For over fourteen generations the Fowler family has been producing predominantly traditional Derby cheeses.
Traced back to 1670, read how we have evolved from Derbyshire to Warwickshire.
The History of our Cheese
Overview of Fowler's Heritage
Richard (Ric) Foule
The Fowlers of Alstonfield, Ilam, Hanbury and Earlswood - researches into ‘our’ branch of the FOWLER family have, so far, established its history to dates back in the 1670’s. They were farmers of substantial repute and, until about 1875 were based on a number of farms in a group of Parishes on the high ground in Staffordshire near to the Derbyshire boarder just to the west of Dovedale and the north of the Ashbourne/Leek road. The parishes include Alstonefield, Ilam, Waterfall, Grindon, Wetton, Calton and Butterton. The main Fowler farms were Throwley Moor (Ilam), Hardingsbooth (Alstonfield), Farwall (Calton in Blore) and Slade House (Ilam). Other farms were Stoney Lowe (Waterfall), Green House (Croxden) and Cauldon Church Farm (Stanshope) is still farmed by Douglas Fowler, almost certainly descended from the same family.
Where did the name Fowler originate?
The line can be traced back to Ric Foole of Hope - Hope is the hamlet in the middle of the area and may well have been the name of his farm also. It was in the parish of Alstonefield. Ric is the shortened name of Richard which has been a popular Christian name in the family throughout. Ric, who died in 1676 was married to Grace and was succeeded by his son Thomas who, in 1699 decided to adopt the new family name Fowler which was used continuously afterwards by all the family. He was head of the household of Hope, married Dorothy Marler and died in 1714. He chose to make Richard, his second son the inheritor of the land at Houlme Ends with the residence of the estate going to his eldest son Cornelius. Cornelius did not marry and in his death in 1722 his share of the estate of Hope passed onto his brother Richard.
Who was the estate left to? -The estate was concentrated once again in the hands of Richard who married Mary Wardle of Boosley. These were the first of the Fowlers whose names appear on four family gravestones in the churchyard of Astonefield where they can still be seen and are in good condition. Richard died in 1751 at Slade House, this is the first mention of this particular property in the family. In his will he is described as a 'gentleman'.
Fowler's family history whilst in Staffordshire
Staffordshire - researched by Nigel Pitt, the son-in-laws of Miriam Thompson and the eldest daughter of John Fowler of Earlswood. Nigel Pitt has records from the registers of the Staffordshire Parishes, extracts from certain census returns from 1841-1871, the headstones of the Fowler graves at Alstonefield and copies of the wills of ten of the key members of the family, dating back to that of Thomas Fowler of Hope (28th March 1714).The family were very stable up until 1870 remaining in a closely limited area and tied to their farms. They used a very limited number of Christian names generation after generation, they married local girls and a surprising number of sons and daughters never married at all.
Property to be left to a lady
How was Hannah the first lady to inherit everything? - The eldest son of Richard and Mary was William who died young (age 16) so that the estate passed to his younger brother Cornelius Fowler whose wife was called Hannah. He died relatively young in 1776 at the age of 37 at Slade House. Hannah lived until she was 31 and both are buried at Alstonfield. There is little doubt about the date of her death as her gravestone is a little difficult to read but seems to indicate the 7th of June 1812. Her will leaves her property to her daughter - also Hannah - whose existence is not recorded elsewhere. The dates attached to the will give the date of death as the 10th July 1814.
Where did Throwley farm come from? - Hannah married Cornelius and had a son called Cornelius. He died at the age of 8 and was buried in the grave of his grandparents at Alstonefield. Their estate was inherited by his second son William who married Elizabeth Langford from Mayfield in 1786. They lived at Throwley Moor, where you would find Throwley farm which stayed within the Fowler family for several generations. Like the other main farms it still exists today. They had a family of seven and were in the direct line of 'our' Fowler family. They died within weeks of each other in 1833 and were buried together in Alstonefield.
William and Elizabeth
The family of William and Elizabeth - one of their sons Thomas Fowler married Mary Wheeldon of Waterfall in 1812 and continued the line from which our family comes. Mary and Thomas formed Hardingsbooth, Alstonfield which is 158 acres at that time which still exists today. They had six children 3 girls and 3 boys. The younger two boys the eldest being John (born in 1828) never married and took over Farwall (78 acres) which is the farm next to Throwley Moor and in time took over Throwley Moor itself. Richard the second son lived at Farwall for a time until he moved to cauldron where he was living at the time he married Elizabeth Archer, a farmer's daughter.
(picture to the right being Hardings Booth farm today).
Thomas and Mary Fowler
The next succession in the Fowler family - Mary and Thomas of Hardingsbooth had six children. The eldest son William decided to leave the land and become an innkeeper at Alstonefield. They also had three girls Frances, Sarah and Mary Ellen. Mary Ellen went onto take on the business at Throwley Moor. Mary and Thomas lived very long lives till the age of 80 whereby they died with just a couple of years between them. Their sons Richard and John took over most of the work load.
Your local Milkmen of the 19th Century
John Fowler born on the 30th May - the third son of Richard and Elizabeth set up a dairy business in Sparkhill, Birmingham. He become a dairyman with premises at 577 Stratford Road, at 24 Shorwell Green Lane, at Acocks Green and with a farm and cheese factory in Earlswood. He married Ethel Eliza Davis on the 14th of October 1909.
The beginning of pasteurizing milk - James Fowler's farther started to bottle milk in 1925. This was the first time it was sold out of the bottle. However you could still have your milk taken out the churn.
James Fowler became very interested in pasteurizing the milk in the bottle. The bottles were filled with milk mechanically and 12 bottles would then be placed into a crate along with another 300 bottles and the hot water tank would heat the milk up. We used the tallest slimmest bottles that could be pastured. The size and shape of the bottle was crucial for good pasteurization.
The Use of Salvage Milk for Cheddar Cheese
The Fowler Family - are reputed to be the oldest cheese making family in the United Kingdom. They can trace their family heritage back to 1650 in the Stafford-shire/Derby-shire border area on 12 farms around Alstonfield. In 1876 after 200 years they moved to Hanbury in Worcestershire, always making a Little Derby cow milk cheese. Prior to 1840 Little Derby was made from sheep's milk. In 1898 milk cheese and butter from farms at Hanbury Lower Quinton were being retailed by horse cart in Birmingham, the milk and cheese being transported in by railway. In 1918 cheese making was transferred from Hanbury and Lower Quinton to Earlswood, Warwickshire. In the last 90 years we have been making our Warwickshire range of Award Winning, Traditionally Hand Crafted Farm House Cheese from a single herd of pedigree cows.
Sage Derby Award
Attending the British Cheese Awards - Adrian Fowler was awarded the best traditional non-cheddar award to our Sage Derby. A proud moment alongside Sage Derby being awarded Gold Medal.
- VAT - we have a new "Double O" VAT that holds 2000L of milk at one time. With it being high tech it allows the VAT to: store milk at any temperature; pasteurise milk; record all data transferable to any computer via an SD card; stir and cut the curds; set timers and programme cheese programs for each type of cheese we produce; tilts to allow gravity to help move the curd from VAT to cooling tray and shows all information on a screen for easy access to recordings. This is a significant difference from our old VAT. We have much more control and the ability to trial new cheeses. We can also rely on the VAT to produce high quality cheese every time. From using our old VAT for many years we've all enjoyed learning and using up-to-date equipment.
- Press - we've upgraded to a new horizontal press that has five different presses on to accommodate the amount of cheese we make. We can adjust the PSI and use it for both truckle moulds and block moulds. With catching trays underneath it completely avoids cross contamination and has one draining exit at the end of the press. Our old press didn't give us a choice in PSI and would be 'on' or 'off' it was also a horizontal press but only has two sections which limited the amount of cheese we could make at once. We are all loving the freedom to make more cheese and press it correctly to give it a much better maturing process.