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Keeley Farm Wootton

Keeley Grange March 2012
Keeley Grange March 2012

Keeley Farmhouse, now called Keeley Grange, was listed by English Heritage in August 1987 as Grade II, of special interest. It is a 17th century building and is timber-framed, though it was re-faced in the 19th century in local red brick, which is light in colour and mottled. It comprises two storeys and attics and is built in an L-shape.

In 1920 Keeley Farm was owned by Sir Arthur W. Black and was put up for sale by auction in that year along with a farm at Bourne End known both as Redman’s Farm and Mortal Man Farm. The particulars [AD1147/50] split Keeley Farm up into nine lots comprising 132 acres, 3 roods, 25 poles. They were as follows:

  • Lot 1: the farmhouse and paddock: 3 acres, 1 rood, 30 poles;
  • Lot 2: the Home Close and farm buildings: 8 acres, 26 poles;
  • Lot 3: buildings comprising 24 poles;
  • Lot 4: Tinkers Field: 17 acres, 34 poles of arable and Hill Field, 13 acres, 2 roods, 2 poles of pasture;
  • Lot 5: New Ground: 31 acres, 1 rood, 11 poles of pasture;
  • Lot 6: Churche’s Pyghtle: 1 acres, 3 roods, 36 poles of pasture;
  • Lot 7: Middle Field: 17 acres, 1 rood, 34 poles of arable;
  • Lot 8: Potter’s Cross: 15 acres, 1 rood, 11 poles of arable;
  • Lot 9: Watt Ground: 23 acres, 1 rood, 17 poles of pasture.

The farmhouse was described as follows: THE DWELLING HOUSE, which is substantially and well built of Brick and rough-cast with tiled roof, is approached from the main road by a Private Carriage Drive bordered with ornamental trees, and is fronted with a large and tastefully laid out FLOWER GARDEN, enclosed within Privet Hedges, and has a very pleasant South-Easterly Aspect, sheltered on three sides by Poplar and other Trees.

It contains ON THE GROUND FLOOR:

  • Portico Entrance communicating to the Entrance Hall.
  • Dining Room (18 feet by 14 feet 6 inches) overlooking Front Garden.
  • Drawing Room (18 feet by 16 feet) with French Windows opening to Front Garden.
  • The Kitchen, which is a spacious one (14 feet by 16 feet 6 inches), is a very pleasant room with a southern aspect, with a Capital Range and convenient Cupboards.
  • Back Passage communicating to Large Cellar, and a spacious well-ventilated Dairy, brick-floored, looking northwards. Adjoining is an excellent Larder, also brick-floored, and a Small lamp or Harness Room.
  • Together with a Large Scullery with Pump, Sink, large Copper and Furnace, good Range and a Baking Oven.
  • The attached Outbuildings comprise: - Coal or Wood Shed with a small Out-place adjoining containing a very large Boiler with Furnace, another small Out-place with two divisions. Pump in Yard. A good Earth Closet is situate at the rear of the House.

ON THE FIRST FLOOR

  • Back Stairs communicating to Two Servants’ Bedrooms.
  • Principal Staircase leasing to Small Room admirably adapted for conversion to Upstairs W. C.
  • Corridor (29 feet by 6 feet 6 inches) a portion of which, with a very small outlay, could be converted into a Bathroom. This Corridor communicates to
  • Three Large Front Bedrooms, two of which have Small Dressing Rooms attached, all overlooking Front Garden and Main Road.

ON THE UPPER FLOOR

Spacious Attic divided into Four Large Rooms, all suitable for Lumber or Store Rooms, but capable of being converted into Servants’ Bedrooms.

The DETACHED FARM BUILDINGS

COMPRISE

Capital brick-built and Slated Motor or Coach House.

TWO NAG STABLES with spacious Loose Box adjoining.

Nearly new 6-bay IMPLEMEMT SHED, timber built with corrugated roof.

TWO PIG-STYES with open Yards.

Two Hen Houses. Coal or Wood Shed. Two Earth Closets, brick built and tiled.

LARGE CATTLE YARD with covered Hovels, timber built and roofed with corrugated iron. Good Cow House for 4, brick-built with Zinc Roof, opening into Cattle Yard, with good drains and water supply.

Granary, being Timber built and Tiled.

Near to the Dwelling House, and adjoining the Front Flower Garden is a

First Rate Highly Productive Kitchen Garden

With an excellent

Orchard of Young Full-Bearing Fruit Trees etc.

The Garden is enclosed within Privet Hedges and Box-Bordered Paths.

ADJOINING IS ALL THAT

USEFUL ENCLOSURE OF PASTURE LAND

Known as “THE PADDOCK”

NUMBERED 106 ON PLAN.

And contains an area of 2 acres 2 roods 2 poles more or less.

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. At that date Keeley Grange was the farmhouse of Keeley Farm which was owned and occupied by L. R. Higgins [DV1/H2/10]. The farm comprised 92 acres and the valuer commented: “Very wet land. Was House and Homestead for 300 acres. House and Buildings now much too large for 92 acres”. Another hand has written: “House old and bad repair. Homestead originally for 300 acres. ¼ of the present buildings would be sufficient for the land, some falling down. Fields 107, 108, 105 [Ordnance Survey map numbers], no water except by hand pump feeding to troughs. The Brook through 105 appears to be a public sewer and is in a filthy state and not fit for cattle, especially milk cows, to use”. The land was broken down into 27 acres in Wootton and 65 in Kempston Rural.

The house comprised two reception rooms, a kitchen and scullery with a pantry, a cellar and a dairy. The first floor comprised five bedrooms with a box room in the attic above. Water came from a well. Two brick and tiled earth closets stood in the yard. Buildings around the house comprised: a wood and tiled granary; a wood and tiled implement shed and hay store; a wood barn; a brick and slate trap house; a double nag stable; a three stall loose box; a seven stall stables and a chaff house.

The homestead comprised: a wood and corrugated iron six bay implement house [a later hand has noted it was partly used as a garage]; a wood and tile wood store, store, poultry house, pigsty, five pig boxes, and loose box; a brick, timber and tiled hay barn and implement shed; a wood and slate three bay open hovel, a place for eleven cows and a mixing place. A later hand has annotated this to be: a cow house for eleven; a mixing house in two parts; a dairy; a cooling house; a weather-boarded and tiled barn and two hovels each of three bays; three stores; a granary; a covered yard; six piggeries; a cart shed; an eight bay hovel; a three bay hovel and two loose boxes. The inner yard comprised: a wood and tiled open hovel; a brick and slate eight bay open hovel; a wood and corrugated iron bullock yard and a brick and corrugated iron loose box.

We know from estate agents’ records [BMB4/1/4/12] that in 1878 the tenant was Joseph Whitehouse, changing to Thomas White in that year. Directories for Bedfordshire were not published every year but every few years from the early to mid 19th century until 1940. Directories from 1894 to 1910 give the tenant of Keeley Farm as Thomas Joyce. There is then a gap until 1931 when the occupier is listed as Arthur Henry Sturges. The 1936 directory gives Mrs. Ellen Sturges and the last directory for the county, 1940, lists George Cyril Shelbourn.

In 2010 the property was for sale and the particulars [Z449/5/34] listed ground floor accommodation as: a reception hall; a dining room measuring 14 feet 7 inches by 17 feet 11 inches; a kitchen measuring 11 feet 9 inches by 19 feet 8 inches; a sitting room measuring 17 feet 10 inches by 15 feet 9 inches; a utility room measuring 14 feet 2 inches by 9 feet 7 inches; a study measuring 12 feet 7 inches by 11 feet 1 inch and a family room measuring 18 feet 5 inches by 16 feet 7 inches. the first floor contained two bathrooms and five bedrooms measuring, respectively: 18 feet 4 inches by 11 feet 6 inches; 16 feet 7 inches by 14 feet 5 inches; 12 feet 1 inch by 7 feet 7 inches; 14 feet 1 inch by 11 feet 11 inches and 18 feet 7 inches by 16 feet 1 inch. the second floor included a study/sitting area, a store measuring 18 feet 9 inches by 10 feet 11 inches, a bedroom measuring 30 feet 1 inch by 11 feet 9 inches and a dressing room measuring 20 feet 3 inches by 11 feet 10 inches.