Nicholas Farm, Eden Lane
This page was contributed by Pamela Hider
Nicholas Farm, Carlton c.1912 [Z1130/25/19]
The Historic Environment for Bedfordshire describes Nicholas Farmhouse as follows:
18th century with 19th century alterations. Coursed limestone rubble. Clay tile roof with stone gable coping. Two storeys and attics. Four dormer windows. 19th century sash windows with ashlar surrounds.
Charles Higgins, Sheriff of London, purchased Turvey Manor in 1786 from Charles Mordaunt, last Earl of Peterborough. Land to the south east of Carlton was part of the Turvey Estate. This stretched from Eden's Lane up to Northey Farm and Great Oaks. Our documents from the 18th century refer to this as "land lying in Carlton Parish" and early Electoral Registers testify to ownership of that land by the Higgins family. Nicholas Farmhouse is a building which just fell within the Parish of Carlton. Within the first decade of buying Turvey Manor, Turvey House was built 1793-94, so it is possible that the Higgins family, wishing to put their mark on their new territory, built Nicholas Farmhouse too, towards the end of the 18th century. The Farmhouse was not on Jefferys map of 1765, but buildings were there in 1806 at the time of the Enclosure Map.
The first time we see the name 'Nicholas Farmhouse' is in the 1851 census when it was occupied by the family of John Clark, whose occupation was given as 'Farm Bailiff'. The same family was probably there in 1841, as they were mentioned in that census as living at 'West End' which at that time was the name given to the west part of Piper's Highway, today known as Eden's Lane.
In 1861, 27 year old William Layton (Agricultural labourer) and his 19 year old wife, Rebecca, were living at "Nicholas Lodge"; whilst 54 year old George Claridge (Farmer of 240 acres and employer of 7 men & 5 boys) lived with his family at "Nicholas Farm Lodge". 10 years later, William Layton (now a land owner) and Rebecca had a family and they were living in probably the same house, but which was now called "Nicholas Cottage". The Claridges were also in their same house, now called "Nicholas Farm Lodge" and George now farmed 300 acres and employed 10 men & 3 boys. In 1873, the farmhouse and 164 acres were up for sale, 'let to Mr.Claridge' (Bedford Times & Independent 5/7/1873).
The 1881 census referred to "No.1 Nicholas Farm" where 30 year old John Borton, farmer of 166 acres and employer of 6 men & 4 boys, lived with his young family. "No.2 Nicholas Farm" was "Uninhabited".
Electoral Registers of the 1880s and the census of 1891 showed James Smith and his family (from Scotland) to be living at "Nicholas Farm". But on 11/9/1897, Bedfordshire Times & Independent reported under 'Nicholas Farm, Carlton' that auctioneers had 'received instructions from Mr.James Smith,who is leaving..' to sell his farming stock and equipment.
Electoral Registers from 1899 and the 1901 Census showed Thomas Huie (from Scotland), Farmer and Employer, and his extended family, to be at "Nicholas Farm". He had previously farmed in Stevington. But by January 1902, the farm had been leased to W.J.Leaberry (BMB4/1/17/35/1). The 1911 Census found him still there (aged 57) with his wife and sister (or sister-in-law) who was a poultry keeper. Previous records show him to have been in the boot trade and there is no record of any children. On 5/9/1913, Bedfordshire Times and Independent reported his suicide after a period of ill health. One month later, Messrs. John Tite and Sons were described as the "ingoing tenant" (BMB4/1/17/35/3). They were to be there for the next 30 years.
Carlton Reformatory Boys outside the Threshing Barn at Nicholas Farm in 1913 [QRD1]
The Rating and Valuation Act 1925 (DV1/H18) specified that every building and piece of land in the country was to be assessed to determine its rateable value. In February 1927, the owner of Nicholas Farm was listed as Air Commodore Higgins and the occupiers as Tite & Sons. "171 acres and no cottages". Remarks: "On Road, 3½ miles to station [Turvey], Land poorish. House & buildings v.good. In 2 Parishes". Valuers Notes: "Good House & Buildings.Land poor. By Great Oaks". The description was as follows: "Stone & Tiled House: 2 Reception Rooms, kitchen, scullery, pantry, dairy, cellar. Up: 3 bedrooms 1st floor, 3 attic bedrooms. Out: Earth closet, Washouse, Coals. Water from Well outside. Good house. "Homestead (another hand had written 'no lights in buildings'): 3 bay open hovel & 2 loose boxes; 3 bay open hovel & henhouse; E block Coach house, Loose box, Hen House, Loose box, Mixing Room, 2 Calf Pens, Cow House for 6 (altered to 8), 3 bay open hovel, calf pens. N block Barn, Mixing Room Granary over, Cart shed 4 Bay open, Earth Closet, 2 Bay open shed. E block Stable for 6, Chaff Room, Harness Room, 3 Bay open shed. In yard 3 pig sties. Buildings brick & stone mostly.Good. Just right for acreage.Water from well".
"Farmer's Lucky Escape - Fall on Tractor to Bottom of Pit"
On 10/11/1939, Bedfordshire Times and Independent reported as follows:
Befordshire's luckiest farmer must be Mr. Benjamin Tite of Nicholas Farm, Carlton. On Thursday evening of last week Mr. Tite was driving his tractor-plough in the field opposite to the Baptist Meeting at Carlton. In this field there is a disused gravel pit, and Mr.Tite incautiously went too near the banks with the result that driver and tractor hurtled to the bottom of the pit. Mr.Tite escaped injury and was soon none the worse for his unnerving experience".
Benjamin, the last of the Tites at Nicholas Farm, died in 1943. His funeral service was held at Carlton Baptist Chapel and reported in the Bedfordshire Times and Independent of 19/3/1943 under "Well-Known Carlton Farmer".
The Electoral Rolls of 1945 tell us that Ralph Crowther (from Lancashire) was the next farmer living at Nicholas Farm with his family. His daughter married William Inns in 1953 and they and their family all lived with Ralph at the farm until at least the 1980s. Ralph was one of many tenants who had attended the funeral of the owner of Nicholas Farm, Air Commodore Higgins, on September 25th 1953 (Bedfordshire Times & Independent 2/10/53).
Nicholas Farm 2020