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Bletsoe Cottage

Bletsoe Cottage about 1885 [Z50/18/29]
Bletsoe Cottage about 1885 [Z50/18/29]

Bletsoe Cottage stands on the A6, just south of the junction with The Avenue. It was listed by English Heritage in August 1987 as Grade II, of special interest. It is either a late 17th or early 18th century house, altered in 19th century. It is built of coursed limestone rubble with an old clay tile roof and comprises two storeys and attics. The rear wing to the main house is probably earlier (and thus probably 17th century), also built of limestone ruble with an old clay tile roof and also two storeys and attics. A 19th century extension was added to the right hand of the main house in the local brick with an old clay tile roof and comprises two storeys.

In 1837 Daniel Hipwell moved into Bletsoe Cottage as tenant [X106/387]. He ran a successful milling business, including Stoke Mills nearby in Sharnbrook, with his sons, William and Thomas. Their offices were at 74 High Street, Bedford. Thomas left the partnership to his father and brother in 1870 and Daniel finally left the partnership in 1873 (in which he had had only had a nominal interest since 1858).  Hipwell and Sons became a limited company on 12th May 1950 and the firm was sold to Nitrovit in 1966.

The terms of the Rating and Valuation Act 1925 required every piece of land and building in the country to be valued to determine its rateable value. Most of Bedfordshire was valued in 1927. The valuer visiting Bletsoe Cottage noted that it was, like most of the parish, owned by Lord Saint John and it was occupied by the Misses Measures. The valuer noted that the original leaseholder was named Lawson Johnson, who sold the lease to a Colonel Tyrell in 1920, the Misses Measures buying the lease for £200 in 1923. Their cottage, if so large a property merits the name, cost them £105 rent per annum on a fourteen year lease which had begun in 1918.

The cottage comprised: a hall; a drawing room measuring 18 feet by 17½ feet with a bay; a passage ("?was kitchen"); a kitchen measuring 20 feet by 15½ feet; a cloakroom; a larder, cellar, pantry, small scullery and mangle room and a larger scullery; a dining room measuring 18 feet by 17 feet and a small sitting room measuring 12½ feet by 14 feet. On the first floor was a bedroom over the drawing room measuring 17½ feet by 18½ feet; a cupboard; two maids' rooms; a back stairs; a bathroom; a W. C.; a single bedroom measuring 16½ feet by 9 feet ("sloped"); a double bedroom over the dining room measuring 18 feet square ("communicates on back stairs"); another ingle bedroom measuring 14½ feet by 9½ feet and a boxroom. On the second floor were two single bedrooms.

The house stood on a site measuring 1.334 acres and buildings outside comprised: seven "boxes" (presumably meaning seven loose boxes); three more loose boxes; three stalls ("not used"); a gardener's shed; a small glasshouse; a coal house and wood barn; a washhouse; two garages; three store places and a harness room. There was a kitchen garden, a grass tennis court and a larger area of garden. The valuer noted that the house was lit by oil lamps and that water had to be drawn from a well. The drainage was adequate as he noted "fairly dry".