The Shrubbery Aspley Guise
The Shrubbery - January 2008
There is evidence pointing to this building having once been an public house called the Swan, at least until some time shortly after 1851, probably 1853 when it was advertised for sale. The building is probably early 19th century and faces the junction of Church Street with The Avenue.
In 1927 this part of Bedfordshire was valued under the terms of the Rating Valuation Act 1925; every piece of land and property was inspected to determine the rates to be paid on it. The valuer visiting The Shrubbery noted that it was owned by Mrs.Downes, of Aspley House, and occupied by a relative, Mrs.E.M.Foster. he also noted that the property stood in just over an acre and was built from brick and slate. Downstairs comprised: a drawing room (15 feet by 14½ feet with a 5 feet by 10 feet bay); a morning room (16 feet by 12¼ feet); a bedroom (12½ feet by 9½ feet); a larder; a pantry; a kitchen (15 feet by 13 feet) and scullery; a dining room (15 feet by 13 feet) and a cellar. Upstairs were for principal bedrooms (15 feet by 13 feet, 13½ feet by 15 feet, 12 feet square and 15 feet by 11 feet); a maid's bedroom; a dressing room; a bathroom and a separate wc. Outside were a timber and corrugated iron coal house and brick and slate stable and coach house (with a loft over) and a woodbarn. There was also a greenhouse (22 feet by 12 feet) and a conservatory (16 feet by 10 feet).
Directories reveal some of the former tenants of the Shrubbery, with known dates of residence: Mrs.Downes 1877 to 1898; Mrs.Macfarlane 1903 to 1914; Mrs.Foster 1920 to 1931. During World War Two The Shrubbery was part of the operation to disseminate "black propaganda" to Germany, run by Sefton Delmer, who was based at The Rookery, just down Church Street.
The property was on the market in 2010 [Z449/5/41] when it was described as comprising: two cellars measuring 18 feet 1 inch by 9 feet 2 inches and 14 feet 8 inches by 10 feet 7 inches respectively. The ground floor comprised: an entrance hall; a dining room measuring 17 feet 2 inches by 13 feet 7 inches; a kitchen measuring 16 feet 5 inches by 15 feet 5 inches; a utility room measuring 13 feet 6 inches by 6 feet 10 inches; a pantry; a sitting room measuring 19 feet 3 inches by 15 feet 1 inch; a family room measuring 17 feet 4 inches by 12 feet 2 inches; a study measuring 12 feet 2 inches by 9 feet 4 inches; a storage room measuring 12 feet 2 inches by 11 feet 1 inch and a greenhouse measuring 13 feet 1 inch by 7 feet inches. Four bedrooms, a bathroom and a dressing room lay upstairs. A coach house comprised a garage and stable/workshop with a hayloft over.