Damage Barton Farm
It is believed that Damage Barton farm was established at some time in the twelfth century, it would be owned for many years by the Cutcliffe family. John Cutcliffe was a priest who spoke openly against the Pope and Roman Catholic religion, he was imprisoned for his views and writings. There is evidence that Damage Barton was owned by this family from 1431, being inherited throughout the family until it was eventually sold in 1922. Following the death of Charles Cutcliffe in 1745 the farm was leased to Thomas Gammon whose family farmed the land until 1811, following this the Shapland family took over the tenancy. The Bale family took over the tenancy in 1890, when the farm had to be sold to a Mr Trethewy from Bedfordshire, when he decided to sell it, the Bale family who had been tenants for over forty years bought the farm and continued to farm the land. The farm was again sold in 1957 to John Everleigh who stayed for five years before selling to Peter and Mary Lethbridge, whose family still run the farm and campsite today.
The Lethbridge Family have farmed Damage Barton since 1962. Three generations of the family now live here and run a very successful caravan and camping site. The farm itself comprises 500 acres on the coast of North Devon, and is a stock rearing beef and sheep farm. The farm grows approximately 35 acres of cereals, for its own consumption, almost enough to provide all of the farm’s straw needs, and the basis of its cereal feed. Twenty acres of swedes are used for fattening lambs. The farm produces 600 tons of silage and some hay. Peter and Mary, who bought Damage Barton in 1962 and were first generation farmers. When they bought the farm, it already had a tourism component in the form of a field used by the Caravan Club and the Caravan and Camping Club. Access to the land was the only service provided, and the arrival of two caravans was cause for excitement! Little attention was paid to the tourism business in early years because of the investment required by the agricultural side of the business, then the mainstay of the farm. Today, pitches are provided for members of the two clubs with a large proportion of their business coming from repeat bookings. The tourism enterprise is considered to be an integral part of the farm business. Not only does this present urban visitors with an opportunity to learn about farming practices, it also helps reduce the isolation of many farming families.
At Damage Barton, in recognition of the importance of personal interaction with guests, the family welcome all visitors personally. Visitors are involved with, and notified of, daily farming activities by way of notes recorded on a blackboard in the visitor centre which provides a means of farm interpretion.