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Saint Marys Cottage Oakley

Saint Mary's Cottage and the church about 1920 [Z1306/85]
Saint Mary's Cottage and the church about 1920 [Z1306/85]

Saint Mary’s Cottage is named after Saint Mary's Church which stands opposite. The cottage was listed by the former Department of Environment in April 1984 as Grade II, of special interest. The department dated the property to the early 17th century. It is a timber-framed two storey construction with an old clay-tiled roof and the walls were pebble-dashed in the 19th century when remodelling took place. It is built in a T-plan and has a one storey lean-to at the rear built of gault clay bricks with a hipped clay-tiled roof. There is also a brick lean-to with a half-hipped roof built in the 19th century on the western end. The listing notes that the fireplace is original and built of limestone and Totternhoe clunch.

Saint Mary's Cottage formed part of the Oakley Estate, owned by the Duke of Bedford. It is possible that it had belonged to Queen's College, Cambridge from 1568 into the 19th century because the college owned College Farm and a terrier of about 1600 refers to that farmhouse and a cottage adjoining.

The Oakley Estate was sold at auction on 31st October 1918. The sale catalogue [AD1147/18] lists the cottage as part of Lot 1 which included Oakley House and which was withdrawn from the sale because the Duke arranged a private sale to his cousin the 2nd Baron Ampthill. Saint Mary's Cottage was described as follows.

The Picturesque Gabled Cottage
brick, stuccoed and tiled, opposite Oakley Church, near Oakley Bridge, containing two Sitting Rooms, Living Room with bay, Kitchen, two Pantries, Cellar and three Bedrooms on the Upper Floor.

OUTBUILDINGS  - One Stall and Loose Box, Nag Stable, Wash House and Earth Closet. Dog Kennel in three divisions, and Poultry House. In the occupation of the Gamekeeper [directories reveal that Alfred White was gamekeeper from at least 1885 until at least 1914 and he may still have been in position in 1918].

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. Oakley, like most of the county, was assessed in 1927 and the valuer visiting Saint Mary’s Cottage, as it was already known [DV1/C107/63] found it still owned by Lord Ampthill and occupied by J. D. T. Eve though the account was annotated on 1st February 1927 “No one here”, a later annotation reading: “Later Mr. Douglas occ. Taken it furnished”. The cottage comprised a sitting room, a study (“partly passage”), a dining room, a kitchen and scullery, a larder and a bathroom and W. C. with three bedrooms upstairs. The cottage stood in just under half an acre of land.

Saint Marys Cottage from the churchyard March 2011
Saint Mary's Cottage from the churchyard March 2011