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Birchfield Farmhouse Great Barford

Birchfield Farmhouse in 1960 [Z53/5/21]
Birchfield Farmhouse in 1960 [Z53/5/21]

Birchfield Farmhouse was listed by the former Department of Environment in August 1983 as Grade II, of special interest. The department dated the property to the 17th century. It is constructed of colour washed roughcast over a timber frame and has an old clay tile roof with a zigzag pattern on the south side. The house is built in an L-shape and has two storeys with a one storey lean-to addition to the west and another to the rear.

The earliest record of the farm held by Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service is in 1815 when John Polhill of Howbury Hall leased it to John Underhill of Marylebone in Middlesex [X668/203] for six years at £250 per annum. At that date the farm comprised 250 acres and was occupied by John Robinson. In 1819 [X668/214] Polhill leased the farm to Samuel and Thomas Teanby of Killingholme [Lincolnshire] for six years at £320 per annum.

In 1911 the farm was for sale by auction by Cecil Polhill [X65/6]. It was then occupied by Joseph Dover and known as Great Birchfields. The farm comprised 193 acres, 1 rood, 12 perches and rent, which was “very inadequate” was £80 per annum. The farmhouse was described as well-arranged and double-fronted the description being as follows: “The HOUSE contains Entrance hall, Dining Room with French windows leading out to Garden, Drawing Room with French windows also opening on to Garden, capital Dairy and Cellar, back Kitchen fitted with copper, Lumber Room over same, Kitchen with enclosed range, 4 Bedrooms, a Range of Timber and Tiled Buildings comprising Earth Closet, Coal-place and Workshop, and a small lean-to Tool House”.

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. Most of Bedfordshire was assessed in 1927 and the valuer visiting Birchfield Farm [DV1/H13/48] found it owned and occupied by John Harold Brown who also owned Willoughby Farm. In the absence of evidence to the contrary it seems a reasonable guess that he bought it in 1911. The farm comprised 212 acres and the valuer noted that in the farmer’s opinion it was worth £1 per acre. The valuer commented: “Homestead nearly all thatch and very expensive. House nice (2 men in it)” he also noted that the road leading from Green End Road had to be kept up, costing £50 in the previous two years “at least”.

The farmhouse comprised a hall, reception room, two kitchens, scullery and washhouse with four bedrooms above, though a different hand has noted it comprised a kitchen two living rooms and five bedrooms. Water came from a well.

The homestead comprised: a four bay open hovel; a five stall stable; a mixing house; a four bay cart shed; an implement shed; a loose box; a barn used as a hovel; a three stall stable; a further loose box; a hen house; a granary; a barn and a two bay hovel. Most were constructed of weatherboarding and thatch with some weather boarded and tiled.

On 10th December 1944 a V1 flying bomb landed 150 yards west of Windmill Road [Birchfield Road] in Rogers Fields [WW2/AR/CO/3/2]. It caused slight damage to Great Birchfield Farm, Little Birchfield Farm and East View Farm. In 1992 a planning application was entered to repair and renovate the farmhouse [BorBTP/92/1012/LB].