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253 and 254 Old Harrowden Road

253 and 254 Old Harrowden Road in 1960 [Z53/38/6]
253 and 254 Old Harrowden Road in 1960 [Z53/38/6]

253 and 254 Old Harrowden Road were listed by the former Department of Environment in July 1964 as Grade II, of special interest. The department dated the property, now divided into two, as 17th century. The building is timber framed with pebble-dash rendering and an old clay tile roof. It is built in an L-shape and has a single storey with an attic block at the front.

We are fortunate that three surveys of the parish of Cardington from the late 18th century survive. The first of these was undertaken in 1782 by James Lilburne. He was the parish schoolmaster and later agent for Samuel Whitbread, who owned large estates in the parish and also the sole Enclosure Commissioner for the parish. He produced a list of all the inhabitants of the parish arranged by house and hamlet [P38/28/1]. This was published, with extensive analysis by County Archaeologist David Baker in 1973 as Bedfordshire Historical Record Society Volume 52.

Since publication a second list has been found [P38/28/2]. It carries revisions up to the year 1789. Sadly neither of these surveys includes a map. Finally, in 1794 Lilburne produced another survey [W2/6/1-3] and this one had a map with a key showing where each house was. One can use this to plot the houses of the previous surveys and this work was carried out by John Wood of Bedfordshire County Council’s Conservation Section in October 1982 [CRT130Cardington29].

The 1782 survey [P38/28/1/2] stated that the occupier of the cottage, not yet divided into two, was 31 year old labourer William Haynes, who had been born at Maulding [Maulden]. His wife was 29 year old Elizabeth, née Bass, who had been born at Cople and spun Jersey, a woollen fabric much used for making underwear. Their children were: John, aged 2, who was later schooled at the expense of Samuel Whitbread I; Thomas, aged 9 months, who was also later schooled at the expense of Samuel Whitbread; Ann, who was born on 7th February 1785 and Richard, born on 29th April 1787. The family were willing to be inoculated against smallpox if others in the parish were; they moved to Fenlake in 1785 being replaced by James Arnold and his family.

Arnold himself was a 42 year old labourer who had been born at Croyden in Cambridgeshire and was a dissenter, that is, a nonconformist in religion. He died on 24th April 1788. His wife was 23 year old Esther, née Peevley, born at Shepreed [Shepreth] in Cambridgeshire; she spun linen and Jersey. They had a son, James, born on 20th August 1786. Sadly, he died on 6th October that same year and was buried at Bedford. They had a daughter, Martha, born on 13th December 1787.

Another family is listed from 1st May 1787. The survey does not note that the Arnolds left and so this may be the point at which the property was divided into two. James Marshall was a 26 year old labourer who had been born at Great Storton [Staughton] in Huntingdonshire and married 20 year old Elizabeth Haines, born in Cardington, on the day they moved in. Their son William  was born 1st September 1787 and died on 3rd October that same year.

The 1794 survey [W2/6/1-3] notes the occupiers as “Bass and others”, the owner being John Bland. He lived nest door at 255-257 Old Harrowden Lane.

Tithes were, originally, a tenth of one’s household produce, usually an arable crop such as wheat or barley but possibly livestock or manufactured produce such as shoes, given to support the local priest. They were divided into great and little tithes. Great tithes consisted of grain or large animals such as cattle. Little tithes were fruit, vegetables or other small crops and smaller farm animals such as poultry. By the 19th century this archaic practice had long been replaced by monetary tithes. The Tithe Commutation Act of 1836 finally made it compulsory to replace these archaic tithes with monetary payments. The payment was calculated on the seven year average of prices for the particular commodity derived from the land in question and was worked out by the parties involved – parson, landowners or tenants if the land was not owner-occupied. The parish of Cardington, including Harrowden, was assessed for tithes in 1840 [AT9/1]. At that date 253 and 254 Old Harrowden Road was owned by the Whitbread Estate and occupied by William Watford and others, whose cottage and garden comprised 1 rood, 22 poles. They paid 8d. annually to the vicar and 1/6 to the improprietor (the holder of the advowson).

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. Eastcotts, like most of the county, was assessed in 1927 and the valuer visiting 253 and 254 Old Harrowden Road [DV1/C280/66-67] found them owned by the Whitbread Estate. Number 253 was in the occupation of C. Summerfield who paid rent of £11/15/- per annum for a living room, kitchen and three bedrooms. He also rented an adjoining range of weather-boarded and tiled buildings comprising a stable for three horses, a mixing house, two loose boxes and a single bay cart shelter. These were “WELL BUILT” and a “useful lot and good”.

254 Old Harrowden Road was occupied by G. Barcock who paid £5/4/- per annum for a kitchen and two bedrooms as well as a weather-boarded and tiled barn and washhouse and a weather-boarded and tiled barn. Barcock's brother Frederick was killed at Achiet-le-Grand on 15th March 1917 whilst serving with 7th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment.