188 Castle Hill Road December 2008
188 Castle Hill Road was listed by the Department of Environment in September 1980. The listing dates the building to the 17th century. It has a whitewashed brick front with timber-framing visible to the rear. It has two storeys and a clay tile roof. Its name, "The Court House" comes from the fact that it was once part of Court or Coombe Farm.
In 1829, following the death of the Earl of Bridgewater, his estate in Totternhoe was surveyed [BW1004]. The survey also included every building in the parish, whether owned by the estate or not (and at that date most were not). 188 Castle Road was, at this date, part of a farm owned by a man named Cartwright and occupied by Richard Pratt, the house standing on one acre, thirty two poles.
A similar survey was carried out in 1840 and by that date the owner is given as Nathaniel Cartwright and occupiers as Hannah and Maria Pratt. The 1841 census reveals that Hannah was about 35 and Maria about 30. Living with them were Elizabeth, perhaps their mother, aged 70, William, aged about 15 and servants John Folks, William Wells and John Abraham, all aged about 15.
Nathaniel Cartwright died in 1843 and in his will devised three eighths of the residue of his real and personal estate to his Somerset James Nathaniel and the remainder equally between his daughters Elizabeth, wife of Hattill Foll and Mary Ann [X472/37]. In 1863 James Nathaniel Cartwright ("late of the City of Bristol and now of Lawrence Pountney Lane, London, gentleman") granted a farm and 57 acres in Totternhoe to Hattil Foll which was "known as Comb Farm and in the occupation of Hannah and Maria Pratt" as well as cottages built on land formerly of the farm and other land in the parish and in Dunstable and Studham. A note on the front of the deed reveals that Hattill Edward Foll sold Combe or Court Farm to Jesse Bird in 1917.
The Rating and Valuation Act 1925 specified that every piece of land and property in the country should be valued to determine its rateable value. Totternhoe, like much of Bedfordshire, was assessed in 1927 and the valuer visiting 188 Castle Hill Road [DV1/H25/38] discovered that it was then owned and occupied by Jesse Bird and was part of Coombe Farm, which had buildings on either side of the road. The farm had about 143 acres. The valuer noted that the house was old and water came from a well. Another hand has written: "Nice House and Homestead".
The brick, half-timbered, slate and corrugated iron farmhouse comprised a reception room, kitchen, scullery, pantry and dairy with four bedrooms ("2 sloping") above. A brick and tile two-seater earth closet stood outside. The homestead comprised: three brick and tiled pig sties, hen house, barn and loose box; a timber and thatched stable for four wit ha loft over, chaff place and large barn; a brick, timber and tile pig sty and three calf pens and a brick, timber and tile calf hovel. On the south side of the road stood a timber and corrugated iron three bay open cart hovel and a trap house.
In 1946 Coombe Farm was put up for sale by auction by Jesse Bird's executors [BML10/75/5xviii]. Lot 1 comprised 188 Castle Hill Road and 6 acres, 2 roods, 28 poles of pasture. The farmhouse was described as: "The Brick-and-stud-built House with tiled roof, pleasantly situated under the Knolls and containing Kitchen (fitted with copper), Larder, Fuel Store and Dairy, with two Sitting Rooms on the Ground Floor, and Three Bedrooms on the First Floor, with a Room over Dairy. There is a flower garden at the side. The buildings include: Range of Brick-and-tiled Hen Houses and Piggeries, boarded and iron roofed Loose Box, similarly built Barn. Range of brick-and-tiled Loose Boxes and a boarded Cowhouse with tiled and iron roof". The whole was let to an R. Wood. The particular are annotated with the fact that Wood purchased the lot for £1,300.
In 2008 188 Castle Hill Road was again on the market [Z449/2/145]. The description read: "Believed in part to date back to the 14th Century [not a belief shared by the Department of Environment, evidently] The Old Court House is a charming detached Grade II listed country cottage nestled at the foot of the Totternhoe Knolls".