THE FARM HISTORY
THE FARM HISTORY
We thought you might like a bit of history thrown in; so here’s a quick round up of our past at Wapsbourne.
The name Wapsbourne is the modern version of the older Sussex names of Whapplesbourne, Werpplesborne and other derivatives. The name means ‘a track by the stream’. This track leads you from Lewes to East Grinstead, right past the Elizabethan Manor house built in the late 15th C. Wapsbourne was once part of the Sheffield Park Estate, auctioned into private hands in 1953 when the estate of several thousand acres was broken up.
PURCHASING POWER OF POTATOES
Following a bumper potato crop, in a drought year when other growers on lighter soil had low yields, Bill Cragg of Brooker Farm in Kent, purchased Wapsbourne Manor Farm in 1978 to use the streak of Tunbridge Wells green sand to grow strawberry runners.
His somewhat wayward son Paul had returned from America where he had studied Philosophy was summarily dispatched to Sussex in 1979 with his new Canadian wife Jean to start growing.
Between the early 80’s to 2005 the Craggs could be found growing hundreds of acres of strawberry fruit for the super market trade.
This went very well until the supermarkets started the squeeze on price by flying in fruit from California which had far lower production costs. This left the farm with 2 very unprofitable growing seasons and a whole lot of debt.
Paul and Jean then had to use their experience from these 20 years employing and housing young people as fruit pickers; to establish a working holiday campsite providing local businesses with much needed temporary staff, young people from all over the world.
This recruitment agency lasted the best part of 2 decades but again was faced with a slow down and unprofitable years when the EU opened up to new countries and the labour force became easier to find.
In 2006 Jean had the idea of trying camping and going back to basics and getting people back into the outdoors. Back then tent camping wasn’t a big thing at all and Glamping didn’t exist, you were more likely to find a caravan park than anything else.
The response even in the first year to our new approach was massive and many happy campers came and had a nice stay right from the word go. So Jean and Paul and Alice and Frank set about converting the farm once again into a new business and starting the ball rolling.
THE MANOR HOUSE
It is thought that there has been a building of some description on the site of Wapsbourne Farm since Anglo Saxon times. It was known at Domesday time as Werpesburn, which in Sussexvernacular later became Wapses Boorn.
During the period known as the ‘second great rebuilding’ in the 17th century it was reduced in size and the timber framing on the South and West sides the weather fronts were covered with fine brickwork, with the magnificent chimney stacks erected. A notable feature of the chimney stacks is that they were constructed to present a corner angle to the prevailing wind.
Our team in full flow during the season is quite large, so here are a few team shots.
WELCOME TO WAPSBOURNE FROM US ALL
So now we are very happy to welcome you to this bit of Sussex countryside, we hope you enjoy the setting and keep coming back year on year to see.
HAVE ANYTHING TO ASK?
You will no doubt have a handful of questions before you come camping. There is a ton of information around this site that should provide you with the answers you need. However if there is anything else, please check out our FAQs that should cover everything that you can think of. If there is still something missing, you can drop us a line.