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Brogborough Manor Farm

Brogborough Manor Farm about 1985 [Z368-3-11-4]
Brogborough Manor Farm about 1985 [Z368/3/11/4]

Brogborough Manor Farmhouse was listed by English Heritage in 1987 as Grade II, of special interest. It is described as probably dating from the 17th century, reworked in the 18th century and altered in the 19th century. It is built of red brick with clay tiled roofs on a double pile plan, that is two separate parallel roofs covering front and back of the property. The porch is 20th century as is the nearby bay window. Its name suggests it was originally part of the Manor of Brogborough.

In 1885, however, it was part of the Cranfield Court Estate which was put up for sale by auction. Brogborough Manor Farm was Lot 3, consisting of a dwelling house with farm buildings adjoining and, a short distance from the house, a set of buildings known as Top Farm. The lot extended to 371 acres 2 roods 9 poles. It was let, with the exception of Brogborough Spinney, to Mrs George Thomason at a rental of £400 per annum [Z1510/1/16]. In 1875 the tenant had been J S Morris [SF51/25] and in 1919 it was R E Campbell [SF36/28].

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. The valuer visiting Brogborough Manor Farm on the morning of 18th August 1926 [DV1/H15/6] found it owned and occupied by Philip Henry Cooke. The rent, when it had been leased, had been £350 per annum and the farm comprised 350 acres, up by one hundred acres from 1914.

The valuer commented: “Water laid on from spring. Lighting Electric (own plant). Sanitation cesspool (Telephone number Woburn Sands 29). Market Bedford 10 miles, Leighton 8. Mr Cook away when visited: understand is only there for weekends. Saw Mr Hardern and Mr Fisher (1st and 2nd foremen). Mr Cook’s London address 1 South Street, Grays Inn”. Another hand wrote in the notebook on 26th November 1926: “A Farm with a lot of very heavy arable and for agricultural purposes of little rental value. House has been modernised for country residence”.

The house comprised, on the ground floor: three reception rooms; a kitchen; a scullery; a “very small” lavatory (in the sense of a place to wash); a dairy and two cellars underneath. Upstairs were five bedrooms (with an attic over them), a bathroom and a WC. Outside were two earth closets and a coal house.

 Brogborough Manor Farm annotated for the 1925 Rating and Valuation Act survey [DV2-C21]
Brogborough Manor Farm annotated for the 1925 Rating and Valuation Act survey [DV2/C21]

The homesteads were in five blocks round the house and a number of other blocks in the fields. The the yards adjoining the house were (as lettered on the image above):

  • A: a wood and corrugated iron five-bay open implement hovel; a brick and slate three-bay open cowshed; a stable for eight; a chaffhouse and gearhouse (a later hand has added a workshop and a henhouse);
  • B: a chaffhouse; a mill with a granary over; a three-bay open cartshed with a loft over; an engine house containing an eight horsepower Petter oil engine with lighting plant and batteries; a mixing house; a barn; a cowhouse for four (a later hand has added a cowhouse for twelve and another for eight);
  • C: a cowhouse for eight; a three-bay open cowshed; a loosebox (crossed out by a later hand and amended to a cooling room) and a harness room (crossed out by a later hand and amended to an engine house);
  • D: a cowhouse for thirty, with a central feeding passage; in the yard two kennels (a later hand has annotated “used as loose boxes”);
  • E: two storehouses; an open toolhouse; a coachhouse (a later hand has amended this to a garage) and nag stable for two and two coachhouses.

“Water laid on to two troughs. Electric light throughout. All A1”.

In the fields were:

  • A brick and slate three-bay cowshed and a cowhouse for seven;
  • A three-bay open cartshed with loft and granary over; a barn and a cowhouse for five;
  • A calfhouse; a cowhouse for seven; a three-bay open cowshed; a bullhouse;
  • A large storehouse.

“Water laid on to one trough. All buildings A1”.

On 28th August 1940 enemy action came to Brogborough. Twenty 200 kilogramme high explosive bombs were dropped in a line from Moor Farm, Hulcote to Brogborough Hill, with most of them falling around Manor Farm. Two of the bombs did not explode [WW2/AR/CO/2/1].

In 1992 Brogborough Manor Farm was for sale. The particulars [Z449/1/6] described it thus: "Brogborough Manor Farm is a superbly located 318 acre commercial farm with enormous residential and sporting appeal. It occupies an elevated but sheltered situation on the western edge of a rise overlooking Marston valley with views towards Aspley Heath beyond…The manor house itself is an elegant and deceptively substantial 17th Century house standing in delightful lakeside gardens at the end of a ½ mile long drive. The traditional farm buildings, in addition to providing an attractive backdrop to the house, have exciting potential for conversion and one building in particular would, subject to planning consent, form a suitable staff or guest cottage. The modern farm buildings are mostly of multi-purpose design and provide great scope for diversification into an equestrian centre with indoor facilities or commercial use subject to planning consent. Whilst the farm has been developed into a sound commercial unit, the vendors have introduced a pro-active wildlife conservation scheme to demonstrate how conservation can be compatible with modern farming. Over 3,000 trees have been planted, several duck ponds excavated and extensive hedgerow replanting carried out. The farm was joint runner-up in the 1987 Country Life Farming and Wildlife Award. As a result, the well laid out copses and spinneys, when combined with strategically placed game crops and the farm's natural undulations, provide several enjoyable days’ pheasant shooting and duck flighting. The farm is also renowned for its highly successful cattle enterprise with a nationally important herd of South Devons".

The ground floor of the house comprised: an entrance hall (15 feet 3 inches by 5 feet 6 inches); an inner hall (12 feet 6 inches by 10 feet 6 inches); a south and west-facing sitting room (19 feet 6 inches by 17 feet 9 inches); and east facing study (14 feet by 12 feet 9 inches); a south and east-facing dining room (16 feet 9 inches by 15 feet 9 inches); a rear hall; a wine cellar; a west-facing kitchen (15 feet 3 inches by 15 feet); a north-facing pantry/utility room (29 feet by 9 feet); a cloakroom and an east-facing office (12 feet 6 inches by 10 feet).

The first floor contained four bedrooms, a dressing room, a lobby and two bathrooms. There were five attic rooms on the second floor. Outbuildings included a double garage, an oil tank shed, a tool shed and a summerhouse. The farm included a pair of semi-detached cottages which were both excluded from the sale.

Farm buildings comprised three blocks. Block 1 had: a Dutch barn and lean-to; a double garage; workshop/stores; a former cowshed and barn; a machinery shed; an open-fronted machinery shed; a lean-to; a grain dryer building and grain bins. Block 2 comprised: a hay barn with lean-to hay barn/cattle shed; a Dutch barn with a lean-to and a hay store/general purpose store. The third block comprised two general purpose building/cattle sheds. Of the 318 acres, 53 acres were grass and 12 woodland, the remainder arable: “all arable land sown with winter wheat; two pedigree cattle herds of 190 head, one of South Devons the other Simmentals; woodland managed to encourage the breeding of kestrels, sparrow hawks, woodpeckers and owls”. The Woodland Trust planned to plant 200 acres of trees adjoining the farm.

A number of modern planning applications are held in the archive. In 1997 consent was sought for insertion of three dormer windows in the front elevation and one at the side [PCBrogborough18/5]. In 1998 there were plans to convert redundant farm buildings into four dwellings [PCBrogborough18/11]

In 1999 applications were made to insert new and replace existing windows and to remove a 20th century bay window near the porch [PCBrogborough18/16] and to convert barns to form four dwellings [PCBrogborough18/20].

Brogborough Manor Farm side view showing double pile plan [Z368-3-11-8]
Brogborough Manor Farm side view showing double pile plan [Z368/3/11/8]