Grove Farm Kensworth
Plaque to William and Sophia Jones in Kensworth Church June 2012
Grove Farmhouse, formerly called The Grove, was listed by the former Department of Environment in September 1980 as Grade II, of special interest. It dates from the 17th or 18th century and was “much altered” in the 19th century. It comprises two storeys and is built in colourwashed brick, with an old clay tiled roof. The property has timber-framing still visible in the otherwise modernised interior.
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 Grove Farm in the afternoon of 16th August 1926 [DV1/H25/18] found it was owned by a man named Bowles and occupied by Bruce John Stanbridge whose rent was £82/10/-, a reduction from the pre-war rent of £85 because the number of acres had declined from 45 to 43. The valuer commented: “No house. Only rainwater for buildings”. Another hand has written: “Rent dearish. Arable Land not good”.
The homestead comprised: a brick, timber and slate car hovel; two calf pens; a large brick, timber and thatch barn; a brick and slate five bay hovel; a brick, timber and slate trap house and large barn; a brick, timber and tile cowhouse for four; two hen houses and a loose box; a brick and slate two bay open feeding hovel and a stable for four with a loft over.
The farm had no house because the former farmhouse, then called The Grove, was owned and occupied by George E. Swatman [DV1/C110/30] and stood in just under half an acre. It had two reception rooms, a kitchen, a scullery, a morning room and a pantry downstairs with a basement cellar. Upstairs were five bedrooms, a bathroom and a W. C. Outside stood a weather-boarded and tiled garage measuring 8 feet 6 inches by 13 feet 3 inches, a brick and slate two stall stable and loose box, a harness room and a brick and slate well house with a loft over.
The property also included two neighbouring grass fields totalling just over two acres and a vegetable garden of a third of an acre which the valuer reckoned “very good”. He commented about the property: “Charming exterior … but homestead [of Grove Farm] right opposite”. A later hand has noted that the property was sold by auction on 26th July 1948.
Directories for Bedfordshire were not published every year but every few years from the early to mid 19th century until 1940. Kensworth is first included in a Bedfordshire directory in 1898, having been transferred from Hertfordshire in 1897. Directories list the farmers at Grove Farm as follows: 1898 William Lee; 1903, 1906, 1910, 1914, 1920 and 1924 William Hickman, who was also listed as Assistant Overseer of the Poor and Clerk to the Parish Council in 1903; 1928 Bruce Stanbridge and 1931, 1936 and 1940 William James Tomlin.
The occupiers of The Grove are also listed in directories. They are as follows; 1898, 1903 and 1906 William Henry Jones; 1910 Miss Jones; 1914 Thomas William Miller; 1920, 1924, 1928, 1931, 1936 and 1940 George Swatman. During World War Two a garage adjoining The Grove was used as an Air Raid Precautions Wardens' post in 1943 and 1944 [WW2/AR/C/2/218, 234 and 235].