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Old Park FarmT oddington

Old Park Farmhouse was listed by the former Department of Environment in September 1980 as Grade II, of special interest. In was built in 1749 and altered in 1851. The property is built in red brick and has two storeys with an old clay tiled roof.

In 1806 the farm, together with Red House Farm, was leased by owner Henry Vernon of York to John Foll of Gritworth [Northamptonshire]. The farm included: Little Marsh; Square Marsh; Near Marsh; Foxborough Hill; Lawn Meadow; Long Meadow; Mill Wood; Lower Little Meadow; Upper Little Meadow; Seven Acres; Great Sheep Walk; Lower Little Sheep Walk; Upper Little Sheep Walk; High Park; Old Park and Bushy Ground [AD511]. In 1808 the farm, together with the manor of Harlington, was conveyed to John Cooper [AD512-513] the land comprised 296 acres, 1 rood, 18 poles.

In 1835 John Foll may have suffered a theft. Evidence given at a trial at the Quarter Sessions [QSR1835/3/5/31] tells us that on 27th May Toddington framer John Sanders was approached by James Tompkins and asked if he wanted to buy a brood of chickens. Sanders said he would if they were worth the money. Soon afterwards Tompkins' wife brought down a hen and ten chickens "about as big as pigeons". He paid her four shillings and a pint of beer for them. The next morning he was told at Toddington that he had bought stolen fowls that belonged to John Foll. He went to Foll who said he had lost some fowls so Sanders took the hen and four of the chickens to Foll. When John Smith, Foll's labourer, saw them he said he knew them to be his master's.

In his defence Tompkins stated that he bought the hen four months before from Samuel Chapman of Tilsworth, his wife's brother and bought the eggs he sat her upon from a Mrs Patch. He was duly acquitted. A year later Tompkins served six weeks for assault [QGV10/1]. John Foll died in 1851 [Z1077/1/2].

A later farmer at Old Park Farm was William Anderson. He seems to have been the owner, though no conveyance of the farm is held at Bedfordshire Archive and Record Service. He died in 1923, aged 58, of "heart failure caused by exertion" [HN6/CO/2/37].

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 [DV1/H4/52] found it owned and occupied by Miss I Anderson. The farm extended over 400 acres and the valuer commented: "Water by gravitation to house and yards. House old, buildings old … House and fields off road". His colleague remarked: "Bad Farming. Is better than it looks. Position of Arable bad".

The house comprised two reception rooms, a kitchen, a brewhouse, a dairy, a cooling house and four bedrooms. A brick and tiled earth closet stood outside. The homestead was in six groups:

  • a brick and tiled coachhouse, two loose boxes, a harness room, an old timber and tiled trap house, two pig pens, a brick, timber and tiled five-bay open hovel with a manger and hay rack;
  • a small brick and tiled barn, a brick, tiled and thatched two-bay open hovel and a hen house;
  • two brick, tiled and thatched calf pens and two large barns;
  • a timber and thatched three-bay implement hovel, a timber and corrugated iron six-bay cart hovel, a brick, timber and corrugated iron stable for eight, a chaff place and a loose box, all these with a loft over; a brick, timber and corrugated iron calf pen, two-bay open hovel and three more calf pens;
  • a timber and thatched cow hovel with shafting, mill and root-pulper, a brick, timber and corrugated iron engine room with a five horsepower Blackstone engine and a brick, timber and corrugated iron cow house for seventeen;
  • two timber and tiled hen houses, a loose box and a brick and tiled mess house.

In three fields stood a timber and thatched hovel; a timber and thatched cow hovel and a timber and corrugated iron open hovel

The farm was put up for sale by the executors of Miss Anderson in 1932. The particulars [BML10/74/16] state that it had 386 acres, 3 roods, 13 poles of land and a "modern freehold detached dwelling house with garden and paddock extending to an area of about 4 acres, 3 roods, 8 perches", the dwelling was known as "Dunedin" and lay at the bend in the road from Ampthill to Toddington on the western edge of the farm. The "Georgian farm house" comprised seven bedrooms, a boxroom, a lounge hall, two sitting rooms, a kitchen, washhouse, wood shed, dairy, cooling house and larder as well as a coal house, garden and orchard. Water came from a spring. "The Totle being well known in the neighbourhood shall commence … with a Conveyance on Sale dated 23rd day of March 1918, from Edith Georgina Dewar Murray and others to William Anderson".

On 16th October 1940 an RAF Wellington bomber (P.9276 from 9 Squadron based at Honnington [Suffolk] was struggling back from a raid on Kiel. It crashed at Old Park Farm and five of the crew of six were injured [WW2/AR/CO/2/2]. A high explosive bomb was dropped at the farm in December 1940.