Church Farm Hockliffe
Church Farmhouse February 2013
The first record Bedfordshire and Luton Archives have relating to Church Farm is an agreement dated 25 May 1876 by which Stafford Francis Still, the agent for the Trustees of the Lockington and Marshe Charity leased Church Farm, consisting of 59 acres in Hockliffe and Eggington, to James Inwards of Hockliffe at a rent of £160 p.a. [Z233/8/2] The Inwards family were farmers at Hockliffe from the 1850s until at least the 1920s. The 1851 census lists John Inwards, aged 77, as a farmer of 42 acres, though whether or not this was at Church Farm or elsewhere is unknown. Living with him were his son Robert, Robert's wife Martha and son James, and a house servant.
An inspection of the property was carried out for the Lockington Charity in 1882 following which the inspector reported [Z233/6/3]: Church Farm Hockliffe: James Inwards tenant. This occupation is in good condition and well attended to, that left for mowing looks well and that upon which the stock is depastured is in good condition, but the whole of the Field known as Old Stocks wants draining badly especially about 2 acres on the north side and it would be a great improvement if this work were carried out. Three new gates and posts are required and if the three elm trees blown down are sold it would help to pay the cost of them. The tenant called our attention to a new quick fence recently planted by Mr. Adams on the south side of the small plantation immediately in front of the Farm House … [the next section deals at length with doubts about the ownership of the land on which this hedge had been planted]. The one acre and eleven perches of arable land adjoining the Aylesbury and Hockliffe Road and forming part of this tenancy is in a very good state of cultivation and drilled with mangles [mangelwurzels] this year.
In 1911 Church Farm was still occupied by the Inwards family, now represented by James Inwards' widow, Emily; her three sons Henry, Arthur and Robert were living with her and working on the farm. In 1918-19 Emily Inwards of Church Farm was among the farmers who objected to orders to plough up land for crops [WW1/AC/OP1/2].
Church Farm Plan 1920
In 1921 Church Farm was sold by the Lockington Charity. An advertisement in a local newspapers mentions a proposed sale price of £3,000 [Z233/6/43] A valuation made prior to this sale in February 1920 gives the following description of the farm: "Mrs. Inwards and her husband before her have occupied this farm for many years as a dairy farm and since 1894 or thereabouts at the annual rent of £115. The area is 59 acres and 3 roods of which only 1 acre and 17 perches is arable. The house and outbuildings are comparatively modern and well-built." The valuer considered the present yearly letting value to be £160 and the selling value £2,750 [Z233/6/42].
Under the terms of the Rating and Valuation Act 1925 every piece of land and building in the country was assessed to determine the rates to be paid on them. When the homesteads in Hockliffe were assessed in 1926 Mrs E. Inwards was shown as both owner and occupier of Church Farm and was said to have bought it in 1920 for c.£3000. The acreage of the farm at this time was 53 acres, and sporting rights were let to Thomas Neville of The Grange. The valuer described it as a "nice house and homestead, latter small" [DV1/H28/76]. The property consisted of:
- House: Brick built, half-timber and tile. Downstairs reception room, kitchen, scullery, dairy, cellar and storeplace; upstairs three bedrooms.
- Homestead: Brick and slate harness room, stable for 3 and granary; 2 bay open cart shed; trap house; Brick, weatherboard and slate cow house for 16; cow house for 6; cow house for 3 used as hay store.
A moated site presumed to connected to the medieval Manor of Hockliffe can be found in the field belonging to Church Farm immediately to the south of the farm house [marked 3 on the plan above].