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Channels End Farmhouse Colmworth

Channels End Farmhouse September 2009
Channels End Farmhouse in September 2009

A modern map of Colmworth has three sets of buildings on it labelled as Channels End Farm. One lies on the north side of Colesden Road, one on the west side of Channels End Road and one just to the north-east of it on the east side of the road. Channels End Farmhouse is a splendid old half-timbered building on the west side of Channel End Road, just north of the junction with Colesden Road.

The farmhouse was listed by English Heritage in August 1983 as Grade II, of special interest.  The building dates from the 17th century. It is constructed of colour washed roughcast over a timber frame with an old clay roof. The main block has four bays and two storeys with a cross-wing of one storey and attics to the east. A one storey lean-to has also been added, of timber-framed construction with brick infill and with a slate roof. A 19th century brick one storey range with roofs of slate and pantiles was also added to the east.

Five hundred metres to the north lies an 18th century timber-framed granary on a brick plinth with red brick infill and a corrugated iron roof. This was listed at the same time as the farmhouse. The door lies in the south wall up a short flight of four steps. One storey additions in red brick with corrugated
iron roofs have been made to the north and east.

Channels End Farm seems, probably from earliest times, to have belonged to the Manor of Colmworth. Although there is a possible reference to another manor based on Channels End in the Domesday Book of 1086 this interpretation must be regarded as conjectural.

In 1742 the Colmworth Estate, comprising The Manor, Lordship Farm [now Manor Farm], Channels End Farm and Netherstead Farm were sold by Thomas Browne and Denis Farrer to Francis Astrey and George Draper [MH3-4]. At that time Channels End Farm was occupied by Benjamin Everet at a rent of £65 per annum. His farm comprised 207 acres.

In 1770 the Colmworth estate was mortgaged by Richard Ray to John Ives of Norfolk for £10,000 [MH17]. At that date Channels End Farm comprised 347 acres in the occupation of Richard Everett who now paid £100 per annum.

In 1795 the Colmworth Estate, now also including Church End Farm, today's Church Farm, was sold at auction [MH30-31] by Lord of the Manor Richard Ray and was bought by Lincolnshire parson Leonard Towne. The farm was leased to Zachariah Gray on a yearly lease at £120 per annum. The farm comprised 347 acres, 2 roods, 25 poles and included both inclosed and common field land, as follows:

  • The farm house and Home Close of pasture - 3 acres, 2 roods, 12 poles;
  • Round Pightle - pasture of 3 roods, 20 poles;
  • Bundy's Close - pasture of 1 acre, 3 roods,12 poles;
  • Long Pightle - pasture of 2 roods, 36 poles;
  • Jenny's Close - pasture of 9 acres, 2 roods;
  • The Severals - pasture of 1 acre, 2 roods,1 pole;
  • Little Bushey's Close - pasture of 3 acres, 2 roods, 37 poles;
  • The Meadow - pasture of 2 acres, 16 poles;
  • Bushey Close - pasture of 11 acres, 2 roods, 16 poles;
  • BlackLand Pightle - pasture of 2 roods, 26 poles;
  • Burnoe Wood Close - arable of 20 acres, 1 rood, 34 poles;
  • Foxhole and Trefoil Closes - pasture of 13 acres, 28 poles;
  • Warren Close - pasture of 11 acres, 1 rood, 3 poles;
  • Warren Meadows - pasture 10 acres, 1 rood, 7 poles
  • Fourteen Acre Wood - arable of 12 acres, 3 roods, 20 poles;
  • Sixteen Acre Wood - arable of 18 acres, 2 roods, 14 poles;
  • Eighteen Acre Wood - arable of 16 acres, 1 rood, 36 poles;
  • Hither Twelve Acre Wood - arable of 13 acres;
  • Further Twelve Acre Wood - arable of 12 acres, 2 roods, 26 poles;
  • Five Acre Wood - arable of 4 acres, 2 roods, 5 poles;
  • Cottage Close - arable of 3 acres;
  • The Riding in the Wood - arable of 32 acres, 8 poles.

The common field land was as follows:

  • In Lane Hedge Field, twenty three parcels comprising 37 acres, 1 rood;
  • In Long Croft - 1 acre;
  • In Digit Field - 1 acre;
  • In Blackland Field, five parcels comprising 12 acres;
  • In Pacer Field - two parcels comprising 2 acres;
  • In Mill Field, two parcels comprising 2 acres;
  • In Little Field, three parcels comprising 1 acre, 3 roods;
  • In Great Stocking Field - 1 acre;
  • In West Field - 1 acre;
  • In Long Field - 2 acres;
  • In Capley's Field, four parcels comprising 3 acres;
  • In Haynes' Field - 3 acres, 2 roods, 19 poles;
  • In Small Brook Field - 1 acre;
  • In East Croft Brook Field, twenty parcels comprising 14 acres;
  • In Broad Mead Field, forty one parcels comprising 58 acres, 2 roods;
  • In Burnoe Field, ten parcels comprising 17 acres, 2 roods;
  • In Mill Field, twenty two parcels comprising 14 acres, 3 roods

Having been part of the Colmworth estate for so long, Channels End Farm was put up for sale at least twice in the 19th century and early years of the 20th. The first auction sale was in 1892 [X65/51] when it was offered for sale as part of a Chancery action Medland v. Farrer. This implies that it had already been detached from the Colmworth Estate, presumably by another sale, by that date. The farm comprised 102 acres, 1 rood, 22 poles and was in the occupation of Henry Nixon.

The house was described as containing a hall, parlour, sitting room, front kitchen, washhouse fitted with two coppers and a sink, a dairy, cellar, lumber room and four bedrooms. The farm also contained two brick and slate cottages with large gardens lying on the road immediately north of the farmhouse.

The German U-Boats nearly brought Britain to its knees during the Second World War. It is little known that something similar happened in the First World War. By 1917 the situation was so bad that the part of the reason for the British offensive termed Third Battle of Ypres, but commonly known as the Battle of Passchendaele, was the objective of advancing up the Belgian coast and capturing ports used by U-Boats. The War Agricultural Executive Committees of county councils were instructed to find ancient pasture to plough up to plant crops to prevent the country starving. This inevitably meant land which was marginal for arable farming and the farmers involved usually protested. One such was Alfred Nixon of Channels End Farm [WW1/AC/OP1/2]. Fortunately the introduction of the convoy system brought losses of merchant shipping back to acceptable levels.

The farm was again put up for sale in 1921 [BML10/55/1] when The Hill Farm, Pavenham and Channels End Farm were sold by trustees who had been assigned the property by Lizzie, George Henry and Leslie Church of Pavenham and Harold Eric Church of Bolnhurst. The trustees were acting for the creditors of John Church, deceased [Stuncat573]. The farm now contained 102 acres, 1 rood, 22 poles in the following fields: Home Close; Wilden Ditch; Blacklands; Long Meadow; Carthovel Close; Maple Well; Little Field and Nine Acres. The house was described as containing a hall, parlour, sitting room, front kitchen, washhouse fitted with copper and sink, dairy, cellar, store room and four bedrooms.

The Rating and Valuation Act 1925 specified that every piece of land and building in the country was to be assessed to determine its rateable value. Colmworth, like most of Bedfordshire, was assessed in 1927. The valuer visiting Channels End Farm [DV1/H22/20] noted that it was owned and occupied by Joseph Throssell senior, who had presumably bought it in 1918, and comprised 102 acres.

The farmhouse, of stud and plaster on brick foundations with a tile roof, comprised two reception rooms, a kitchen, scullery and dairy downstairs with three bedrooms and a boxroom above. A coal barn and earth closet stood outside.

The homestead comprised: three divided stock barns; a place for keeping hay; two places for four cows each; a corn and mixing barn; two three bay open hovels; a granary; a stable for five horses and harness room and a mixing room. By the entrance gate stood a four bay implement hovel.

In 1991 a planning application for a single storey extension Channels End Farmhouse was approved [BorBTP/91/1210/LB].

Channels End Farmhouse December 2009
Channels End Farmhouse December 2009