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Colmworth Rectories

The Old Rectory August 2009
The Old Rectory August 2009

Colmworth has had a number of Rectory buildings but they always seem to have been on the same site. The Diocese of Lincoln archive and the archive of the Archdeaconry of Bedford hold glebe terriers for Bedfordshire. The former archive is not held at Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service, though the service does hold the latter. The terriers provide descriptions of Colmworth Rectory from 1607 to 1822. They show that the building changed over time, either through demolition and rebuilding or through alteration. The site is consistent, however, with that of today's Old Rectory which was built in the 19th century. The following six descriptions are particularly full and are transcribed, with original spellings, below:

  • 1607 [ABE1]: Imprimis: the homestall or scite of the parsonage scituate and lying between the Churche and Churchyeard, on the South, and the high way on the west, and a close (called footeball close) on the North, and the Churchfield on the East, and contains by estimation 3 roodes. Edifices: Item: within the said boundes are contained one garden by estimation 8 poles, enclosed partly with a moate, and partly with an hedge. Item: the parsonage house consisting of 4 bayes, built of tymber and clay and covered with tyle, 3 bayes being chambred over and boarded, and the whole building (except the hall), contrived in two storeys, & disposed into 12 roomes, vidz. The Hall, 2 parlours, the buttrye, the milk house, one chamber beneath, and six rooms above: besides all which there is one old kitchen thatched in manner of a Lean too. Item: two barns, one of 4 bayes and the other of 3 bayes, built of timber and clay, and both thatched. Item: one low house, tyled, consisting of 4 bayes and a stable.
  • 1664 [FAC35/4]: One dwelling house, tiled, containing Sixe bayes of buildings: one hay barne, with two stables, one at the one end and the other at ye other end, partly tiled and and [sic] partly thatched containing likewise six bayes of building with hogscoats at the East end thereof containing two little bayes of building: two great barnes adjoyneing one upon the other, thatched, contayneing eight bayes of building: Granary with dovehouse over it, tiled: one garden and orchard encompassed with a pond: one rickyard, workyard and common bounded on ye East with little Church field, on ye west with the Street waye, on ye North with a close commonly called Football close, and on ye South with ye Churchyard and Church Cart way containing in all one acre and a halfe or thereaboute.
  • 1709 [ABE2 Volume 1, page 294]: Homestall: The Parsonage House is built with Timber & covered with Tiles, & contains on ye Ground Floor two Parlours & a room now used for a Study all ceiled, floored with Boards, an Hall, Kitchin, Panthery, dairy, Brewhouse & two Butteries floored with Bricks, two other small rooms with Earthen floors, Eight Chambers, one Closet all floor'd with Boards & two Garretts without floors. One hook'd Barn containing eight Bays with a Lean-to at the South End of it, one other Barn containing five Bays, a stable adjoining at the East end containing two Bays, another stable of One Bay at the West End of the said Barn, two Hogscoats with a Little hog-yard paled in, A Cart hovel with other conveniencies for Fowl & Fowel all which are Built with Tymber & Covered with Thatch, a Dove house containing one Bay built with Timber & covred with Tiles. The site of the Homestall Including yards, gardens, orchards, Moats, Ponds & a Close or Pightle adjoining called football Close contains about three acres & is bounded East by a piece of arable land, yt is Glebe, called Little Church Field from which it is fenced with a Hedge, part of which Quick & part dead, west by the Common highway & on this side is fenced with a Quick Hedge, North by the yards of a farm of Mr. Sawyer's & is fenced with an hedge in some placed quick, in others dead, South by ye Churchyard & ye Passage from ye Highway to ye Parsonage Yard is fenced with Pales, A Court or little yard in the front of the house East is fenced with Pales.
  • 1745 [FAC35/4]: Homestall: The Parsonage house is built with timber…and covered with tiles, & contains on the floor two parlours, and a kitchen ceiled & floor'd with boards, a Hall, Brewhouse, two butteries, a cellar all floor'd with bricks - Six Chambers, one closet, two Garretts, all ceiled & floor'd with Boards. One hook'd Barn containing eight Bays with a Lean-to at the South End. One other Barn containing five Bays, a stable at the East End containing two bays, another stable of one bay att the West end. An hovel for fowles & fewel, all built with timber & covered with thatch. A Dove house of one bay, built with timber & covered with tiles. The Site of the Homestall including yards, garden, orchard, ponds and a close or Pightle adjoining called Football close contains about three acres, and is bounded East by a piece of arable land that is gleab called Little Church field from which it is fenced with an hedge, west by the common highway, and with an hedge North by the yards of a Farm of Mr. Sawyer's. A court or little yard in the front of the house East is fenced with pales.
  • 1763 [FAC35/4]: Homestall: the Parsonage House is built with Timber & covered with Tiles & contains on the ground floor a Parlour, a Study, hall, Kitchen, Pantry & Brewhouse the two latter floor'd with brick, five Chambers & one Closet & one Garret all floor'd with boards. One Hook'd Barn of eight Bays with a Porch at the east end & a lean to at the south end of it. One other Barn containing five Bays, a stable adjoining to the east end of it containing two Bays. Another Stable of one Bay at the west end of the said Barn. A Coal & Wood house. All these Buildings are thatched. A Dove house built with Timber & cover'd with Tiles. A Granary built with Brick & til'd. The site of the Homestall including yards, garden & Ponds, & a Close or Pightle called football Close contains about two acres & is bounded East by a piece of Gleab Lad called Little Church field from which it is fenc'd westward by an Hedge. Part quick & part dead. On the North Side parted from the common way by a dead Hedge. On the east by an arable field called Great Church Field. On the South by a field belonging to R. Ray esqr the Church yard adjoining to the Parsonage yard on the North.
  • 1822 [P47/2/1]: Imprimis: one tiled dwelling house in length in the one part sixty three feet, in breadth twenty eight feet, the other part in length forty four feet, in breadth twelve feet within the walls. One stable and brewhouse in length sixty nine feet in breadth fifteen feet. One pigeon house fourteen feet square. One tiled wheat barn in length sixty two feet, in breadth twenty seven feet. One tiled barley barn and stable contiguous to each other under the same roof in length seventy two feet, in breadth twenty one feet, porch to the barn in length thirteen feet, on breadth fifteen feet. One wheat house in length thirty five feet, in breadth sixteen feet. One coach house, stable and straw hovel, contiguous to each other under the same roof, in length eighty six feet, in breadth sixteen feet. One cart hovel and woodhouse contiguous to each other under the same roof in length fifty six feet in breadth sixteen feet. Item: one parrack and garden containing one acre adjoining to the parsonage house and homestead on the south and east, the highway on the west, and to a close belonging to the rectory called football close on the north. The fence round about made by the rector.

Not long after this terrier the house was demolished and a new one built. It was listed [by its then name of Moat House] by the former Department of Environment in May 1952 as Grade II, of special interest. The house is constructed of yellow gault clay brick with a hipped slate roof. It has two storeys. Interestingly a visitation in 1839 noted "The Glebe House quite new, and nearly completed" which may well be a reference to the new Rectory.

The Rating and Valuation Act 1925 ordered that all buildings and land in the country was to be assessed to determine rateable value. Colmworth, like most of Bedfordshire, was assessed in 1927 and the valuer visiting the Rectory noted that it stood in 3.482 acres and the building itself consisted of a hall ("very poor - waste"), dining room, drawing room, study and "down 2 steps - long passage" a kitchen and scullery ("bad"), larder, store and housekeeper's room. Upstairs were five bedrooms, a dressing room, box room and passage, servant's room and bathroom ("very badly placed"). The valuer noted "House dry…radiator in Hall…has a Bath". Outside was a range of buildings ("poor") also a conservatory, "nice" garden with holme oak and cedar. Farm buildings consisted of an old barn, a four bay open shelter and a range of stabling.

The Diocese of Saint Albans sanctioned repairs to the Rectory in 1938 and electric lighting was installed at the same time [P47/2/4/1]. Further improvements were carried out in 1941 [P47/2/4/4]. Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service does not currently have any Parochial Church Council minutes for Colmworth after 1956 but since 1975 Colmworth has been the responsibility of a priest who also serves Wilden and Ravensden and, indeed, lives at Wilden High Street. It seems reasonable to assume that the rectory in Colmworth was sold about this time.