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Manor Farm Thurleigh

Manor Farm in 1884
Manor Farm in 1884

Manor Farmhouse was listed by English Heritage in August 1983 as Grade II, of special interest. A dated brick reveals that it was built in 1833 of local chequered brick and has a slate roof. It has a double pile plan, that is, the house stands between two parallel roofs. The house comprises two storeys. The wagon house and stable were also listed. They are late 19th century, timber-framed and weatherboarded “in ornate style”, though with corrugated iron roofs. The farm may be on the site of the manor house of the Manor of Thurleigh alias Whitwick, as evidenced by the nearby moat.

At an auction sale in December 1879, when offered for sale together with Whitwick Green Farm by Bedford Estates, Manor Farm had 348 acres, 39 poles. Title began with the will of Francis, 7th Duke of Bedford, of 1861. The farmhouse then comprised a parlour, a sitting room, a kitchen and five bedrooms with a cellar and dairy in the basement. There was a detached brewhouse, scullery, barn, hen roost and closet and “productive gardens”. The homestead is described as “substantially built of red brick and slate, being exceptionally well arranged, forming three enclosed yards abundantly supplied with water from a reservoir near”. Buildings included a coach house, a two stall nag stable, a loosebox, a carthorse stable with standing for twelve horses, open sheds, a further loosebox, a hen roost, bullock hovels, a boiling house, a piggery, a barn, a cart lodge with a granary over and a chaise house.

The lands making up the farm were as follows:

  • Great Church Field – 19 acres, 2 roods, 26 poles of arable;
  • Middle Church Field – 14 acres, 35 poles of arable;
  • Little Church Field – 11 acres, 3 roods, 7 poles of arable;
  • New Close – 5 acres, 2 roods, 13 poles of arable;
  • Foregroves – 9 acres, 2 roods of pasture;
  • Alley Piece – 12 acres, 2 roods, 17 poles of arable;
  • Ridding’s Close – 11 acres, 3 roods, 34 poles of pasture;
  • Great Field – 22 acres, 3 roods, 35 poles of arable;
  • New Pasture and Slipe – 20 acres, 1 rood, 28 poles of pasture;
  • Little Great Field – 16 acres, 30 roods of new pasture;
  • Far Great Field – 21 acres, 2 roods, 37 poles of arable;
  • Middle Great Field – 22 acres, 1 rood, 25 poles of arable;
  • Near Great Field – 20 acres, 3 roods, 36 poles of arable;
  • Chamberlain’s Close – 18 acres, 3 roods, 29 poles of pasture;
  • The Rookery and homestead – 29 acres, 2 roods, 16 poles of pasture;
  • Readman’s Close – 14 acres, 1 rood, 24 poles of pasture;
  • Bushy Close – 16 acres, 3 roods, 30 poles of arable;
  • Back Pasture – 22 acres, 22 poles of pasture;
  • Whitwick Green and Cooley’s Close – 24 acres, 19 poles of arable;
  •  Bletsoe Close (in Bletsoe) – 11 acres, 3 roods, 38 poles
  • Roads – 18 poles.

The farm was put up for sale again by auction in June 1901 along with Whitwick Green and Wood End Farms - altogether comprising 634 acres, 3 rood, 13 poles [X65/32]. The seller was Mrs Thomson. The total acreage for Manor Farm was 348 acres, 3 roods, 37 poles. Title began when the Duke of Bedford sold the farms to William Thomson in 1880. Manor Farmhouse “is very pleasantly situated near to but nicely recessed from the road and approached by carriage drive”. It contained an entrance hall measuring 6 feet 9 inches wide, a breakfast room 15 feet by 12 feet, a dining room measuring 18 feet by 16 feet, a drawing room 14 feet 6 inches by 13 feet 9 inches, five bedrooms, a bathroom with hot and cold running water and a W. C. “The domestic accommodation is excellent and comprises large kitchen with scullery, separating room with concrete floor and force pump, dairy, larder, coal place, ash pit, W. C. and engine House”.

A homestead adjoined including a water tower with an ice house in the basement and three store rooms above with an iron tank holding about 2,500 gallons, a large timber and iron poultry house and a timber and slate meat safe. There was also a range of store buildings with folding doors, a four bay cart shed with two granaries over, one fitted with bins, a building adjoining consisting of a chaff house with asphalted floor and a machine room over, a large barn with a concrete floor, an adjoining granary with a wood room over and a lean-to engine shed. Another range included cake house, cow house for fourteen beasts, nag stables for two horses, a coach house for two carriages and a harness room, three lean-to pigsties, a range of cow houses for sixteen and a stock yard covered with six-span boarded and slated roofs and an iron roof.

A third range comprised piggeries, a boiling house with a large copper and furnace, also an open fireplace, flour bins and cow houses for eight. A return building had a workmen’s W. C. and a cow house for eight. Another range had a carthorse stable for twelve, fitted with stalls, mangers and racks, eight loose boxes, a large engine store house with repairing and wheelwright’s shop, a lean-to shed, a sheep yard with an oil house, a shepherd’s house, blacksmith’s shop and an open shed. \the final range consisted of four “open and enclosed places”.

Clearly the farm did not sell as there is an auction sale particular for May 1902 when both farms are for sale “at an upset price of £10,000”. Again, Manor Farm could not have sold: 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 and when the valuer visited Manor Farm [DV1/H21/66] owner and occupier was still Mrs Thompson. The farm was still farmed with Whitwick Green Farm and the two comprised 650 acres.

The valuer noted: "House water supply from reservoir to tank, homestead reservoir to buildings. Saw Miss T rather awkward and all against valuation". The farmland was in Thurleigh, Bletsoe (11 acres, 3 roods, 6 poles) and Riseley (18 acres, 31 poles). The valuer noted: "House good - two buildings very good, covered yards. Second house occupied by son. Grasses towards north poor - land generally fair, but grass disappointing”. Manor Farm house contained three reception rooms, a kitchen, a scullery, a dairy, a lumber room, a larder, a separating room, an engine shed, a coal place, five bedrooms, a bathroom and a glasshouse. The homestead comprised: two garages; a nag stable and loose box; a cowhouse for twelve and a mixing house; three piggeries; a granary; two cowhouses each for eight beasts; a barn with a concrete floor and with a loft over; two large covered yards; a four bay cart shed and trap house; an engine shed; a barn with a loft over used as a granary; a purpose built granary; a sheep yard with yards round; a blacksmith's shop and shepherd's hut; another engine shed; a ten stall stable; a harness room; eight loose boxes; eight cow sheds; a loose box; old cow stalls as stores; a covered yard; a corn store; a copper house; two piggeries and a store place.

In 1977 Manor Farmhouse together with 8.7 acres was offered for sale for around £35,000. The particulars [Z156/49] stated: “Manor Farmhouse is built of brick under a slate roof. The main part is on two storeys with a Georgian façade while the domestic offices and adjoining outbuildings are only single storey. The outlook and setting of the house are delightful with a view across parkland and farmland to the south. The property is situated within the Oakley Hunt country. The farmhouse has been modernised and offers spacious accommodation for a family together with scope for further improvement should this be required”.

The particulars listed: an entrance hall; a morning room facing south and east, measuring 14 feet 6 inches by 13 feet 9 inches; a sitting room facing south and west, measuring 15 feet 3 inches by 12 feet 3 inches; a dining room facing north and east, measuring 18 feet by 16 feet 6 inches; a butler’s pantry; a separate W. C.; an inner hall with doors to the garden and to the cellar; a kitchen/breakfast room facing north and east, measuring 19 feet 9 inches by 18 feet and a utility/workroom facing north, measuring 19 feet 6 inches by 13 feet 9 inches. The first floor comprised five bedrooms measuring: 16 feet 6 inches by 12 feet; 12 feet by 10 feet; 12 feet by 11 feet 9 inches; 13 feet by 12 feet and 14 feet 6 inches by 13 feet 6 inches as well as a bathroom.

The particulars describe the grounds as follows: “The house is attractively situated in its grounds. Adjoining the kitchen and utility rooms is a garage and further store all under the same roof structure. A white entrance gate fronting onto the road shows that there was formerly a carriageway with gravelled sweep to the south of the house. This could be restored to create a separate driveway if required. The gardens are simply yet attractively laid to lawn with trees and shrubs forming a protective screen to the north and west of the house. There is a woodland area with a brick and glazed greenhouse and pond between the farmhouse and the road. The paddock which has formed the parkland outlook to the house stands to the south and has a separate road entrance. Mains water is available and the paddock is well fenced apart from the new eastern boundary which will be the responsibility of the purchaser of Manor Farmhouse”.