Punchbowl Farm

Punchbowl Farm nearly started life in her books as 'Highnoons Farm'. At least I think that it did.
In the first Punchbowl book Black Hunting Whip she describes the nearby village as Highnoons Village. There's a little-known article by her, published in 1950, where she describes a morning at her farm. It is illustrated by her sister and interestingly it is titled 'Morning at Highnoons Farm'.

I think her lively humour which gave us Winklesea had struck again. Thankfully the Farm was rechristened 'Punchbowl' for the stories.

Just like Westling Harbour Punchbowl Farm is real.
Before the Edwards moved there it was known as 'Pitlands Farm', and still is on some maps. It lies tucked away out of sight at the bottom of a valley a couple of miles from the Surrey Village of Thursley.

Hence the difficulty in getting photographs of the buildings.

Its location is shown in Geoffrey Whittam's illustration from Black Hunting Whip.
Here the farm is being approached from the village down the sunken lane. Behind the farm is the barn and beyond Barn Field rises to the left to meet the other sunken Sandy Lane.

Geoffrey Whittam's illustration of Punchbowl Farm. Click to enlarge (File Size=63KB)
It was in a terrible state when they bought it. To appreciate how bad you must read The Unsought Farm which tells the tale in all its sordid truth. Black Hunting Whip covers the same time of rubble and trouble in the children's series, but you need the former to truly appreciate what they had taken on.

The valley with the farm leads into the big Devil's Punch Bowl, a major landmark in Surrey, around the rim of which runs the main road (the A3) to Portsmouth and the South Coast.
It's hard to imagine that such a quiet spot should exist within a few minutes of such a busy road.

Punch Bowl Farm before 1947. Click to enlarge. File size = 48K
Punch Bowl Farm before 1947
This photograph, from the Estate of Monica Edwards, is a view of the farm before they moved there. It is very similar to that shown in Whittam's drawing.

When they arrived the house had no electricity, no mains water, no sewage. Water was wound up from the well, a privy was placed at a discrete distance from the house. Baths were taken courtesy of a friend.

This later picture, taken by Monica Edwards in 1953, shows the approach to the house from the farm gate.

By this time the chimney on the right hand part of the house, visible in the earlier photograph, had been dismantled by Bill. This was the kitchen chimney in the oldest part of the house and it was in a precarious state.
For some years, until it was rebuilt, the smoke from the range exited through a pipe in the roof.

Just visible in the end wall of the older wing, where a part of the house has long since fallen, is the window put in for the bathroom. The bathroom was created partly from chimney space and in part a 'Priest's Hole'.

Punch Bowl Farm 1953, photo © Monica Edwards
Punch Bowl Farm 1953
© Monica Edwards
Although her children's books do recount this time, the fuller account is in The Unsought Farm and it bears reading again, and again.


This page is part of the Monica Edwards Website. To enter this site by the front door, click here.
Created by John Allsup

Created on 26 August 2001
last updated March 2003