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Turnpike Farm Caddington

Turnpike Farm
Turnpike Farm March 2007

Turnpike Farm is so named because it adjoined the tollgate across Watling Street which, at this point, was a turnpike road. Turnpikes were introduced to try to do something about the shocking state of the country's major roads. maintenance of all roads was the responsibility of the parish through which they ran. It goes without saying that this could be expensive in terms of money and time of parishioners expected to carry out the repairs and so was very unpopular. Not surprisingly parishes tended to neglect road maintenance with predictable results. Turnpikes were stretches of road maintained by a turnpike trust which levied tolls on users to pay to keep the road in good repair. The first turnpike road in the country was a stretch of the Great North Road (A1) in Cambridgeshire created in 1663. The first such road in Bedfordshire was that from Hockliffe to Woburn which was turnpiked in 1706. Two stretches of Watling Street followed (firstly from Hockliffe to Stony Stratford [Buckinghamshire] then Hockliffe to Dunstable). This stretch of the A5 was the fifth in the county to be turnpiked - in 1723. The turnpike was created by an act of parliament entitled: An Act for Repairing and Widening the Road leading from the Black Bull in Dunstable in the County of Bedford to the Way turning out of the said Road up to Shafford House in the County of Hertford [Z417/23/1].

As well as copies of the act, Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records service has a copy of acts renewing the trust for a further twenty five years in 1801 [Z417/24] and 1821 [Z417/25] as well as minutes and accounts from 1835 to 1877 [Fac6/2 and Fac6/3]. Turnpike roads became redundant on the creation of county councils in 1889 as they took over responsibility for maintenance of all major roads in their county. In Volume III of Survey of Ancient Buildings published in 1934 by Bedfordshire Historical Record Society F. G. Emmison noted of the turnpike road: "Only a single gate was erected originally, and this stood exactly two miles south of Dunstable, and apparently opposite to the present Turnpike Farm, on the grass verge on the west side of the road. This is recorded regularly between 1765 and 1835". An inn at the turnpike made obvious business sense giving thirsty travellers a place to refresh themselves as they waited to pay their toll.

The Red Lion is mentioned in a sale catalogue of the Markyate Cell [Hertfordshire] Estate of 1794 [AD534/1]. The estate included land in Flamstead, Studham and Caddington in Hertfordshire as well as the Bedfordshire parishes of Caddington, Studham and Luton. The Red Lion and Turnpike Farm comprise Lot 5 and all the land is described as being in the Hertfordshire parish of Caddington. The land totalled 34 acres, 30 perches being the Red Lion and the farmhouse (1 rood, 13 perches), The Four Acres (3 acres, 3 roods, 37 perches), Matthew's Field (13 acres, 16 perches), The Great Field (10 acres, 3 roods, 17 perches) and Pond Meadow (6 acres, 17 perches). The tenant was Thomas Dawson who paid £56 per annum rent.

Joseph Howell, who died in 1819, owned Markyate Cell and presumably bought it at this auction. In 1838 his real estate, after a number of actions in the Court of Chancery, was finally conveyed to his various heirs who promptly sold it. The Red Lion and 44 acres were conveyed to John Pedley [C788].

These are the onlly two references to the Red Lion in original documents held at Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service. This is because, as we have seen, the Red Lion was in the Hertfordshire portion of Caddington. This was abolished in 1897 and divided between the new Hertfordshire parish of Markyate and the Bedfordshire parish of Caddington so it was at that date that Turnpike Farm became part of Bedfordshire. By then the Red Lion had ceased to trade.

The Pedley family and the Macnamara family carried out a number of exchanges of land in the late 19th century and by 1882 Turnpike Farm was in the hands of Arthur Macnamara and summaries or repairs and alterations exist between that date and 1887 [BML6/2/7]. In 1922 the farm's lessee Thomas Carrington George in his will of that year he devised the lease to his nephew James Edward George [Z210/118].

The Rating and Valuation Act 1925 specified that every building and piece of land in the country was to be assessed to determine the rates payable on it. The valuer visited Turnpike Farm in 1927 to make his assessment and found it owned by Mrs. Ross Skinner [DV1/H24/28]. She had been a member of the Crawley family of Stockwood Park, Luton before her marriage and so clearly the Crawley's had bought the farm from the Macnamaras at some point in the late 19th or early 20th centuries. The tenants were still Thomas Carrington and James Edward George. They paid rent of £25 per acre, a huge increase over the rent before World war One, which had been £10 per acre. the farm comprised 268 acres. One valuer noted that the house was good, the homestead fairly good and water came from a well. The farmer had commented: "Lot of useless ground". Another valuer has commented: "Know this Farm by Heart. Going to take 2 fields away".

The farmhouse comprised two reception rooms, a kitchen, a scullery, a dairy and a cellar with four bedrooms and a "lumber room" upstairs. A well and a shed stood outside. The farm buildings comprised the following:

  • Homestead West Block: a brick and tiled granary ("part of house"); a brick and slated granary; a harness room; a nag stable; two brick, weather-boarded and slated calf pens and a cow house for ten;
  • Homestead North Block: a weather-boarded and slated loose box ("large"); a weather-boarded and corrugated iron barn ("large"); an eight bay corrugated iron lean-to open hovel and a cattle shed;
  • Homestead East Block: a weather-boarded and corrugated iron loose box; a chaff place; a stable for ten and a brick and corrugated iron loose box; behind the block were weather-boarded and corrugated hen houses,
  • At the Rear: a weather-boarded and corrugated iron garage; a brick, weather-boarded and slated nag stable; a trap shed and a weather-boarded and corrugated iron shed;
  • In the Meadow: a weather-boarded and corrugated iron four bay open corn shed and an eight bay open cart and implement shed.