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48 to 74 High Street Oakley

The Dukes of Bedford owned Oakley as Lords of the Manor of Oakley Reynes from 1737 to 1918. It is, therefore, not surprising to find a number of their classic mid-19th century estate cottages in the village. There are other examples around the county, most notably at Cople, Eversholt, Husborne Crawley, Ridgmont and, of course, Woburn. They are all built to the same overall design, with occasional variations.

48 to 54 High Street March 2011
48 to 54 High Street March 2011

48 to 54 High Street

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. 48 to 54 [HER 9210] are described as a terrace of Bedford Estate cottages dated 1868. They are built in red brick of Flemish bond with clay roofs. They comprise a single storey and attics. The façade has large central gables with smaller ones to the sides.

The Duke of Bedford put the Oakley Estate up for sale by auction on 31st October 1918. 48 to 54 High Street formed Lot 19 and were described as follows [AD1147/18].

A Block of Four Brick and Tiled Cottages
The two end ones contain Five Rooms each, and the two Inner ones Four Rooms each. Outbuildings and Gardens to each.

Situated in OakleyVillage and adjoining the last lot. Being Part [Ordnance Survey Map Field] Number 58 on the Plan, and extending to about
0 acres 2 roods 16 poles
(.600 Acre)

Held by Mr. Arthur Stapleton, Mr. William Beard, Mr. E. Parker and Mrs. Coleman on Quarterly Tenancies.

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. Oakley, like most of the county, was assessed in 1927 and the valuer visiting 48 to 54 High Street [DV1/C107/90-93] found that Numbers 48 to 52 were owned by E. Laxton and Number 54 by Walter Molesworth Peacock, who also owned College Farm. Number 54, then 18 The Village, was occupied by W. Eddy, he worked for Douglas Burbidge of Town Farm, who paid his rent. Accommodation comprised a parlour, a kitchen and three bedrooms. Water was fetched from the yard. The valuer commented: "Nice" but added that there was no drain, waste water emptying into the garden.

Number 48 was in the occupation of S. Keech, Number 50 of W. Hulatt and Number 52 was occupied by William Eaton. Accommodation was as Number 54 though numbers 50 and 52 only had two bedrooms. Eaton worked for Walter Peacock and paid rent of four shillings per week, the same as in 1918. Hewlett also paid four shillings, a rate set in 1920 and Keech worked for Douglas Burbidge who paid his rent. In recent years Number 54 has had a large extension added to the right hand side of the property.

56 to 66 High Street March 2011
56 to 66 High Street March 2011

56 to 66 High Street

The HER description [HER 9211] is similar to that for 48 to 54 High Street whilst noting that 56 to 60 have a concrete tiled roof whereas the other three still have a clay tiled roof. The cottages were built in are arranged in two groups of three.

When they sold at auction in 1918 they formed Lot 18 and were described thus.

A Group of Six Brick and Tiled Cottages
The Two end Cottages have Five Rooms each, and the inner ones have Four Rooms each, with the usual Outbuildings and Gardens.
Situated in OakleyVillage and adjoining the last lot. Being Part Number 58 on the Plan and extending to about

0 acres 2 roods 37 poles
(.734 acre)

Held by Mrs. Stringer, Mrs. Cocking, Mr. Ernest Wildman, Mr. William Hart, Mr. Frederick Armstrong and Mr. Thomas Britten on Quarterly Tenancies. 

NOTE: - The Purchaser shall forthwith erect a suitable pale fence against Lot 19. 

The valuer visiting the properties in 1927 [DV1/C107/84-89] found them all owned by Walter Quenby, who had Westfield Farm. All water was fetched from a well. The occupiers, their accommodation and their rent were as follows:

  • 56: W. Parker who paid £4 per annum for a parlour, kitchen, three bedrooms, a barn and earth closet;
  • 58: A. Hendrick who paid 2/6 per week for a parlour, kitchen, two bedrooms, a barn and earth closet;
  • 60: C. Parker who had a parlour, kitchen, two bedrooms, a barn and earth closet;
  • 62: Miss Stapleton who paid 2/6 per week, set in 1920, for a parlour, kitchen, two bedrooms, a barn and earth closet;
  • 64: G. Smith whose rent was paid by his employer, he had a parlour, kitchen, two bedrooms, a barn and earth closet;
  • 66: W. Cox who paid £4 per annum for a parlour, kitchen, three bedrooms, a barn and earth closet.

68 to 74 High Street March 2011
68 to 74 High Street March 2011

68 to 74 High Street

The HER description [HER 9212] is identical to that for 48 to 54 High Street. The properties were built in 1868. When they were sold at auction in 1918 they were Lot 17 and were described as follows.

A Block of Four Well-built Cottages
brick and tiled

The Two end Cottages contain Five Rooms each, and the Two middle ones Four Rooms each. Outbuildings: - Wood Barn and Earth Closet, and good Gardens to each.

Situated in OakleyVillage, near the "Bedford Arms".

Being Part Number 58 on the Plan, with an area of about

0 acres 2 roods 37 poles
(.734 Acre)

held by Mr. Walter Prentice, Mr. William Foster, Mr. Sidney White and Mr. Joseph Hulatt, on Quarterly Tenancies

NOTE: - The Purchaser shall forthwith erect and approved pale fence along the N. E. boundary of this Lot.

In 1927 the valuer [DV1/C107/80-83] found that the four cottages were owned by all owner occupied – Number 68 by Joseph Hulatt, 70 by W. Beard, 72 by William Foster and 74 by Walter Prentice. They were then numbered 25 to 28 The Village. Each contained a parlour and kitchen with either two or three bedrooms above. Water had to be fetched from the yard. The valuer commented: "Well Built. Good Cottages".