The Old Manse, 57 The Causeway
This page was contributed by Pamela Hider
The Manse 1926, with Moses Beeby, his wife & daughter Ruth on the wall.
Although the inception of a Baptist Church in Carlton dates back to 1688, we know that as early as 1672, Meetings took place at Fishers Farm, whose house was licensed for worship. In the early years, services were taken by Elders, or pastors from other congregations, or by itinerant preachers. The number of Carlton Baptists grew, so that in 1760, a Meeting House was built in The Causeway on land purchased by the Bithrey family (who lived at Fishers). Pastors had to find their own accommodation, but in 1796, when Charles Vorley was ordained as Pastor, he was presented with a residence in the High Street by Frances Bithrey. Frances, by now a widow, was the great granddaughter of John Bunyan, who was reputed to have preached at Fishers, and she was a fervent Baptist. The residence today is known as Rowan Cottage, at 38, High Street and bears a date plaque of 1740. Charles' long tenure lasted until his death in 1837, but because the cottage had been a personal gift to Charles, it passed to his descendants (whose ownership lasted until about 1950).
38, High Street 2021
As a consequence of this, in 1839, the Church agreed to buy a house for the next Minister and this was at 37, High Street adjoining the Meeting Burial Ground. This property had been 'sadly neglected' but 'further outlay was expended to put the house in a good tenantable repair'.
37, High Street 2021
57 The Causeway
However, by 1870, this Minister's house was declared 'not fit for the residence of the new Pastor' and the building of a new house at 57, The Causeway, on land belonging to the Church, was begun, being completed in 1872 - this was The Manse. 'The Ministers house known as the Manse was built in 1870. 20 poles of land was purchased for £30, the three Cottages purchased by Mr. Vorley and others were sold the £100 went towards building this house. Mr. John Gostick advanced £80 on the house, 4 per cent interest to be paid to him while he lived, at his death the £80 to go towards the building fund. Also an £100 was borrowed from the building society at Wellingboro. The remainder of this was paid off when Mr. Jull [Pastor 1873-79] was here. “This was not the first ministers house” '. In 1878, it was decided to build a wall around the Manse.
Over the next hundred years, at least 7 pastors are known to have occupied The Manse, with tenures ranging from 3 to 10 years. The one significant exception was the tenure of Moses Beeby, which lasted from 1913-1952, after whom Beeby Way, off The Causeway, is named.
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. The owner was listed as Chapel Trustees and the occupier as Beevey (sic), M. Rev. The house was described as having 2 Reception Rooms, Living Room, Kitchen & Scullery. Upstairs were 4 bedrooms and a box room. A cellar but no barn was noted. The Valuer remarked "Good well built detached house in decent position. Chapel minister lives here & is liable to nominal quit rent only". Another hand had written "V.Good Well Built Small Gdn".
After the death of Moses Beeby in December 1952, a new pastor wasn't found until 1967. After his short tenure of less than 3 years, the next pastor was installed from 1973-83. Numbers at Carlton Chapel were steadily declining and the decision was taken to put The Manse up for sale by auction in 1986. The Estate Agent's details revealed that a bathroom, central heating and a garage had been added since the 1920s valuation and carried the warning that a metal cover in the cellar floor concealed a deep well.
Thus the Manse passed into private hands. The same fate met the Chapel itself a few years later when it became a private dwelling. In 1994, it had amalgamated with the old Harrold Evangelical Church to form The Grace Baptist Church housed in the Old Mission Hall in Harrold High Street. By the early 2000s, worship at Carlton ceased and the Chapel was sold. Baptists from both villages still worship in Harrold today.
The Old Manse 2020
A Brief History of the Strict and Particular Baptist Cause at Carlton, Beds., by Moses Beeby (written 1925 -27).
Newsletters of Carlton & Chellington Historical Society by M.J.Pratt - Z1521/1/6/1, Z1521/1/7/2, Z1521/1/8/2.
1926 photo and access to deeds kindly provided by Philip and Carole Ledger, owners of the Old Manse at the time of writing (2021).