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Park Farm Bletsoe

Park Farm September 2009
Park Farm September 2009

Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service is lucky enough to hold a highly detailed survey of the Bedfordshire lands of Richard Wade-Gery of Bushmead Priory conducted between 1623 and 1628 [WG10] which has been transcribed and is available in the searchroom library [CRT110/34]. The title is, however, misleading as the introduction makes clear: "The manors surveyed all belonged to Oliver Saint John of Bletsoe, for whom, no doubt, the survey was prepared. The volume apparently came into the hands of a Peterborough man, and was perhaps purchased by William Gery, to whose descendants it belongs. The Gery family (as far as it is known) do not own any pf the property described in the surveys. If the volume did not get into their possession through purchase, it probably formed part of the muniments of the steward of the Bedfordshire manors of Lord Saint John, and it is to be noted that the firm of solicitors (wade-Gery and Brackenbury), acted in that capacity…The watermark is the fool's cap with bells".

The survey includes details of "Parke Magna" or GreatPark on which, presumably, today's Park Farm is based. At that date it was farmed directly by Lord Saint John as part of the demesne lands of the manor. The land is given as:

  • Croleys Passage or Close of one acre, one rood, twenty poles;
  • The Lodge Keeper's cottage with garden and backside containing three roods;
  • The Great Lawne of one hundred and ninety five acres, one rood;
  • Crowe Coppy, a wood of twenty acres. This, along with the other woods below may, in part be the modern Galsey Wood;
  • Overley Coppye, woodland of ten acres, three roods;
  • Netherley Coppye, woodland of twelve acres, three roods, twenty poles;
  • Fryar Wigges Coppye, woodland of fourteen acres, three roods, twenty poles;
  • Hedgerowecopp, woodland of four acres;
  • The Barn Lawn of twenty acres, two roods;
  • Lodge Quarter of twenty four acres, twenty poles;
  • Garnshawe of fifty seven acres, three roods, twenty poles;
  • Hogge Coppye, woodland of fourteen acres;
  • Grayes Spinney of two acres, three roods;
  • Newe Pasture of twenty five acres, one rood, twenty poles;
  • Bushy Close of seventeen acres, one rood;
  • "the little close taken out of the said Bushy Close" of three roods, twenty poles.

The total of the land came to four hundred and forty three acres, two roods, twenty poles.

Park Farmhouse was listed by English Heritage in August 1987 as Grade II, of special interest. It is described as: "A substantial isolated early 17th century farmhouse with 19th century additions and renovations". It is built of coursed limestone rubble and some local brick in a chequer pattern with light headers and an old clay tile roof. The house is in a cruciform plan with a central double sided chimney having four square brick stacks set diagonally. It has two storeys and attics and single storey extensions in the angles of the cross plan. The Department noted: "Probably former Park Keeper's Lodge" - the Lodge Keeper's Cottage noted above, unless it is the Park keeper's Cottage noted as occupied by William Lybbytt, along with ten acres, three roods, ten poles of land in the 1624 survey.

The terms of the Rating and Valuation Act 1925 required every piece of land and building in the country to be valued to determine its rateable value. Most of Bedfordshire was valued in 1927. The valuer visiting Park Farm noted that it was owned by Lord Saint John and occupied by Christopher Ingle who paid £250 per annum rent, which had been fixed about 1919, having previously been £160 per annum since 1900. The farm comprised 234 acres and the valuer commented: "House water from pump, [farm] buildings from pond, rabbits spoil all grass. Farm well - Galsey Wood a nuisance, rabbits. Grass none too good. Land heavy".

The farmhouse comprised a dining room, a drawing room, a kitchen, scullery, dairy and parlour downstairs with a conservatory outside; upstairs were six bedrooms and an attic above them. The farm buildings comprised three groups, the first contained: a wood barn; two piggeries; a loose box; an eight stall stable; a calf pen and seven cow stalls; a barn with a loft over; an elevator shed. The second group comprised two old hovels. The third group contained: a four bay open shed; five cow stalls; a loose box with a manger; two three bay hovels; a four bay hovel; a two stall nag stable; a coach house; a trap house; a hen house; a two bay cart shed; an implement shed; a mill house and six hen houses. The valuer noted that they were chiefly of brick and slate construction.

Bletsoe Park Farm shown in yellow in 1950 [X392/21/2]
Bletsoe Park Farm shown in yellow in 1950 [X392/21/2]

Park Farm, along with was put up for sale by the Saint John family in 1950, along with Red House Farm and Bourne End Farm. The particulars [X392/21/2] described an: "attractive old house, built of brick with tiled roof and having oak beams". It comprised a tiled hall wit ha small room adjoining, a drawing room with French windows, and a dinig room on the ground floor. the first floor comprised three double and one singe bedrooms whilst the second floor had three attic bedrooms and a boxroom. "The Domestic Offices" comprised kitchen, scullery, dairy, pantry and cellar". An earth closet, flower and kitchen gardens and a small orchard lay outside.

The farm comprised 113.885 acres of arable, 44.07 acres of grass, a 0.428 acre copse and 1.681 acres surrounding the farm buildings. These were manly built round a central yard  in four divisions as follows: "brick and slate Garage; Two-stall Stable; Three-bay Open Shelter; Calf Box; Loose Box; Barn with concrete floor; Granary with bins; Fodder House with Loft over; Cowsheds for eight and 2 with feeding passages; timber and corrugated iron four bay Shelter; carthorse Stable for six; Fodder House; Loose Box; three-bay timber and corrugated iron Shelter; Two Pig Pens; Two Store Sheds; Rick Yard; Fowl House; Tractor Shed; five bay lean-to Implement Shed; three-bay brick, slated and corrugated-iron Implement Shed; Grinding House".