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Manor Farm Wootton

Manor Farmhouse March 2012
Manor Farmhouse March 2012

Manor Farmhouse as listed by English Heritage in August 1987 as Grade II, of special interest. It dates from the 17th century and comprises the surviving two bays of a larger farmhouse facing south-east. The property is timber-framed and comprises a single storey and attics beneath an old clay tiled roof. There are two brick faced wings dating from the 18th century at the rear, the right hand wing being the taller of the two. Both are colourwashed with clay tiled roofs. A new main wing was added in the 19th century at the south end, facing the road. This is of colourwashed brick, with applied timber-framing, has a clay tiled roof and comprises two storeys.

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. Like most of the county, Wootton was largely assessed in 1927 and the valuer visiting Manor Farm [DV1/H2/8] found it owned by Mrs. Doyne-Ditmas as part of the Wootton Estate which she had purchased from her father, Sir Philip Payne, in 1923. The tenant was James Frossell whose rent was £200 per annum, set in 1917 when it had risen from £150. The farm comprised 142 acres and the valuer wrote: “Homestead very badly arranged and in dreadful repair. House old but nice. On Road”. Another hand has written: “Some grass a long way from Homestead. Some arable wet”.

The house comprised two reception rooms, a kitchen and scullery with three bedrooms (“decent”), two more bedrooms (“bad”) and a box room above. A bath had been put in the box room and water came from a pump. The homestead comprised the following: a wood and tiled range comprising a shed, a three bay open hovel, a trap house, a one stall stable and a loose box; a wood and thatched barn and four bay open hovel; a wood and tiled calf house and stable for six; a wood and tiled cow house for ten, a cow house for eighteen, a three bay open hovel, a barn and a lean-to pig sty; a wood and tiled four bay open hovel and seven bay open hovel; a wood and tiled three bay open hovel in the yard next to the road with two pig sties, a wood, stone and slated stand for eight cows, a bull box and a calf pen and a wood and timber seven bay open implement shed.

At about the same time the valuation was being undertaken Manor Farm was put up for sale as part of the Wootton Estate. It formed Lot 15 and the sale particulars [Z375/1] vary somewhat from the valuation details, the farm being described as a: “Very Attractive Farmhouse of brick and tile construction with IVY-CLAD FRONT, standing back from the main road with Front Garden and Lawn, containing ON THE FIRST FLOOR – Four Bed Rooms, Dressing Room, Large Linen Cupboard, Box Room and Fruit Room. ON THE GROUND FLOOR – Entrance Hall, Drawing Room, Dining Room fitted with modern barless grate, Kitchen, with brick floor, range, dresser and cupboard, Scullery with copper and sink; Pantry; Large Dairy; Good Cellar; Coal and Wood Shed, Two Store Sheds and E. C.”

“Adjoining is A useful Set of Farm Buildings Comprising: Timber and Tile Workshop, Three-bay Open Cart Shed, lean-to Fowl House, Two-stall Stable, Harness Room and Coach-house, Timber and Thatch Barn, Timber and Tile Four-bay Open Cattle Shed, Stable for 8 horses and Chaff House. In the rear, Cow House for 9 head, another for 8 head and Mixing House, Timber and Tile Three-bay Open Shed, Brick, Timber and Tile Corn Barn, Four-bay Open Shed, a Seven-bay ditto, Three-bay Open Shed, Two Loose Boxes, Timber and Slate Cow House for 7 head, Two Loose Boxes and a Seven-bay Open Implement Shed. The whole comprising an Area of about 138 acres, 3 roods, 25 poles”.

The land comprised 47 acres, 3 roods, 4 poles of pasture, 68 acres, 1 rood, 9 poles of arable, 21 acres, 1 rood, 25 poles of allotments and the rest was buildings. The allotments were let to Wootton Parish Council for £40 per annum and the rest to James Frossell for £165 per annum. The discrepancy in the valuer’ rental figure is partially accounted for by 8¾ acres which Throssell rented at £13 per annum and which was sold as part of a lot also containing 52 to 56 Cause End Road. The remaining £22 rent was for other land, not part of the farm, rented locally.

Directories for Bedfordshire were not published every year but every few years from the early to mid 19th century until 1940. Directories reveal that from at least 1885 to at least 1898 the tenant was Barnard Edward Dimmock. In 1903, 1906, 1910 and 1914 Charles Frederick Frossell is listed as tenant. James Frossell is listed as occupier in 1920, 1924, 1928, 1931 and 1936.