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Flitton Vicarage

Flitton Vicarage in 1827, painted by Rev. Henry Wellesley [P12/28/9]
Flitton Vicarage in 1827, painted by Rev. Henry Wellesley [P12/28/9]

The Old Vicarage was listed by the former Department of Environment in October 1952 as Grade II, of special interest. The department dated the property to the late 18th and 19th centuries. It is noted as probably being a reworking of an earlier, 17th century, structure. At the time of its listing the property was subdivided into two dwellings.

The property is built of colourwashed brick with slate roofs. The brick encases some substantial timber framing which can be seen at the rear of the property. The house has two storeys and is built in a T-shape. The porch is late 19th century and colourwashed brick and slate one storey structures have been added to both gable ends.

The first reference to the vicarage is in 1606 when the Earl of Kent leased the vicarage for three years to Thomas Lake of Pulloxhill, yeoman for £27 per annum [L5/1080]. Further leases indicate that the vicarage was not much inhabited by the vicar, as was also to be the case early in the following century.

A terrier of the church made by the Archdeaconry of Bedford in 1607 [ABE1] describes the vicarage. At that time the vicarage was a five bay building, two of which had bedchambers over them. It was a timber-framed building with a tiled roof and had seven rooms and a hall downstairs with three chambers above. A kitchen and a buttery were attached. Outside stood an old barn with three small bays which was built of timber and was thatched.

In 1636 the Earl of Kent leased the vicarage to Ann Hale of Silsoe [L5/1081], the lease mentioning that her husband Benjamin had previously held it. It seems as if the vicarage had been subdivided because Ann's lease excludes that part of the house inhabited by Henry Bilcocke and that part lived in by the Earl's servant Edward Dyllon. Ann's lease was renewed for ten years in 1638 and it was shared by her son-in-law William Wheeler [L5/1082]; parts of the house were then occupied by Francis Raworth and Edward Dyllon. Wheeler surrendered the lease in 1652 [L5/1083]. In 1676 the parsonage was leased for three years to Richard Hopkins of Silsoe [L15/1088]. Two years later the Countess Dowager leased the vicarage to Jeremy Fowler of Silsoe, yeoman, along with twenty four acres of glebe, for £76 per annum [L5/1086].

A terrier prepared by the archdeaconry in 1708 [ABE] described a timber and tiled building with three rooms downstairs including a boarded parlour, an earth floored hall and a boarded study. An earth floored kitchen of one bay built of timber and tiled stood against the house. There were three bedchambers above, all with boarded floors but not ceiled, in other words, they were open to the roof beams.

This house sounds substantially the same as that of 1607 except for the number of downstairs rooms. Presumably either one of the terriers is mistaken or there were significant alterations in the century between the two descriptions.

The parsonage house was described in a terrier of Flitton church of 1725 [P12/2/1/1] as "bounded on the north and west by the road and on the east and south by a messuage belonging to the poor of the parish of Maulden". In 1852 the vicar, Alfred Browne, in his diary noted that the drawing room had been made secure. He planted weeping and copper beeches on the lawn in 1858 and in 1859 acquired a new carpet from London [Z838/2]. Since 1920 Flitton has been held in plurality with Pulloxhill and the vicar resided in Pulloxhill; since 1967 Silsoe has also been added and the vicar now lives at the Vicarage in that parish. This meant that Flitton Vicarage was surplus to requirements and so it was sold.

The sale catalogue [HN7/1/FLIT1] for the auction held at the Victory Hall, Flitwick 1st June 1920 described the property:

A delightful freehold old fashioned country residence known as Flitton Vicarage.

Accomodation included a glazed entrance porch; hall with panelled dado and foreplace; a south facing dining room; study; drawing room; butler's pantry, kitchen, cellar with meat safe; scullery, five bedrooms, W.C., bath & basin (hot & cold), attic bedroom.

Outside was a yard, caol barn, shed, ash pit, soft water well and pump.

The 'charming old world grounds which are a distinct feature of the property are dsposed in a most attractive mannerm quite secluded, planted wih many well grown ornamental trees and shrubs, including Wellingtonia, beeches and fine cedar, afford shady walks and comprise a large lawn, flower beds, winderness and two well stocked vegetable gardens with choice fruit trees.'

The Rating and Valuation Act 1925 specified that every building and piece of land in the country was to be assessed to determine its rateable value. The valuer visiting the Old Vicarage [DV1/C270/135] found that it was owned and occupied by Edgar R. Straker. He noted: "Saw Mr. Straker, said: Considers it has cost him already £700 not yet finished. Been here 1 year last August. Water from well, drainage cess pool. Electric light, own plant. Anthracite stove for heating, no central heating"

The building comprised: a hall measuring 12 feet by 15 feet 6 inches; a cloak room with a basin; a dining room measuring 14 feet by 15 feet; a study measuring 11 feet by 10 feet; a drawing room measuring 17 feet by 18 feet with a 7 feet by 2 feet 6 inch bay; "through door to pantry"; a kitchen ("bright") measuring 11 feet by 16 feet 6 inches; a scullery and a larder Cellars lay underneath the ground floor. Up the main stairs were: a linen room measuring 15 feet by 10 feet; a W. C.; a bathroom; a sewing room measuring 10 feet by 16 feet 6 inches and five bedrooms measuring 11 feet 6 inches by 16 feet, 10 feet by 8 feet 6 inches, 11 feet 6 inches by 8 feet 6 inches, 8 feet by 10 feet and 12 feet by 9 feet respectively. Up four stairs lay another bedroom measuring 17 feet by 11 feet plus a bay measuring 6 feet by 3 feet. One attic was used as a work room.

Outside stood: a wood and felt garage an with inspection pit; a brick and tiled garage and engine house; a cell room with twenty seven (battery) cells and a Pelter Engine with switchboard, for running the electric lighting; a wood and corrugated iron tool shed and a glass house measuring 7 feet 6 inches by 12 feet. Kelly's Directory for Bedfordshire was published every few years until 1940. The edition of 1928 and 1931 give Edgar Straker as occupier, that for 1936 gives Miss Sheila T. Straker.

The Old Vicarage at Flitton October 2010
The Old Vicarage at Flitton October 2010