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Crawley House Husborne Crawley

Crawley House about 1920 [X21/756/1]
Crawley House about 1920 [X21/756/1]

Crawley House was listed by the former Department of Environment in October 1952 as Grade II*, of special interest and particularly important within its class. The "small country house" as it is described was built in 1777 and 1778 and reworked in 1806 when a block as added to the left hand side of the original structure. It is built of red brick with a clay tiled mansard roof and has a double-pile plan, that is, two parallel roofs over the main part of the building. The house comprises two storeys and attics. The listing notes of the Interior: "drawing room retains decoration of 1806 in Egyptian style".

The reason that the dates of the original building and the extension are known is that the account books survive and were deposited at Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service by the late Mrs. Wyldbore Smith (née Orlebar) of The Thatch Cottage in 1950.

Crawley House was built for Rev. Daniel Shipton. His wife Temperance, daughter of Arthur Bedford, had been left £1,000 in the will of her cousin Thomas James Selby of Wavendon [Buckinghamshire] [HW53] along with pictures, jewels and furnishings as well as the advowson of Wavendon, a house at Wavendon and land at Wavendon, Aspley Guise, Husborne Crawley and Heath and Reach. No doubt it was largely this legacy of his wife's which paid for the house. It is possible that the house was built on Selby's former land.  Daniel and Temperance's daughter and heir Charlotte married Robert Charles Orlebar in 1807 [V374-375] and the house thus came into the possession of the Orlebar family.

The first account is in an exercise book [X178/4] which states "The Building begun May 7 1777". Between 23rd April and 21st August 225 quarters of lime were brought "from Mr. Moore's Kiln". Between 22nd April and 5th November a total of  143,685 bricks were brought from the kilns both of Mr. Moore and Mr. Franklin Hart along with 16,154 tiles from a man named Wooten. Moore was paid a total of £255/17/7, Hart £65/2/11 and Wooten £14. Other main artisans were:

  • Calcut: £24/12/6;
  • Cooper: £8/10/-;
  • Green: 47/4/1;
  • Herbert: £82/6/6;
  • William Nicholls: £49/10

The expenses included:

  • "To George Evans in full for pulling down Rose's House" £3/10/-;
  • "To John Lane for Beer for Workmen" 4/-;
  • "To Biggleswade for a load of Fir Timber" 7/-;
  • "To the Sawyers for cutting 388 feet of Oak" 11/6;
  • To Michael Chance on Mr. Snook's Account for digging a Pond" one guinea;
  • To Francis Underwood for a Circular Fan Light as per Bill to Mr. Shaw" £1/16/-

The accounts are in the nature of a running note rather than something official and are thus difficult to summarise but altogether the house seems to have cost just over £1,500.

Much more seems to have been spent on repairs and the enlargement in 1806 [X178/6]. Sums owing to named individuals included the following and show that money was spent on other things than just the house, for example a new coach and horses to pull it:

  • Bennett, the carpenter: £70/16/7;
  • Day, the bricklayer: £48/10/5;
  • Harley, the glazier: £39/11/6;
  • Wing, the stone mason: £20/12/2;
  • Millard, the painter: £62/7/4;
  • Stevens for "white and yellow washing": £21/4/3;
  • Salon, the surveyor: £34/4/2;
  • Wilson and Turner, coachmakers: £285/14/6;
  • Paget for carriage horses: £136/10/-;
  • Collier, the upholsterer: £915/0/11;
  • Robson & Hale, paperhangers: £115/5/-;
  • Shout, for stationary: £119/2/11;
  • Dring, for carpet manufacture: £65/12/4;
  • Ovey for furniture and linen: £116/16/-;
  • Macnaughton, a grate manufacturer: £92/6/-;
  • Oxenham, an upholsterer: £70;
  • Wedgwood, for earthenware: £45;
  • Parker, a glass manufacturer: £72;
  • Main, for table linen: £71/2/9;
  • Salter, silver smith: £378/15/-;
  • Green and Ward, silver smiths: £159/14/-;
  • Smith for cleaning pictures: £41/4/6;
  • Snape "for chairs": £12/1/-

The accounts go into great detail about internal furnishings, going through each room in the new part of the house in turn: library; yellow bedroom; blue room; green bedroom; dining parlour and drawing room.

The 1807 marriage settlement of Charlotte and Robert Charles Orlebar [V374-375] listed Charlotte's property as being: Crawley House; The Thatch Cottage in Crawley Park; Crawley Park Farm totalling 109 acres; 32 acres and the adjoining the Weathercock public house in Aspley Guise and 30 acres in Wavendon

In 1895 Valentina Augusta Orlebar, wife of George Ellis Wynter of Buckland Ripers [Dorset], then residing at Husborne Crawley made a draft will [HN10/280/Orlebar7]. She was entitled to Crawley House and Crawley Park Farm under the will of her father and devised it to her nephew Orlando Robert Aplin Orlebar. If he had no heirs it was then to go trustees to hold for devisees in the following order: Henry Evelyn Orlebar for life, then Robert Evelyn Orlebar, his son, for life, then to use of each of his sons, then to sons of her cousin Augustus Scobell Orlebar, then to George Crewe Orlebar for life, then to Edward Yarde Orlebar, then to his sons.She was still at Crawley Park as late as 1914 as she is listed in Kelly's Directory for Bedfordshire of that year.

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 House [DV1/C53/80] stated that it was owned by Rev. Edward Yarde Orlebar and tenanted by Charles S. Viccars on a ten year lease from 1925 at £150 per annum. Orlando Robert Aplin Orlebar was still alive at the time and, in fact, the valuer's notebook for Crawley Park Farm [DV1/H5/54] shows that O. R. A. Orlebar owned both the farm and Crawley House and leased them to E. Y. Orlebar who paid £250 per annum for the two – thus E. Y. Orlebar was obviously subletting the Crawley House to Viccars and, presumably, living in the farmhouse.

The house stood in just less than three acres. Downstairs accommodation comprised: a hall ("nice"); a smoking room measuring 14 feet by 21 feet; a dining room measuring 15 feet by 21 feet; a drawing room measuring 13¾ feet by 41 feet; a kitchen; a scullery; a pantry; a lobby; a W. C. and a lavatory (in the sense of a place in which to wash). Upstairs lay  six bedrooms measuring, respectively: 14¾ feet by 13¾ feet; 13 ½ feet by 16 ½ feet; 16 ¼ feet by 14 feet; 14 ¾ feet by 22 ½ feet; 19 feet by 15 feet  and 15 feet  by 12 feet. A wood barn, a washhouse and a conservatory measuring 26 ½ feet by 12 feet all lay outside. The conservatory may be seen on the postcard at the head of this page [X21/756/1]. Water was laid on at a cost of 2/3 per 1,000 gallons. The house had no electricity, being lit by lamps and drainage was to a cesspool. The house contained three radiators downstairs  and one upstairs. The valuer commented: "Placing good" and "Garden very nice".

In 1997 an application was made for the addition of a side entrance porch to the west elevation, a new rear entrance porch to the north elevation and minor internal alterations [PCHusborneCrawley18/8].

Directories for Bedfordshire, which were not published annually but every few years, give the names of the occupiers of Crawley Housefrom 1853to 1924and the following names are taken from these directories, augmented by other sources. The dates are those of the first and last appearance of a name, not the full span of dates of residence:

  • 1853-1877: Robert Shipton Orlebar;
  • 1885-1894: Miss Orlebar;
  • 1906-1914: Mrs. G. Ellis Wynter;
  • 1924: George Crewe Orlebar;
  • 1925: Charles S. Viccars.

In 2013 the house was for sale and the particulars [Z449/6/1] gave the layout as follows: On the ground floor were: a hall; a drawing room measuring 41 feet 2 inches by 13 feet 9 inches; a conservatory measuring 36 feet 2 inches by 11 feet 7 inches; a W. C.; a study measuring 18 feet 2 inches by 16 feet 3 inches; a sitting room measuring 23 feet by 14 feet; a dining room measuring 23 feet by 22 feet 7 inches; a kitchen measuring 20 feet 3 inches by 15 feet; a pantry measuring 9 feet by 5 feet 2 inches and a utility room measuring 17 feet 5 inches by 10 feet. The first floor contained: two bathrooms; an en-suite bedroom measuring 20 feet by 16 feet 1 inch; an en-suite bedroom measuring 34 feet 2 inches by 13 feet 9 inches; and four bedrooms measuring, respectively 13 feet by 8 feet 4 inches; 9 feet 7 inches by 7 feet 6 inches; 14 feet 9 inches by 14 feet and 22 feet 7 inches by 16 feet 4 inches. The second floor contained a W. C., two bathrooms and bedrooms measuring 12 feet 5 inches by 10 feet 5 inches; 10 feet 7 inches by 8 feet 9 inches; 15 feet 2 inches by 14 feet 2 inches; 15 feet by 14 feet; 12 feet by 8 feet 7 inches; 14 feet 3 inches by 13 feet 6 inches; 11 feet 5 inches by 10 feet 3 inches and 13 feet 6 inches by 9 feet 4 inches and a sitting room measuring 20 feet 9 inches by 8 feet 7 inches. The basement contained six cellars measuring, respectively: 24 feet by 12 feet 3 inches; 22 feet by 13 feet 7 inches; 13 feet 7 inches by 11 feet 6 inches; 14 feet by 10 feet; 14 feet by 6 inches and 23 feet 6 inches by 14 feet.

A Gardener’s Cottage in the grounds contained: a reception room measuring 13 feet 9 inches by 10 feet 6 inches; a kitchen measuring 10 feet 6 inches by 8 feet 1 inch and bedrooms measuring 7 feet 6 inches by 6 feet 8 inches and 9 feet 9 inches by 9 feet 1 inch. A summer house contained a W. C., a kitchen measuring 26 feet 6 inches by 14 feet 7 inches, a room measuring 9 feet 1 inch by 5 feet 9 inches, a wood shed measuring 15 feet 5 inches by 9 feet 4 inches and a summer cabin measuring 11 feet 8 inches by 12 feet 2 inches. The 48,.2 acres of grounds and parkland also contained a tennis court, a swimming pool and formal gardens.

Crawley Park January 2008
Crawley Park January 2008