Kitchenend Farm Pulloxhill
Kitchenend Farmhouse March 2011
Kitchenend Farmhouse is a striking building. It was listed by the former Department of Environment in May 1985 as Grade II, of special interest. The department dated the property to the 17th century, noting that it was "substantially reworked and extended" in the 19th century.
The house is built of red brick with vitrified headers, forming a chequer-work pattern. The roof is composed of clay tiles. The plan of the building is complex with a main block of two storeys and attics, other parts with just two storeys.
In 1790 three farms, including one at Kitchen End were sold at auction to the executors of the Earl of Hardwicke, husband of Jemima, Marchioness Grey, for £6,600. The particulars [L12/105]: sale particulars of Kitchenend Farm, the tenant of which was Thomas Partridge who paid rent of £70 per annum were as follows: "Consists of a Farm House, Barn, Stable, Cart Shed, Cow House, Pigs Cot, Small Granary and Forty-eight Acres, Three Roods and Thirty-five Perches of Lane, of which Thirteen Acres are excellent Arable, the remainder Prime Pasture. Free from great and subject to a reasonable Composition for small Tythes, paid by the Tenant. The Land Tax upon this Farm is £10 14s. per Annum". The farm was conveyed to the Earl's executors on 30th December 1790 [L12/109-110].
In 1838 these lands at Kitchenend were augmented by more when Thomas Philip, 2nd Earl de Grey purchased them from the 3rd Baron Ongley. Deeds which survive as part of the Lucas collection held by Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service allow us to take the story of these lands back into the 18th century.
In 1748 Mary Helder of Little Offley [Hertfordshire], widow, made her will, which was proved in 1751 [L12/114]. She left a property in "Kitching End", with adjoining lands, to her nephew Hinde Browning, son of her sister Rebekah. She also left five guineas to a dissenting minister in Hitchin. In 1756 John Browning of Lincoln's Inn [Middlesex] made his will, devising a farm and lands at Kitchen End to his daughter Catherine for life and then to her daughter. The will was proved in 1780 [L12/115]. In 1768 a marriage settlement was drawn up prior to the wedding of Browning's daughter Catherine with Timothy Edwards, a captain in the Royal Navy [L12/116]. The estate settled on trustees included considerable lands in Wales as well as Kitchen End Farm, then occupied by William Fisher at a rent of £105 per annum. In 1797 Catherine, then a widow conveyed the lands to her eldest son Richard [L12/118].
In 1799 Richard Edwards leased Kitchenend Farm for twenty one years to Joseph Cole of Kitchen End, already the tenant, for £105 for the first year and £125 per annum thereafter [L12/120]. The farm was described as including an orchard, cottage and yard, Old House Close, The Slip, Old House Great Ground, Long Close, Home Ploughed Field, Calfs Pightle, Calfs Ground, Town Pightle, Long Meadow, Horse Pasture, Lower Ploughed Field, Upper Ploughed Field, Ley Close, Brook Furlong, Bitt Moore Close and Little Ploughed Field. All this comprised one hundred and twenty acres. A note of 1811 stated "Mr. Cole's widow is the present occupier".
In 1812 Kitchenend Farm and other property including that in Wales, was sold to Robert Henley Ongley, 2nd Baron Ongley for £5,250 [L12/130]. He bought it because in 1782 he had already purchased land in Pulloxhill from Henry Sharp of Silsoe, yeoman [L12/143-144]. This land included two closes comprising forty four acres in Kitchen End and two closes comprising fourteen acres in Kitchen Field. In 1838 the 3rd Baron Ongley conveyed Kitchenend farm and other land in Pulloxhill to Thomas Philip, 2nd Earl de Grey for £9,672/7/6 [L12/167-168]. The farm was then described as:
- The homestall and ground of ¾ of an acre;
- Home Close of 6¾ acres;
- Home Field of 10¼ acres;
- Great Ground of 15 acres;
- Long Close of 4½ acres;
- Barn Field of 5¼ acres;
- Low Yard of 1 rood, 26 poles;
- The Slipe of 3 roods, 20 poles;
- The Floating Meadow of 7 acres 17 poles;
- Biltmans of 6 acres, 2 roods, 35 poles;
- Watery Gateway of 6 acres, 3 roods, 26 poles;
- Biltmans of 8 acres, 1 rood, 18 poles;
- Spinneys of 2 roods, 16 poles;
- Brook Furlong of 9 acres, 3 roods, 29 poles;
- Catsbrook Furlong of 10 acres, 2 roods, 26 poles;
- Spinneys of 4 acres, 3 roods, 25 poles.
These lands were valued at £404/7/6 and comprised 97 acres, 1 rood, 38 poles. Add to these the 48 acres, 3 roods, 35 poles bought in 1790 and it can be seen that the Kitchenend Farm held by the Wrest Park Estate covered 146 acres, 1 rood, 33 poles. Whether today's Kitchenend Farmhouse was the house acquired in 1790, or Mary Helder's house devised in her will of 1748 and acquired in 1838 cannot be determined.
Another Kitchenend Farm was sold at auction on 15th June 1848 [L12/220]. It comprised 99 acres, 2 roods, 30 poles and was the property of John Sharp of Clophill. A small field, called Lane Pightle, of 1 acre, 3 roods was acquired by Earl de Grey and presumably added to the larger farm.
The 9th Baron Lucas of Crudwell was killed in action with the Royal Flying Corps on the Western Front in December 1916. He was succeeded by his sister, Nan Ino, 10th Baroness Lucas. She decided to break up the estate and sell it off. In 1917 she sold Kitchenend Farm to its tenant James Day Browning for 6,000 [L23/1007/7]. At that time the farm comprised 215 acres, 1 rood 25 poles. One wonders if Browning was any relation to John Browning who made his will in 1756 (see above).
The extent of Kitchenend Farm in 1917 [L23/1007/7]
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 valuer visiting Kitchenend Farm, in October 1926 [DV1/H38/30] found it still owned and occupier by J. D. Browning, who now farmed 215 acres. The valuer commented: "Saw Mr. Browning, said ground very heavy and wet". Another hand has written: "Very good house and buildings, built for larger farm".
The farmhouse comprised: three reception rooms; a kitchen; a pantry; a cellar and a scullery with six bedrooms and a bathroom on the first floor and two attics above that. A Coal house, a trap house and a wood barn stood outside. The valuer noted "Water from pump in yard. No light" the last phrase meaning no electric lighting.
The farm buildings comprised the following:
- West Block: a brick and slate loose box; two open sheds each of three bays; a stable for ten horses and a chaff house and an open shed;
- North Block: a brick and slate food store with a loft over; a four bay open shed; a barn with a cement floor and an oil engine of four horsepower; a cow house for seven with a feeding passage; a food store and four pigsties; another four bay open shed; a cooling house; a five bay open cart shed with a loft over; a wood and corrugated iron barn and a three bay open shed;
- East Block: a brick and slate nag stable for three; a garage; a cow house for six; three fattening pens; a brick and slate cow house for seven and a loose box
On 22nd September 1940 the Luftwaffe dropped a number of bombs at the farm [WW2/AR/CO/2/2].
Directories for Bedfordshire, which were not published annually but every few years, give the names of the tenants of Kitchenend Farm from 1847 until 1940. These can be added to other tenants mentioned in deeds to make the following partial list. The dates are the dates the name first and last appears not the dates of residence:
1768: William Fisher;
1799: Joseph Cole;
1811: Widow Cole;
1847-1864: James Davis;
1869: Mrs. James Davis;
1877: Frank Horn;
1898: Charles Crouch;
1903-1928: James Day Browning;
1931-1940: Charles Harry Gardner.