Elstow Lodge February 2012
Elstow Lodge is not an old building, nor is it listed but it is of some interest because it was the home of the Clerk to Bedfordshire County Council, Joseph Bramwell Graham from the time it was built until his death.
Planning permission for the property was granted in 1926 and it was built on the site of an old building with the same name. The architect was W. B. Stonebridge and the builder W. A. Cirket [RDBP1/949].
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. Elstow, like most of the county, was valued in 1927 and the valuer visiting Elstow Lodge found it more or less completed [DV1/C33/30].
Like most of the rest of the parish the house was owned by Lord of the Manor Samuel Howard Whitbread. Joseph Bramwell Graham had already moved in to the new house set in 1.697 acres.
Accommodation was as follows: a small entrance hall; a very small hall; a kitchen measuring 11 feet by 13 feet 6 inches; a small larder; a scullery; a lavatory (in the sense of a place to wash); a butler’s pantry; a maid’s sitting room; a dining room measuring 17 feet 6 inches by 13 feet; a drawing room measuring 20 feet by 13 feet and a study measuring 13 feet 6 inches square. Upstairs were: a lavatory; a bathroom (“good”); a single bedroom measuring 12 feet 6 inches by 10 feet; a bathroom (“nursery”); a nursery (“very nice”) measuring 13 feet 6 inches square; a night nursery measuring 13 feet square; a dressing room (“very small”); a double bedroom measuring 20 feet by 13 feet; a double bedroom measuring 13 feet 6 inches square; up some stairs were a maid’s room and a boxroom.
Outside there was a small loggia (“very nice”). The valuer noted: “Kitchen Garden rough being made” and “small glasshouse heated”. There were also a brick and tiled water softening house, a garage, a brick and tiled garage, a coal and wood store, a three stall stable. also two stalls and two boxes (“not used”), as well as a store place, coal house and dairy with a loft over all. The valuer commented: “Grounds small and poor as yet to be made”
The valuer noted: “House new built this year, very compact in design and all conveniences but disappoints. Hall poor and front door bad, outbuildings old but repaired. Garden and grounds to be made. Nurseries, very nice, no real disadvantage” and “Built 1926-7”. Finally, he added: “House cost about £4,000 to build, rent at moment £180 but subject to length of term and possibly may be slightly altered. Final instalment and extras yet to [be] paid to builder”.
Less than a decade after it was built there was a fire. The Bedford Volunteer Fire Brigade scrapbook [AD1082/4] has a newspaper report dated 7th January 1935: “The Bedford Fire Brigade received a call by telephone about seven o’clock on Monday evening to a fire at Elstow Lodge, the residence of Mr. J. B. Graham, Clerk to the Bedfordshire County Council. The brigade made a smart turn-out under Second Officer E. Hopkins, and on arrival found the contents of the drawing room well alight. Using their first aid equipment the Brigade quickly extinguished the flames. Considerable damage was done to the furniture, which included a grand piano: and had not the Bedford Brigade made so quick a journey, a much more serious fire might have resulted. As it happened, the fire was confined to the one room, and the Brigade returned to Bedford at about 7.45 p.m. The cause of the fire is unknown”.