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272 to 274 Bedford Road Cardington

272 to 274 Bedford Road Christmas Eve 2010
272 to 274 Bedford Road Christmas Eve 2010

272, 273 and 274 Bedford Road were listed by English Heritagein May 1984 as Grade II, of special interest. They dated the properties to the 17th century. A plaque states that they were restored in 1913. They are timber framed with a pebble-dashed exterior and old clay tile roofs and had three rooms upstairs and down.

We are fortunate that three surveys of the parish of Cardington from the late 18th century survive. The first of these was undertaken in 1782 by James Lilburne. He was the parish schoolmaster and later agent for Samuel Whitbread, who owned large estates in the parish and also the sole Enclosure Commissioner for the parish. He produced a list of all the inhabitants of the parish arranged by house and hamlet [P38/28/1/1]. This was published, with extensive analysis by County Archaeologist David Baker in 1973 as Bedfordshire Historical Record Society Volume 52.

Since publication a second list has been found [P38/28/1/2]. It carries revisions up to the year 1789. Sadly neither of these surveys includes a map. Finally, in 1794 Lilburne produced another survey [W2/6/1-3] and this one had a map with a key showing where each house was. One can use this to plot the houses of the previous surveys and this work was carried out by John Wood of Bedfordshire County Council’s Conservation Section in October 1982 [CRT130Cardington29].

The 1782 survey [P38/28/1/2] shows that at that time the three cottages were occupied by Joshua Crockford, Thomas Braybrooks and the unfortunately named William Urine. To judge from the fact that the survey was moving north-south the Crockfords were probably at 272, the Braybrooks at 273 and the Urines at 274. Joshua Crockford was a 48 year old labourer who had been born in Goldington. He had had smallpox prior to May 1787. His wife was 49 year old Elizabeth, née Whiteman, who had been born in the village. She was unwilling to be inoculated against smallpox. She was a seamstress and the couple had no children.

Thomas Braybrooks was a 40 year old labourer, who had been born in Blunham. He was a dissenter, that is, a nonconformist in terms of religion. His wife’s name was Elizabeth. She had had smallpox before May 1787 and Thomas was willing to be inoculated against it. She was his third wife, the previous two, presumably, having died. Thomas had two children by his first wife and one by his second. His eldest child was Martha, aged ten, who attended school in Elstow, paid for by John Howard. Frances was 3 and later also attended school courtesy of John Howard. She later made lace.  The youngest child was James, aged 2, who was later schooled at the expense of John Howard. The family moved to another cottage in 1783.

William Urine was 52, a labourer who had been born at “Landan”, perhaps Lavendon, in Buckinghamshire. His wife was 49 year old Martha, née Samford who had been born at Old Warden. She died on 17th October 1785. The couple had two children. Mary was aged 18 and a servant to Thomas Wilson, a carpenter who lived just down the road at what is today Pleasant Place and was then also a beerhouse called the Red Lion. John was aged 13 and had been educated at the expense of Samuel Whitbread, he moved to London in 1787. William and Mary were willing to be inoculated against smallpox, Martha and John were unwilling.

The survey of 1794 has Joshua Crockford and William Urine still in residence. 273 Bedford Road was then occupied by a family named Jones [W2/6/1-3].

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. Cardington, like most of the county, was assessed in 1927 and the valuer visiting 272 to 274 Bedford Road [DV1/C116-107-109] found them owned by the Whitbread Estate.

Each cottage comprised a living room and kitchen downstairs with two bedrooms above. Number 272 was occupied by Mrs. Fuller who paid rent of £1/16/- per half year. 273 Bedford Road was in the occupation of Miss Hillar who paid £1/11/11 per half year and 274 was occupied by Mrs. Robinson who paid £4/6/- per year.