Home Farmhouse Milton Ernest
Home Farmhouse February 2011
Home Farmhouse was listed by English Heritage in August 1987 as Grade II, of special interest. It dates from the late 16th or early 17th century and was, according to a date stone on the gable end facing the street, renovated in the 1730s. It was altered and extended by Ampthill architect Sir Albert Richardson in 1934 extending the house towards the north-east and providing a first floor balcony entrance with external stairs on the south-west front in [RDBP2/554 and RGH10/1/1]. It is built of coursed limestone rubble and comprises two storeys beneath an old clay tiled roof. The original building was in an L-shape with the main wing parallel to the road. Two of the downstairs rooms are separated by a back-to-back hearth. Also listed was a large threshing barn with a gable end date stone of 1666. It lies between Home Farmhouse and the Queen's Head Public House and is built of coursed limestone rubble with an old clay tile roof, patterned on the south-west. Home Farm was so-called because it belonged to the Milton Ernest Estate and was on the boundary of Milton Ernest Hall, the mansion which had formed the manor house of the Manor of Bassets.
In 1875 a list of fields comprising Home Farm [X65/123] was as follows:
- Barn Field: 12 acres, 3 roods, 12 poles of arable;
- Church Green: 46 acres, 1 rood, 14 poles of arable;
- Middle Field: 18 acres, 2 roods, 37 poles of arable;
- Moles Field: 26 acres, 3 roods, 15 poles of arable;
- Plantations at the side of the road: 1 rood, 12 poles;
- Sallow Bush Field: 31 acres, 3 roods, 1 pole of arable;
- Sixteen Acres: 15 acres, 2 roods, 29 poles of arable;
- Skirmidge: 39 acres, 2 roods, 32 poles of arable;
- Stone Pit Close: 8 acres, 1 rood, 3 poles of pasture;
- The farmhouse and grounds: 4 acres, 2 roods, 27 poles;
- The Park: 27 acres, 21 poles of pasture.
Total area was thus 232 acres, 1 rood, 3 poles. In 1909 new drainage works were undertaken [RDBP1/78]. In 1919 tenant Charles Bernard Kidd, Master of the Oakley Hounds, which were kennelled in Milton Ernest on the west side of Rushden Road in an area now covered by modern housing, wrote a letter [X213/242] stating that it was his intention to breed sufficient hounds as quickly as possible, and to hunt the country four days a week. He noted that the present year had not been a good one for hound breeding, the number of puppies having practically halved.
The Rating and Valuation Act 1925 stated that every piece of land and building in the country was to be assessed to determine its rateable value. The valuer visiting Home Farm [DV1C1/41] found it still owned by the owner of Milton Ernest Hall, John Helps Starey and occupied by Mrs. Maud R. H. Martindale. The house stood in just over an acre and rent was fifteen guineas per quarter, fixed in 1925. It was clearly no longer part of a farm but just a private residence.
The building contained two reception rooms, a garden room, a kitchen, a scullery, a laundry and a W. C. on the ground floor with four bedrooms, a bathroom and a W. C. upstairs. Outside were a timber and tiled tool shed and four small loose boxes, a brick and tiled five bay open shed, a small grain house, a brick and tiled tool shed, an old cowhouse for ten used for fuel, a stone and timber barn, a garage and a yard. The valuer commented: “not very good” and “Only house of class in village. Rather close to road?” Another hand has written: “Attractive but next road” and “Electric light”.
In 1937 war was looming and the authorities were making precautions. Bedford Rural District Council asked for a list of persons suitable to be Air Raid Wardens and for a list of suitable vehicles. A 30 HP Ford Utility Car belonging to Captain Stephen Helps Starey of Home Farm was offered as an ambulance [PCMiltonErnest24/1]. In 1941 an ARP Wardens' Post was established at Home Farm [WW2/AR/C/2/92-93]. It continued in use until 1945 and Captain Starey was fortunate not to have to make any claim for dilapidations from the Civil Defence Committee. However, the property was also evidently used by the Local Education Authority, probably for evacuees. Captain Starey intended making a claim for £75 against the LEA and noted that he had had "neither thanks nor money for the effort we made" [WW2/AR/CA/1/1/4].
Directories for Bedfordshire were published every few years from the middle of the 19th century until 1940. The following list of occupants of Home Farm is taken from directories and other documents. It is not complete and dates given are only the first and/or last known date of occupation, not the full span.
- 1879: Edward Peck [BMB4/1/5/47/1];
- 1879: William H. Gibbins [BMB4/1/5/47/1];
- 1888: Benjamin Crisp [BMB4/1/13/4/27];
- 1888: David H. Bower [BMB4/1/13/4/27];
- 1910-1914: Mrs. Onslow;
- 1919-1920: Charles Bernard Kidd [X213/242];
- 1924: Miss Cross;
- 1927: Maud R. H. Martindale [DV1/C1/41];
- 1928: Miss Margaret Grace Starey;
- 1931-1950: Stephen Helps Starey [Z951/10/4];
- 1963: Harvey Richard Starey [Z951/11/1]