Park Farm Steppingley
Park Farmhouse in 1972 [Z156/17]
Park Farmhouse was built in the mid-19th century by the Duke of Bedford’s estate, in yellow brick at roughly the same time as Cook’s Farm and Gamekeeper’s House. It was listed in January 2003 by English Heritage as Grade II, of special interest. The house is built in a Jacobean style as part of a farmstead built all in a piece, the farm buildings also being listed.
In 1885 the tenant changed from a man named Furze to William Walters [BMB4/1/10/28]. Walters was dead by 1900 as in that year his executors settled up with the estate prior to the new tenant Thomas Phillips coming in [Z720/274/1]. In 1912 Joseph Beaumont Phillips, of Park Farm conveyed some land he owned to the duke - it was twenty poles of land adjoining the churchyard which he had bought in 1883. The purchase price was £12/10/- [P82/2/3/4]. The same year Waldron W Lowe succeeded to the tenancy as Thomas Phillips had died [Z720/274/2].
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 visiting the farm on the afternoon of 17th August 1926, [DV1/H16/8] found it still owned by the duke’s London and Devon Estates Company. The tenant, still W W Lowe, had paid rent of £186/15/- per annum pre-war, which had risen to £277 in 1920. The farm comprised 264 acres, 28 poles. The valuer commented: “Saw Mr Lowe, plenty of water … buildings far too many for farm, house too large, land very variable, could not give me previous rent owing to continued changing of acreages”. A colleague wrote on 21st April 1927: “A Farm with extra good House and Homestead, land only fair”. 187 acres of the land was in Steppingley.
The farmhouse contained two reception rooms, two kitchens, a pantry, five bedrooms, a bathroom and a WC. There were also two attic rooms. Outside stood a brick and tiled workshop, trap house and nag stable. The farm buildings were divided into five blocks as follows:
- West Block A: two brick and slate loose boxes and a four-bay open fronted cow shed;
- North Block B: a brick and slate cow house “used for birds and rabbits!!”, a large barn, two corn stores and a grinding room with a loft over (“small oil engine”). There was also a brick and slate stable for seven with a concrete floor;
- East Block C: a brick and slate four-bay open shed, harness room and two barns;
- Centre Block D: brick and slate cowhouse for twelve, five pigsties with a feeding passage between them and a food mixing house with a copper;
- Centre Block E: a brick and slate cowhouse (“uses for rabbits”) and a four-bay open-fronted cow shed.
The tenant had rented more farm buildings at Warren Farm, Flitwick.
By the 1960s Park Farm was owned by Bedfordshire County Council as a number of files from the archive of the Agricultural Officer shows. In 1962 a smallholder’s cottage was modernised by adding a bathroom [AO/E4/5/16]. A new dwelling was built the following year [AO/E4/5/17]. In 1965 new implement and chitting sheds were built [AO/E4/5/46] and in 1967 the water supply was renewed [AO/E4/4/56]. The sold the farmhouse, together with twelve acres of land, in 1976. The sale particulars [Z156/17] describe the house as containing, on the ground floor: an entrance porch; an entrance hall; a sitting room measuring 19 feet 9 inches by 15 feet 7 inches; a morning room measuring 16 feet 10 inches by 15 feet 6 inches; a pantry measuring 12 feet by 10 feet; a kitchen measuring 18 feet 4 inches by 14 feet 10 inches; a scullery measuring 14 feet 8 inches by 12 feet; a rear porch and, beneath the ground floor, a cellar. The first floor comprised a bathroom measuring 12 feet 3 inches by 8 feet 10 inches, a separate WC and four bedrooms measuring, respectively, 16 feet 10 inches by 15 feet 3 inches; 16 feet 7 inches by 15 feet 4 inches; 14 feet 11 inches by 12 feet 3 inches and 14 feet 10 inches by 13 feet. The second floor had two bedrooms measuring 15 feet 9 inches by 13 feet 4 inches and 11 feet 10 inches by 10 feet 3 inches. Outside stood a number of stores, outbuildings measuring 15 feet 3 inches by 14 feet 6 inches and 15 feet 3 inches by 12 feet, a wood shed, 15 feet 3 inches by 7 feet 2 inches and a shed measuring 41 feet by 17 feet “suitable for garaging”.
Tenant of the farmland (as opposed to the house) from 1975 to 1983 was R H Gazeley [PY/E1/131]. In 1978 the coach house was converted into a dwelling [PL/P/MB78/910a], as was a stable [PL/P/MB78/910]. In 2000 a new garage was built and the old one converted [PCSteppingley18/28], in 2002 the garage was extended into a triple garage with a play room over [PCSteppingley18/30] and the following year security cameras were installed [PCSteppingley18/31].