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Faldo Farm

Faldo Farm in 1980 [Z50/92/8]
Faldo Farm in 1980 [Z50/92/8]

Today [2015] Faldo Farm lies in the civil parish of Barton-le-Clay. Until 1933 it was an outlying part of the parish of Higham Gobion. The farmhouse was listed by English Heritage in May 1985. It probably dates from the 16th century "with earlier origins, reworked in the later 19th century". It is a substantial timber-framed building largely rendered in colour-washed roughcast but with brick cladding to the rear ground floor. It has clay tile roofs, is built in a T-plan and has two storeys. The house is sited within a medieval water-filled moat strongly suggesting it is the manor house of the Manor of Westhey and Faldo. A 19th century combined barn and pigeon loft and gateway is also listed.

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. Entry 241 is for the deserted medieval village of Faldo, once a hamlet of Higham Gobion. Earthworks indicate the site of the village, building plots, sunken ways and a fish pond having been identified. Pottery recovered in the 1950s is in Luton Museum.

In 1695 the Manor of Westhey and Faldo comprised 73 acres including Grove Close, Dryes. The Hemplands, Long and Short Pieces, Longlands and Wood Close, there were also fourteen acres of arable land in Barton-le-Clay; it was occupied by people called Adam and Finch and was worth £98 per annum [X95/114]. In 1752 the farm was leased to Alexander Lander of Westminster [Middlesex], cheesemonger for twelve years at an annual rent of £100 per annum [X95/124]. In 1765 a marriage settlement involving the Manor of Faldo and Westhey noted that Faldo Farm was in occupation of William Beal [Z306/1], sadly the acreage is not given.

By 1919 the farm was owned by Baroness Lucas of Crudwell. It seems likely that the farm was bought in 1871. In or around 1919 the farm was put on the market by Lady Lucas. Sale particulars [L23/1007/24] state that total acreage was 198 acres, 3 roods, 12 poles lying in the parishes of Higham Gobion, Pulloxhill. Barton-le-Clay and Streatley. The tenant was Charles J Beechener who bought the farm for £3,100. Directories for Bedfordshire were not published every year but every few years from the mid-19th century until 1940. The name Beechener is first associated with Faldo farm when Charles Beechener is listed in 1894. He is also listed in 1898 and 1903, with Charles James Beechener being listed from 1906. In 1885 and 1890 the tenant is listed as Charles Browning and in 1864 and 1877 George Church who, in 1847, 1853 and 1854 is simply listed as farmer without a farm being named.

 Faldo Farm about 1919 [L23/1007/24]
Faldo Farm about 1919 [L23/1007/24]

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 Faldo Farm DV1/H7/40 found that C J Beechener leased the farm to E J Beechener for a rent of £200 for 184 acres, set in 1926. The valuer remarked: "Very nice house. Buildings poor, except for cowhouse and covered yard. Out of the way place. Too much water in winter".

The house comprised three reception rooms, a kitchen, scullery, dairy and larder with four bedrooms above and a wood barn outside. The homestead contained: a brick, wood and tiled barn; two brick and tiled loose boxes; a wood and tiled machine shed; a wood and tiled hen house and cowhouse for four, barn, cowhouse for six and another barn; brick and tiled three bay open shed, cowhouse for eight and covered yard and wood and corrugated iron three bay open shed, wood and tiled piggeries, loose box, chaff house and stable for six and a five bay cart shed.

In 1933 two detached portions of the parish of Higham Gobion were absorbed into Pulloxhill. The largest of these was to the south and south-east of the parish and included Faldo Farm and the Speed the Plough Public House. The smaller area was around Higham Bury [MDCP54/6/1/1]. Part of the first named area, that around Faldo Farm was transferred to Barton-le-Clay in 1984 [CDP81]. On 3rd October 1940 several delayed action bombs were dropped at Faldo Farm [WW2/AR/CO/2/2]