Skip Navigation

Welcome to Bedford Borough Council

Home > Community Histories > Carlton > Appletrees 31 The Marsh

Appletrees 31 The Marsh

This page was written by Pamela Hider.

This property, thought to have once been two cottages and of considerable age, was the last in The Marsh before Marsh Farmhouse (a modern property has since been built, between it and Marsh Farmhouse, in the 20th century).

Originally, it would have been centuries old like its neighbours nos. 27 & 29 and like them was probably part of Marsh Farm Estate. Unlike them, it doesn't appear in the Historic Environment Record and no old photos of it have been found. A description of the building first appears in our records in 1927.

Ratings and Valuation Act of 1925

Under this Act, every piece of building and land in the country had to be valued to determine the rates to be paid upon it. Property in Carlton was valued in 1927. The owner and occupier of 31 The Marsh at this time was A. Betts and its location was given as The Moor (The Marsh at that time being referred to as part of The Moor). It was described as follows:

Stone & Slate. Living Room, Kitchen. Upstairs 2 bedrooms. Washhouse, Barn, Earth Closet. Stone & iron. Large Barn. Cow stall. 2 Hovels. 1 open hovel "Really Farm Buildings". "Been done up". 

The Betts Family of Carlton

This surname is associated with this property from the earliest censuses. Thomas Betts was born in Odell in 1807 and married Elizabeth Line of Carlton in 1830. He is referred to as a chimney sweep in 1827 (QSR 1827/66) and pursued this occupation throughout his life. He and Elizabeth are found at Carlton Moor with 4 children in 1841, and with 6 children in 1851. His occupation by now, as well as 'sweep' is 'destroyer of vermin'. His eldest son John (aged 20) is also a 'sweep'. Thomas is listed in Kelly's Post Office Directory of 1869 as 'vermin destroyer & chimney sweeper'. Thomas & Elizabeth were listed at the same home for the next three censuses, including, in 1871, another son, Henry, being described as a 'sweep' and Thomas himself being described as a 'verminist'. By 1881, Thomas now aged 74 seems to have given up destroying vermin, as he is described just as a 'chimney sweeper'.  Alarmingly, their house was referred to as being 'struck by lightning' in 1883 (Z1521/1/4/2). Thomas died in 1888, his wife Elizabeth having died the previous year.

Meanwhile, their second son, also called Thomas (born 1836), had married Ann Franklin in 1859 and by 1871 were to be found living in Felmersham with their 6 children. Thomas was described as as agricultural labourer in 1861, as a Gardener in 1871 and as a Gardener & Gamekeeper in 1881. Their eldest son had left Bedfordshire and settled in London, thus it was their second son Arthur (born 1867),  who was found in the 1891 census to be living in the Carlton Moor property, formerly inhabited by his grandparents, and to be following his grandfather's  former occupation as 'chimney sweeper'. Arthur was living alongside his mother Ann who was described as Housekeeper. Arthur's father, Thomas, remained in the Felmersham home with his unmarried eldest daughter and youngest son. This temporary arrangement probably came about as a result of the deaths of Arthur's grandparents in the late 1880s.

Later in 1891, Arthur married Agnes Wooding, so that by the 1901 census, his mother Ann had returned to the Felmersham home, and Arthur, Agnes and their son Frederick (born 1894) were ensconced at Carlton Moor. The situation remained unchanged for both families in 1911.

It was about this time that Lord Lucas was in the process of selling his estates in Carlton, Harrold & Turvey to Bedfordshire County Council and the land was split up into Council smallholdings, one of those being the Marsh Farm Estate. Arthur's father Thomas must have taken the opportunity to buy the Carlton Moor home, as when he died in 1922, title deeds show he Willed it to his son Arthur. Hence Arthur is the A.Betts listed as Owner & Occupier of the property at the 1927 evaluation. His mother Ann had died in 1924.

Arthur and Agnes had an orchard across the lane from which they sold produce and it was probably at this time that their home became known as Appletrees. They also owned a parrot which has passed into Carlton folklore for its loudness of voice and choice of words! Very elderly residents of Carlton today, still remember it well. When Arthur died in 1944 and Agnes died in 1948, ownership passed down the family to their son Frederick and on his death to his daughter Edith. The house was sold out of the family in the early 1970s, ending a Betts occupation of 130 years. It has undergone significant alterations during that time including such conversion and extension that it would be unrecognisable to the Betts of the 19th and 20th centuries. 


31 Marsh resize

31 The Mash, June 2023