The Curious Case of the Milk Churn Stand

OK, so it’s not exactly Agatha Christie but it is a great example of community research in action. The following enquiry arrived in the website mailbox:

I wonder if anyone can help me identify the purpose of this structure located by the Hale Purlieu road (near entrance to Warren Copse)?   It would appear to be too high for a mounting block (normally there would be at least two steps) and an unusual position for a structure to hold a fuel tank.  I thought it might be a milk stand (for milk churns) but there is a lip to one side on the top and a small trough at the bottom. I was just intrigued to know what it was!
Thank you for your help.
With kind regards

And so the investigations begin….

Hi DM,
I got this enquiry through the History website this morning. Any ideas? Who would know?

Hi S,
I do know someone who has lived near there most of his life and will ask him. But might go and have a look first to get a bit more feel for it. I will forward to G&P too to see if they have any info.
Intriguing. DM
Hello G&P.
Can you throw any light on the attached which we historians down the hill are struggling with! My guess from the picture is milk churns but only a wild guess.
Best wishes DM

Hi DM,
We have seen the structure many times, of course, and thought it looked utilitarian/wartime, or maybe to do with water butts (hence the mini trough at the side) for animals? No idea, is the truth, I’m afraid! Because of the proximity to Warren Farm a milk churn stand is feasible, but it looks way too substantial to me, and then again there’s that pesky trough…
Stay well G&P
Hi S,
Someone who works in the shop and has lived here 27 years thought it linked to the farm/dairy. They had dairy cows before switching to beef she thinks. As a rider she has used it as a step up but doesn’t think that was its original purpose.
All the best. DM

Hi J,
I had a question from someone last week about the brick structure on Hale Purlieu near the entrance to Warren Copse. I’m fairly certain it’s a stand for milk churns, probably used by Warren Farm – can you remember it being used for this purpose? If so, do you have any idea what the small trough on the right was used for?

Hi S
Regards the stands, am pretty sure they were for milk churns, but if you have no objection I will send this email to my friends who lived at Warren Farm for many years farming. One lives in Ringwood now and the other Saltash but I am in touch with them both.

 Dear S
I think what you were referring to is the milk churn stand by Warren Farm.
My family moved to the farm in the late 40’s leaving in the late 1960’s. They kept Guernsey Dairy Cows and Welsh Pigs there were never any beef cattle. The stand used to hold about four churns and the step alongside was to enable the milk lorry driver to get on to the stand to put the churns on his lorry and the empty ones on the stand. Milk churns held 10 gallons of milk when full weighing nearly a 100lbs in total.
I have attached two photos of Warren Farm, taken in 1966 when the family still lived there and in 1970’s long after they had left. I do not have a photo of the stand.
Regards, GJ

Warren Farm, 1960s

Warren Farm, 1970s

Hi GJ,
Do you think the small trough at the right side is the remains of the step you mention? We were also wondering about the lip at the rear but this doesn’t go all the way across the back.
I notice that the chimneys of Warren Farm are separate now, without the impressive connecting arch shown in your photos. Was there a bell hanging in the archway originally? If not, what was the purpose?
Can I add your photos and memories to my Woodgreen history website?
Thanks, S
Good morning S
I can confirm that the lip at the back did go right along the back and that is the step at the side, obviously over the years it has been damaged and the step would have been a little higher with a slate/paving stone top most likely damaged or stolen.
The top of the house was, I believe, a Deer lookout bearing in mind when the house was built in 1879 there would not have been so much woodland and none of the other houses were there at that time.
Yes you may add the photos to your Web site.
Regards, GJ

Investigations concluded!

Hi DF,
I’ve asked around and been in touch with one of the family that ran Warren Farm from 1940-1970 and also got the views of a neighbour from about the same time.
It was indeed a stand for milk churns and the small trough at the side is the remains of a single step used by the driver to manoeuvre the churns on and off his lorry. The step was originally a little higher with a paving slab or slate top. The lip at the back used to go right across the platform. The stand held about 4 churns, each holding 10 gallons and weighing 100lbs. At that time, Warren Farm kept Guernsey dairy cows and also had Welsh pigs.
I include a photo of Warren Farm from the 1960s. In case you’re wondering (I was) the arch construction between the chimneys is believed to have been a deer lookout. The roofline of the house has been changed and it’s no longer there.

Thanks, S

Case closed!


We wanted to feature a photo of the Picket Well for our 2019 calendar. This got us thinking about it. What is it really? Why was it built?

© 2018 Bill Shepley
1924 map showing Picket Well, new reservoir and hydraulic ram

I had a look on some old maps and it only appears around about 1910-20. Before then, there was just a spring/pond at the corner (it’s still there) and that is reputed to have been used as a water supply for the estate’s stables. 

The 1908 map features a large reservoir created in Newman’s Copse and a new track laid to it. No sign of Picket Well though. However, by 1924, Picket Well is marked on the map and there’s a small building by the reservoir dam in Newman’s Copse marked ‘Hydraulic Ram’. Hydraulic rams were often used by country estates to give some umph to their fountains but it could just as well have been useful to flush the loos. A little more digging and I found that it had been installed by Green & Carter of Winchester and the company (yes, it’s still going!) confirmed that they carried out the installation of the hydraulic ram, reservoir and pipework for Lady Adela Goff – but had no further details. They doubted whether Picket Well was part of the works. Lady Adela Goff died in 1911 so it was probably built between 1905 and 1911.

So we now have two mysteries. What was the purpose of Picket Well? Where did the water from the reservoir and hydraulic ram go?

Remains of reservoir in Newman’s Copse: