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3 Church Road Stevington

3 Church Road 1960 [Z53/112/4]
3 Church Road 1960 [Z53/112/4]

3 Church Road was listed by the former Department of Environment in June 1974 as Grade II, of special interest. The Department dated the building to the 18th century and, like many of the older buildings in the area, it is constructed of coursed limestone rubble. The property has two storeys and attics under a steeply pitched old clay tile roof. The former shop to the left-hand side is now part of the living accommodation.

The property stood next door to the former Cross Beerhouse and the deed packet for that property also contains deeds to 3 Church Road. The property is first mentioned in a deed in 1819 when John Perry of Pavenham, baker and William Pool of Stevington, also a baker, sold it to Thomas Simpson of Stevington, cordwainer (shoemaker) for £46 [WL1000/1/Stev/2/3]. Perry and Pool were executors and trustees of Thomas Page, blacksmith, appointed in his will of 1814. He also owned 1 Church Road, next door.

The property was copyhold, held of the Manor of Steventon and Simpson was admitted as tenant at the manor court later in 1819 [Wl1000/1/Stev/2/4]. His cottage also had a garden of thirteen poles adjoining at the back. In 1823 Simpson sold it to William Pool of Stevington, baker for £36 [WL1000/1/Stev/2/6].

Pool overstretched himself financially and in 1832 all his property was conveyed to two trustees, Daniel Hipwell of Bletsoe, miller and William Halfhead of Bedford, corn factor, on behalf of his many creditors [WL1000/1/Stev/2/8].  In 1837 both 1 and 3 Church Road were sold to Bedford butcher Thomas Barton, an association of the two properties which would last for over a hundred years [WL1000/1/Stev/2/10]. The property was then described as a messuage with a blacksmith's shop attached in Church Street with a large piece of garden adjoining. Former occupiers were given as William Aspley, then Richard Eaton. Poor Thomas Barton then went the same was as William Pool, all his property being transferred to trustees for his creditors just eleven months later, the trustees being Richard Halfhead of Bedford, coal merchant and Richard Smith of Bedford, butcher [WL1000/1/Stev/2/16]. The following year the two cottages were surrendered to Great Barford farmer William Robert Jefferies [WL1000/1/Stev/2/18].

A number of declarations made by older Stevington residents at the time of this surrender give us glimpses back into the cottage's past before it is first mentioned in a deed. Mary Eaton, widow, aged 72 [WL1000/1/Stev/2/19] remembered that Richard Page, the owner in the 18th century (he died about 1777) was a blacksmith and that one of his tenants had been George Houghton, Page having to put a distraint on Houghton's goods in order to get the rent from him. William Aspley, aged 67, had lodged with Richard Page's son Thomas when he lived at the property [WL1000/1/Stev/2/21] and Timothy Keech, aged 63, had lived with Richard Page as a child [WL1000/1/Stev/2/22].

William Robert Jefferies died in 1846 and in his will had devised his Stevington real estate to trustees for his wife Elizabeth with the stipulation that on her death ownership was to pass to their youngest son John Robert [WL1000/1/Stev/2/27]. It was John Robert Jefferies who sold both 1 and 3 Church Road to Charles Wells in 1894 [Wl1000/1/Stev/2/29]. By then 3 Church Road was used as a post office and was occupied by Jesse Cowley

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. Stevington was assessed in 1926 and the valuer visiting 3 Church Road [DV1/C120/133] noted that it was still the village post office. It was still owned by Charles Wells and was occupied by Jesse William Cowley at a rent of £2 per annum ("rent very low"). He had lost a son, Albert William, in the First World War. Directories reveal that Jesse continued as postmaster until at least 1940 having been in the job since at least 1906. Kelly's Directory for 1903, 1898 and 1894 list Jesse White Cowley as postmaster and it is likely that he was the same as the Jesse Cowley in occupation when Jefferies sold 3 Church Road to Charles Wells. Before this Jesse is listed as a shoe maker and Rebecca Pool is given as post mistress.

The property comprised a living room, kitchen and scullery downstairs with two bedrooms above and two attics above them. A barn and earth closet stood outside. The valuer noted "Shop at side" which measured 12 feet by 8 feet and sold sweets in addition to serving as the post office.