Dean House Farm (in Newdigate) was acquired by Mellard Frost in 1952. The farm was a traditional dairy farm with a pedigree and award winning herd of Guernsey cattle. In 1969 the day to day management of Dean House Farm was taken over by his son Charlie Frost, following his completion of an agricultural qualification at Merrist Wood Agricultural College.
Charlie developed the business and rather than being reliant solely on milk he diversified and, together with his wife Elaine, became a well known figure delivering Farmer Frosts Cream and fresh eggs to shops and offices in Esher, Leatherhead and Dorking, as well as establishing a shop in the farmyard in Newdigate.
But times were changing fast for farmers. The advent of the EU quotas restricting production and the pressures that major retailers were able to exert on food prices, meant that if farmers didn't rethink their businesses they faced reducing incomes.
Charlie was one of the first farmers in the South East to spot what was happening to agriculture, food pricing and the economic viability of running an enterprise purely based upon an income from agriculture alone. He recognised the need to diversify to survive. This diversification continues and development is still taking place some 25 years later.
Despite the commercial pressures the family is passionate about the countryside and doing what they can to support the parishes of Newdigate, Capel and Rusper.
Charlie's son, Christopher, joined him full time in 1995 and is increasingly taking over more and more of the activity. Christopher has been particularly instrumental in developing the fishing enterprise together with the design and creation of the fishing lakes seen today on the various properties.
The diversification of the business over the years has resulted in further growth. The Stammerham property was added in1982, and Greens Farm was acquired in 1997.
Dean House Farm
Dean House Farm is made up of 150 acres of land in Newdigate Parish the earliest records of Newdigate go back some 500 years. The farmhouse (reputedly haunted!) is of brick construction with a very traditional Horsham stone roof and has been substantially restored in recent years. There is also a (filled in) tunnel reputedly linking the house with Newdigate Church some 200 metres away, or maybe somewhere else!
Acquired in 1982 with 100 acres and Victorian buildings. Stammerham has been progressively converted to offices over the last 20 years. The land provides grazing for sheep and horses and has three lakes suitable for match fishing.
Acquired by the Frosts in 1997 on the retirement of John Coombes, a lifetime Newdigate resident. Greens Farm consists of 220 acres of agricultural and woodland bordering on the parishes of Newdigate and Capel.
Of the three properties, Greens Farm is probably the most historically interesting. The Farmhouse is reputedly the second oldest house in Surrey, dating from 1309, only some 240 years after the writing of the Doomsday book. There is a collection of timber framed farm buildings.
The farmhouse on Greens has also required substantial renovation. The building is a traditional Hall House that would originally have had an open hearth fire in the middle of the main room with the smoke rising through a hole in the roof, blackening the rafters in the process.
Given the age and historical importance of the building the restoration has been done in conjunction with English Heritage. Prior to permission being given to complete the restoration work, substantial archaeological surveys were completed by Richard Harris, from the Weald and Down Land Museum. This unearthed a spiritual midden consisting of old shoes, nails and clay pipes. These were found next to the chimney and put there to stop the evil spirits coming down the chimney!