The first recorded evidence of the village of Cawthorne comes from the Doomsday Book of 1086 where it states “Manor. Calthorne. Alric (a Norman Lord) had three caracutes of land to be taxed and there may be two ploughs there …there is a priest and church.
Wood pasture two miles long and two broad. The whole manor three miles long and two broad. Value in King Edwards time forty shillings; now twenty shillings.”
The first mention of Cannon Hall and the farm comes in a conveyance dated 1650 when William Hewet sold the Manor and Farm along with other farms, land and cottages to Robert Hartley for £2900.
The only daughter of Robert Hartley sold Cannon Hall to John Spencer and the Spencer family owned Cannon Hall until 1775 when the oldest son died unmarried.
His sister Ann had married Walter Stanhope and had a son Walter who became heir to the estate. He added the name Spencer to his own out of regard for the memory of his uncle. Walter Stanhope was a close friend and ally of anti slavery campaigner William Wilberforce and sat with him in Parliament representing Carlisle and Hull and Hazelmere.
For hundreds of years Cannon Hall Farm was the Home Farm to the Cannon Hall Estate providing high quality food for the owners and staff. In it’s heyday the farm would have been at the forefront of agricultural technology. As recently as the 1930’s and 40’s it was well known for it’s particularly fine strain of pedigree Large White pigs that brought high prices at local sales.
The estate remained in the Spencer Stanhope family until 1957 when parts of it were broken up and sold. Charles Nicholson, the father of the present owner bought Cannon Hall Farm paying £7100 for 126 acres of land and buildings. Around the same time Cannon Hall was bought by Barnsley Council and turned into a museum.
Charlie Nicholson died only a year later and his son Roger had to leave school at just 16 years of age to take over the farm. Farming on small family farms has never been very profitable and after struggling for many years it became obvious during the 1980’s that the farm had to diversify or be sold.
Under the leadership of Roger Nicholson and his family Home Farm Tearooms was opened in 1981 and Cannon Hall Farm was opened to the public in 1989, quickly adding an Adventure Playground and Gift Shop.
The opening of the Farm Shop in 1999, new farmyard in 2013 and the Hungry Llama Indoor Play in 2015 have helped to make Cannon Hall Farm one of the most popular visitor attractions in Yorkshire and winner of multiple awards.
Cannon Hall Farm is still very much a family business dedicated to providing the perfect family day out.