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Berry Farmhouse Bromham

Berry Farmhouse May 2012
Berry Farmhouse May 2012

Berry Farmhouse is a grand old building standing next to The Swan public house. It was listed by the former Ministry of Public Buildings and Works in July 1964 as Grade II, of special interest. The ministry dated the building to the 17th and 18th centuries. It is built of coursed limestone rubble and has an old clay tile roof. The building comprises two storeys and attics. A cross-wing is attached to the north side of the building and this comprises a single storey with attics.

The house played a part in the early spread of Methodism in the village. A scrapbook put together by the Women's Institute [X535/3] states: "There is a record, in a document written by Joseph Staines of Berry Farm, that there were Meetings with visiting preachers in the farmhouse in 1818. The preacher used to stand on a rostrum in the hall between the 'noble staircase' and the parlour".

The farm was part of the Bromham Hall Estate until put up for auction, with a large slice of the rest of the estate, in 1924. The sale particulars [AD1147/4] describe the farm as a "compact small farm of 80.357 acres".

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 Berry farm [DV1/H1/84] found that it was owned by James Charles Evitt Robinson of Marsh Leys in Kempston, who had presumably bought it in1924, and leased by Harry Arthur Jeffery who was a new tenant. His rent was £120 per annum for the farmhouse, farm buildings and seventy acres of land. The valuer noted: “Rent not fixed, 6 months in occupation, hopes to buy”. He also commented: “Adjoining the Swan, certain amount of nuisance and noise. Bath but no hot water”

The farmhouse comprised a hall, three reception rooms, a kitchen, a scullery and a cellar with four bedrooms, a bathroom and a W. C. above and two attics above that. There was also a store house. The valuer opined: “nice attractive front but no depth, lot of waste space”. Outside stood a coal barn and W. C. Water came from a well. The only farm buildings were a cow shed and open hovel attached to the house and grouped round a yard.

Directories for Bedfordshire were published every few years until the last Kelly’s Directory was published in 1940. Berry, also called Bury, Farm was first listed in 1890 when Thomas Harrison was the farmer. He is also listed in 1894 and 1898. The directories of 1906 and 1910 list Frederick Chibnall Harrison and those of 1914, 1920, 1924 and 1928 Wilfred Ernest King. Harry Jeffery is listed in 1931, 1936 and 1940.