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Moorhen Farm Shillington

Moorhen Farm April 2015
Moorhen Farm  April 2015

Moorhen Farm does not, at first glance, appear an old building, however looks can be deceiving. The farmhouse was listed by English Heritage in December 1997 as Grade II, of special interest. It dates from the 17th century "or earlier" but presents a 19th and 20th century face to the world. The building has timber framing, now concealed by the 20th century brickwork. The 19th century additions being in Gault clay brick. The listing describes the structure as an irregular T-plan with the early range to the south, extended westwards, and with added single bay two-storey range to the north. The lower three-bay single storey range to north includes a single brick-faced service bay to the house, and a two-bay outbuilding. The listing describes the interior of the early range having exposed roof timbers and other internal woodwork.

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 the farmon 17th September 1926 [DV1/H7/42] found it was owned by Isaac Rust and occupied by Arthur William Kitchiner at a rent of £60 per annum for 29 acres. He is first listed in directories in 1924 and last listed in 1936. The last directory for the county, 1940, lists Harold Arthur Kitchiner as farmer at Moorhen farm. The previous farmer to A. W. Kitchiner, listed from 1906, was Isaac Rust himself. Rust is, in fact, listed as a farmer as early as 1885 but the farm is not named. An Isaac Rust is also listed as a baker in directories for 1864 and 1877.

The valuer commented: "Nice little house, but rotten buildings". Another hand, writing on 6th December 1926 noted: "Buildings very poor – land good. House ought to be £16 [rateable value] but acreage won't stand it". The house contained two reception rooms, a kitchen, a scullery, a dairy and four bedrooms as well as an earth closet and wood barn outside. The homestead comprised: a wood and thatched stable with two standings; a hen house; two piggeries; a two bay open hovel with a loft over; a cowhouse for four; a loose box; a barn and three bay shed; a brick, wood and tiled cart hovel with a loft over; a store shed and two bay cart shed and piggeries at the back. The Parthian shot in the entry reads: "Very poor house".