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Wren Park Clifton

Wren Park in 1985 [Z50/30/34]
Wren Park in 1985 [Z50/30/34]

The southern parts of Hitchin Road form the boundary between Shefford and Clifton,Wren Park is, thus, just in Clifton. This distinctive building, with its glasshouse effect just below the roof, known as a belvedere, stands on a slight prominence over the A507 and is thus easily visible for some distance from the road.

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 WrenPark noted that it was owned and occupied by F. Allwood. The brick and slate property stood in 4.421 acres.

The house comprised a "narrow" hall, dining room, morning room and kitchen, scullery and pantry which, the valuer commented, were: "Old fashioned but not big", the drawing room, however, was labelled as "big". Upstairs four bedrooms lay off a "dark landing" with a bathroom and W. C. The second floor contained four maids' bedrooms and two boxrooms, all with a sloping ceiling. The third floor was the "large attic room with a glass roof - of very little use".

A conservatory measuring 19 feet by 12 feet joined the house. The garden was "quite good", having a tennis court, croquet lawn and large kitchen garden. There was also a garage and an unheated glasshouse measuring 14 feet by 43 feet. The grounds also contained a gardener's cottage, of brick and slate with a kitchen and living room downstairs and three bedrooms above. The valuer noted that water was pumped from a well and that the house had its own plant for producing electricity for lighting. He also commented: "Stands well up on Hill in main road. Lots of Tramps". He also noted that "HEP lived Here for years" - HEP being Hugh Earl Perks who appears in directories as living at the house.

In July 1988 a planning application was received to change the use of the house from residential accommodation into a computer systems office and showroom. This was then withdrawn and second application was received to turn the house into a residential home for the elderly [PCClifton18/19]. This application was presumably successful as that house is used for that purpose at the time of writing [2009]. Accompanying the original application was a short history of the house: "The Main House, Wren Park was built in 1868 and consists of four storeys containing 29 rooms plus extensive cellars. The total floor area is about 5,000 square feet. It has been unoccupied since October 1987, prior to which it was divided into four flats by temporary partitioning…The original owner was an architect who designed and built it as a combination of drawing office, office and residence, hence the fact that the third floor is a Belvedere with exceptional natural light".