The Greyhound Inn Shillington
94 High Road April 2015
Chestnut Tree Farmhouse was listed in January 1985 by English Heritage as Grade II, of special interest. It dates from the 17th century and has a substantial timber frame with red brick infill, a cross-wing with colourwashed roughcast render and clay tile roofs. It is built in a T-plan and has two storeys. The main block has 20th century gabled porch.
We are lucky in having a substantial run of deeds to the property dating from 1754 to 1935 [HA1348-1387]. In 1694 the house was purchased by Edward and Margaret Jennings from Daniel Carter and James Hanscomb [HA1348]. Theophilus Jennings, their grandson, sold it to Joseph Barber, a collar maker, for £47/10/- in 1754 [HA1348]. By 1754 the property is described as being formerly known as the Greyhound Inn, it had once been in occupation of Ann Clarke, widow, then of William Kitchener. In 1757 Barber sold the property to a Redbourn [Hertfordshire] grocer called Thomas Wood for £55 [HA1350-1351]. Wood sold the property to Redbourn blacksmith Joseph Samm, his brother-in-law, in 1759 for £50 [HA1352-1353]. Interestingly it is once more described as the Greyhound, indicating that it had reopened.
There is then a break in the run of deeds until 1802 at which date Robert Ralphs of Hitchin [Hertfordshire] devised his real estate to trustees William Deacon and Thomas Bates for sale. The will was proved in the same year [HA1357]. In 1804 the trustees conveyed the property, now described as a private house, to William Long of Lower Stondon [HA1359-1360]. It was described as having been in occupation of George Page, then William Flint when it was an inn, and now of John Scarborough. The deed states that it had been purchased by Edward Samm from Joseph Samm and that Robert Ralphs was son of a man of the same name who was Edward Samm's son-in-law.
William Long made his will in 1813 devising all his real estate to his sons William and James [HA1363]. His son William became a brewer, Mayor of Bedford and was knighted. In 1813 he devised his half share of a number of properties to his brother James, including the former Greyhound [HA1364-1365]. James devised his real estate to Robert Long in his will of 1850. In 1881 James devised his share of Robert's real estate to his brother who had the same name as their father [HA1377]. At that date the house formed a lot with 12 acres, 21 poles of land described as near Green End and Town Field and was occupied by someone named Elms. The property was then sold to Pamela Elms in 1921 [HA1385].
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 property [DV1/ C74/114] duly found the owner occupier as Mrs P Elms. The house comprised a living room, a kitchen, a scullery, a dairy and four bedrooms. The valuer described it as a "big rambling place". Outside stood a wood and thatched open barn, another barn, a stable for two horses, a granary, a five bay
hovel (one bay enclosed), a barn and chaff house ("fairly good"), and a lean-to cart shed. The valuer commented: "Buildings very bad all thatch".