Cannon Hall Farm, Barnsley: History of Yorkshire’s famous 17th century estate and the farm that has appeared in TV shows including Channel 5 show Springtime On The Farm

While Cannon Hall Farm first opened its doors in the late 20th century, the manor itself dates back to the 17th century.

Cannon Hall Farm is back on TV as a new series of Springtime On The Farm returns to Channel 5 presented by Helen Skelton and Jules Hudson. The farm is a tourist attraction close to the village of Cawthorne, near Barnsley, South Yorkshire.

It was voted Best Tourist Experience at the Welcome to Yorkshire White Rose Awards in 2011 and was once the home for Cannon Hall, built by the Spencer-Stanhope family. It now serves as a museum and the modern version with the added attractions was developed by Roger Nicholson, who inherited the land when he was 16 years old.

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The farm raises sheep, goats and pigs, with more than 750 lambs reared, 400 ewes and 800 piglets produced every year. Visitor attractions include an adventure playground, large tube maze, farm shop, delicatessen, gift and toy shop and restaurant.

Lambs at Cannon Hall Farm. (Pic credit: Tony Johnson)Lambs at Cannon Hall Farm. (Pic credit: Tony Johnson)
Lambs at Cannon Hall Farm. (Pic credit: Tony Johnson)

History of Cannon Hall Farm and house

The earliest reference of the land was made in a conveyance dated 1650 when William Hewet sold the manor and farm to Robert Hartley.

The estate was inherited by Margaret Hartley by 1660, who sold Cannon Hall to John Spencer, her stepfather, who originated in Montgomeryshire on the Welsh Borders. The Spencer family lived there until 1775, when the oldest Spencer died with no heirs to take over the estate.

His sister Ann married Walter Stanhope, with which she had a son Walter who became the heir to the estate. Walter added the name ‘Spencer’ to his name in honour of his uncle. Walter Stanhope was a close friend of anti-slavery MP William Willberforce and the Spencer family made their wealth through iron smelting.

Helen Skelton on Springtime on the Farm. (Pic credit: Daisybeck Studios)Helen Skelton on Springtime on the Farm. (Pic credit: Daisybeck Studios)
Helen Skelton on Springtime on the Farm. (Pic credit: Daisybeck Studios)
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By the mid-18th century, the family sold on their iron forging works and became ‘leisured landed gentry’. John Spencer added a park which was designed by Richard Woods and a sunken fence was built to contain deer.

For centuries Cannon Hall Farm served as the home farm to the Cannon Hall Estate and was known for its fine strain of pedigree Large White pigs. The estate was sold to Charles Nicholson in 1957 and was officially opened to the public in 1989 on Good Friday under the current ownership of Roger Nicholson.

Which TV shows has Cannon Hall Farm appeared in?

The Nicholsons were seen on BBC One’s The Farmers’ Country Showdown in February 2017, a show which follows food producers and farmers at a number of country shows and local markets.

From 2018, Cannon Hall Farm regularly appeared in the Channel 5 series Springtime On The Farm, which has returned for its second series and its first episode will be aired on Wednesday, April 12, 2023 starring presenters Helen Skelton and Jules Hudson.

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The farm was shown on Channel 5 shows This Week on the Farm and The Yorkshire Vet in July 2021 when Princess Anne visited the attraction to formally open the farm’s dog friendly cafe ‘Lucky Pup’.

The farm is also known for the three-day Channel 5 festival 5 on The Farm which first took place at Cannon Hall Farm in August 2021.

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