Press in Round House with horse drawn wheel 1930’s

There were two separate Halse families known to be living at “Housterns” and it is probable that one of the families moved into Mullins farmhouse after 1852. By 1881 William Beer was the tenant farmer and Mullins farmhouse had been demolished. It is not marked on the 1888 O/S map.

The yard remained as part of Housterns until 1977 when the last tenant farmer, John Dowell, died. Housterns was then occupied by John Bain, the Estate Asst. Land Agent, and family, and “Mullins” was sold off for housing development in the 1980’s and is now “Flintstones”, which includes a replica of Round House built on the west end.

© Gerald Millington 2013

Clinton Devon Estates Archives
Devon Records Office; Land Tax Returns
National Census
Exeter Flying Post


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