Lynch House Kensworth
Lynch House 1910 [Z883/24]
Lynch House was listed by the former Ministry of Public Buildings and Works in February 1967 as Grade II*, a more important building of special interest. It dates from the 18th century and is built in red brick, comprising two storeys, beneath 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. Kensworth, like much of the county, was assessed in 1927 and the valuer visiting Lynch House [DV1/C114/71] found it owned by the trustees of Benjamin Bennett and occupied by Basil Levett, whose rent was not stated. The property stood in 3.319 acres.
The valuer stated: “Levetts away. Saw caretaker. Refused admission until instructed. Wait for letter”. He added, on 25th April, “Saw caretaker. Water pumped by engine from well by farm. Lighting by lamps only. Cesspool drainage, good. Central Heating in all principle rooms. Mr. Levett been here 4 years. Seven year lease. Mr. Levett abroad, seriously ill. 61 Eaton Square, London address”.
The ground floor comprised: a passage hall measuring 4 feet 6 inches by 14 feet 6 inches; a hall (“stairs go up from”) measuring 18 feet by 7 feet; a morning room measuring 10 feet 3 inches by 13 feet; a drawing room (“faces south”) measuring 16 feet 3 inches by 19 feet with a bay measuring 6 feet by 14 feet; a dining room measuring 19 feet by 19 feet 6 inches; the butler’s bedroom measuring 11 feet by 19 feet 6 inches and a W. C. (“wash basin in”). One then went “through door by stairs to”: a kitchen measuring 16 feet 6 inches by 15 feet 6 inches; a scullery; a servants’ hall (“lean-to, bad”) and a pantry (“bad”).
Up the front stairs and on the first floor lay a bathroom. Down stairs to a landing led to a W. C. and a bedroom measuring 10 feet 9 inches by 12 feet, back to the first floor and there lay a bedroom measuring 10 feet 6 inches by 19 feet 6 inches and another bedroom measuring 19 feet by 15 feet with a 4 feet square cupboard. There was another cupboard (“good safe in”), a bedroom measuring 10 feet 6 inches by 13 feet, a “powdering closet” measuring 4 feet 9 inches by 8 feet, a small cupboard under the stairs and a bedroom measuring 13 feet 9 inches by 19 feet 6 inches. Above the landing lay a “bad” attic.
The second floor contained an attic with a “bad slope”, an attic “mostly occupied by chimney!! Minute window” and a third attic (“bad”). The basement contained a cellar (“boiler in”), two coal cellars and a wine cellar as well as two more cellars (“unused”).
Outside the back door stood a weather-boarded and felt housekeeper’s sitting room measuring 16 feet by 12 feet and a W. C. At the back of the house stood a four stall stable with a loft over (“unused”), and, most surprisingly, a small chapel used for prayers only (“very bad”). There were also two garages with concrete floors with “2 cars altogether”. The grounds included a tennis lawn (“unused”), a small lawn and a walled kitchen garden (“attractive”).
The valuer summarised: “A real old Georgian House. Typical of its period. Slightly modernised but kitchen etc. and attics very bad. Central Heating. No Electric Light. Charming front but small and old fashioned inside. Situated in a hole”.
Directories for Bedfordshire were not published every year but every few years from the early to mid 19th century until 1940. Kensworth first appears in Bedfordshire directories in 1898, having been transferred from Hertfordshire in the previous year. The following tenants of Lynch House are noted: 1898 William Henry Fox; 1903 J. Reginald Goodman; 1906, 1910 and 1914 Miss Beresford-Hope; 1920 Hugh Willan; 1924 Basil Levett; 1928 Sir Walter Beaupré Townley; 1931 Brendan Bracken; 1936 and 1940 Mrs. Braund. Two of these people are of some national interest. Sir Walter Beaupré Townley was British ambassador in Romania in 1911 and 1912, Iran from 1912 to 1916 and the Netherlands from 1917 to 1919.
Of more interest is Brendan Bracken. An larger-than-life Irishman, from County Tipperary, he became Conservative Member of Parliament for Paddington North in 1929 and held the seat until 1945. He was M. P. for Bournemouth from 1945 to 1950 and for Bournemouth east and Christchurch from 1950 to 1952. He became a Privy Councillor in World War Two, serving as Churchill’s Minister of Information (or Propaganda) from 1941 to 1945. He was also, briefly, First Lord of the Admiralty in 1945. In 1952 he was created Viscount Bracken. As Minister of Information, one of his employees was Eric Arthur Blair, who wrote under the pseudonym George Orwell. Big Brother in Orwell’s novel 1984 seems to have been partly based on Bracken, whom he disliked.
On 1st November 1943 Benjamin Bennett’s Kensworth Estate was put up for sale by auction. Lynch house was Lot 4 and the sale particulars [BML10/45/11] noted the following:
- Portico entrance to hall opening therefrom: -
- Lounge, measuring 24 feet 6 inches by 18 feet 6 inches, panelled with Oregon Pine with built-in Cupboards and Bookshelves. A pair of French windows give access to Rose Garden.
- Study, measuring 13 feet by 11 feet with white Painted Panelled Walls.
- Dining Room, measuring 19 feet by 18 feet. Panelled with Oregon Pine and fitted with Service Hatch. Leading therefrom is the
- Gun Room measuring 30 feet by 10 feet with door to Garden, and opening therefrom is the Cloak Room with wash basin and W. C.
On the First Floor
- Four Principal Bedrooms, measuring 20 feet by 17 feet, 14 feet by 10 feet, 16 feet by 11 feet and 17 feet by 15 feet.
- Dressing Room, Bathroom, W. C.
In the North Wing are the Housemaid’s Room, in which are fitted large Linen Cupboards and Sink.
Two Maids’ Bedrooms, Bathroom and W. C., with an attic Bedroom over.
On the Second Floor
THE DOMESTIC OFFICES
Include Servants’ Hall, Large Kitchen with “Esse” Cooker, Pantry with Sink and Cupboards, Scullery with two sinks and in which is fitted the “Ideal” domestic boiler. Larder and two cellars. There is an outside W. C., also Coal and Coke Stores. The Water supply is from a Well, whence the water is pumped to storage tanks by an Electric Pump.
Electricity is commented and there is central heating with boiler in cellar.
The domestic hot water is provided from Boiler in Scullery.
THE GARAGE and OUTBUILDINGS
Are on the East side of the House arranged round a Gravel Yard and are of brick and Tile construction. They consist of:
LARGE DOUBLE GARAGE
With Chauffeur’s Room adjoining, Workshop and Coachhouse with loft over and concrete paved Wash.
THE PLEASURE GROUNDS
Are beautifully timbered and tastefully laid out as follows,
LARGE SHADY LAWN
With Flower Beds, Rock Garden, paved Paths, a Water Lily Pond and Rose Garden. The First Kitchen Garden is well paved in and planted with Wall Fruit, Espaliers and Pyramid Trees. There are Herbaceous Borders and paved paths leading to a very fine
ITALIAN WELL HEAD
The second Kitchen Garden is well stocked, the paths are of Crazy Paving and there are three Heated Greenhouses measuring 17 feet 6 inches by 12 feet, 26 feet by 11 feet and 20 feet 6 inches by 10 feet, also a Gardener’s Room, Tool Shed and a range of Potting Sheds.
The whole property is screened from the Road by a belt of Coniferous and other Trees and extends to an area of about
The Property … is held by Mrs. M. F. Braund as Assignee from Mr. Brendan Bracken of a Lease for 22 years, from March 18th 1929 … at the moderate rent of
£100 per annum
Which has now been reduced to £80 per annum on account of improvements carried out as provided for in the Lease.