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Kings Cottage Clophill

King's Cottage July 2010
King's Cottage July 2010

King's Cottage is an attractive old building at the junction of Great Lane with the High Street. It used to be bigger. The Bedfordshire Historic Environment Record details all historic buildings and landscape features in the county. It is now available on-line as part of the Heritage Gateway website. The entry for 85 High Street and 1 Great Lane [HER 3718] noted that the cottages were one building and were 17th and 18th century, constructed of roughcast, with an old tile roof and comprising one storey and attics. They were included in the 1960 Provisional List at grade III but were subsequently demolished.

This is not quite the whole story. The Rating and Valuation Act 1925 specified that every building and piece of land in the country was to be assessed as to its rateable value. Clophill was assessed in 1927. The valuer visiting properties at the junction of Great Lane with High Street found that there were two separate dwellings, both owned by Albert A. B. Widdowson.

The first of these [DV1/C47/17] was also occupied by Widdowson and was a house and shop called Crosstrees. The brick, stucco and tiled, semi-detached structure comprised a shop (measuring 22 feet 6 inches by 12 feet), parlour, scullery, living room and pantry downstairs with three bedrooms above, one of which lay in the roof space. Outside stood: a corrugated iron, slate and tile open shed; a brick and tile earth closet ("shared"); a weather-boarded, felt and corrugated iron range comprising a henhouse, store and coal barn; a brick, weather-boarded and tiled store and a weather-boarded and tiled barn used for rabbits.

Next door to the north lay a house occupied by F. J. Gudgin at a weekly rent of 4/10 [DV1/C47/18]. This brick and tile semi-detached property comprised a living room and kitchen downstairs with two bedrooms above. A weather-boarded and slate barn stood outside.

85 High Street and 1 Great Lane in 1961 [Z53/31/7]
85 High Street and 1 Great Lane in 1961 [Z53/31/7]

Looking at the map used for the 1927 valuation and comparing it with a modern map it is quite clear that today's King's Cottage comprises the northern portion of the cottage occupied by Widdowson and all of that occupied by Gudgin. New windows have been added to made a symmetrical façade.

Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service has a series of deeds which shows the descent of this property from 1739 to 1926 [X287/2-19]. The deeds recited cover the former 85 High Street and 1 Great Lane as well as King's Cottage [see the diagram below].

Houses in Great Lane in 1926 [X287/19]
Houses in Great Lane in 1926 [X287/19]

In June 1739 Joseph Carter of Silsoe, butcher was admitted to a cottage which was copyhold of the Manor of Clophill and Cainhoe, on the death of his father Samuel. The cottage was described as formerly in the occupation of Robert Cooke, then William Rawlings, then Abbis Wheeler and had been purchased by John Carter from Edward Hill in 1710 [X287/2]. Joseph Carter sold the cottage to Henry Line of Clophill, husbandman in the same year he was admitted [X287/2].

In 1744 Sarah Radley was admitted to the cottage, she had, before remarrying, been the widow of Henry Line, who had died in 1740. The cottage was described as "now divided into two dwellings" [X287/3]. Sarah surrendered the cottage to the use of her will in 1744, dying that same year. Sarah had obviously been married at least three times because her son Thomas Odell, of Belton [Lincolnshire], coachman inherited the cottage before selling it to George Burridge of Clophill, shopkeeper in 1786 [X287/5].

Mary Burridge survived her husband and then died intestate and in 1809 her two daughters, Elizabeth White and Margaret Matthews were admitted to the property [X287/6]. It was the daughters of Stephen and Margaret Matthews who inherited the cottages in 1840 - Mary Ann Turney and Elizabeth Adams [X287/7]. The cottages were described as having gardens and orchards adjoining and were described as one cottage formerly in the occupation of Stephen Matthews and William Harborough and another cottage divided into five tenements and in the occupation of John Gudgin, Joseph Dudley, Robert Hammond, Widow Squires and Squires.

In 1851 Abraham Page Turney and Mary Ann, his wife and Robert Adams, and Elizabeth, his wife, surrendered the cottages to Frederick Titmas of Clophill, pork butcher [Z287/9]. In January 1878 Frederick Titmas of Clophill, dealer, sold them to Susan Collip of Kensington Palace Gardens, London, domestic servant, for £400. They are described thus: "All those two Cottages or tenements situate in Clophill aforesaid and the Garden and Orchard thereto adjoining formerly in the several Tenures or occupations of Stephen Matthews and Thomas Harborough one of which said Cottages (as the same were long since altered) was heretofore in the occupations of William Matthews and William Harborough and has been since pulled down and the other with additions made thereto comprises five Tenements or dwellings which were heretofore in the occupation of William Gudgin, William Roberts, Thomas Bone, Robert Hanniwell, John Everill and John Cherry and to which Cottages, land and premises the said Frederick Titmas was admitted Tenant to him and his heirs out of Court on the nineteenth day of February 1851 on the Surrender of Abraham Page Tyrney and Mary Ann, his wife and Robert Adams and Elizabeth, his wife" [X287/11].

Susan Collip sold the premises to Maud Goddard of Clophill in 1919 for £600 [X287/15]. Then, in 1924, the property was enfranchised, that is, it was converted from copyhold into freehold on paying a fine to the Lord of the Manor of £83 [X287/17]. This was in line with the gradual dismantling of the manorial system under a number of Law of Property Acts during the 1920s. A week later Maud sold the property to Herbert Butcher of Holloway Road, London, and Emily Jane, his wife, for £600 [X287/18]. The last deed is an abstract of title of the Butchers to the property, dated 1926 which indicates that it was in this year that the Butchers sold the premises to Albert Widdowson, owner in 1927.