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Greenfield Farmhouse 41 High Street Greenfiel

Greenfield Farmhouse - 41 High Street February 2011
Greenfield Farmhouse - 41 High Street February 2011

41 High Street is Greenfield Farmhouse. The property was listed by the former Department of Environment in July 1975 as Grade II, of special interest. The department dated the property to the 17th century with 19th century alterations. However, the owner of the property has had the building investigated by experts in vernacular architecture and they date the oldest parts of the farmhouse to the 16th century.

It is a substantial timber-framed structure with red brick infill; parts of the ground floor were rebuilt in red brick. It has a clay tiled roof. The house has two storeys and had three rooms on each floor. To the west and at right angles stands a yellow brick 19th century extension with a tiled roof.

Just before the sale of the house in 1982 the deeds to the property were donated to Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service [Z442]. The deeds are a little confusing because they refer to Greenfield Farm, Pulloxhill, whereas the farmhouse, being on the north side of the High Street, was always in the parish of Flitton. However, the bulk of the land was on the south side of the road and so in the parish of Pulloxhill.

In 1673 Thomas Neale and Elizabeth, his wife, together with Jeffrey Willan, conveyed the farmhouse "with outhouses, barns, stables, dovehouses etc." and thirty four acres, all in Pulloxhill, to Thomas Sheppard for £730 [Z442/95a]. In 1699 Sheppard's son William married Alice Burr and the farm formed part of their marriage settlement [Z442/95f].

In 1746 a William Sheppard, presumably the man who had married in 1699, was involved in a case in the Court of King's Bench [Z442/96-101. He was then described as formerly living at Almeshoebury in Ippollitts [Hertfordshire], but by 1747 was living at Watton-at-Stone [Hertfordshire], he was a maltster. He was sued by Richard Hitchin (appropriately enough of Hitchin, Hertfordshire) for debts of £463/4/10 [Z442/96] and £58/6/4 [Z442/99]. These debts arosse from a £500 loan taken out by Sheppard with Sir Henry Penrice of Offley [Hertfordshire] in 1734 and a further advance of £100 in 1736, Penrice assigning the mortgage interest to Richard Hitchin in 1747 [Z442/102]. In 1748 the farm was conveyed for £1,000 to Rev. Edward Hammond, Rector of Watton-at-Stone and Margaret, his wife - £625/12/- went to Hitchin and £374/8/- to Sheppard [Z442/102].

Hammond was the Archdeacon of Dorchester and died in 1762 [Z442/106]. His wife died in 1765 and in her will of 1764 [Z442/107] gave several annuities charged on Greenfield Farm to her siblings William and Thomas Sheppard and Mary Larkin. The residue of her estate passed to her brother Thomas.

Thomas Sheppard died intestate in 1793 [Z442/109a], leaving his only son Richard as his heir. Richard lived at Offley and made his will in 1793 devising the farm at Pulloxhill, then tenanted by John Thmpson, to his wife mary for her life, then to be passed to their son Richard [Z442/109c]. The will was proved in 1803. Richard made his will in 1837 and it was proved in March that year. He divided his estate amongst his three daughters and it was Caroline Dunne Bailey who inherited Greenfield Farm [Z442/109j]. She died in 1852 leaving no heirs as her only child died in infancy before her [Z442/109m]. By the terms of Richard Sheppard's will Greenfield Farm then passed to Caroline's sisters and their heirs. One of these sisters, Mary Hill Sawyer, was already dead. She left one daughter - Harriet Elizabeth sawyer who became 21 in 1854. The other sister Harriet Lavinia Marsh died in 1854 [Z442/109n]. leaving a son, Richard Sheppard Marsh, who reached the age of 21 in 1858[Z442/109p]. In order to reunite all the estates of Richard Sheppard (they were extensive, being in the Hertfordshire parishes of Little Offley, Great Offley, Breachwood Green, Stevenage, Walkern and Pegsdon as well as the Bedfordshire parishes of Shillington and Pulloxhill) the two cousins married each other in 1858 [Z442/109q].

Shortly after the marriage and still in 1858 the Sheppards the farmhouse and 26 acres, 2 roods, 17 poles of Pulloxhill Farm to its tenant Walter Osborn for £1,743/10/- [Z442/111]. In 1892 Osborn conveyed the farmhouse and just inder 55 acres of land to his son Robert [Z442/118].

In 1903 Richard Osborn sold the farmhouse and land he had received from his father as well as a further 3 roods, 14 poles of land, to Mary Ann Smith Osborn, his wife, for £210 [Z442/118]. In 1913 Mary Ann OSborn sold the farm at auction [Z442/122]. She then conveyed Lot 2, being 22.27 acres of the land, to the master and bretheren of the Hospital of Wokingham [Berkshire] for £600 [Z442/123]. In view of the later history unfolded in the deeds she presumably also sold the farmhouse to the hospital but, strangely, the deeds to not record this. A few days after the sale the Hospital leased 74 acres, 3 roods, 24 poles of land to George Sharpe of Church End Flitwick for fourteen years at a rent of £120 per annum [Z442/125].

The extent of Greenfield Farm in 1913 [Z442-123]
The extent of Greenfield Farm in 1913 [Z442/123]

In 1920 Wokingham Hospital sold the farm to George Sharpe, who borrowed £1,400 from Charles Sharpe of Church End Flitwick to buy it [SFM3/13-15]. 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 Greenfield Farm [DV1/H38/40] found that the owner and occupier was still George Sharpe. He still had 72 acres though a later hand has annotated this: "plus 13 – 85, less 1¼ = 83". The valuer commented: "Saw Mrs. Sharp [sic] said ground very heavy" and "10 acres gardened". The last phrase presumably indicates that this was market gardening land.

The farmhouse comprised two reception rooms, a kitchen, a scullery and a dairy with five bedrooms above. Outside stood a coal house. Water came from a pump in the house. There was no electric lighting and sanitation was provided by an outside earth closet.

The farm buildings were as follows:

  • South Block A: a brick, wood and tiled granary and food store; a cow house for fourteen beasts; a small loose box and a brick, wood and slate three bay cart shed.
  • West Block B: a wood and corrugated iron cow house for eight used for pigs.
  • North Block C: a wood, brick and slate henhouse; a cow house for ten; a wood and thatched barn with a cement floor; four brick, wood and tiled loose boxes; a stone and tiled stable for three with a chaff house and a wood and tiled store barn.
  • In Rickyard: wood and tiled two bay cart shed, two store barns, trap house.

After World War Two the land belonging to the farm was sold off in two tranches a number of years apart. In 1982, following the death of the owner, George Sharpe's daughter, the farmhouse was sold to the current [2011] owners.