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Zouches Farm Caddington

Zouche's Farm on a map of 1880
Zouche's Farm on a map of 1880

Volume II of The Victoria County History for Bedfordshire was published in 1908 and carries an account of Zouches, or Sowches, Manor. Like the other manors in the parish it seems to have been held by the Dean and Chapter of Saint Paul’s in London. The dean and chapter leased the manor out to a family named la Zouche of Harringworth in Northamptonshire hence the name of the manor.

Zouches Farm, in the north-west of the parish is probably the site of the manor house. It was held by the Pedley family until 1804 (perhaps purchased from Thomas Smith, Lord of the Manor of Zouches) when they exchanged it for Caddington Hall which was owned by the dean and chapter.

By the 1880s the farm was owned by Arthur Macnamara, who had considerable estates in the south-west and south of the county. He had, perhaps, bought Zouches Farm from the Church Commissioners, who took over management of the dean and chapter’s land holdings in 1872. In 1881 the farm buildings were altered and repaired and new buildings were added [BML6/2/7]. A year later the farm was leased to Moses Pratt [BML6/6/3]. In 1894 there was a proposal to lease about twenty acres of the farm to Benjamin John Hatfield Forder, a brickmaker for excavation of lime and chalk [HN10/355/Forder].

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 Zouches Farm [DV1/H24/20] found it owned by Mrs. Ross Skinner, who had been a Crawley before marriage. She also owned both farms at Chaul End as well as Bury, Gatehouse, Inions, Prebendal and Turnpike Farms – a total of nearly 1,800 acres. The Crawleys had, presumably, acquired the farm from the Macnamaras.

The farm comprised 223 acres, a drop from the pre-war figure of 253 acres. It was leased to G. E. Spavin who paid rent of £221/15/- per annum, a figure set in 1915; the previous rent, set in 1914, had been £180. The valuer, visiting on 16th September 1926, noted: "Mile of road to keep up. Good buildings". Another valuer commented: "Saw Spavin. Lunch in Cart Shed. Rent includes Down. Rent dear very".

The farmhouse comprised two reception rooms, a kitchen, a scullery and a larder downstairs with four bedrooms above. Four attics lay on the second floor. Outside stood a brick and tiled coal barn and W. C.

The homestead comprised the following:

  • In the west yard: a brick, weather-boarded and corrugated iron stable for five horses with a loose box at the end, a chaff store and a stable for four horses("bad"); a weather-boarded and slated loose box ("bad"); a brick and corrugated iron granary ("bad") and a weather-boarded and corrugated iron lean-to shed;
  • in the east yard: a large brick, weather-boarded and corrugated iron barn ("good"); a brick, timber and tiled eleven bay open-fronted cow shed; a weather-boarded and corrugated iron three bay open shed, a two bay implement shed, a loose box and a seven bay open fronted cart shed;
  • in the north-east yard: a brick, weather-boarded and tiled dairy, atore shed and three loose boxes; a cow house for twelve with a loose box at the end; a fowl house; a trap house and a nag stable for three.

Directories for Bedfordshire were not published every year but every few years. George Spavin or Spavins is listed as farmer in directories of 1928, 1931 and 1936. The last directory for Bedfordshire was published in 1940 when ther farmer was listed as Frank Henry Fooks. Earlier directories show Lional H. Samm as farmer in 1914, 1920 and 1924. He is listed as a farmer in Caddington, without the farm being mentioned, as far back as 1894.