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255 to 257 Old Harrowden Road

255 to 257 Old Harrowden Road in 1960 [Z53/38/7]
255 to 257 Old Harrowden Road in 1960 [Z53/38/7]

255 to 257 Old Harrowden Road were listed by the former Department of Environment in July 1964 as Grade II, of special interest. The department dated the three cottages, which had originally been one house, to the 18th century. The structure is timber framed with pebble-dashed rendering and has a hipped, old clay tiled roof. The property has two storeys with weather boarded and tiled single storey extensions to the rear and eastern elevation.

We are fortunate that three surveys of the parish of Cardington from the late 18th century survive. The first of these was undertaken in 1782 by James Lilburne. He was the parish schoolmaster and later agent for Samuel Whitbread, who owned large estates in the parish and also the sole Enclosure Commissioner for the parish. He produced a list of all the inhabitants of the parish arranged by house and hamlet [P38/28/1]. This was published, with extensive analysis by County Archaeologist David Baker in 1973 as Bedfordshire Historical Record Society Volume 52.

Since publication a second list has been found [P38/28/2]. It carries revisions up to the year 1789. Sadly neither of these surveys includes a map. Finally, in 1794 Lilburne produced another survey [W2/6/1-3] and this one had a map with a key showing where each house was. One can use this to plot the houses of the previous surveys and this work was carried out by John Wood of Bedfordshire County Council’s Conservation Section in October 1982 [CRT130Cardington29].

The 1782 survey [P38/28/1/2] notes that property was a farm and occupied by John Bland and his unnamed sister who died on 9th December 1784. The 1794 survey [W2/6/1-3] notes that Bland was still in occupation.

Tithes were, originally, a tenth of one’s household produce, usually an arable crop such as wheat or barley but possibly livestock or manufactured produce such as shoes, given to support the local priest. They were divided into great and little tithes. Great tithes consisted of grain or large animals such as cattle. Little tithes were fruit, vegetables or other small crops and smaller farm animals such as poultry. By the 19th century this archaic practice had long been replaced by monetary tithes. The Tithe Commutation Act of 1836 finally made it compulsory to replace these archaic tithes with monetary payments. The payment was calculated on the seven year average of prices for the particular commodity derived from the land in question and was worked out by the parties involved – parson, landowners or tenants if the land was not owner-occupied. The parish of Cardington, including Harrowden, was assessed for tithes in 1840 [AT9/1]. At that date 255 to 257 Old Harrowden Road was owned by the Whitbread Estate and occupied by “Biggerstaff and others”, whose homestead and garden comprised 35 poles. They  paid 6d. annually to the vicar and 1/3 to the improprietor (the holder of the advowson).

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. Eastcotts, like most of the county, was assessed in 1927 and the valuer visiting 255 to 257 Old Harrowden Road [DV1/C280/63-65] found them owned by the Whitbread Estate.

Number 255 was occupied by A. Berrington who paid rent of £3/9/- per annum for a kitchen and two bedrooms as well as a weather-boarded and tiled washhouse and barn. The property had “no back door” and there was only one room downstairs “but very big”.

Number 256 was in the occupation of farmer Harry Minney who paid £4/15/6 per annum for a living room, kitchen and three bedrooms as well as a weather-boarded and tiled washhouse and barn.  257 Old Harrowden Road was lived in by T. Goldsmith who paid £4/15/10 per annum for a living room, kitchen and two bedrooms as well as a weather-boarded and tiled washhouse and barn. Again, the property had no back door but had been “Done up”.