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The Hoo - 31 High Street Great Barford

The Hoo about 1900 [Z1306/5/10/5]
The Hoo about 1900 [Z1306/5/10/5]

The Hoo, although not a particularly historic building, is quite an impressive one, standing opposite the junction of the High Street with Silver Street. The Bedfordshire Historic Environment Record [HER] contains information on the county’s historic buildings and landscapes and summaries of each entry can now be found online as part of the Heritage Gateway website. The entry for The Hoo [HER12319] reads: “19th century brick barns with gabled thatched roofs. Part of the Great Barford Conservation area”.

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 valued in 1927 and the valuer visiting The Hoo [DV1/C125/147] found it owned and occupied by Mrs. James Wilkerson who “Gave just over £1,100 with conveyancing etc.” The pre-war rent had been £50 to £60 per annum.

The brick and slate property stood in one acre, one rood of land and comprised a hall (35 feet by 10 feet), a dining room (24 feet by 15 feet), a drawing room (22 feet by 14 feet), a morning room (13 feet 6 inches by 15 feet), a cloakroom, with lavatory basin and w. c., a servants’ hall (12 feet by 10 feet), a kitchen (15 feet by 12 feet 6 inches), scullery (15 feet by 10 feet), a larder with marble shelving (10 feet by 6 feet 6 inches), butler’s pantry with a sink and a wine cupboard with shelves downstairs. Three principal bedrooms, two secondary bedrooms and a bathroom, with hot and cold running water and a lavatory basin on the first floor.

An old gas house (“disused”) lay outside along with a heated greenhouse measuring 16 feet by 40 feet (“but old”), a summerhouse, a tool house and a privy. There was also a brick and thatched range comprising a garage for two small four seater cars, a loose box used as a store room, three standings for horses, a saddle room, a loose box and a corn store – all used as stores. There was also a tennis lawn and a croquet lawn, ornamental gardens and a “very small” kitchen garden.

The valuer commented: “Substantially built, lofty”. He noted that there was central heating but it was “out of order” and water was pumped from Biggleswade waterworks. The house was lit by oil lamps. The valuer further commented: “Too near Road. No secondary stairway for Servants” but it had “Good stabling” though “out of repair”. A grass field of one acre, one rood adjoined The Hoo and was also owned by Mrs. Wilkerson.

Kelly’s Directory for Bedfordshire lists the following occupants of The Hoo in various of its editions. The last Kelly’s for Bedfordshire was published in 1940.

  • 1898 and 1903 Vincent Frisby;
  • 1910: Mrs. Bryant;
  • 1920, 1924, 1928, 1931 and 1936: James Wilkerson
  • 1940: Wilfred E. Lewin

The Hoo March 2010
The Hoo March 2010