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25 and 27 Bedford Road Northill

25 and 27 Bedford Road April 2009
25 and 27 Bedford Road April 2009

Work carried out by Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service staff some years ago suggests that the cottages had an 18th century origin. The research [CRT130Nor19] reads as follows: “X1/87, the copy of the inclosure map of 1781 indicates that there are two cottages on the site at this date. Two thin bands of trees stretched back to the wood in which there is the complex system of watercourses, which form part of a moated site. The intended effect was to produce an “artificial” landscape, which would help enhance the grounds of the manor house of the Manor of Northill. In  1781 the two cottages and the field behind formed an Area 55 and ere owned by John Robinson of Denston Hall, Suffolk, the Lord of the Manor of Northill”.

“By 1844 the area had been significantly altered with additional outhouses built; a formal pond apparently constructed opposite, where probably there were previously springs for the little rivulet that leads to Ickwell Bury; and the two strips of woodland reduced to hedges”.

The Ickwell Bury Estate was sold at auction in 1924. The sale particulars [AD1147/16] describe 25 and 27 Bedford Road as follows:

LOT 42

Two Cottages in Bedford Road
with Pasture, Rough Pasture and Woodland
situate near Northill, extending to about
13 a. 0 r. 10 p.

THE COTTAGES, which are of Ornamental character, stand detached, built of Brick and Rough cast exteriors and Slated Roofs, one storey in height, each contain: - Kitchen, Pantry and two Bed Rooms with Out Offices and small front Gardens, with Garden Plots.

Let to Mr. A. PARRISH and Mr. J. HARE on Yearly, October 11th, Tenancies.

Company’s Water.

THE PASTURE Field, a capital Grazing Enclosure, is let to Messrs G. and D. WILLSHER (with Lot 32) on a Yearly, October 11th, Tenancy.

25 Bedford Road March 2010
25 Bedford Road March 2010

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. Northill was assessed in 1927 and the valuer visiting the cottages [DV1/C44/134-135] found them owned by the Shuttleworth Estate. Number 25 was occupied by Arthur Parish and Number 27 by James Hare, both were estate workers.

Accommodation in each dwelling comprised a living room, kitchen, scullery and bedroom plus a “garrett”. The valuer considered both to be “very poor”. An earth closet and a wood and thatch store house lay outside each, whilst Number 25 also had a “sitting shed”. Number 25 stood in an acre and a half and Number 27 in three quarters of an acre and both had mains water laid on.

The Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service research noted above continues: “Are the cottages mentioned in 1781 the same as those sold in 1924 or were the earlier cottages pulled down and replaced by those sold in 1924 and still surviving? With the obvious intention of enhancing the artificial landscape one of the Robinsons could very well have erected a pair of ornamental cottages. Against this it must be stated that the cottages do not appear on the smallscale maps of Bedfordshire by Bryant and Greenwood (1820s) nor the 1st Edition Ordnance Survey (1810s). This last map, however, shows none of the features that we know continued through from 1781 to 1884 such as the straight formal ride from the road towards the wood with the moated site in it. These three maps are clearly not as accurately surveyed as the large scale maps and probably little store should be set by them. The only way the question can be finally resolved is on architectural grounds”.

25 and 27 Bedford Road were listed by the former Department of Environment in August 1976 as Grade II, of special interest. At that date they were numbered 13 and 15 Bedford Road. The department dated the properties to the early 19th century. Number 25 is built of colour washed roughcast render over a timber frame whereas Number 27 has colour washed roughcast render over brick. Both have slate roofs. They are now linked by a block built in the 20th century.

27 Bedford Road March 2010
27 Bedford Road March 2010