The first reference to Baylins Farm dates back to 1325. A jury member, John Belynges, a tenant at Segraves manor, gave evidence about a farm following the death of its owner John de Segraves. In 1325 land in Knotty Green, Forty Green, Drews Green, Witheridge Lane and Clay Street was all owned by Segraves Manor according to the Manor Court Rolls. In 1332 John Belynges owned a very large farm in Knotty Green. He was the 4th highest tax payer in Penn. The name Belynges may have been adopted from the arrangement of roads forming a bell sized area on the northern edge of the Knotty Green common land. The name ‘Baylins’ may relate to this owner.
The census details from 1861 describes a farm of 140 acres occupied by William Redding, a 35 year old farm manager from North Church, Hants, his wife, 4 sons and a daughter. Ten years later, in 1871, the farm had grown to 160 acres and the family comprised William and Lydia Redding, 5 sons, 2 daughters, Joseph Allen a house servant, 3 labourers and 2 boys.
When interviewed in 2004, local resident Joyce Priest revealed that the Priest family became tenant farmers at Baylins farm in 1875 following the marriage between Eliza Salter, daughter of Thomas Salter, a Missenden farmer, and William Priest. The 1881 census shows that the farm was inhabited by William Priest with wife Eliza, their 3 sons William, Thomas and Ernest and a daughter Elsie. Frank Perfect and Arthur James were farm indoor servants and Ellen Evans was a general indoor servant. This census also recorded many other inhabitants on the farm: Agricultural labourer Arthur Tapping and wife Lizzie with their daughters Gertrude, Sarah and son Albert; Agricultural labourer Thomas Bryant and his wife Elizabeth – they had 2 scholars boarding with them, Harriet and James Ofnield; Agricultural labourer John James and Phoebe with their children John, who was also an agricultural labourer, Albert, Harry and Mary Eliza. Agricultural labourer William Carter with his wife Maria, sons John and Ephraim, daughters Jane and Kate along with their deaf and dumb sister in law Harriet Dells; Retired game keeper John Lane with his lacemaking wife Mary who live with their daughters Maria, who was disabled, and Mary Ann. They were helped by a live in general servant; Also living at Baylins Farm were Edward Tilbury, a brick layer his wife Ann, their son and a boarder, one Eunice Park. The farm is not listed on the 1891 census.
William Priest remained at Baylins until his death in 1917 and his widow was allowed under the tenancy agreement to remain at the farm until her death in 1919. Following this, after around 300 years of ownership by Earl Howe, the farm was sold to Sir Ambrose Heal along with 8 acres of land. Almost immediately architects Edwin Forbes and Sir Edward Maufe started the renovations to adapt the house to 20th century living in the Arts and Crafts style of the time. Sir Ambrose Heals wife was a keen gardener and planted cherry orchards and landscaped the gardens. The farm continued as an arable and dairy farm being inherited by Anthony Heal in 1946 on the death of his mother. In the 1950s the farm produced sufficient cherries to send to market to be sold.
Today and legacy
On the death of Anthony Heal, the farm was inherited by his sons Ambrose and Oliver. Oliver has continued to pursue the furniture interests of a branch of the Heal family, training in renovation of furniture. Together with his French wife Annik one of the barns has been renovated to become a ballet barn. The renovation has won an award for its quality. In addition, he has discovered that the beam in the now living room has been dated back to the 1400’s; the old dairy is now the kitchen. In 1994, death duties following the death of Anthony Heal forced the sale of some farm land and the development of houses, accessed from Wyngrave Place in Knotty Green off the Forty Green Road, is called Priests Paddock after the Priest family who lived at the farm.