The tenant farmer of Great House Farm is Barry Charman, who took over from his father, Aubrey. In 1977, Aubrey Charman published a book entitled Southwater Through 200 Years, which is available from the library. He died in 2011 at the ripe old age of 101.
Successive members of the Charman family have worked the farm for two centuries, since 1823, with Barry being the 5th generation to do so. He is now semi-retired as his sons are gradually taking over. The farm covers around 220 acres, and is currently used for beef cattle, having been converted from dairy production in 2010.
The Charmans have a tenancy that extends to the lifetime of Barry’s sons. However, the landowner, the Aubrey-Fletcher Trust, which is managed for the benefit of Sir Henry Aubrey-Fletcher‘s family, can actually terminate the tenancy at any time. And it’s important to note here that under the terms of the tenancy agreement there’s no requirement to generously compensate the Charmans for loss of their livelihood. Sir Henry was President of the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) a few years back. In an interview conducted in 2007 he was quoted as saying “You go out onto the terrace, enjoy the sight of cattle coming up to the fence. It makes you feel good.”
Great House Farmhouse has been designated by English Heritage as a Grade II* Listed Building of significant historical interest. A date of 1575 is carved into an oak chimney piece, although it is thought this was done during a period of extensive remodelling, as the house is believed to have been enlarged around a much earlier building, dating from 1462.