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Bolnhurst Rectories

The Rectory about 1910 [Z1306-20-2-1]
The Rectory about 1910 [Z1306/20/2/1]

The first details of the rectory building at Bolnhurst occur in a terrier of property of the Archdeaconry of Bedford from about 1700 [ABE ii I page 288]. The Rectory was surrounded by a moat and the terrier noted that the building had been left “very ruinous” by the last incumbent. There was a kitchen on the north side of the house and outbuildings included a two-bay stable, a chaffhouse, a henhouse, a three-bay barn and a four-bay barn.

It seems likely that the rectory continued in this ruinous state for some time. Former County Archivist Patricia Bell transcribed episcopal visitations to the county for the first part of the 18th century as Bedfordshire Historical Record Society volume 81. A questionnaire sent out as part of the visitation of 1712 was completed by the rector who noted that he lived at Northampton because “The House and Barns dilapidated, and no recovery of costs”. It was good enough for his curate, however. In 1717 the rector noted that he lived in the parsonage house, so it had evidently been repaired by then.

In September 1825 the Rectory of Bolnhurst was for sale by auction [WG886]. In this instance Rectory meant the office of Rector, including the stipend and all the glebe land as well as the rectory building. The latter was described as “a very excellent residence, altered and improved, within a few years, at a very considerable Expense”. It had a “good garden”, a farmyard, barns, stables and out-buildings as well as 140 acres of glebe land. The living amounted to nearly £300 per annum. The rector would not even have been expected to minister to his flock, the sale particulars noting: “Single Duty at each Church performed by the present Curate”. The current rector, it noted, was “seventy-four years of age”. This would have been John Hodge, who had only become Rector the previous month. The owner of the advowson was William Guppy of Devon, who remained patron of the living until at least 1828. In 1848 Rev Hugh Wade Gery made additions to the house, details being in the Ely Diocesan Archive at Cambridge University Library [EDR/G3/40 MGA/BED/13].

The Rating and Valuation Act 1925 specified that every building and piece of land in the country was to be assessed to determine its rateable value. The valuer visiting the Rectory [DV1/C168/22] found that it stood in 5.78 acres. The building contained: an entrance hall; a dining room measuring 22 feet 6 inches by 16 feet; a study measuring 17 feet 6 inches by 13 feet; a kitchen measuring 14 feet square; a nursery; a scullery; a pantry; four bedrooms; two dressing rooms and a bathroom with hot and cold running water.

A reservoir and washhouse stood outside along with brick and slate stabling for four horses, a chaff house, a harness room and a coach house. The valuer commented: “Nice House”. This visit took place in 1927. Permission was given to sell the Rectory in 1947 [P46/2/4/1].

In 1960 the Old Rectory was listed as Grade III, known as the “provisional list”. Though predominantly a 19th century building it clearly has origins in the early 18th century or earlier. However, all the alterations and additions meant that it did not meet the criteria for a higher listing. The property is no longer listed because Grade III was later abolished as a listing grade.