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Kempston Lodge

Kempston Lodge in 1910 [Z1091/4/1/14]
Kempston Lodge in 1910 [Z1091/4/1/14]

Kempston Lodge was built in the mid 19th century. Peregrine Nash, the Bedford brewer, was the major landowner in the vicinity by 1827 when he sold Saunders Farm of 222 acres to Henry Stuart of Berkeley Square [Middlesex] a relative of the Marquess of Bute [CRT130Kem3]. Stuart may, perhaps, have built Kempston Lodge shortly after his acquisition. A map of 1828 [X1/25/1] shows a house, stables and garden on 3 roods, 16 poles with a kitchen garden on the opposite side of road and measuring 3 roods, 16 poles. Henry Stuart (1804-1854) was Member of Parliament for Bedford in the Conservative interest in 1837 and from 1841 to 1854. His nephew William (1825-1893) was Conservative MP from 1854 to 1857 and from 1859 to 1868.

Henry Stuart died on 26th October 1854 intestate and the property passed to his brother William who, in 1855, conveyed Kempston Lodge to his son William, the MP, who was living at the property [PUBE1/1] though he later moved to Tempsford Hall. William the younger made his will in 1887 and left the Kempston Lodge Estate to his second son William Esme Stuart [PUBE1/1]. William died on 21st December 1893 and in 1897 William Esme settled the Kempston Lodge estate on William Dugald Stuart, his elder brother as trustee for him [PUBE1/1].

In 1910 Kempston Lodge Estate was put up for sale by auction by Henry Esme Stuart’s trustees [Z1094/1/4/14]. The estate comprised 222 acres of market garden and accommodation land, farm premises as occupied by George J. Cocking, three cottages with gardens and allotment land, a “gentleman's modern residence known as Kempston Lodge, stabling and coach-houses with farmery”.

The particulars described Kempston Lodge itself thus:

Modern Residence
Erected of Brick painted stone with stone dressings and Slated Roof, together with excellent and substantially Brick-built and Slated Stabling Accommodation and inexpensive Pleasure Grounds

‘Kempston Lodge’
Until recently occupied by the late W. B. JEBBENS, ESQ.


GROUND FLOOR: Entrance Hall 8 feet wide (leading into Garden) with a covered Approach from the Main Road, Drawing Room with bay window 20 feet 9 inches by 15 feet 6 inches overlooking Lawn, Dining Room also with bay window 20 feet 9 inches by 15 feet 6 inches, Library 15 feet 6 inches by 15 feet 3 inches, Cloak Room, Lavatory and W. C., Side Hall leading to domestic offices, Servants’ Hall fitted with cupboards, Back Hall and Tradesmen’s Door, Butler’s Pantry 11 feet by 11 feet 3 inches fitted with cupboards, sink etc., large Underground Cellar having outside approach, also a fitted Wine Cellar, capital lofty Kitchen 20 feet 3 inches by 18 feet fitted with range and dresser, Store Room, bake-house with baking oven, Hot Cupboard and Hot Plate, Scullery with hot and cold and soft water supply; plate rack and sink; Boot House, Boiling House and Servants’ W. C., Coal House &c., and outside Meet Safe.

THE FIRST FLOOR, which is approached by a handsome and well-lighted Oak Staircase, contains Landing, 2 principal Bedrooms each 20 feet 9 inches by 15 feet 6 inches and bay windows, Dressing Room, Bedroom over Library, W. C., Bath-room &c., THE SECONDARY BEDROOMS are approached by a corridor having Hot and Cold Water supply and Back Stairs, and comprise Dressing Room, 2 Servants’ Bedrooms, Line Room with fire-place and fitted with large wardrobe and linen closer having large folding doors and fitted with drawers and cupboards, etc., also School Room 21 feet by 15 feet 6 inches.

THE SECOND FLOOR comprises bedroom, W. C., Nursery-Kitchen with lead-lined sink and hot and cold water supply, Day Nursery, Night-Nursery, and 2 other Bedrooms, one fitted with a bath.

is detached and built of Brick and Slated, and is well fitted, and has Hard and Soft Water Supply, Washing Trays and Copper, also Ironing Room.

THE YARD has folding doors to the Marston Road, and there is also a large detached Coal Shed.

are substantially erected with Brick and covered with Slates, and conveniently arranged with folding door approaches from the Elstow Road, and comprise Coach-house 20 feet 6 inches by 18 feet with double doors, a 2-bay Open Shed 20 feet 6 inches by 20 feet fitted with rack and 2 mangers, Paved Stable Yard with pump and well of water, Dog Kennel with run enclosed by iron fencing, excellent Stabling having 3 Standings and 2 Loose Boxes fitted with iron racks, mangers and troughs, harness brackets &c.; 2 large Loose Boxes near, spacious Passage leading to Poultry and Pig-yard, Harness Room and Cleaning Room fitted with copper &c., and the Loft comprises Hay Chamber with outside door, Store Room and Corn Store fitted with 3 bins and hay and corn chute &c. the Poultry and Pig-yard adjoining consists of 3 Piggeries with runs, Fowl House, men’s E. C., and large Yard &c.

The Pleasure Grounds and the Tennis and Croquet Lawn
adjoining the House are nicely laid out (but inexpensive to maintain) and have extensive Views over the park-like Land adjoining, and are stocked with choice Shrubs of fine growth.

comprise a Greenhouse which is 22 feet by 12 feet 6 inches and Forcing Pit near 31 feet by 12 feet 6 inches. There is also an Apple Room, gentleman’s Outside E. C., Pump and Well of Water, Potting House, Tool House, &c.

The Water Supply is excellent and is obtainable from Deep Wells in addition to the Greensand Water laid on from the Council’s Mains, and the Subsoil Gravelly Loam, together with the PASTURE LAND,
in the occupation of Mr. G. J. Cocking at the
Apportioned Rental of £10 per Annum

Some of the land sold, but not the buildings so the following year the house, cottages and forty acres were again put for sale [Z1091/4/1/15]. This time the house was purchased by Bedford Board of Guardians for use as a children’s home [PUBE1/2], necessitating a mortgage for £1,300 [PUBA8].

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 Kempston Lodge [DV1/R25/65] described it as “Really an old House adapted”. It had beds for fifty two children (“mixed”) and four for staff. At the time of the visit forty five of the children’s beds were occupied and all those of the staff.

Ground floor accommodation comprised a dining room (“long and narrow, seats 45”), a lavatory (in the sense of a place to wash), a dressing room (“small”), a sitting room (“small”), a staff sitting room (“nice”) measuring 17 feet by 15 feet, a kitchen (“light”) measuring 20 feet square, a store, two small sculleries, a wash place with five basins and a sink and a boot hole. Coal and store cellars lay outside. The first floor comprised two bedrooms each with nine beds, a room with seven cots, a lavatory, a bathroom (one bath, poor”), a bedroom with three beds, a bedroom with four beds, a staff room (“good, one bed”), a small sewing room, a linen cupboard and another bedroom with nine beds. The second floor comprised three bedrooms each with five beds, a bedroom with six beds, a staff bedroom, another bathroom (“one bath, poor”) and a lavatory and W. C.

The valuer made the following notes: “Old-fashioned House. Coal fires. Electric light just fitted. Only 1 Stair Case. Very Poor Stair Case to 2nd floor. Iron fire Stair Way to all floors outside”. The ground extended to three quarters of an acre and were walled round (“insufficient for number of children”), there was no vegetable garden but there was a brick and tiled laundry, play shed and potting shed. The valuer concluded: “House Close to Road But Walled Round”.

Directories for Bedfordshire were not published every year but every few years from the early to mid 19th century until 1940. The following tenants can be traced up to 1906 and the matrons from 1914 to 1936:

  • 1877: Francis John Thynne;
  • 1885 and1890: Captain Lindsay Beaumont;
  • 1894, 1896 and 1903: Lieutenant-Colonel Edmund Robert Green VD;
  • 1906: Walter Jebens;
  • 1914: Miss Rose Barrows, matron;
  • 1920: Mrs. Florence J. Parrott, matron;
  • 1924, 1928, 1931 and 1936: Miss Matthews, matron.
In 1928 schools in Kempston were re-organised and the nearby school at Up End became a mixed junior school. In April 1932 the school was inspected [E/IN1/1] and the inspector observed: “There are five classes in this school of which two are for infants. As the juniors spend four years in their section there are only three classes, each composite in character. The children from the Public Assistance Committee’s “Children’s Home” attend this school. Many of these are subnormal, either physically or mentally, and the admission register shows that many of them are birds of passage”.

Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service has some records from the children’s home. They are embargoed for one hundred years due to the sensitive of the material they contain. The records are as follows:

  • PUBR1/89: Weekly Indoor Relief lists for Kempston Children’s Home 1915-1925;
  • PAV27/1: included in this file is material on the chargeability of children in care within the County: 1942-1946;
  • PAV27/5: Reports of the Superintendent or Matron of Kempston Children’s Home, including note of admissions and discharges: 1944 – 1948;
  • CH/SubM3/5/1: Kempston Children’s Home Sub-Committee minutes: 1948-1956;
  • CH/SubM3/8/1-2: Kempston Children’s Home Sub-Committee minutes: 1948-1956;
  • CH/SubP3/5/1- 2: papers for The Lodge are included in Northern Children’s Homes Management Sub-Committee Minutes: 1948-1956;
  • CH/SubP3/8/1- 3: papers for The Lodge are included in Northern Children’s Homes Management Sub-Committee Papers: 1956 – 1970;
  • CH/SubM3/8/1-3 minutes for The Lodge are included in Northern Children’s Homes Management Sub-Committee Papers: 1956 – 1970;
  • CH/V84/1: register of inmates: 1967-1975.