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Eggington Vicarages

The church and parsonage house by Frederick Gurney before restoration about 1860 [Z50/42/13]
The church and parsonage house by Frederick Gurney before restoration about 1860 [Z50/42/13]

Until 1810 Eggington was a chapelry in the parish and peculiar of Leighton Buzzard and today’s church was a chapel of ease for the villagers. The Bedfordshire Historic Environment Record [HER] contains information on the county’s historic buildings and landscapes and summaries of each entry can now be found online as part of the Heritage Gateway website. The curate’s house [HER 2420] is recorded in a file of papers of the steward of Eggington Manor of 1653 in a passage titled Town Lands: “The Feoffees of the Curates house and Chappell yard of Eginton and Clipston and Clipston Chappell wick …” [RY66]. This curate's house stood on the site of a modern house to the west of the churchyard called Saint Michael’s and is shown on a drawing by Frederick Gurney [Z50/42/13]. The house was demolished in the early 20th century.

When Eggington became an ecclesiastical parish in 1810 the vicar, presumably, continued to inhabit the curate’s house. However, in plans were drawn up for a new vicarage [X392/9/1-23]. The vicarage was built soon afterwards and the stables were completed in 1885.

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 the White House [DV1/C174/48] on 30th March 1927 thought it would have been worth a rent of £75 per annum as a private house. He commented: A good Vicarage”.

Downstairs accommodation comprised: a drawing room; a dining room; a study; a kitchen; a scullery; a pantry and a butler’s pantry. Upstairs were five bedrooms and a dressing room. There were also four attic bedrooms on the second floor.

A brick and tiled coal shed and knife house (“large”) stood outside. There was also a brick and tiled cow house used as a coal shed and a stable for two horses with a harness room with a loft over and a coach house.

A later hand has commented: “Too big” and added more external accommodation: a potting shed measuring 8 feet by 12 feet; a brick and slate furnace hole (“new furnace required. Not used for 2 years”) and a 22 feet by 12 feet heated glasshouse. This hand also commented: “Water has to be carted. No lighting or modern conveniences. Well built and in good condition. Large for size of living, Vicar has private means, built house himself”. This was not necessarily true as the White House was built in 1881 and James Sunderland only became vicar in 1892, his predecessor from 1859 having been John Hurnall, unless Sunderland was acting as curate in Hurnall’s time.

Adjoining the vicarage was a smallholding owned by Bedfordshire County Council amounting to just over an acre. This was let to Rev. Sunderland for £4/10/- per annum. On it was an old railway carriage with a corrugated iron roof used as a store. The valuer commented that there was “Difficult access for others than the Vicarage. Rent high for land. Good soil”.

About 1961 the vicarage was sold to Bedfordshire County Council, becoming the White House children’s home. Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service has the following records for the home, though inmate registers are closed to access for one hundred years from the date the register ends.

  • CH/V82/1 inmate register 1961-1968;
  • CH/SubP3/9/1: Southern Children's Homes Management Sub-Committee agenda papers 1964-1970;
  • CH/SubM3/9/1 Southern Children's Homes Management Sub-Committee minutes 1964-1970;
  • CH/V82/4 inmate register 1968-1974;
  • PY/E2/1/111-112 staff accommodation 1981-1984;
  • PY/E11/13 sale of the children’s home including sale particulars 1983-1984.

In 1983 there were twelve children aged between 9 and 15 at the White House, in accommodation designed for eighteen. These falling numbers of children in care were mirrored in other establishments around the county leading to the decision to close some of them, including the White House.

The children’s home was offered for sale in 1984 and the sale particulars gave details as follows [PY/E11/13]. The main building comprised a basement with three small rooms and three floors above. On the ground floor were: a hall; an office measuring 8 feet 2 inches by 6 feet 2 inches; a W. C. with a hand basin; a cloakroom with two W. Cs and four hand basins; a living room measuring 18 feet 9 inches by 13 feet 8 inches with a bay measuring 3 feet 7 inches by 9 feet 10 inches; a second living room measuring 14 feet by 19 feet 10 inches with a bay measuring 3 feet by 9 feet; a living room measuring 14 feet by 12 feet 8 inches; a kitchen measuring 15 feet 5 inches by 14 feet 11 inches; a scullery measuring 8 feet 8 inches by 17 feet; a lobby and larder measuring 11 feet 4 inches by 6 feet and a small conservatory.

The first floor had a bathroom, a shower room, two separate W.Cs and bedrooms measuring, respectively, 18 feet 8 inches by 13 feet 8 inches; 7 feet by 14 feet 3 inches; 16 feet 9 inches by 15 feet 4 inches and 13 feet 3 inches by 11 feet 7 inches. The second floor had a living room measuring 18 feet 9 inches, a bathroom, a lobby and bedrooms measuring 10 feet 6 inches by 15 feet 9 inches and 14 feet 4 inches by 15 feet 9 inches.

There was also a modern house on the site, built in the mid 1970s and comprising, on the ground floor: a living room measuring 17 feet 6 inches by 11 feet 8 inches; a kitchen/diner measuring 18 feet by 17 feet 11 inches and a hall. Upstairs was a bathroom, a separate W. C. and bedrooms measuring 10 feet 5 inches by 11 feet; 15 feet 9 inches by 11 feet and 9 feet 6 inches by 6 feet 10 inches.

The White House was bought by a private buyer for use as an old people’s home for £125,000. The home opened in December 1984. At the date of writing [2013] is a privately run nursing home for the elderly, owned by Janes Care Homes of Leighton Buzzard, and still called the White House.

The White House January 2013
The White House January 2013