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Shelton Hall

Shelton Hall in 1979 [Z50-102-1]
Shelton Hall in 1979 [Z50/102/1]

Shelton Hall was listed by the former Department of Environment in May 1952 as Grade II, of special interest. The department dated the property to the 18th century, though noting “possibly of earlier origin”. The hall is built of coursed limestone rubble, incorporating some red brick and has been rendered. The roof is formed of slates in front and clay tiles at the rear. The house comprises two storeys. A 20th century two storey extension stands to the north-east at the rear.

The Victoria County History for Bedfordshire published in 1912 states: “The actual house is only part of the west wing of a large rectangular building formerly grouped round a central court, three sides of which have now vanished. The external walls of this external building are 4 feet 6 inches thick and reveals of most of the windows, though now fitted with18th century frames and sashes, are splayed on the inside. In one bedroom is an early 17th century stone fireplace, and one of similar character is to be seen in the scullery. There is also an 18th century wood staircase of the usual type, though the external wall evidently dates from medieval times”.

The Bedfordshire Historic Environment Record [HER] contains information on the county’s historic buildings and landscapes and summaries of each entry can now be found online as part of the Heritage Gateway website. Shelton Hall lies within a moat [HER 338] mostly now filled in and the record states: “The moat is rectangular, measuring approx 80 metres by 90 metres, with a curving overflow channel to the north-east (marked as the moat on early Ordnance Survey maps), and was fed by a stream in the south-west corner. There appear to have been fishponds in the area of the overflow channel. Traces of the south-west and north-east arms are visible but the rest has been affected by garden landscaping”.

Moats were usually associated with manor houses. The presence of this moat, combined with the structural evidence of the building and its location near the church all strongly suggest that this house stands on the site of the manor house of Shelton Manor and may even incorporate some of the medieval house within it.

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. It is likely that Shelton, like most of the rest of the county was assessed in 1927. The valuer visiting Shelton Hall [DV1/H52/4] found it owned by the Trustees of T. Harris and occupied by William Whitehead who paid rent of £400 per annum for the house, farm buildings and 566 acres of land. The valuer noted: “Mrs. W. is life tenant & will pass to W. W. on her death. She lives at Hall, water good. Buildings not used, very old house”. The farmland extended over three parishes, Shelton, Dean and Yelden. Another valuer noted: “Good House and Homestead. Know it well”.

The house comprised two reception rooms, a kitchen and scullery with a brewhouse downstairs. Four bedrooms and a bathroom (“no hot water”) stood on the first floor and thee attics (“not used”) on the third floor.

The homestead comprised: a brick and slate four stall stable for hour horses; a chaff house; another stable for four horses; a three bay hovel; a chaff barn; a hen house; an oil store; a harness room; six horse boxes; an engine house; a granary; a mill house; three more horse boxes; another granary; a store place; a coal house; a wooden boarded barn; a cow house for five beasts; three calf pens; a weather-boarded and slated barn; two groups of four more loose boxes; three hen houses; a coachhouse or garage; three more horse boxes; four standings; a brick and corrugated iron four bay cart shed; another store place; a four bay hovel used as a cart shed; another store place; a stone and tiled dovecote and another store place. In nearby fields stood a barn and open hovel, a brick and tiled hovel, a brick and tiled barn and hovel, a brick and tiled stable for eight horses, a cart shed and a further open hovel.

In 1976 the owners applied for planning permission for an extension to act as a cloakroom and to house the central heating boiler [BorBTP/76/592].

Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service has a number of directories for the county dating from 1839 to 1940. These give some details of names and addresses of prominent people in each parish. The following list has been compiled for Shelton Hall. County directories were only published every few years and so the dates in the list simply include the first and last reference to a particular individual residing at a property.

  • 1864-1877: Thomas Harris;
  • 1885-1910: William Whitehead;
  • 1914-1940: Mrs. Whitehead