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Clifton Grange

Clifton Grange August 2009
Clifton Grange August 2009

The Grange was listed by the former MInistry of Public Buildings and Works in October 1966 as Grade II, of special interest. The department dated it to the 16th and 17th centuries, though it was heavily restored in the 20th century. The north-west wing of is constructed of fairly close-studded timber frame construction with red brick infill and a clay tile roof. The east wing has colourwashed roughcast render and hipped clay tile roof. The house was built in an L-plan and has two storeys.

Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service has a series of notes on The Grange [CRT130Cli10]. The first known man connected with the house was Thomas Buryes, because in 1666 the Clifton Rector, Isaac Bedford, was noted as owning a farm in Clifton formerly in the occupation of Thomas Buryes. Bedford may have bought the farm from Richard Hallely in 1644 [but see below]. On Bedford's death his son, also Isaac, lived at the property. By 1745 the owner was an "Esquire Medlecott" as shown on a map and in 1783 the owner was George Edwards who had, at some point, bought it from James Hanscombe [Z1187/4/1].

Some light may be thrown of the ownership of The Grange in the 17th and 18th century by deeds to Clifton Cottage [X524]. The cottage was, at times, in the same ownership as The Grange and the deeds to that property note that it was sold in 1791 when George Edwards of Henlow conveyed the cottage and its adjoining acre to George Neale of Old Warden for £100 [X524/6]. The deed notes that Edwards' father, also George, purchased the cottage from Thomas Medlycott, George Hill and his wife, Ann Barbara and John Hill and his wife, Elizabeth - the two women being daughters of Ann, late wife of Thomas Medlycott, Ann having been the only daughter of Richard Buckby, son of William Buckby. Interestingly earlier deeds to Clifton Cottage note that Richard Hallely acted as plaintiff in a fine to ensure the title of Isaac Bedford to Clifton Cottage and one wonders if there had not been a similar arrangement in 1644 to ensure Bedford's ownership of The Grange.

Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service has an abstract of title to the property compiled in 1882 and stretching back to 1809 [Z1187/4/1]. The abstract reveals that, some time between 1783 and 1809 George Edwards later sold the farm to John Paine of Gamlingay [Cambridgeshire], farmer and in 1809 Paine sold "all that capital messuage, tenement or farm house in Clifton, some time in the possession of Isaac Bedford the younger, clerk with the barns, stables, yards, garden, orchard and Home Close thereto adjoining, containing together by admeasurement to include the scites [sic] of the buildings 8 acres, 1 rood, 9 perches" as well as more than fourteen acres to John Arch of Clifton, farmer, for £4,688.

John Arch died in 1832 and in his will he devised some his property in Clifton to his wife Elizabeth and, after her death, to their daughter Mary. Other property was devised to Mary directly, to their son William directly and to their son John directly. John was clearly to receive the bulk of the property as it was charged with an annuity of £100 per annum to his mother Elizabeth and a legacy of £2,000 to be divided between Mary and her sister Elizabeth. John Arch's wife, Elizabeth, died in 1834.

In 1860 John Arch conveyed his "capital messuage, or farm house in Clifton" together with Home Closes totalling six acres to his brother William. William Arch made his will in 1864, leaving all his real estate to his sister Mary. He died three weeks later. Mary made her will around the same time and devised The Grange, then called Ivy Hall and in the occupation of a man named Way to her friend John Mitchenall. She died the following year and in 1872 and a court case in Chancery followed in which it was ordered that the premises be sold by her executors which duly happened in 1875 when it was bought by Marianna Palmer of Clifton for £1,650. The property then included two acres, one rood of grounds with three acres, three roods of pasture adjoining. Marianna Palmer's will of 1877 devised Ivy Hall to her niece Susannah Georgiana Francesca Palmer, which duly happened on her death in 1882.

By 1883 Ivy Hall had become known as Ivy Lodge and was conveyed by Susannah Palmer to Hubert Francis Pryor of Clifton for £1,760 [Z1187/4/12]. It was clearly Pryor who came up with the current, grander, name of The Grange as, on his marriage in the same year he bought the place, he drew up a marriage settlement with his intended wife (Henrietta Nest Wade of Gravenhurst) in which the property is noted as now being called The Grange [Z1147/4/13]. A grange was, originally, simply a granary or place where grain was stored, later coming to have the meaning of a country house and farm owned by a gentleman farmer. At the same time as he bought the place, Pryor leased The Grange to Thomas Poulter of Meppershall, dealer, for £45 per annum for seven years [Z1187/4/14].

The Rating and Valuation Act 1925 specified [Section 19 (1)] that every piece of land and property in the country be valued to determine the rateable value. Clifton, like most of Bedfordshire, was assessed in 1927 and the valuer visiting The Grange [DV1/C207/143] noted that it was owned and occupied by William David Simkins (a provender dealer according to Kelly's Directory of 1928) and stood in just under half an acre. The brick and tile "old farm house" comprised a parlour, living room, kitchen, scullery and pantry downstairs with four bedrooms above ("cold bath in one"); there was also a boxroom in the attic.

A 7 feet by 5 feet glasshouse stood outside along with an old four roomed brick and tile cottage used as a washhouse and store rooms. The cottage had a stable and barn attached. There was also a small two bay open shed. Water was laid on to the premises but no bath room.

A range of outbuildings comprised: a wood and tile two stall stable, brick and tile chaff house with a loft over and a nine bay shed around a yard and a cow house for ten beasts; a brick and corrugated iron four bay open shed, two pigsties; a store; a garage; a stable and a five bay open cart shed. There was also a brick, wood and tile granary with a loft over. Overall the valuer commented: "Useful lot".

In the early 1950s The Grange was put up for sale. The catalogue [Z35/31] reads:

The Charming

Part 18th Century Small Country Residence

"THE GRANGE", CLIFTON, BEDFORDSHIRE 

Containing the following well arranged accommodation: -

On the Ground Floor

ENTRANCE HALL with early long oak bench

DRAWING ROOM with original beamed ceiling and French windows to garden

DINING ROOM

SPACIOUS WELL EQUIPPED KITCHEN with stainless steel sink unit, built-in cupboards

SIDE ENTRANCE AND LOBBY WITH ADJOINING DAIRY

On the First Floor

THREE WELL APPOINTED BEDROOMS one with an original powder closet.

EXCELLENT MODERN BATHROOM with enclosed bath and pedestal hand basin both having Hot and cold supplies over. Separate W. C., Large airing cupboard.

On the Second Floor

Is a further Large Bedroom at present used as children's play room.

Main Electricity, Gas and Water. Part Central Heating.

Outside

Range of pig sties. Barn and GARAGE in first class order disposed around a large concrete yard and having separate approach through farm gate.

WELL LAID OUT GROUNDS

With lawns, magnificent mulberry tree, flower garden, orchard, walled fruit garden and kitchen garden. Extending in all to about

8 ACRES

including a meadow and field of about 4 acres at present sown, willow plantation.

Together with the Adjoining

17th Century Cottage Residence 

COMPLETELY MODERNISED AND RENOVATED

Containing:

LIVING ROOM, KITCHEN, 2 DOUBLE BEDROOMS, BATHROOM, W. C. AIRING CUPBOARD, Hot Water Supply by "Ideal" boiler.

VACANT POSSESSION ON COMPLETION OF THE PURCHASE 

Price Freehold £8,500. A reduced price would be considered for the residence without the land.