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Marsh Leys Farm Kempston Hardwick

Part of Marsh Leys Farm on a map of 1883
Part of Marsh Leys Farm on a map of 1883

Marsh Leys is today [2013] an industrial estate. However, a farm used to occupy the site. The Bedfordshire Historic Environment Record [HER] contains information on the county’s historic buildings and landscapes and summaries of each entry can now be found online as part of the Heritage Gateway website. The entry for Marsh Leys Farm [HER 8730] notes that the farmhouse dated from the 18th century and was built of brick with cement render. It was an L-shaped building with a 3rd gabled wing built into the angle between the other two. The front wings comprised two storeys and the rear wing two storeys and attics. The building had an old clay tiled roof.

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 the farm [DV1/H1/2] found it owned and occupied by James Charles Evitt Robinson. The farm comprised 257 acres, 1 rood, 9 poles. The valuer commented: “Land Sold 114 acres, 1 rood, 13 poles and 10 poles. Has not been conveyed yet. A very useful mixed Farm. Excellent Set of Buildings and Cottages. Good 3 Horse land and useful Grass. Well served by roads. Water laid on and Electric Light throughout”.

The farmhouse comprised three reception rooms, a kitchen, scullery and larder. Four bedrooms, a bathroom and a W. C. lay on the first floor, three attics on the second. The valuer commented: “Excellent House. Very convenient. Water and Electric Light laid on”.

The homestead comprised three blocks:

  • North Block – all brick, timber and tile: a garage for three cars; an engine room providing the electric light with a 3½ horsepower engine; a nag stable for two; a loose box; a twenty six pen cow shed; a cow shed for thirty eight; a barn; a cart horse stable for six; a chaff place and a loose box.
  • East Block: two corrugated iron and brick implement sheds; a brick, timber and slate open hovel, fowl house and two calf boxes; three brick and slate calf places.
  • In the rickyard: a blacksmith’s shop with a forge and two Dutch barns.

The valuer noted: “Water Laid on. Electric Light to House and Yards”.

Directories for Bedfordshire were not published every year but every few years from the early to mid 19th century until 1940. The farmers at Marsh Leys are noted as follows:

1869: Cooper; Robert Whitworth;
1877, 1885, 1890: Robert Whitworth;
1894, 1898: Lewis Whitworth;
1906: William Mercer; James Charles Hensman Robinson;
1910, 1914, 1920, 1924, 1928: James Charles Hensman Robinson;
1931: Mrs. Martin Griffiths;
1936: William Robert Wallwin.

Part of Marsh Leys Farm on a map of 1883
Part of Marsh Leys Farm on a map of 1883