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Meppershall Rectories

The Rectory [X254/88/189]
The Rectory [X254/88/189]

A terrier of 1607 of property of the Archdeaconry of Bedford [ABE1] gives a brief description of Meppershall Rectory, built where Monk's Pool stands today. It was built of wood and tile and was "in a very bad state". It comprised a hall, a parlour, a kitchen, a larder, a buttery, a milk house, a turf house and a drawbridge. Two barns stood outside, one of seven bays and the other of three.

A terrier of about 1700 [ABE2 Volume I page 119] described a dining room, a lodging chamber with two cellars under and another little room. That all lay in Bedfordshire. A beam divided the property going across the hall from those parts of the building in Hertfordshire! These comprised a parlour with a board floor, a kitchen with a brick floor and two butteries each with a brick floor. Seven chambers lay upstairs. A brick and tiled washhouse stood on the north side of the moat. There were also: a tiled dovehouse; a seven bay barn with "splintered" wood walls, part tiled and part thatched; a tiled garner or granary; a two bay barn; two stables, splintered and thatched; two hogsties and a henhouse. A petition for a faculty to rebuild the place in 1717 survives [ABF3/141] but no evidence that this was done.

This house was eventually rebuilt in 1792 and 1793 [P29/1/8] resulting in the building known today [2015] as Monk's Pool. The property is surrounded by the remains of a medieval homestead moat which according to the Victoria County History is sourced by a spring. The listing duly describes the house as late 18th century and notes 19th century additions and alterations in red brick with clay tile roofs.

The faculty for rebuilding the Rectory [P29/2/4/1] states that when James Webster became Rector of Meppershall he found the parsonage house "in a very ruinous condition so that it was necessary that the whole should be taken down and rebuilt". He applied for permission to build a "commodious and respectable habitation" that was to comprise four rooms on the ground floor and another four above with an adjoining pantry and washhouse. He also wanted to take down and rebuild the stables, which were to be not less than 45 feet long and 20 feet wide. He wished to rebuild the barn on a more convenient site, the new one to be 80 feet long and 35 feet wide. He also wished to do the same thing with the dovehouse which was to be 13 feet square "with a proportionable height".

A 19th century pencil sketch of the exterior of The Rectory, signed by 'Emma La Belle' shows the moat surrounding the property with neatly arranged gardens in the foreground [X254/88/189]. It is possible that this drawing is that of the former rectory house referred to in the Victoria County History.

In 1866 the rectory was enlarged by addition of a study with a bedroom over it [P29/1/8]. In 1898 a lecture was given by the Reverend Charles Kerry of Upper Stondon on Meppershall and the neighbourhood, recorded in a pamphlet of the same name [Pamphlet130Mep number 11559]. In it, he recalls the English translation of part of a Latin verse written about the moat by the 1709 incumbent, Reverend Richard Downes:

 "At Meppershall stands a venerable house by streams,
Surrounded, and by lofty trees, where rooks
Well sheltered, hoarsely cawing, build their nests"

He also mentions that the boundary line between Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire was said to pass through The Rectory, and that the following inscription could be found on a beam in the parlour of the former building: 
 "If you would site in Hertfordshire,
 Then draw your chair near to the fire"

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 who visited The Rectory found that it was owned by the Rector of Meppershall and occupied by the Reverend Richard Isherwood. The ground floor comprised of a hall, dining room, drawing room, bedroom, kitchen, scullery, pantry, and store ('not used'). The valuer here noted that there was 'No bath!' The first floor contained five bedrooms and a toilet, with a second floor containing four attics 'not used'. Outside could be found a stable and woodshed and the valuer considered the garden to be 'good', although the water had to be carried from the well. [DV1/C161/37]. Electric light and water heating were installed in 1937 along with a bathroom, costing £441[P29/1/8]

In 1956 it was decided to build a new rectory and a mortgage for £2,700 was secured from the Church Commissioners [P29/2/4/2]. It was built by Dawsons of Shefford Limited [P29/1/8]. This new building is opposite the church, the old rectory was sold in the same year for £2,850 [P29/1/8] becoming a private house called Monk's Pool.

The Rectory March 2015
The Rectory March 2015