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Northill Grange - 1 Ickwell Road Northill

The Grange about 1900 [Z50/84/3]
The Grange about 1900 [Z50/84/3]

In 1910 a thorough rating valuation was carried out across England as part of David Lloyd-George’s pioneering 1909 budget. The survey was so thorough it was known colloquially as the Domesday Survey. The results show that all the older buildings in Northill were owned by John Edmund Audley Harvey, who, though he lived in London, was Lord of the Manor of Northill as well as Lord of the Manor of Ickwell and owner of Ickwell Bury. These older buildings may have been built by a former Lord of the Manor or bought by the Manor at a later stage – detailed research of the Harvey [HY] archive would be needed to try to establish this in each case, unless the current owners still have the deeds to the properties concerned and so can research the history for themselves. The building was empty in 1910.

Northill Grange was listed by the former Department of Environment in January 1952 as Grade II, of special interest. The department dated the property to the 17th century, noting that it had been reworked in the 18th and 19th centuries. It is built of red brick with a slate roof and has a double pile plan, in other words there are two buildings under separate roofs one behind the other. The interior has a late 17th century staircase with a moulded handrail and twisted balusters. The entrance hall retains moulded pine panelling. The Lords of the Manor of Northill in the 17th century were the Harding family until 1616 when Elizabeth Harding, wife of Edward Kent succeeded to the manor. By 1572 the Ellis family were Lords of the Manor, selling it to Thomas Bromsall in that year.

At first glance Northill Grange does not seem to have been an outlying farm of a religious house, the original meaning of the word grange, since it was built in the 17th century, more than fifty years after the dissolution of the monasteries by King Henry VIII. However, a map of 1634 [X1/39] shows that a house stood at that date on the site of the mansion house of the Manor of Northill College. It is not clear from the drawing on the map [see below] whether this is the current Northill Grange or a predecessor on the same site. What is clear is that the mansion, or grange, of Northill College occupied the site with the homestall, or farm buildings occupying 4 acres, 3 roods, 7 poles immediately to the south. Also of interest is the fact that Ickwell Road was then called Church Lane.

The site of Northill Grange in 1634 [X1/39]
The site of Northill Grange in 1634 [X1/39]

The early ownership of Northill Grange thus followed that of the Manor of Northill College. In 1610 it belonged to Richard Browne and he conveyed “sometimes the manor of the dissolved College of Northill” with “the capital messuage or manor house called the College of Northill and the site of the college” to Edward Osborn of Inner Temple, London [HY92]. When Osborn died an inquisition post mortem [HY101], carried out in March 1626 confirmed his ownership of the manor which passed to his son, also named Edward. In 1678 Edward Osborn junior leased the manor for thirty three years to Edward Sutton of Northill, yeoman, for £70 per annum [HY109-110]. Included in the lease was the manor house “with barns, stables and granaries, the great gatehouse next the street, two dovehouses with the gardens, the great orchard and the little orchard, with the little pightle of sward ground within the compass of the homestall lying on the east side of the pease or wheat barn, commonly called the homestall pightle”. By this date the house may be the property which survives today, with its late 17th century staircase.

Edward Osborn junior drew up his will in 1678 and devised the manor and its manor house to his kinswoman Elizabeth Osborn, daughter of Saint John Osborn, son of William Osborn who was second son of Edward Osborn senior. She evidently married a man called William Hitchinson because in 1686 he and Elizabeth mortgaged the manor for £800 [HY123-127], finally selling it in 1702 for £900 to John Harvey of Ickwell Bury [HY138-139], in which estate it continued until the early 20th century.

The hall at Northill Grange in 1924 [AD1147/16]
The hall at Northill Grange in 1924 [AD1147/16]

The Ickwell Bury estate was sold by auction in 1924. The sale particulars [AD1147/16] described Northill Grange as follows:

LOT 27


A Jacobean Manor House
of attractive appearance
known as
“Northill Grange”

THE RESIDENCE, Built of Brick with Rough Cast exterior and Slate Roof, stands in Neat Grounds, well secluded by a Yew Hedge, is approached through a Pillared Gateway from the road.

It is entered by a [sic] Ornamental canopied Doorway up a dhort flight of steps into the

well lighted by two windows, and having tiled floor, open fireplace with side cabinets, off which opens

lighted by three windows

lighted by one window, having open fireplace and side cabinet and panelled dado 3 feet high.
Side Entrance into Lawn off the Back Hall

Lavatory and W. C. Plate Pantry and China Cupboard.

Large well-lighted Kitchen with tiled floor, Larder, Store, Wine Cellar and Coal Store.

THE FIRST FLOOR APARTMENTS, approached by a broad flight of stairs from the back Hall, consist of four Bed and Dressing Rooms, Bath Room and W. C.

Five Attics and Servants’ Rooms over and Store Room, approached by a separate staircase.
House yard with brick and tiled Out Offices, Boot Room, Store and E. C.

THE OLD-WORLD FLOWER GARDEN with Grass lawns, Pergola and Herbaceous Borders form an interesting feature.

THE OUTBUILDINGS, comprise: - Garage, Stable for 2, Wood Shed, three-bay Open Shed, Open Shed and Store, good Kitchen and Orchard.

Company’s Water. Telephone.

O a. 2 r. 24 p.

Northill Grange in 1924 [AD1147/16]
Northill Grange in 1924 [AD1147/16]

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 Northill Grange [DV1/C43/95] found it owned and occupied by Mrs. Sybil Wilson. The valuer commented: “Jacobean”.

The front door opened to a hall measuring 22 feet by 12 feet. Also on the ground floor were: a sitting room measuring 14 feet by 12 feet; a drawing room measuring 15 feet 6 inches by 17 feet 6 inches; a lobby; a w. c. and a pantry, then one went down five steps to a “big” kitchen and a larder. Upstairs lay a linen room, a bathroom and w. c., a bedroom over the drawing room, two rooms over part the hall and a bedroom over the sitting room. The second floor comprised a boxroom and three attic bedrooms. A back stairs started in the sitting room. The valuer noted: “very old House, badly arranged”. The house was lighted by oil lamps.

Outside stood a brick and tiled boot room and store, a brick and slate garage, and an old and “poor” wood and thatched range comprising a cow house, a stable for two horses and an open barn. A small greenhouse stood at the side of the house and in the “poor garden” stood three old brick and tiled stores.

Northill Grange - 1 Ickwell Road March 2010
Northill Grange - 1 Ickwell Road March 2010