High Arcal Farm, Woodsetton

by Helen Sharman (August 2002)

High Arcal Farm Here's a potted version of what I know about the farm.

The owner that I knew was Walter Parker, his brother Samuel was my grandfather and lived all his life in Vale Street, Upper Gornal. I believe that Walter's parents owned it before him.

Samuel was a councillor and also a Sanitary Inspector for Sedgely. He also worked on the engine of the speedboat Sunbeam and was one of the team who went to Southampton to test it on the Solent.

The house (originally called Flaxhall) was said to be haunted! I do know that as a child I longed to explore, but never ever dared to go upstairs! My Aunt and Mother used to say that some evenings, there would be an unexplained knocking on the back of the great black wooden settle that was next to the range.

It was alleged tht there was a secret passage leading from the farm to Dudley Castle, but we never found it.

The farm had a walled garden, sheltered by a high stone wall on the NE, the wall built at the same time as the house.

Below the garden was a dingle with a pool. During the 50's there were still a few animals there, but Walter could not cope and they went. The hens were the last to go, I can still remember the incubator - round green metal with a light bulb for heat. This was of course in the farm kitchen! Wlater died - about 1958 - the farm was scheduled for preservation, but the council dragged their feet and it was soon vandalised. The family believed that the council had acted deliberately because they wanted to sell the land for the school, the old people's home.

Walter's wife - Sarah Ann Ashcroft we think went to school somewhere near to Netherby Hall, Gospel End. I have not been able to track the Ashcrofts - any hints ?

Also living in the house was Emmie - Parker, I think. She went with most of the family, not Walter, to Pennsylvania and contracted meningitis which left her very deaf. She never married and became a house keeper.

Hope this is of interest. Helen S.

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