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Glengarriff Toddington

Glengarriff March 2016
Glengarriff March 2016

A 19th century house in the estate style, it is a red brick construction on two-storeys with a clay tiled roof. When it was first built Glengarriff was known as Coelwulf. Although the house dates only to the 1870s it is believed that many original beams from the three houses which previously stood on the site were used in its construction. According to Toddington Through the Ages the property was part of the Manor of Toddington until the early 20th century. For a comparatively young property it has a more exotic history than many twice its age.

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. "Coelwulf" was owned and occupied by Harry Fletcher. It was described by the valuer as a "good class house, better than villa type but only four beds". He noted that the house had been added-to upstairs and at the back, that it had a nice front but was "common" at the back [DV1/C82/24]. Downstairs were three reception rooms, a lounge hall, a kitchen, a scullery and a larder; upstairs were four bedrooms, a bathroom and a W.C. The outbuildings consisted of a brick and tile coach house, a stable and a small greenhouse. The property also enjoyed a half acre orchard. Bedfordshire Archives holds a copy of the plan for the extension mentioned by the valuer, dated 1914 [RDLP2/47].

In 1936 the house was purchased by Miss Brenda Hopwood, an author of detective novels under the pseudonym Patrick Leyton, and her friend Miss Isobel Morris, an actress. These ladies had lived at Sundial Cottage before moving to Leighton Buzzard where they lived at Holly Lodge in North Street. On returning to Toddington they bought with them an old fireplace and leaded paned windows from Holly Lodge which they installed at Coelwulf; they also reverted to the name by which the original houses on the site had been known, Withingtons. Miss Morris was a keen woodcarver and a number of her carvings were added to the house. After Isobel Morris died in 1937 Brenda Hopwood remained at Withingtons alone until her own death in 1959.

When a number of Catholic evacuees came to Toddington in 1939 Miss Hopwood, herself a Catholic convert, gained permission to have the entrance hall of Withingtons used as a chapel. In the 1950's the stables behind the house were renovated and converted to a chapel, not the Catholic Church of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary. Brenda Hopwood left both the house and chapel to the Diocese of Northampton in her will, and the house was occupied by the chapel caretakers. The name was changed to Glengarriff by married caretakers who had spent their honeymoon at Glengarriff in Ireland. In 1993 the Catholic Church sold the house but remained the owners of the chapel.

Glengarriff rear June 2015
Glengarriff rear June 2015