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Crawley Hall Husborne Crawley

Crawley Hall January 2011
Crawley Hall January 2011

Crawley Hall is an older building than might appear at first glance, which might mistake it for a Victorian farmhouse. It was listed by the former Department of Environment in February 1987 as Grade II, of special interest. The department dated the property to the 18th century "with later reworkings". It is built of red brick laid in header bond; much of the brickwork is vitrified. It has a 20th century tiled roof. The house is built in an L-shape and has two storeys.

Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service is lucky enough to have the archive of the Duke of Bedford' estates. This includes deeds of Crawley Hall Farm from 1777 to 1904. The first of these, in 1777 [R6/29/3/1-2], describes the farmhouse simply as a messuage in Husborne Crawley. The farm then comprised a close of four acres called Home Close, two closes adjoining the farmhouse comprising eight acres and 104 acres of arable and pasture in the common fields of Husborne Crawley. The farm was then owned by Walter Spong of Cobham [Surrey] and occupied by Joanna Emerton. Spong sold the farm to John Goodman of Salford, baker, for £1,290/10/- in June that year.

John Goodman died in 1802 and in his will [R6/29/3/6] he devised the farm to his daughter Ann Adkins with the proviso that it was to pass to her children after her death. Ann had two children – John Goodman Adkins and Mary Ann, who married James Warr of Aspley Guise, butcher, in 1824 [R6/29/3/7-8]. In 1825 James and Mary Ann Warr sold their half share of the farm to John Adkins Goodman for £2,300 [R6/29/3/9-10]. It then comprised 82 acres, 3 roods, 6 poles as follows:

  • The farmhouse;
  • Home Close;
  • 9 acres, 19 poles of pasture in Hill Field;
  • 68 acres, 1 rood, 9 poles of arable;
  • a plot of 1 rood, 1 pole in Hill Field;
  • a plot of 1 acre, 17 poles


In 1832 John Adkins Goodman sold Crawley Hall farm to Rev. Samuel Wright of Aspley Guise (he was not the rector) for £3,350 [R6/29/3/18]. By this time he had added two closes in Little Field containing 21 acres, 35 poles for a total farm size of 104 acres, 1 pole. Wright became Rector of Drayton Parslow [Buckinghamshire] and made his will in 1841 [R6/29/3/20]. It was proved in 1846 and Crawley Hall Farm, along with the rest of his estate, was devised to trustees for sale. They did not sell the farm until 1861 when it was bought by Joseph Norris, a Ridgmont farmer who also owned Bury End Farm in Eversholt, for £7,060 [R6/29/3/22]. By that date the farm comprised the following (shown on the map below – to see a larger version, please click on the image):

Crawley Hall Farm in 1861 [R6-29-3-22]
Crawley Hall Farm in 1861 [R6/29/3/22]

  • the farmhouse with a yard, garden and orchard;
  • Home Close, now measured as 3 acres, 3 roods, 20 poles;
  • Top close of 7 acres, 1 rood, 20 poles;
  • Lower Field of 51 acres, 2 roods, 6 poles;
  • Maggot Pit of 10 acres, 1 rood, 30 poles;
  • Long Leys of 17 acres, 3 roods, 24 poles;
  • Crows End or Trows End of 9 acres, 2 roods, 25 poles.

This made a total of 100 acres, 3 roods, 5 poles. Joseph Norris died in 1866 just after making his will [R6/29/3/24] in which he devised Crawley Hall Farm to his late wife's niece Harriet Morris. Harrier died intestate on 18th September 1903 and her brother James Sibthorpe Morris inherited the property [R6/29/3/27] however, he died less than three months later and his sisters Anne and Rebecca inherited the farm as trustees for sale. They duly sold it, to the Duke of Bedford, in June 1904 [R6/29/3/28]. The farm still comprised 100 acres, 3 roods, 5 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 Crawley Hall [DV1/C53/85] found that it was not the farmhouse to Crawley Hall Farm (that was 270 Bedford Road). This must have been a comparatively recent development as Crawley Hall was still described as the farmhouse on the conveyance of Crawley Hall Farm to the Duke of Bedford in 1904 [R6/29/3/28]. Crawley Hall was leased to a Miss Susan Margaret Collie for £50 per annum, the same rent as in 1914. The house and gardens comprised 0.879 of an acre and a grass field of 1.25 acres was included in the lease.

The valuer obviously liked the place. He commented: "Lovely garden" and "Very nice". He felt the rent was on the low side commenting "£50 but against Farm". The house comprised a hall; three reception rooms (measuring, respectively 14 feet by 18 feet, 18 feet by 13 feet and 14 feet square); a kitchen; a scullery and a pantry; five bedrooms stood on the first floor three of them measuring, respectively, 14 feet by 18 feet, 18 feet by 13 feet and 14 feet square; there was also a bathroom and a W. C. Two attics lay on the second floor. Outside stood a coal barn, a coachhouse, a stable for one horse, a harness room, a store shed with an apple loft over and an earth closet.

Crawley Hall Farm [DV1/H5/14] was leased by John Howkins for £172 per annum, a rent fixed in 1919. The farm then comprised 105 acres. The valuer noted: "Saw Mr. Howkins who complains of heavy land". Another hand wrote in the valuer's notebook: "A small accommodation farm with 25 acres of bad grass on it and other portion a mile away".

The farm buildings were in three blocks as follows:

  • A; a brick and tiled three bay open cow hovel; a cow stable for six with a feeding passage and a brick and corrugated iron two bay open cart shed;
  • B: a wood and thatched barn and a wood and corrugated iron cooling house
  • C: a wood and tiled barn, a brick, wood and slated four bay open hovel and loosebox.

Directories for Bedfordshire, which were not published annually but every few years, give the names of the tenants of Crawley Hallfrom 1906 to 1940, these dates can be augmented by the deeds referred to aboveand the following names are taken from these directories and from the deeds. The dates are the dates the name first and last appears not the dates of residence:

1777: Joanna Emerton;
1777-1802: John Goodman;
1861: Ardley;
1906: Mrs. Barnes;
1910: Mrs. Bowen;
1914: Mrs. Ennor;
1920-1931: Miss Susan Margaret Collie;
1936-1940: Miss M. E. Tanqueray, J. P. 

The tenants of Crawley Hall Farm were:
1777: Joanna Emerton;
1777-1802: John Goodman;
1861: Ardley;
1920-1928: John Howkins;
1931-1940: William Francis.

Crawley Hall Farm January 2011
Crawley Hall Farm January 2011