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Redhills Farm Toddington

Redhills Farmhouse was listed by the former Department of Environment in September 1980 as Grade II, of special interest. The property dates from the 16th century, though with later alterations and additions. It is constructed around a timber-frame with colour-washed brick noggin (infill between the timbers). It comprises two storeys beneath an old clay tiled roof. The gabled front dates from the 19th century.

In 1747 Redhills Farm was mortgaged by Andrew and Hammond Crosse of London to Elias Waff of Middlesex for £1,500 [AD416-417]. Three years later the farm was sold to Marshe Dickinson of London, The farmhouse is described as having been built by Sir James Astry; its previous tenants had been Thomas Lake then John Fowler, the tenant in 1750 being Thomas Willison [AD418]. The land comprised 160 acres, 3 roods, 9 poles, of which 53 acres were in Westoning. If the statement about Sir James Astry is true this would mean the house was built, not in the 16th century, but in 1680s or 1690s.

Marshe Dickinson sold the farm to Stephen Law of Great Ormond Street [Middlesex] in the same year he himself bought it [AD421]. Law died in 1787 and left the farm to his son John [AD422], a clergyman of Westmill [Hertfordshire]. Rev. Law sold the farm to Thomas Bigg of Barnstaple [Devon] the following year [AD423-424].

In 1808 Bigg's cousin and heir William Chalkley of Whitwell [Hertfordshire] conveyed the farm to Thomas Sibley of Chiltern Green, Luton, another of Thomas Bigg's cousins [AD426-426a]. In 1812 Sibley sold the farm to John Cooper of London [AD429-430].

Additions were made to the farm in 1907 [RDLP2/19]. In 1920 the farm was conveyed by Edith Murray to Walter Wakefield [BML10/74/16]. 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/H4/54] inexplicably described it as owned by  H Cumberland (Wakefield was described as owning Cowbridge Farm, presumably the valuer made an error). The farm was occupied by G Martin & Son, rent was £400 per annum and the farm comprised 250 acres. The valuer remarked:"House too large and poor. Water from well. One field from Road. Drainage to brook". A colleague commented: "Acted here on Entry. Was very foul".

The house comprised three reception rooms, two kitchens, a dairy, cooling house, scullery and pantry with seven bedrooms, a bathroom and WC above. A brick and tiled Brewhouse and timber and slate earth closet stood outside. The homestead comprised: a brick and tiled hen house; a timber and corrugated iron seven-bay implement hovel; a brick and slate cow house for twenty three; a large brick, timber and corrugated iron barn and lean-to implement shed; a large brick, timber and tiled barn and three-bay open hovel; a brick and tiled stable for five; three brick, timber and tiled calf pens and three-bay open hovel with another calf pen; a brick, timber and thatched stable for six and chaff place, a two stall nag stable and a trap house.

The Wakefield family were owners of the farm by the late 1930s but ran into financial difficulties and the farm was put up for sale in 1937 by mortgagees. The particulars [BML10/74/16] noted that it was occupied by W Wakefield but "vacant possession will be given on completion of purchase". The farm comprised 257 acres, 1 rood, 14 poles. The farmhouse contained an entrance hall, dining room, drawing room, morning room, office, kitchen, scullery, cellar and dairy with front and back staircases and six bedrooms and a bathroom. "There is a pleasant Front Garden with Lawns and Flower Beds, a Kitchen Garden and an Orchard. The water supply is from a well which is fed by a pipe from a spring in the Home Field and there is a hand pump in the Scullery. Electricity is connected"

The farm buildings now comprised a brick and tiled workshop, brick and corrugated iron range of three piggeries, weather-boarded and corrugated iron range of nag stabling and trap house "now used as Garage and Stabling for 6. Erecetd round the yard there is a weather-boarded and galvanised-iron range consisting of calving Box, 3-bay Hovel, 3 Loose Boxes, Cow Shed for 7, 4-bay Hovel and 2 Large Barns. There is also a recently erected brick and tiled model cow house for 48 cows and a weather-boarded and galvanised-iron 7-bay implement shed. Electric Light is laid on to the Buildings, there is a Well outside the Model Cow Shed and a Large Pond". Title began with a conveyance of 15th November 1920 from Edith Georgina Murray to Walter Wakefield

In 1979 the farm was for sale. The particulars mention the six-bed farmhouse, cottages, a dairy and 277 acres [PY/E17/197]. In 1995 the farm was for sale along with Herne Manor, Herne Grange, Lodge and Happyland Farms. The particulars [Z449/1/13] give Redhills Farm as 225.92 acres. The house was not included in the sale and so had, presumably, been detached from the farm.