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27 The Marsh

This page was written by Pamela Hider. 


27 The Marsh HER

27 The Marsh, 1977 (courtesy of HER)

The Historic Environment for Bedfordshire describes this cottage as follows:

19th century with later alterations. Coursed rubble. 2 storey. Concrete tile roof. 3 casement windows, outer ones modern casements with glazing bars. Central single light casement under timber lintel, ground floor red brick surrounds with slightly cambered heads. Gabled trellis work porch with brick base.

In 1927, property in Carlton was valued under the Rating and Valuation Act 1925 (DV1/C218). Every piece of land and building in the country had to be valued to determine the rates to be paid upon it. The owner was G. Hilton and the Occupier was Miss W Hilton. The cottage was described as follows:

Stone and tiled. Living Room, Kitchen, Scullery. Upstairs 3 Bedrooms. Poor Place. Barn + Earth Closet. Washouse. Old open hovel Very Poor. Range of 3 old pigsties. + stone and tiled larger barn. The land attached to this property was let to C. Parriss.

This property is one of the three houses nearest Marsh Farm, which were likely to have once been part of the farm estate, as on the 1806 enclosure map they appear very small (possibly to house farmworkers) yet on the 1926 valuation map are seen to be bigger and have very large outbuildings such as barns and, in this case, a substantial piggery, as well as other farm buildings. During the course of the 20th century, more conversion and extension has taken place e.g. the house is now 3 times its original size and the lengthy piggery, once two storeys high, is now single storey residential accommodation known as Leigh House, 27 The Marsh. 

In some records, the property is described as The Cottage (not to be confused with Marsh Cottage next door). 


In early censuses, addresses can be difficult to identify, as for example, in villages house numbers rarely existed. Also, houses occupied by a single family today once consisted of two or three cottages, each occupied by a family.  Comparing the names of neighbours from one census year to another may sometimes be helpful, as we assume the enumerator would normally go from door to door in order. Bearing this in mind, the name mostly associated with what is 27 The Marsh today is William Hilton, described variously as a builder, mason or stone mason.

The Hiltons of Carlton

The 1851 census shows that William was the eldest (aged 13) of five children born to Joseph and Caroline Hilton all residing at Chellington. Joseph was described as a bricklayer, and may have been the Joseph Hilton, bricklayer, who was licensee at The Royal Oak, Bridgend, Chellington 1843 - 1854.

William married Mary Ann Ruffhead from Stevington in 1860 and the couple were found to be living at Bridgend in the 1861 census. An article from the Northampton Mercury (17/11/1866) refers to a "roomy and stone-built dwelling house situated in Moor End Carlton and now divided into 2 tenements in occupation of William Hilton and Sarah Denton" which tells us that one house had now become two. It is likely William undertook the building work himself. William and Mary Ann had three children by now with another to follow in 1870.

However, by the 1871 census, William was to be found living in The Marsh (still recorded at that time as an extension of The Moor) with his younger brother, Joseph, also described as a builder, and with three surviving children (the youngest only a year old) and a house keeper. His wife Mary Ann had died the previous year aged 34. She is buried in St. Mary's Churchyard, Carlton.

In 1872 William married again, to Jane Williamson from Yelden. They had three more children and the other family in the newly added tenement was now that of Charles Wooding. In 1877, William's name appeared in a Vestry Minute Book (P92/8/1) as the builder of Carlton's school house for the Schoolmaster and his family. It was completed in 1878 and a picture of it appears on our page for Carlton School 1872 - 1901. Unfortunately, the house no longer exists.

In the 1881 census, William & Jane were living at the same house with five children. In the other tenement were an elderly couple, George & Harriet Parriss. By 1891, William & Jane were living there with two children and in both 1901 and 1911, they were there with a grandson. It is unclear who was occupying the other tenement, or perhaps by now the building had reverted to being one house again.

William had been named in several trade directories: the Post Office Directory of 1869 where he is listed as a builder; and in Kellys' directories of 1890, 1910 & 1914 listed as a brick layer. His name appeared in records for the last time in the 1921 Bedfordshire Electoral Rolls with The Moor still being given as the address. He died in 1924 aged 86. Jane had died in 1919 aged 80. They are buried in St.Mary's Churchyard, Carlton.

27 The Marsh 2023 resize

27 The Marsh, June 2023