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Queens College Farmhouse Oakley

Queens College Farmhouse 46 High Street March 2011
Queens College Farmhouse 46 High Street March 2011

Queen’s College Farmhouse formed part of lands willed to Queen’s College, Cambridge. The property was listed by the former Department of Environment in August 1987 as Grade II, of special interest. The department dated the property to the 17th century. It is built of coursed limestone rubble with an old clay tile roof. The building forms a T-plan with a rear one storey wing, the main wing having two storeys.

In 1983 the owner wrote to Cambridge University enquiring about the history of his property, then called The Old Farmhouse, and received a reply as follows [CRT130Oakley17]: “The college acquired the estate by a bequest from Doctor John Stokes in 1568; it then consisted of four separate holdings called Gales, Thrushes, Myches and Church End House, all in Oakley, and Stockinges in Clapham. The college has medieval title deeds to these properties, although it is not easy to interpret them all. There are also a number of descriptions and notes on the property, which was leased at first to various connections of the Stokes, and finally about 1792 I think, to the Dukes of Bedford. Before the 1885 Kelly’s Directory was compiled the estate had evidently been bought from the college by the Duke, who was said then to be the sole landowner in the parish”.

“There are a number of descriptions of the houses which form part of the college holding … In about 1570 there were three main houses, inhabited by Mr. Hodgekyns (three bays, floored), Thomas Cook (a hall, three chambers and a kitchen apparently detached) and Thomas Stookes (a hall, two chambers, a kitchen). In a terrier of before 1600 these have become: a homestall at Church End sixty feet long [College Farm], tiled, another cottage adjoining [perhaps Saint Mary's Cottage?], Old Stookes; another homestall at West End fifty feet long, made all of stone, lofted throughout, Pettitt; another homestall three rooms, lofted over, each fourteen feet in length, Glover. By 1770 when instructions for a detailed survey were recorded, there were a dwelling house or farm house, Mr. Stokes, in good repair, having been raised at top and tiled instead of thatch by the occupant, two cottages formerly one, at West End and at Church End a public house called the Five Bells. By 1820 when the Duke of Bedford was lessee the only houses in the lease were a farm house, formerly Stokes and a cottage, all other houses having been already acquired by the Duke. This house, which is not either at West End or Church End must, I think, be your house. So far as I can see it must be Glover’s house about 1600. The actual leases do not help because the property is not described in detail there; the surveys and terriers from which I have quoted supply this need”.

“The few occupants’ names which I can find should make it possible to look for probate inventories which will describe the house. Unfortunately the college seems not to have built houses on estates they leased out, but encouraged tenants to do this themselves and allowed materials such as timber to be made available from their nearby properties. I can find nothing which records this process except a mention of timber for barns”.

The Duke of Bedford sold the Oakley Estate by auction on 31st October 1918. Queen’s College Farm comprised Lot 10 [AD1147/18] and was described as follows.

The Compact Agricultural Holding
with an area of about
109 acres 3 roods 15 poles
(109.847 Acres)
situated in and adjoining the Village of Oakley and within half a mile of the Railway Station

The House
Stone, stuccoed and tiled, contains Six Rooms and Dairy, with Detached Timber and Tiled Pump House

The Buildings
brick and slated, contain – Two Barns, Three-bay Cart Shed, Cow House for eight, Three-bay Open Shed, Two Pigsties, Boiling House, Cart-horse Stable for seven, Three-bay Cattle Shed and Loose Box

At the back of House, brick and slated Shed and Poultry House, Timber and tiled Granary on Staddles, and Detached Stone and Tiled Dove-Cote.

Held, with other lands, by Mr. William Hartop on a Yearly Michaelmas Tenancy, with the exception of the House which is let to Mr. Walter Buck on a Quarterly Tenancy.

The farmland comprised 37.972 acres of pasture and 71.024 acres of arable.

In 1922 the new owner, Thomas Porter, applied for planning permission to convert a pigeon loft into a cottage and garage [RDBP1/509]. He had presumably bought the farm in 1918.

The Rating Valuation Act 1925 specified that every piece of land and building in the country was to be assessed to determine its rateable value. Oakley, like most of the county, was assessed in 1927. The valuer visiting Queen’s College Farm [DV1/H8/22] found it still owned and occupied by Thomas B. Porter. The farm still comprised the same acreage. The valuer commented: “Old Fashioned House plenty of Buildings. Man [i.e. employee] in house. Useful farm but on heavy side. Good land on North”.

The farmhouse was described as containing two reception rooms, a kitchen and a dairy and a brick and slate privy and barn. Three bedrooms lay upstairs with two attics above them. The valuer remarked: “Water from Cooling Room pumped to tanks from well by Fairbank 1½ HP engine”.

The homestead was summarised as follows:

  • First yard on road: a brick and slate loose box; a weather-boarded and slated loose box; a brick and slate two bay open hovel; brick and slate stabling for five horses and a harness room; brick and slate stabling for two horses; a four bay corrugated iron open but covered hovel; a brick and slate barn with four calf boxes and a loft over; a wood and corrugated iron for bay hovel; a brick and slate hay barn; a brick and slate meal barn; a brick and slate mixing barn; a brick and slate cow place for nineteen beasts; a brick and slate boiler room and mess house and a brick and slate loose box;
  • Round the rickyard: a wood and felt chaffing and pulping barn; a wood and felt chaff house; two wood and felt loose boxes; a wood and felt six bay implement hovel; a wood and felt five bay implement hovel;
  • Between the house and the yard: a wood and tiled corn house; a brick and slate cooling room; a wood and corrugated iron implement store.

In 1988 101 acres of arable belonging to Queen’s College Farm were for sale [PY/E17/184]. The land stretched from the rear of the west side of the High Street all the way down to the south bank of the River Great Ouse west of Pavenham Road by Stafford Bridge.