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275 Bedford Road Cardington

Malting Farm - 275 Bedford Road Christmas Eve 2010
Malting Farm - 275 Bedford Road Christmas Eve 2010

Malting Farm, 275 Bedford Road was listed by English Heritage in May 1984 as Grade II, of special interest. They dated the property to 1771 from plans and elevations then in the possession of the occupant. It is built of red brick with an old clay tile roof, hipped to the front block. The main house is built in an L-shape with projecting blocks and the north and east corners. It has two storeys with attics. 

The history of the farm has been sketched out by Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service staff [CRT130Cardington31]. The farm may have originally been called Great Farm. In 1649 Henry Whitbread of Cardington leased Great Farm from Dame Elizabeth Savage, widow, for 99 years [W280]. Seven years later Dame Savage quitclaimed, that is conveyed, the farm to Whitbread; it was then in the occupation of Leonard Willymott [W286].

Samuel Whitbread I was born at Great Farm on 20th August 1720, this is recorded in a trust deed for Cardington almshouses [W3295-3296]. In 1728 a mansion house with dovehouse and malting, formerly in the occupation of Henry Whitbread was leased by John Whitbread of Whitechapel [Middlesex], silk thrower, to Thomas Bigrave of Cardington, husbandman, for six years at a rent of £112 and four dozen young pigeons per annum. The house then contained: a hall; a great parlour; “the matted chamber”; “the hall chamber”; “the little chamber” and a nags’ stable and hay barn adjoining [W839]. A map of the estates of Elizabeth Whitbread in Cardington made in 1765 [W2/2] shows the farm but the shape is quite different to that shown on a plan of Cardington House and Farm, as it became known, in 1771. Presumably Great Farmhouse was pulled down and the new farmhouse built in its place,

We are fortunate that three surveys of the parish of Cardington from the late 18th century survive. The first of these was undertaken in 1782 by James Lilburne. He was the parish schoolmaster and later agent for Samuel Whitbread, who owned large estates in the parish and also the sole Enclosure Commissioner for the parish. He produced a list of all the inhabitants of the parish arranged by house and hamlet [P38/28/1]. This was published, with extensive analysis by County Archaeologist David Baker in 1973 as Bedfordshire Historical Record Society Volume 52.

Since publication a second list has been found [P38/28/2]. It carries revisions up to the year 1789. Sadly neither of these surveys includes a map. Finally, in 1794 Lilburne produced another survey [W2/6/1-3] and this one had a map with a key showing where each house was. One can use this to plot the houses of the previous surveys and this work was carried out by John Wood of Bedfordshire County Council’s Conservation Section in October 1982 [CRT130Cardington29].

The survey of 1782 [P38/28/1/2] has this “Gentleman’s House” occupied by Rev. Robert Willan, the vicar. His wife is not named. This was not the vicarage, however. Samuel Whitbread I built a new vicarage, now Trinity House in 1781 because the previous vicarage was not large enough for a clergyman with children. Presumably Rev. Willan had leased 275 Bedford Road rather than living in the Vicarage and the lease had not yet expired. Probably, too, the new Vicarage was not yet quite complete, having been begun in 1781. The vicar moved to the new vicarage in 1783.

Rev. Willan had three children at the time of the survey – Charles Thomas, Mary Ann and Robert Smith. Sarah was born on 17th January 1783, Edward Marham on 21st February 1785 and Emma on 1st January 1787. In 1786 widow Lady Austen moved in [P38/28/1/2]. The 1794 survey showed Miss Hoissard living at the premises which was then called Cardington House [W2/6/1-3].

In 1802 Samuel Gifford occupied the farm, malting and lands, a total of 273 acres, 2 roods, 1 pole at an annual rent of £194/15/6 [W3509]. Samuel Gifford was buried in Cardington on 31st March 1802. About 1824 the farm was occupied by Richard Parry [W2/7], total acreage was then 384 acres, 3 roods, 7 poles. By 1835 the tenant was John E. Bodger. He was still there in 1840, the farm being described as Parry’s Homestall [MAT9/1]. Bodger was still tenant in 1855, according to the Register of Electors, when the farm was first called Malting Farm. By 1884 R. M. Bodger was tenant and was still there in 1904. By 1910 the tenant was James Murdoch.

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. Cardington, like most of the county, was assessed in 1927 and the valuer visiting Malting Farm [DV1/H49/6] found it still owned by the Whitbread Estate and still occupied by James Murdoch. He is last recorded in Kelly's Directory for Bedfordshire in 1936. By the time of the 1940 edition, the last Kelly's for the county, the farmer at Malting Farm is listed as Alexander Murdoch. The rent in 1909 had been £600 per annum but by 1927 this had been reduced to £390 as the farm had declined from 400 acres to 196 acres.

The farmhouse comprised three reception rooms, a kitchen, scullery and dairy and a pantry with a glazed sink with hot and cold running water. Five bedrooms and a bathroom with lavatory basin and bath with hot and cold running water lay upstairs along with a separate w. c. A coal barn, an office and a washing and drying room with two glazed sinks and a copper for heating water lay outside. Mains water was laid on. Drainage was to a septic tank and into Cardington Brook.

Farm buildings comprised four different groups as follows:

  • Behind the house: a garage for two cars and nag stabling for three;
  • The main block first yard: a cake room; three cow and calf pens; an eight bin granary; a three bay open hovel; a grain barn; a loose box and a cow barn;
  • The main block, second yard behind the first: a ten bay cart hovel; a carpenter’s shop; a tool house; a foaling base; a six stall cart stable; a chaff house; a six stall cart stable; a foaling box and a fowl house;
  • The island block: a six bay Dutch barn made of corrugated iron and steel.

The buildings were either brick and tile or brick stud and tile, though one had a thatched roof covered by corrugated iron. The yards were partly covered. Drainage was into ditches and a pond behind the farm buildings.