Ollivers Farm takes its name from John Oliver, reputedly an esquire of Sir John Hawkwood of Sible Hedingham. Hawkwood made his fortune in the 14th century by raising and hiring mercenary armies all over Europe and was buried in Florence Cathedral, where his memorial can be seen to this day.
Oliver was thought to have been given the property as a reward for services rendered. (We have heard of a solicitor in Majorca called Oliver who claims to be descended from a 14th century English mercenary, so there may be something in it!).
Buried under the plaster at the east end of the house is a 14th century timber frame, but the present form of the building with its generous proportions and high ceilings dates from around 1600. It was acquired by Samuel Symonds, a lawyer from a wealthy and long established family in Great Yeldham. His coat of arms is on the fireplace wall in the study next to the dining room. He spent lavishly on the building - see the drawing room ceiling.
Samuel Symonds married Elizabeth Harlakendon, had eight children and then emigrated to America in 1638. He founded Topsfield, Massachusetts, now a suburb of Boston. He became deputy governor of the state, married again and had a further seven children.
The house has had several lives since then including being divided into farm workers cottages. We acquired it in 1978 and apart from unpicking, repairing and adapting have added the front porch, staircase and terrace. It is listed Grade II*. The double ‘l’ comes from an 18th century farm map.