Richard H & Emlyn White of Lodge Farm


Richard Henry White was born in 1904 in Ivybridge on the edge of Dartmoor, son of a boot and shoe maker who also reared cattle in a hired field. When he left Totnes Grammar School at 16 Richard came to Norfolk to live with his Uncle, Joe Wyatt, who had an arable farm near Quiddenham. Richard stayed for 9 years, and was praised for his hard work and competence - especially as a stockman. He was considered to have the potential to manage and run a large farm but that was not to be - he returned to Devon, to a small dairy farm.

Richard H White married Emlyn Spry in 1928 when she was 19 - she came from a family who farmed south of Ivybridge. Her father died when the children were quite young but her mother continued to run the farm and bring up her large family. Richard and Emlyn started married life on a small dairy farm on the edge of Dartmoor supplemented by a shop and milk round. But through Uncle Joe in Norfolk, they heard of a medium sized farm of 150 acres available to rent in Bracon Ash - Lodge Farm. They arrived in October 1939, soon after war started, with their three children, the youngest only a few months old, a cat and a dog. They were tenants of Mrs Berney at Bracon Hall.

Emlyn White loved gardening and created some beautiful flower beds in the garden at Lodge Farm, including poppie, Easter lilies and lots of scented flowers and bushes. Her home baking was as renowned as her gardening! A quiet and kindly woman, she hated it when the calves were taken from the cows, and when the cows were loaded into lorries to go to market. She gave up keeping geese 'because it was too painful to give them up at Christmas'. She had a strong faith and each night she read from a large family Bible. She regularly attended Bracon Ash church, sitting unobtrusively at the back.

Richard White was a successful stockman, with a herd of cattle that grew steadily. He served in the local Home Guard throughout the war. Following wartime policy, more of the land was ploughed up for arable farming. Labour was in short supply in those years so the farm was gradually mechanised - a milking machine replaced hand milking, a Fordson tractor replaced two horses, and later a combine harvester replaces the annual visit of a threshing machine. But farm machinery became more expensive and complex, calling for a different set of skills from all working on the farm. Mr White was a good employer and his men held him in great respect and affection. He loved sport - especially cricket - and was a dab hand with the Sunday roast, though according to one of his daughters that did not include the washing up!

For Richard and Emlym, farming was not an industry, but a way of life. They saw the decline of small mixed farm such as Lodge Farm, that supported several families, gave life-long employment and allowed children to continue in the farming tradition.

They had one son, also Richard (but always known and Dickie) and two daughters, all of whom attended the local village school, succeeded in the Scholarship exam, and moved to High Schools in Norwich. Dickie helped his father on the farm, and at one stage hoped to be able to share and continue the tenancy. But by then their landlord was Richard Berney who made it plain that he wanted to sell the house and the land separately as soon as the tenancy expired. 

From her early 70's, Emlyn became more frail with heart trouble. She died in May 1987 after a spell in the Norfolk & Norwich Hospital. Richard continued farming for another 2 years, and then needed an operation. He agreed to retire and went to live with his younger daughter and family in Suffolk. Richard White had run Lodge Farm for 50 years. He made light of his physical problems, and died of cancer in 2002, aged 89. He was buried with his wife in Bracon Ash churchyard