34 Station Road August 2010
The Bedfordshire Historic Environment Record [HER] contains information on the county’s historic buildings and landscapes and summaries of each entry can now be found online as part of the Heritage Gateway website. The entry for 34 Station Road [HER 9686] describes the cottage as an 18th century timber-framed building, with colour washed infill. Part of the construction is colour washed brick. The cottage has a thatched, gabled roof and comprises one storey and attics.
34 Station Road may have been built by a Lord of the Manor. Until 1731 the manor was owned by the Gostwick family, then the Dukes of Marlborough until 1779 when the manor was purchased by the Duke of Bedford. Alternatively the manorial estate may have bought the cottage at a later date.
In November 1903 then Lords of the Manor, George and James Keeble, put the Willington Manor Estate properties in the village up for sale by auction. The sale particulars [X403/3] included both 34 and 36 Station Road in Lot 44, one of the cottages was evidently divided into two at that stage, probably 34 Station Road, because the particulars read:
Three Stud and Thatched Cottages
Numbers 37, 38 and 39, situated adjoining Croots Farm Premises, with brick tiled Hovels and extensive Gardens in the rear, being Number 58 on the Ordnance Survey Plan, and containing thereby
1 acre, 2 roods, 19 poles
Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service has a file on the property dating from 1919 to 1930 kept by Bedford estate agents McConnells [Z938/10/2/40]. In 1919 Arthur Davies stated that he would like to lease the place but that the rent was too high. Evidently some arrangement was arrived at because in 1923 he was refused permission by the owner, Harriet Claudine Smythe, to turn part of the paddock into a flower garden. Kelly's Directory for 1924 notes Captain Arthur Smythe living at Sedes Mea. He was County Rat Destruction Officer [AO/A2/1/7].
In 1925 Harriet Smythe made an agreement to lease Sedes Mea to Horace Herbert Wright Vowden of the Royal Airship Works, Cardington. In the event he was transferred and wished to sublet to a colleague Major Colmore, though he demanded addition of a bathroom ad better sanitary arrangements so negotiations came to nothing. Next sub-tenant was an E.P.Andrews who occupied the cottage before his references were received and was then rejected because those references were not good enough! Andrews then complained that his wife and children had had to leave the property due to rats. He was allowed to stay on and the rats were dealt with. He then gave notice that he would leave because his job had ended but did not do so because his children had whooping cough. He left a few weeks later in January 1926. In August 1927 the water at the house was declared unfit for human consumption. Finally in 1930 harriet Smythe sold Sedes Mea to H. P. Darrington
The Rating and Valuation Act 1925 specified that every piece of land and building in the country was to be assessed to determine its rateable value. Willington, like most of the county, was assessed in 1927 and the valuer visiting 34 Station Road, then called Sedes Mea (“My Seat”) found it still owned and now occupied by Mrs. Harriet Claudine Smythe [DV1/C154/80] though this seems untrue, the McConnells correspondence sugegsting that the place was empty.
The cottage comprised two reception rooms and a kitchen with four bedrooms above. The property stood in over half an acre. The valuer commented: “Country Cottage. Very nice but no bath” and “very nice week end type, would be very lettable”.
In 1945 a w. c. was added to the accommodation [RDBP3/491].