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Old Budna Farmhouse

Old Budna Farmhouse in 1981 [Z50/84/44]
Old Budna Farmhouse in 1981 [Z50/84/44]

Whilst Budna was first recorded in the 12th century the earliest mention of Budna Farm in documents held by Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service is in a sale particular of 1802. In that year Lord of the Manor of Northill, John Robinson, sold the Northill Manor estate were sold at auction. It seems likely that Budna Farm formed part, perhaps the main part, of The Manor of Buddenho. This manor was surendered to Northill College in 1519 and, presumably, became united with the Manor of Northill College. This manor is last mentioned in 1679 when left to Elizabeth Osborne. It is tempting to suggest that the manor was sold, in whole or in part, to the Bromsall Family who held Northill Manor, accounting for Budna Farm being part of the manor.

The sale particulars [HY74] detail "Budnor Farm" as follows:

  • 65. The Farm House, with Two Barns, a Stable and Chaff-House, a Cow House, Grainery, Wood House, Poultry House, Pig Cotes and Offices, and a small Pightle behind - Pasture - 3 roods, 25 poles;
  • 66 and 82. Now One, the Four Acres - Pasture - 1 acre, 3 roods, 4 poles and 2 acres, 1 rood, 18 poles;
  • 67 and 81. Now One, the Eight Acres - Arable 3 acres, 3 roods, 14 poles and 3 acres, 3 roods, 35 poles;
  • 80. Allotted Land - Arable - 4 acres, 30 poles;
  • 68. Allotted Land - Arable - 3 acres, 1 rood, 3 poles;
  • 70. The Four Acres - Pasture - 4 acres, 2 roods, 6 poles;
  • 71. The Two Acres - Pasture - 2 acres, 1 rood, 32 poles;
  • 72, 73, 74 and 79 - Been laid together, and now divided in Two - Arable - 2 acres, 35 poles; 1 acre, 33 poles; 2 roods, 3 poles; 35 acres, 2 roods, 31 poles;
  • 78. New Allotted Land - Arable - 25 acres, 2 roods, 34 poles

Total 91 acres, 23 poles. "The whole of Lot IV is held by Mr. Thomas Williamson, Tenant at Will". The particulars are annoteted with the figure £2,850. A piece of paper attached to the front of the particulars reveals that Budnor Farm, with eight other lots, was sold to Isaac Hindley, who, an annotation on the rear of the particular states, was acting for John Harvey of Ickwell Bury.

A run of deeds for the farm begins in 1803. In that year Lord Braybrook and William Clive (clearly trustees for John Robinson) conveyed a farmhouse and three roods of pasture in Budna with ninety acres in appertaining closes to Stephen Thornton of London for £2,858 [HY510-511]. Presumably Harvey decided he did not want Budna Farm, and sold it to Thornton for a nominal profit. Thornton then leased the farm to John Hart of Northill for £90 per annum [HY512].

In 1829 Budna Farm formed part of Thornton’s estate in his settlement on marriage to Julia Anne Frances Campbell of Blunham [HY514-515]. In 1870 Budna Farm was put up for sale by auction by Caroline Mary Thornton. The particulars [WG2429] were as follows:

of an important and valuable
consisting of a farm known as
situate in the hamlet if Budna, in the Parish of Northill, Beds.
Together with a separate portion of the Estate and Cottage thereon adjoining, forming another Lot,
105a. 0r. 10p.
Lying compactly in a Ring Fence, approached by excellent roads, and forming
in the locality, either with a view to the Erection of a gentleman’s House for residential purposes; for being converted into Market Gardens; for Agricultural purposes; or as a first-class Investment 

Lots 1 and 2 formed Budna Farm. Lot 1 comprised:

  • Budna Farm House, buildings, yards, garden and road: 1 acre, 1 rood, 14 poles;
  • Home Close: 3 acres, 3 roods, 14 poles of pasture;
  • Nine Acres: 9 acres, 7 poles of arable;
  • Middle Close: 9 acres, 1 rood, 3 poles of arable;
  • Budna Close: 5 acres, 2 roods, 17 poles of pasture;
  • College Wood: 2 acres, 1 rood, 23 poles of underwood and timber;
  • Eight Acres: 8 acres, 17 poles of arable;
  • The Leazows: 21 acres, 16 poles of arable;
  • Further Budna Close: 8 acres, 1 rood, 26 poles of pasture;
  • Upper Ten Acres: 10 acres, 37 poles of arable;
  • Lower Ten Acres: 9 acres, 3 roods, 3 poles of arable.

Lot 2 comprised:

  • A plantation of 1 rood, 34 poles;
  • The Allotments: 5 acres, 3 roods, 30 poles of arable;
  • A pightle or croft of 1 rood, 19 poles of pasture;
  • A cottage, buildings, yards, garden, orchard and road of 2 acres, 3 roods, 13 poles;
  • The Meadow: 6 acres, 2 roods, 17 poles of pasture.

The land was purchased by John Harvey of Ickwell Bury for £5,174 [HY524]. The Ickwell Bury Estate was put up for sale by auction in 1924 [AD1147/16] but Budna farm was not included in the sale particulars. Nevertheless, it was sold around this time

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. Northill was assessed in 1927 and the valuer visiting Budna Farm [DV1/H40/20] found it owned and occupied by A. E. Dalton who had 126 acres. Rent about 1909 had been £104 per annum. The valuer remarked: “Arable is heavy. Some trouble from rabbits on grass land surrounding College Wood. Much of the arable very wet”. Another hand commented: “Thatched House. Sufficient Buildings. Onion Loft. Land on west heavy. Poor grass by Wood. Useful land on East. Does it well – land is clean. Bounded on East by Smallholdings”.

The plaster and thatched farmhouse comprised a small hall, a reception room, kitchen, scullery, dairy and cellar with a landing, four bedrooms and a box room upstairs. A later hand has amended this to read three bedrooms, a bathroom with a lavatory basin and a boxroom. Water came from a pump and an earth closet lay outside.

The farm buildings were:

  • A wood and tiled hen house adjoining the farmhouse.
  • On the west: a five bay cart shed with a loft over; a two bay wood and corrugated iron cart shed; a wood and tiled nag stable.
  • Around the stockyard: a wood and tiled stable for five heavy horses, a chaff house and a mixing house to the north; a wood and tiled calving box and wood and tiled barn to the east; a wood and tiled three bay hovel, a wood and tiled cowhouse for six beasts and a wood and tiled store to the south.

In December 1980 the old farmhouse was listed by the former Department of Environment as Grade II, of special interest. The department dated the building to about 1600, albeit with 19th century alterations. It had a timber framed construction with brick infill and some rebuilding just in brick. It was then partly roughcast rendered. The house had a thatched roof and two storeys. By this time it was already in a state of great decay as the photograph at the top of this page shows.