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Pleasant Place Cardington

Pleasant Place Christmas Eve 2010
Pleasant Place Christmas Eve 2010

Pleasant Place was listed by English Heritage in May 1984 as Grade II, of special interest. The house has 17th century origins, altered in the 18th and 19th centuries. It is built of chequered brick, the north-east block being colour washed and encasing substantial timbering. The north-west block contains less substantial timbering. The building has an old clay tile roof. The earlier block is that to the north-east, with north-west block perhaps originally formed part of the l770's Malting Farm complex. The south-east block is 19th century. The north-east block has a flat-roofed 20th century extension to the left. Between 1692 and 1782 the building appears to have been a beerhouse called the Red Lion.

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 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 Pleasant Place [DV1/C116/138] found it owned by the Whitbread Estate and occupied by Major General Maitland Cowper, C. B., C. I. E. who paid rent of £80 per annum on a 21 year lease from June 1918. Acetylene gas and Greensand water were laid on; drainage was to a cesspool behind the house which was a “bad arrangement”.

The house comprised: an entrance hall and passageway measuring 50 feet by 6 feet; a billiard room measuring 25 feet 6 inches by 15 feet 6 inches; a kitchen measuring 21 feet by 13 feet 6 inches; a small scullery; a servants’ sitting room; a larder; a housemaid’s parlour; a wine cellar; a beer cellar; an anteroom measuring 15 feet by 16 feet; a library measuring 14 feet 6 inches by 14 feet; a dining room (“long way from Kitchen”) measuring 14 feet 6 inches by 14 feet and a bow window and a drawing room measuring 33 feet 6 inches by 16 feet 6 inches.

Upstairs (“start at end on right”) were: a single bedroom measuring 15 feet square; a dressing room over the anteroom measuring 16 feet by 12 feet; a cupboard; a single bedroom measuring 16 feet by 15 feet; a bathroom (“good”); a double bedroom over the drawing room measuring 16 feet square; a small dressing room; two maids’ bedrooms over the kitchen, measuring 20 feet 6 inches by 13 feet 6 inches; a double bedroom over the drawing room measuring 16 feet by 16 feet 6 inches; a w. c.; a studio measuring 13 feet by 12 feet 6 inches; a boxroom; another w. c.; two store rooms; a cupboard; a maids’ room and a maids’ bathroom.

Outside stood the acetylene gas house, a workshop and wood store. A “very poor” group of buildings comprised: a woodhouse; a coalhouse; a garage; a potting shed and a 12 feet by 20 feet heated glasshouse. There was a kitchen garden. Beyond this were another coalhouse and an outside larder. The valuer commented: “Very poor situation and planned. No conveniences”.

From the mid 19th to the mid 20th century various directories for the county were published every few years. These offer a snapshot of important residents and trades people in each parish. The following list of resident of Pleasant Place is taken from directories held by Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service:

  • 1914: Lloyd Heber Chase;
  • 1920-1931: Major General Maitland Cowper;
  • 1936: Mrs. Cowper.