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Eggington House

Eggington House January 2013
Eggington House January 2013

Eggington House was listed by the former Ministry of Works in April 1952 as Grade II* the highest category of special interest. It was built about 1696 of red brick with an old tile roof and comprises a basement and three storeys. The 18th century red brick boundary wall is also listed.

The early history of this house seems to be bound up with the Andrews family. This is a common name in south-west Bedfordshire and there are several Andrews families in Eggington itself, which complicates searching for the right family in the early court rolls, which extend from 1297 to 1572 [X310/1-7]; a translation was published as Bedfordshire Historical Record Society volume 69 in 1990. However in the 1671 Hearth Tax returns (Bedfordshire Historical Record Society volume 16 of 1934) the two largest houses in the village (both with six hearths) were those of Richard Andrews and Thomas Valentine. The next in size (four hearths) belonged to William Man and then there came several with three hearths before the ordinary cottages and homesteads with one or two.

The Eggington court roll of 1678 [X310/8/iii] said that Richard Andrews senior, gentleman, had alienated since the last court to his son Richard Andrews junior five acres, one rood of land in Eggington and Clipstone, “late Gurney’s” and a parcel of ground called Ham Piece, quit rent one shilling and fivepence. The court roll of 1710 [X310/8/xiii] gives Richard Andrews, gentleman, as holding two messuages (houses), sixty acres of land and ten acres of pasture at a quit rent of one shilling and fivepence.

Richard Andrews was buried at Eggington on Christmas Eve 1717 and at some time between 1710 and his death his estate had been purchased by one John Reynal, for a presentment by his homage at a manor court of 1728 [X310/8/xii] gives: “John Reynal esquire since the last court holden for this manor bought and purchased of Richard Andrews, gent, two messuages, sixty acres land and ten acres pasture”. It is often stated that John Reynal, or Renouille, a Huguenot merchant from Languedoc built Eggington House in 1696 but there is no document held by Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service which proves this.

Eggington House and grounds in 1728 [X21-486]
Eggington House and grounds in 1728 [X21/486]
to see a larger version please click on the image.

A letter of attorney survives from John Reynal of Saint Andrew’s, Holborn [Middlesex], tailor, to William Andrew of Eggington, gentleman and John Ashwell of Leighton Buzzard, to be admitted in his stead to property held of the manor of Leighton Buzzard which he had purchased from Godfrey Woodward, esquire and Jane, his wife [F80]. It is likely that if this John Reynal were a prosperous London merchant, investing in land in the Leighton Buzzard area, he is the John Reynal who, shortly afterwards, bought the estate at Eggington. According to The Victoria County History for Bedfordshire in 1719 a John Reynal bought a manor in Hockliffe which, in 1820, was held by Francis Moore in right of his wife, the widow John Weale Reynal, and this might explain why for much of the time during the 18th century the Reynal property at Eggington was leased out to tenants.

A map of 1728 [X21/486], the same year as the presentment at the manor court mentioned above, shows “The Lands, Tenements and Hereditaments of John Reynal Esquire Scituate Lying and being in the Hamlets, Common Feilds and Commonable places of Egington, Clipson and Stanbridge … now in the occupation of Richard Gurney”. The fields going with the house include Osier Close, Dovehouse Close, Little Close, Upper Pasture (woodland), New Orchard, Billingwell Piece and Billingwell.

At a court held in 1738 [X310/9] the death of John Reynal since the last court was reported. His son and heir was John James Reynal. He had obtained a grant of arms [F204] in 1737 when he was described as John James Reynal of Lincolns Inn, barrister and of Eggington in Bedfordshire, the son of John Reynal of Montauban, High Languedoc, France.

John James Reynal died about 1767 and at a manor court [X310/12] his heir was said to be his son John Reynalls, then aged nineteen years. John James was on the Commission of the Peace, in other words he was a Justice of the Peace, in 1749 and 1761. The only High Sheriff of the county from this family was John Sayer Weal Renal or Renel of Eggington in 1777. He was dead by 1785.

In the first Land Tax return for Eggington in 1797 there is no Renal, but Francis Moore held a large estate, presumably in the same way he held the Hockliffe Manor mentioned above, in the right of his wife Sarah, widow of John Weale Reynal. By the Inclosure Award of 1840 [A61 and MA61] the house and homestead and land including the Dovehouse Close belonged to Millar Adams and John Warner Adams who must have been relations of the Reynals as later generations had the name Reynal as one of their middle names.

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 Eggington House [DV1/C174/102] found it owned by the trustees of John James Reynal Adams, deceased, and occupied by John Lawrence Hodgson who paid rent of £100 per annum and was, moreover, “bound to spend at least £30 per annum in repair”.

The property stood in 1.684 acres and the valuer, calling on 26th April 1927, noted: “Saw Mrs. Hodgson”. The house had no electric light and had cesspool drainage which was shared with the lodge. There was no central heating. The Hodgsons had been tenants since 1918 and “Had to do it up entirely when Mr. Hodgson came; was in very bad state”. The main rooms were panelled in oak.

Downstairs accommodation comprised: a hall (“stairs go up from”) measuring 5 feet by 8 feet 6 inches and 5 feet by 10 feet; a morning room measuring 13 feet 6 inches by 15 feet; a drawing room measuring 23 feet 3 inches by 17 feet 6 inches; a dining room measuring 15 feet 3 inches square; a door led to a servants’ hall measuring 10 feet 9 inches by 15 feet; a lumber room (“old kitchen”); a larder; a workshop; a scullery and a kitchen measuring 10 feet by 8 feet. Up the front stairs, on the first floor lay: a study measuring 11 feet 9 inches by 15 feet 3 inches; a landing; a bedroom measuring 12 feet by 15 feet (“faces SW”); a bedroom measuring 17 feet 6 inches by 19 feet 9 inches (“faces NE”); a dressing room measuring 6 feet 6 inches by 13 feet and a night nursery measuring 14 feet by 12 feet. The second floor comprised: a servants’ double bedroom; a servant’s bedroom; a single bedroom; a single bedroom measuring 19 feet by 18 feet; a boxroom and a disused boxroom. Stairs then led to the roof (“Glorious view, end of House”). There was also a basement with a “very big” cellar and a coal cellar.

Outside the back door stood a weather-boarded and tiled hen house, a brick and tiled store shed, pigsty and wood shed, a brick, weather-boarded and corrugated iron coal shed, three stall stable (“unused”) and a harness room with a loft over the whole thing and a garage for one car. A lawn and drive lay in front of the house and also in the grounds were a tennis court, a croquet lawn, a greenhouse (“unused”) and a kitchen garden. The valuer commented: “A Perfect Queen Anne House. Absolutely Charming. Beautiful Situation. But not modernised. Back premises much too big and too big 2nd floor. Grounds just right. Only one bathroom”. He summed up: “lovely place”.

An article by Simon Houfe in The Bedfordshire Magazine Volume XXVI, pages 101 to 105 tells the story of visits by Estelle Sylvia Pankhurst, estranged daughter of Suffragette leader Emmeline Pankhurst, to John and Joan Hodgson.

irectories for Bedfordshire were not published every year but every few years from the early to mid 19th century until 1940. Directories mentioning Eggington House and its occupants are given below:

  • 1885 Major Francis Fawkes J. P.;
  • 1890 Eustace Wigham;
  • 1894 Alexander Annandale Somerville;
  • 1898 and 1903 Mrs. Need;
  • 1910 and 1914 Mrs. Campbell;
  • 1924, 1928, 1931 and 1936 John Lawrence Hodgson (who, we know, moved in to the house in 1918);
  • 1940 John Evered Green

In 2009 the property was for sale. The sale particulars [Z449/4/44] give the following details. The cellar comprised: a wine cellar measuring 15 feet 5 inches by 14 feet 1 inch; a store room measuring 14 feet 5 inches by 10 feet 2 inches and a boiler room measuring 13 feet 11 inc by 10 feet 2 inches. The ground floor comprised: a hall; a study measuring 15 feet 8 inches by 13 feet 5 inches; a dining room measuring 15 feet 8 inches by 15 feet 7 inches; a drawing room measuring 23 feet by 17 feet 8 inches; a sitting room measuring 18 feet 3 inches by 11 feet; a utility room measuring 14 feet 7 inches by 7 feet 4 inches and a kitchen measuring 14 feet 7 inches by 8 feet 11 inches.

The First Floor comprised: bedrooms measuring, respectively: 17 feet 9 inches by 16 feet; 15 feet 4 inches by 12 feet 4 inches and 15 feet 8 inches by 11 feet 11 inches with a dressing room measuring 14 feet 3 inches by 13 feet 6 inches. There was also a bathroom and a toilet. The second floor: bedrooms measured: 18 feet 3 inches by 11 feet 7 inches; 14 feet 2 inches by 9 feet 2 inches; 13 feet 5 inches by 7 feet 7 inches; 11 feet 7 inches by 9 feet 8 inches; 17 feet 2 inches by 14 feet 4 inches; 12 feet 3 inches square and 12 feet 11 inches by 12 feet 3 inches. Again, there was a bathroom

Outbuildings included: a workshop measuring 20 feet 6 inches by 13 feet 6 inches; a wood store measuring 10 feet by 5 feet; a store measuring 11 feet 6 inches by 7 feet 10 inches and a garden store measuring 22 feet 7 inches by 11 feet 6 inches. Also in the grounds was a cottage with a ground floor bedroom measuring 13 feet 1 inch by 7 feet 2 inches; a sitting room measuring 15 feet 3 inches by 11 feet 11 inches and a kitchen measuring 13 feet 3 inches by 11 feet.

There was also a mews flat with a ground floor comprising: a garage measuring 17 feet 11 inches by 10 feet 2 inches; a garage measuring 21 feet 5 inches by 17 feet 11 inches and a store room 15 feet 7 inches by 8 feet 2 inches. Above these were: a dining room measuring 15 feet 6 inches by 8 feet; a sitting room measuring 15 feet 6 inches by 10 feet 5 inches and bedrooms measuring 10 feet 5 inches by 12 feet 3 inches and 15 feet 6 inches by 10 feet 6 inches. A second floor contained a store room measuring 21 feet 4 inches by 7 feet 10 inches.