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Campton Rectory

Thomas Fisher watercolour of the Rectory about 1820 [X254/88/78]
Thomas Fisher watercolour of the Rectory about 1820 [X254/88/78]

The Old Rectory in Campton was listed by the former Ministry of Works in January 1952 as Grade II, of special interest. It was built around 1700 and has property has late 18th century additions and re-fronting, as well as alterations from 1839 made by John Woolfe junior for the Reverend E R Williamson (see below). The building is red brick with hipped clay tile roofs. The oldest part of the building is the east block which is made up of two storeys, with an addition to the west and re-fronting to the south, both of which consist of two storeys with attics above. The rear elevation shows the original structure for the left hand block. There is a 20th century flat-roofed addition to the right hand side.


Also featured on the Heritage Environment Record are the remains of a garden wall attached to the property. This is a late eighteenth century, curved, red brick wall which links the south east corner of the house to a pier on the road frontage. From the pier the wall continues about three metres eastwards along the road edge. It stands approximately two metres high, except for the east part of road section which was altered in the 20th century to slope down to about half a metre. The higher parts of the walling are capped with rounded bricks and the curved section has flat-arched entrance, inserted in the twentieth century.


The earliest reference to this building in our collections is in an archdeaconry terrier from 1708 which lists Church property in the parish of Campton [ABE2/1f.79]. It describes the following: "The parsonage house is built with Timber & covered with tiles, one story high & contains a Kitchin & two parlours floord with boards, a hall with brick, two offices within the kitchin with ground floors, cellars etc.".


In 1770 the rector Thomas Osborn (one of the Osborns of Chicksands Priory) extended the house to the front and on the north west side. The frontage extension and new rooms were strictly symmetrical and finely built in brick. There have been few external changes since this rebuilding.

 Campton Rectory in the 1860s [X254/88/79]
Campton Rectory in the 1860s [X254/88/79]

In the mid-19th century, the Rector at Campton church was Edmond Riland Williamson (1839-1864), one of the Williamson family of Kempston. This family created an extensive scrapbook of illustrations and photographs of Bedfordshire scenes, based around a copy of the Lyson brothers' illustrated book on Bedfordshire. The rectory features heavily in their scrapbook, with Woolfe's plans, a watercolour painting and a number of photographs. Some of the photographs show a group of girls in the garden, who may be members of a Sunday school [X254/88/76-83].

 The rear of Campton Rectory in the 1860s [X254/88/80]
The rear of Campton Rectory in the 1860s [X254/88/80]

In 1916, A E Lloyd, the rector resident in the vicarage, died. This led to the contents of the rectory being auctioned off. The archive holds a catalogue of the house contents from this sale, which reveals that the Reverend Lloyd passed away in possession of a very respectable drinks cabinet! Also included in the sale were "ancient prayer mats" (sold for 11 shillings), six aspidistras (nine shillings and six pence) and a "very old manuscript copy of the Koran, captured from a West African tribe in 1861" (ten shillings).

Ground floor plan of the Rectory 1839 [X254-88-77]

 First floor plan of the Rectory 1839 [X254-88-77]

Ground and first floor plans of the Rectory - 1839 to see a larger version please click on the appropriate image

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. When this property was valued, it was owned by the Rector of Campton and occupied by the Reverend F F Grieg. The entry suggests that the valuer had some difficulty contacting the rector to arrange a viewing, but then found that the place was being modernised and "generally done up" with a new bath and toilet. When he did finally visit the property, he found the accommodation consisted of an entrance porch, hall, dining room, parlour, study, kitchen and scullery, store room and cellar. The first floor had five bedrooms and one bathroom and the second floor consisted of five attics. Outside there was a glasshouse on the lawn, stable and coach house, coal barn, cycle house and tennis lawn. The valuer considered that the grounds were "good" [DV1/C175/72].

In 1953 when Rector Arthur Sydney Ponsonby McGhee retired, the rectory was sold and much of the garden was developed for new residences, as Campton was joined with Shefford and the parson lived in the latter town. At this point the rectory was divided into two separate dwellings. One of these properties was put up for sale in 1977 and the archives holds a copy of the sales particulars [Z156/20]. It was advertised as "Copper Beaches… A charming period village house being part of an 18th century former rectory". The asking price was £39,000. The property was described as follows: "This house forms part of an attractive former rectory the front portion of which is Georgian and the rear Queen Anne. The Property is constructed of mellow brick with parapet walls to the front and side, balanced sash windows to the front and casement windows to the rear with gauged arches over the openings. The accommodation is arranged on three floors and there is gas fired central heating".


Stone step. Six panel FRONT DOOR leading to LOBBY with light, quarry tiled floor and inner glazed door to HALL radiator, wood block floor and STAIRCASE HALL also with wood block floor. DINING ROOM 14'2 x 15'. Open fireplace with timber surround. Old oven to side recess on the other side. Radiator, wood block floor, hatch to kitchen, fitted bench seat, beamed ceiling, circular stained glass window. KITCHEN 14'10 x 11'3. Glowarm gas fired boiler, range of fitted cupboards, Island unit with hob, English Rose, double bowl stainless steel inset sink unit, radiator, louvre doors hiding oven. 4 ring gas hob. SIDE HALL with quarry tiled floor, glazed door to driveway. DRAWING ROOM 17'3 x 18' max. Beamed ceiling, feature brick chimney breast with Parkray all night grate and display alcoves to each side, radiator, bay window, door to garden, strip floor. STUDY 15' x 10' max. Approached via double casement doors. Fireplace with antique grate, radiator. CELLAR".


STAIRCASE Radiator, half landing with cupboard. BATHROOM 1 Lobby, radiator, storage cupboard with shelves, panelled bath with tiled splashback, pedestal wash hand basin, W.C., strip light/shaver point. AIRING CUPBOARD lagged copper hot water cylinder with immersion heater. BUILT-IN CUPBOARD BEDROOM 1 11' x 16', 2 built in wardrobes (one with shelves), fireplace with timber mantel and inset tiled surround. Window bookcase, radiator. BEDROOM 2 14'7 x 16'2. Radiator, door to en suite, SHOWER OOM Tiled cubicle with thermostat control, basin in vanitory top. BEDROOM 3 15'2 x 14' max. radiator, triple wardrobe".


Half landing with BATHROOM 2 Bath, W.C., pedestal wash hand basin, radiator. BEDROOM 4 13' x 9'1 max. Radiator, Tank cupboard, separate area with window, loft trap. BEDROOM 5 13'4 x 11'. Fireplace, radiator".


The house stands just back from the road and is approached via a gravelled drive with gateway and brick arch to one side of the house".

"GARAGE 19'9 x 17'2".

"THE GARDENS lie almost entirely to the rear of the house and include lawns studded with trees and shrubs, rose beds and flower borders and extend to about ¼ acre in all".

The Old Rectory April 2015
The Old Rectory April 2015