Manor Farm Houghton Conquest
John Brown, tenant of Manor Farm from 1875 [Z50/140/365]
Manor Farm formed part of the Manor of Dame Ellensbury, which was, in turn, part of the Honour of Ampthill, which was put up for sale by auction in 1841. The sale particulars [RH9/1] note that the farm comprised 216 acres, 9 poles describing it as follows “a neat Farm House, Brick and Tiled, containing 2 Parlors, Kitchen, Back Kitchen and Cellar, 5 Bed Rooms and 2 Garrets, detached is a Dairy and Wash-house, brick and Tiled. Poultry-house, Wood-house and Chaise-house, Timber and Brick-built, part Tiled, and part Thatched, a Brick and Tiled Stable, and Lofts and capital Piggery adjoining, a Nag Stable, a good Barn, Timber and Brick-built, under-pinned and thatched, Cattle Lodges and Cow-house”.
The buyer of the farm is not stated but it seems likely that it was not sold because by the 20th century it was the Duke of Bedford, who had purchased the Manor of Dame Ellensbury in 1738. The current Manor Farmhouse looks, seternally at least, as if it may have been built by the duke’s Bedford Estates.
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 Manor Farm [DV1/H45/16] found that it was still owned by the Duke of Bedford’s London and Devon Estates and tenanted by F Brown. Rent had been £363/10/- per annum before the Great War. This had declined to £266/10/- in 1919 and then risen to £370/10/- in 1921. The farm comprised 448 acres in 1914 and 336 acres, 3 roods. The valuer wrote: “Saw Mr Brown, all heavy land (3 horse) … water supply very good laid on from hills gravitation”. A colleague wrote on 9th March 1917: “A Farm with good proportion of grass but the Arable is poor”.
The farmhouse comprised three reception rooms, a kitchen, scullery, pantry and dairy with five bedrooms and a bathroom upstairs and one servant’s bedroom. There were also cellars. The homestead was in five blocks:
- brick, wood and slate food store, pigsties and two-bay open shed with feeding passage;
- brick, wood and slate cow house for twenty with a feeding passage, calf pen, and loose box, a corrugated iron implement shed, a corn barn with a loft over, a food store, a Dutch barn, a workshop, a store barn with a loft over, a stable for four horses and a six-bay open cart shed;
- an implement shed, a garage, a nag stable for three and a harness room;
- two brick, wood and tiled covered yards, a brick and slate harness room, a stable for eight horses, a four-bay open shed and a loose box;
- in the stackyard a hen house, a store barn, a five-bay open shed and a further hen house – all property of the tenant.
By 1946 a coachhouse was used as a garage measuring 9 feet by 20 feet 6 inches.