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Little Church Farm Wilshamstead

Little Church Farmhouse in 1962 [Z53/134/4]
Little Church Farmhouse in 1962 [Z53/134/4]

Today Vicarage Lane is largely a modern housing development dating from the mid 1960s [RDBP6/62/30]. Before that it was largely rural in character and housed two farms – Church Farm and Little Church Farm. The latter farmhouse was listed by the former Department of Environment in June 1974 as Grade Ii, of special interest.

The building dates from about 1700 “with later additions”. It is timber-framed with colourwashed roughcast render and has a clay tiled roof. The left hand bay may be a later addition. The porch dates from the 20th century.

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, Wilshamstead was largely assessed in 1927 and the valuer visiting Little Church Farm [DV1/H42/16] found it was owned and occupied by Eric William Crouch who farmed sixteen and a half acres. The valuer noted: “water from well”.

The farmhouse comprised two reception rooms, a kitchen and a dairy and had four bedrooms above. An earth closet and a washhouse both stood outside. The homestead, constructed of weather-boarding and corrugated iron, contained a store shed, a two bay open Cartshed, two calf pens, a cowshed for four beasts, a stable for two horses and a piggery.

It seems likely that Little Church Farmhouse once served the whole of Church Farm. We know that when Richard Lowndes bought Church Farm in 1845 [Fac148/2] it had no farmhouse because he was obliged to build one - today's Church Farmhouse, so it is possible that Little Church Farm was separated from Church Farm some time in the early 19th century.

Directories for Bedfordshire were not published every year but every few years from the early to mid 19th century until 1940. Kelly’s Directory first lists Eric Crouch at Little Church Farm in 1928 and continues to list him until the last directory for the county, that of 1940.

Little Church Farm March 2012
Little Church Farm March 2012