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Manor Farm Harrowden

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] notes that property was a simply a cottage tenanted by Thomas Lavender, then aged 62, who died on 9th January 1786. His 33 year old son Thomas lived with him and he died on 20th December 1788. Thomas junior’s wife was Susanna, née Wright, aged 33 and born at Haynes. Their children were William, aged 10 and at school courtesy of Samuel Whitbread but “out” (presumably at work) in 1783; Mary, aged 9 and John, aged 4½. The 1794 survey [W2/6/1-3] notes that the property was now a homestall, or house belonging to a farm belonging to Samuel Whitbread, and in the occupation of James Malden. This may well be the genesis of Manor Farm.

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 By the 19th century this archaic practice had long been replaced by monetary tithes.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 Manor Farm was owned by the Whitbread Estate and occupied by William Ibbott. The farm comprised the following:

  • South Sharp Field – arable – 37 acres, 3 roods, 15 poles;
  • Ibbots Close and homestead (the house) – 1 acre, 1 rood, 10 poles;
  • Pightle Close – pasture – 1 acre, 2 roods, 21 poles;
  • Hopkins Close – pasture – 5 acres, 1 rood, 1 pole;
  • 1st Bridge Close – pasture – 3 acres, 1 rood, 12 poles.

A total of 49 acres, 1 rood, 29 poles.

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 Manor farm [DV1/H48/38] found it still owned by the Whitbread Estate and occupied by Harry Harper who paid £200 per annum, which had been fixed in 1919. The farm comprised 83 acres, 3 roods, 15 poles.

The farmhouse comprised two reception rooms, a kitchen and dairy with three bedrooms upstairs. A combined coal and wood barn and a wooden privy stood outside. Water came from a well and drainage was overland to Home Close.

The homestead comprised the following:

  • Stabling; two harness rooms; a corn and chaff barn; a cow place; two sets of three further cow places and a further two; a two bay open hovel; a tool house and four calf boxes;
  • In the rickyard was a corrugated iron henhouse;
  • The front block contained: a churn and float room; a trap house and a three bay open hovel with a loft over.

The buildings were all made of wood on a brick foundation with tiled roofs. The valuer noted: “When good flood on, water comes back to yards” and “Not sufficient implement covering”.

Manor Farmhouse was listed by the former Department of Environment in May 1984 as Grade II, of special interest. The department dated the house to the 17th century. It is a timber-framed structure with pebbledash render and a clay tile roof. It is built in a T-plan and comprises two storeys. A 20th century flat-roofed addition lies to the rear and outhouses to the north-east.