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South Pillinge Farm

South Pillinge Farm is situated in the south-east of Marston Moretaine parish, adjacent to Millbrook Station and was originally the manor house for the manor of Pillinge. The farmhouse was listed in 1987 as Grade II, of special interest. The listing entry describes the farmhouse as dating from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. The earliest part of the building is timber framed with some red brick infilling and some tile hanging. The 18th century part is of red brick, with random mottling due to some flared headers. The 19th century additions are in lighter red brick. The house is of two storeys and has clay tile roofs. The 18th century part is two rooms deep with a 2-span roof. The 17th century block to the left hand forms a cross-wing. The west elevation has two 3-light 19th century casement windows to each floor, with the first floor ones flanking an oeil-de-boeuf window. The central door has six panels, the top pair glazed, in a moulded architrave with an open porch. There is a brick band at first floor level. There is an off-centre multiple ridge chimney stack, rebuilt in the 19th century. The right hand gable appears to be of an earlier date, with the ground and first floors laid in header bond. The 17th block to the left hand has a 2-light casement window to the first floor. A 19th century single-storeyed outbuilding projects from the ground floor. [Heritage Environment Record 14423] 

A directory of that date shows that in 1862 Marston Pillinge Farm, as it was then known, was occupied by Benjamin Readman. In 1887 the then tenant, John Readman, came to an agreement with the Duke of Bedford and others for the payment of his debts at the rate of ten shillings in the pound. In 1910 a valuation was carried out on the goods of the late tenant, Alfred Hopping and the farm was let to Frederick Ray, who held the tenancy until 1919.  

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 valuation book compiled at this time shows that South Pillinge Farm was owned by the Duke of Bedford’s London and Devon Estate Company and occupied by William Burton [DV1/H15/38]. The farm extended to 456 acres and the annual rent was £375 p.a. Water was laid on, lighting was provided by lamps and sanitation by earth closets. The valuer spoke to Mr Burton who complained of the five fields behind the house where there was no water, that the ploughland was very heavy, that the buildings were short of loose boxes and the yard was wet. Only a third of the land was under the plough, but the valuer commented that “some of the farm is quite useful”.  

The farm is believed to have been sold by the Bedford Estate in the 1950s. 

Records held by Bedfordshire Archives include: 

  • R1/421: Watercolour map of Marston and Wootton, 1884 

  • RO14/1-86: Deeds relating to the Manor of Pilling, 1564-1758 

  • BMB4/1/11/5/1-44: Items relating to debts of John Readman, 1887 

  • BMB4/1/14/19/1-15: Valuation on transfer of tenancy following death of Alfred Hopping, 1910 

  • BMB4/1/23/1/1-2: Transfer of tenancy from Frederick Ray, 1919-1920 

  • SF77/30, 32, 34-36: Sale of grasskeeping and stock following death of William Whitehouse, 1887-1889 

  • SF77/43: Inventory and valuation, 1896 

  • SF81/1/5: Valuation of estate at end of tenancy of John Readman, 1887 

  • X948/2/MIL/4/1: Abstract of title of Duke of Bedford to property including South Pillinge Farm, 1957