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The Old Post Office - 7 Rushden Road Milton Ernest

7 Rushden Road 1962 [Z53-82-14]
7 Rushden Road 1962 [Z53/82/14]

7 Rushden Road was listed by English Heritage in August 1987 as Grade II, of special interest. It dates from the 17th century and looks as if it was formerly a farmhouse. It is built of coursed limestone rubble with a brick chimney stack and has an old clay tiled roof. There were originally three rooms on the ground floor, two of them sharing a back-to-back hearth, something of a feature of the older buildings in Milton Ernest.

The Rating and Valuation Act 1925 stated that every piece of land and every building in the country was to be assessed to determine its rateable value. The valuer visiting 7 Rushden Road [DV1/C1/96] found that it was owned and occupied by Alfred Bonham and stood in just under half an acre. Downstairs accommodation comprised a parlour, a kitchen and a store room, with three bedrooms upstairs. Bonham was a grocer and had a lean-to shop 11 feet by 18 feet which survives today as a garage on the gable end facging onto the street. Outside stood a washhouse, a fuel barn, an earth closet, three timber pigsties, a fowl house and a grain house measuring 11 feet 6 inches by 14 feet, some of these being, presumably, left-over from the property's past existence as a farmhouse. The valuer commented: “Water from well” and “House very old”. Alfred Bonham is listed as a grocer in Kelly's Directory for Bedfordshire for 1903, 1906, 1910 and 1914, where he is listed as butcher and grocer and for 1920, 1924, 1928, 1931 and 1936 where is is simply listed as grocer.

The house used to be semi-detached to another cottage used, from about 1834 as accommodation for kennel workers for the Oakley Hunt. This cottage has since been demolished. It was named, appropriately, named Kennel Cottage as it adjoined the kennels of the Oakley Hunt. These belonged originally to the Duke of Bedford and were built about 1834 [W3975] and were modernised about 1898 [R1/1020].

The cottage was owned by the Oakley Hunt Committee and occupied by J. K. Anderson. The house had a parlour, a kitchen and scullery and two bedrooms. An old stable used for stores stood outside, along with an earth closet. The valuer commented: “Water from Bonham’s”, “Well paid for by Hunt Committee. Anderson works for Hunt, rent in wages” and “Quite Attractive”. This cottage was demolished along with the Oakley Hunt kennels when the hounds were moved to Melchbourne during the 20th century and the site was re-developed as a housing estate.

By the 1960s the shop at the end of the house had become a post office as the photograph at the top of the page shows. Previously the post office had been elsewhere, quite common in villages where the location of the office would often move location to the property of the person who became postmaster or postmistress. Directories for Bedfordshire were published every few years from the middle of the 19th century until 1940. The following list gives the postmasters and postmistresses for Milton Ernest:

  • 1847: William Solisbery;
  • 1853, 1854: William Mortimer [also the schoolmaster];
  • 1864: William Solisbery;
  • 1869: Cowdall Solisbery;
  • 1877, 1885, 1890: William Mole;
  • 1894, 1898, 1903, 1906, 1910, 1914: Mrs. Emma Mole;
  • 1920: Miss E. Abraham;
  • 1924, 1928, 1931, 1936, 1940: Miss Mabel Halgarth.

The Old Post Office - 7 Rushden Road February 2011
The Old Post Office - 7 Rushden Road February 2011