|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
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
to Jack 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 barrel.
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,
when Turner and Wilks read Amos
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
property to Frank Tate - his current boss!