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Bourne End Farm Bletsoe

Bourne End Farm October 2009
Bourne End Farm October 2009

Bourne End Farm (previously Bolnoe End Farm, then Bone End Farm) may not have been part of the medieval Manor of Bletsoe, because in 1702 it was owned, not by the Lord of the Manor, Baron Saint John, but by a man named Robert Musgrave [SJ1460]. A survey of Saint John lands in Bletsoe made in 1624 [WG10] also notes that in Bolne End an Edward Musgrave was freeholder of a house and land itemised as: one and a half acres round the house; half a rood in a "dobble hedgrowe"; three roods in Parke Close; Trunketts Wood of five acres; a pightle (small piece of inclosed ground) of one rood; a grove of trees of two acres; nine acres, one rood in Dudwell Meadow and eighty three acres of arable land. However, for this his heir would pay a fine to the Lord of the Manor of 9/5 and two capons.

Robert Musgrave devised his real estate in his will of 1709 to his son John [SJ1470]; he died in 1720 and John Musgrave sold the farm to a London distiller called Thomas Steele for £2,160 [SJ1473-1474]. The farm then comprised: a farm house in Bolne End, Bletsoe; two cottages in the Home Close; 86 acres of arable in Bletsoe; 3 acres of woodland in Bletsoe; 42 acres of pasture in Bletsoe; 38 more acres in Bletsoe and 24 in Riseley.

Thomas Steele's grandson Richard Lane of Hambledon [Buckinghamshire] appointed trustees for the farm in 1788 at which time it comprised: a farm house occupied by Henry Chapman the younger and a total of 190 acres in Bletsoe, Felmersham, Keysoe and Riseley [SJ1476]. In his will of 1788 Lane devised the farm to his wife [SJ1477]. He died in 1789 or 1790 and his widow remarried a Rev. Thomas Hind from Oxfordshire in 1792 [SJ1484-1485]. In 1810 the Hinds sold off 10 acres, 1 rood, 34 poles in The Leys to Thomas Gell of Riseley, the occupier (and presumably farmer of Bourne End Farm) then being Elizabeth Robinson [SJ1489]. Ann, now a widow, sold the whole farm to Gell in 1819 for £5,900 [SJ1491-1492].

Thomas Gell made his will in 1823 and devised all his real estate to his two sons Thomas and Richard [SJ1508] and they sold the farm (mortgaged to Robert Talbot of Sharnbrook) to Sir Robert Harry Inglis of Milton Bryan in 1825 for £6,000. The cottages had been demolished and the land now comprised 203 acres, 3 roods, 33 poles in Bletsoe, Riseley and Radwell in Felmersham [SJ1509-1510].

Bone End Farm in 1842 SJ1535
Bone End Farm in 1842 [SJ1535] - for a larger view please click on the image

Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service has sale particulars of Bone End Farm, to be sold by auction on 1st June 1842 [SJ1534] described the farm as: "A good farm-house, barns, stables, cow-house, sheds, dove cote, rick yard, garden and orchard, two large cottages and gardens". The farm was let to Samuel Harris for fourteen years from Michaelmas 1833 for £161/10/- per annum. The land comprised the following:

  • Riseley Field - 12 acres, 3 roods of arable;
  • Bone End - 2 acres, 1 rood, 23 poles of arable;
  • Bone End - 2 acres 1 rood 4 poles of arable;
  • Bone End - 4 acres, 3 roods, 11 poles of arable;
  • The Leys - 10 acres, 5 poles of arable;
  • Little Field - 14 acres, 2 roods, 18 poles of arable;
  • Little Coppice - 3 roods, 1 pole of woodland;
  • Wood Field - 2 acres, 1 rood, 19 poles of arable;
  • Little Wood - 3 roods, 25 poles of woodland;
  • Old Stockings - 5 acres, 36 poles of arable;
  • Rough Field - 7 acres, 39 poles of arable;
  • Coppice - 3 roods, 33 poles of woodland;
  • Curtis' Close - 6 acres, 1 rood, 24 poles of pasture;
  • Cottages and gardens totalling 2 roods, 15 poles let to yearly tenants at £7 per annum;
  • Sir William's Close - 4 acres, 2 roods, 10 poles of pasture;
  • Wood Field - 4 acres, 24 poles of arable;
  • Sharnbrook Field - 9 acres, 2 roods, 35 poles of arable;
  • Broad Croft - 19 acres, 1 rood, 7 poles of pasture;
  • House, offices and garden comprising 1 acre, 2 roods, 20 poles;
  • Great Orchard - 3 acres, 2 roods, 33 poles of pasture;
  • Savage's Close - 11 acres, 3 roods, 21 poles of arable;
  • Osier Field - 18 acres, 3 poles of arable;
  • King's Close - 10 acres, 1 rood, 15 poles of pasture;
  • Wood - 7 acres, 3 roods, 20 poles of woodland;
  • Atkins' Meadow - 9 acres, 2 roods of meadow;
  • Atkins' Meadow - 11 acres, 32 roods of meadow;
  • Hart's Close - 13 acres, 1 rood, 19 poles of pasture;
  • A detached meadow at The Falcon Inn - 1 acre, 2 roods, 7 poles let to G. Swannel as a yearly tenant at £3/10/- per annum.

It does not look as if the sale took place because on 29th September 1848 Sir Robert Harry Inglis conveyed the farm to Saint Andrew Beauchamp, 15th Baron Saint John, for £5,370 [SJ1551].

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 Bourne End Farm discovered that it was still owned by Lord Saint John and occupied by Frank H. Campion who paid a rent of £250 per annum. The farm comprised 297 acres and included two cottages; the valuer noted that the tenant's father had farmed Bourne End and Castle Farm as one farm. The valuer noted that water for the house came from a well and for the farm buildings from a pond.  The valuer commented: "A farm with a bad reputation. House large - no bath, no inside closet. Buildings good. Arable heavy and wet. Measures [Charles Measures, the farmer at Castle Farm] says he'd not give 10/- an acre for it".

The farmhouse, built of brick and tile, comprised three reception rooms, a kitchen, scullery and dairy downstairs, with a cellar beneath, whilst upstairs were five bedrooms, two maids' bedrooms and two drawing rooms.

The homestead comprised: a wood barn and store shed with a loft over used as a granary; a two bay hovel; a stable for six horses with a standing; a three bay hovel; a large loose box; a corn shed; a four bay barn; a two bay hovel, barn and six loose boxes ("some small"); a two bay hovel and barn; a chaff house with a loft over; a mixing house; a cow house for fourteen beasts; a three bay hovel; a two bay hovel; three loose boxes; four piggeries; a hen house and gateway with a loft over; a trap house and harness room; an old hovel and a two bay implement shed. The valuer noted "Very good buildings, brick and slate construction".

Bourne End Farm in blue in 1950 X392-21-2
Bourne End Farm in blue in 1950 [X391/21/2]

Bourne End was again sold by auction, by the Saint John family, in 1950 [X392/21/2], having been part of their estate for just over a hundred years. I then comprised 301.989 acres of which 29.182 acres in Bletsoe was grass, 10.310 acres rough and 6.016 acres buildings and a brick yard. This left 0.222 acres of arable in Sharnbrook, 10.308 acres of arable in Riseley and 245.951 acres of arable in Bletsoe. The farmhouse was described as comprising a front hall, drawing room, dining room, breakfast room, kitchen, pantry and back hall on the ground floor with seven bedrooms and a bathroom upstairs with two additional bedrooms above that. Water was from a well and an earth closet stood outside. Farm buildings, grouped around two central yards with open shelters, comprised: a dairy; a harness room; a workshop; three loose boxes; an engine house; a cow shed for sixteen beasts; two root and fodder houses; two barns; a corn barn; a cart horse stable and harness room; six loose boxes and a piggery; a mill house with granary, rick yard and tractor shed and a pair of brick, stone and tile cottages each containing a living room, kitchen and three bedrooms.