Laurence J Betts Ltd has an extensive and interesting history and heritage which has shaped the way the business operates today.
The Manor of Offham (Now known as Church Farm) was held by a brother of King Harold named Alnod.
The Manor of Offham was owned by Odo, Bishop of Bayeux and farmed by a Saxon tenant named Anschitil, an Archdeacon of Rochester, a ‘Qusiling’ collaborating with the Normans. He transported produce to his house in Rochester and sold surplus to the townsfolk there.
William de Offham held the Manor of Offham along with the Manor of Godwell.
The Manors were shared between Robert de Courtone who took Offham and his brother Richard who took Godwell.
Robert de Courtone passed the Manor of Offham to Ralph de Ditton. (The two Manors were then under separate ownership until being once again united under the ownership of Laurence J Betts Ltd).
Ralph de Ditton granted the Manor of Offham to his daughter Isabella who married Thomas de Plumsted, also known as ‘Guodchepe’ (good chap!).
It is thought that The Manor of Offham was in ownership of Sir John Colepepper.
Sir Richard Colepepper died owning the Manor and passed it down to his three daughters.
The Manor was sold to Thomas Leigh of Lyminge.
John Leigh, the son of Thomas Leigh, exchanged the Manor with Henry VIII.
The Manor was sold to John Tufton, Esq. of Hothfield, in whose family it remained for 350 years.
The Manor was bought by Colonel Sopher Whitburn of the Addington Park Estate.
James Rayner Betts (Mayor of Maidstone 1909/10) of Otham took the tenancy at Church Farm, Offham. The family were apparently one of the 12 largest growers of Hops in the country and had been farming at Otham for 500 years.
The farm was being managed by Laurence J Betts until he departed to serve in The Great War from 1914 to 1918. He then returned and continued running the family farm.
The Betts family purchased the farm from Colonel Sopher Whitburn. Many large estates broke up during this post-war period.
Laurence J Betts Ltd was formed as a company. Hop production ceased and vegetable growing began.
The introduction of pedigree dairy cattle and Romney sheep.
Stewart R Betts joined the farm and introduced the breeding of pedigree large white pigs, whilst continuing the production of vegetables and salads.
Stephen J Betts joined the farm and managed the pedigree pig herd until 1980.
Livestock production ceased.
Stephen J Betts returned from Africa to manage the daily running of the farm. The company then specialised in growing salads and vegetables.
Ian S Betts joined the farm and managed the machinery, agronomy and cereal production.
The farm today is run by the fourth generation of the Betts family- Stephen J Betts as CEO and Ian S Betts as Arable Production Manager. Nick Ottewell was appointed as Farm Manager to oversee the daily activities of the farm.
Investment into brand new cold storage and packing facilities took place at Church farm.