|The following is from
a profile in the book "The Emmerdale Family Album" (by Michael
Heatly and Published by Boxtree Paperback - 30 June, 1995
FOR THE OLDER inhabitants
of Emmcrdale, Home Farm - the old manor house just outside
the village - represented the traditional way of country
life. It was the home of the squire who, since time immemorial,
had presided benevolently over his tenant farmers from
the big house. He'd contributed a
barrel of ale on village feast days and generally keet
a paternal eye on the community.
The Verney family had long been top dogs of the village,
and George Verney, who died in 1978, was the last of a
long line. He'd married a woman rather younger than himself,
and in 1973 been obliged to administer a public horsewhipping
when he sought to bring a little light' into her life.
It was an ironic clash of the district's two longest-standing
families: only the Verneys could boast a longer traceable
history than the Sugdens (and Sam Pearson, for one, would
argue that point!).
On George's demise in Cannes, France, where he'd lived
since the break-up of his marriage, the estate was inherited
by his nephew Gerald Verney.
He was no squire-in-waiting
but a small-time London businessman; the colossal death
duties he faced left him and his wife Charlotte no option
but to sell. Old George had on a number of occasions considered
the option of selling the buildings for use as a college,
but this time it was the whole estate - lock, stock and
And that had possible wide-ranging repercussions throughout
the community. The freehold of Emmerdale Farm
itself had been bought from the Miffield Estate
which the Verneys administered, but much still remained
in their hands: many shops in the village were rented
from them, as was the recreation ground by the parish
council. That raised the spectre, as Sam
Pearson said, of 'bungalows going up on the cricket
pitch', But as Annie
sensibly observed, 'It's no good harking back to the good
old days when the folk at the Hall felt a responsibility
for Beckindale in general.'
The sale brought a territorial dispute in its wake in
the shape of a 20-acre field claimed by Emmerdale
Farm and the estate agents handling the sale which,
it turned out, had been rented from George Verney by Jacob
Sugden for a bottle of whisky a year! Jack
Sugden paid rather more for the old mill at Connelton
which was originally built by a member of the Verney family
in the nineteenth century. (Demdyke Row was built by the
Verneys for the men who worked there.) The mill was later
converted into cottages.
The eventual purchasers of what had traditionally been
known as 'Verney's' were NY Estates,
and the changes were rung with a vengeance at the newly
renamed Home Farm. The squire had traditionally
turned a blind eye to a spot of poaching, but now Seth
Armstrong - the neighbourhood's most notorious poacher
- was appointed as gamekeeper.
An amusing postscript occurred in 1991,
Brearly's diaries and discovered that
Seth Armstrong was, in fact, an illegitimate descendant
of the Verney family. But any possible claims to ownership
of Home Farm had been obscured by NY's
purchase and subsequent disposal of the property to
Frank Tate - his current boss!