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Wood End Settlement

This article was contributed by Sally Williams

The settlement at Wood End in the south of the parish dates is centred on the modern-day junction of Lodge Road, Woodend Road and the private drive to The Kennels – formerly known as Doeswell Lane. The land associated stretched down the escarpment to the parish boundary and along the lane to Holcot Wood.

The earliest reference is from 1244 and mentions Alanum de Wodende. He may have occupied the triangular moat south west of the present Wood End Farm [Hart and Lysons, 1886, p.3]. Originally Far Wood End farm stood adjacent to where Wood End Farmhouse sits today.

Court roll records from Cranfield Manor make a number of references to land and properties in Wood End. A deed [reference R6/15/4/4] dated 1732 describes the sale of two cottages in Wood End occupied by Thomas Knight and Thomas Windmill plus three closes called Home Closes.

In 1737 Elizabeth Wheeler surrendered Doswell House and 2 1/2 acres of sward called Doswell Close on the death of her husband John [reference R6/15/4/25]. Doswell House probably stood in the Lane formerly known as Doeswell Lane which today is the drive down to The Kennels off Woodend Road.

A conveyance Lease and Release of 1768 records the Manor of Cranfield, to use of William Pain -- copyhold farm house with dovehouse, garden, and orchard Wood End, Cranfield. -- 4 acres close adjoining messuage -- 14 acres 2 roods arable, Cranfield fields: -- 2 acres Stellipers field, Willow Slade Hill furlong -- 8 acres, South Side field, Sty furlong and Chalcroft furlong -- 2 acres Lean field, upper Stigdale furlong -- 2½ acres Thilland field -- 2 cottages (one late pulled down) formerly in the occupation of Ann Bruce widow and William Grammont, then Ann Bruce and George Hartwell, now William Archurch [reference BS2262-2263]. Much more land was included in the estate and the price is listed as £2552. 10s.0d.This may have been the land where Cranfield Court was subsequently built.

However in 1850 William Pain conditionally surrendered the farmhouse seemingly having gone bankrupt: Conditional surrender by William Pain of a farmhouse, dovehouse, cottages and various pieces of land in Wood End in Cranfield. With letter on back giving an acknowledgement of satisfaction for £1,552.

A farm at Wood End is mentioned in the will of Mary Coleman of 1784 [reference BC367],  the farm occupier being Thomas Turney.

In 1841 John Pain made bequests in his will to friend Joseph Atterbury of Middleton Raynes otherwise Milton, Buckinghamshire, yeoman, testator's nephew William Foster of Cranfield, yeoman and his son Edward Foster of the same, carpenter, messuage and or farmhouse at Wood End, Cranfield, in testator's occupation. His estate included other significant parcels of land and cottages. He also left William Foster £500 and his son Edward £200. His will suggests that he was a wealthy gentleman of the time.

Another document dated 1849 [reference X268/55/13] has particulars and conditions of sale of farmhouses and land at Cranfield, situated at Lower Wood End, Upper Wood End and Warley End, the property of John Odell, formerly of Sarah Rock, together with related letters and notes

Wood End Farm, which still stands at the far end of Wood End Lane was a notable farm in the area. As well as mixed livestock, dairy and arable farming, the farm also contained a brick and tile works.

That a mixed farming economy prevailed in Cranfield during much of the post- medieval period is shown by inventories (detailed lists of possessions) made on the deaths of certain farmers.  One drawn up in 1707 for John Girton includes his house, 5 horses, 1 colt, -11 cows in the pastures, 2 calves, 140 sheep, 4 hogs in the yard, 6 carts, 4 pairs of wheels, 2 pairs of harrows, 3 ploughs, 4 hovels (small barns), hay, wool, firewood, old grain, wheat, barley, pease and beans and about 27 acres of tilth in the fields [VCH Beds, II, 1908, p.99].