Oak Cottage, Ravensden
This page was written by Trevor Stewart
Oak Cottage 1969 (image courtesy of P.Woodcraft)
This thatched cottage was almost certainly built on the site of an early Vicarage for the priest in charge of Ravensden Church. The house now named the Old Vicarage was constructed around 1650, so this suggests that Oak Cottage was probably built about the same time, after the demolition of the earlier property. This date accords with the information in the evidence submitted when the house was listed by English Heritage.
It is of timber framed construction with washed brick infill and a thatched roof and is considered fairly typical of cottages constructed around the time of John Bunyan.
If that date is correct then this would have been built either by, or for, the Gostwick family.
At the front of the cottage is a pond and once also a well that together for many years provided water for the whole of this part of the village. Their public use ceased in the late 1920’s when a new lion head standpipe was placed on the adjacent grass verge.
Sometime in the late 18th century it became a public house as well as a family home and this was the first Horse and Jockey public house in the village. It would not have been a hostelry as we know it today but rather a home occupied by a farm labourer who also served beer in his non-farming hours.
That situation would have lasted until approximately 1924 when the new Horse and Jockey was built on land which seems to have been part of the garden of the original. Village maps up to that date still show Oak Cottage as the Horse and Jockey Public House.
In 1873 the house was connected to Long’s Brewery in Bedford and subsequently to Jarvis’s who were later acquired by Charles Wells.
A previous owner of the cottage after it became a family home uncovered a considerable number of bowls and stems of smokers’ clay pipes and other public house type artefacts during some ground works within the house - suggesting that in its time it was a popular establishment.