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Fielden House

Fielden House in 1718 [L33/286 folio 6]
Fielden House in 1718 [L33/286 folio 6]

Fielden House was listed by the former Department of Environment as Grade II, of special interest. The department dated the property to the later 18th and 19th centuries with 17th century origins. It is built of red brick with slate roofs. An out building with one storey and attics lies to the rear.

Fielden Farm and Fielden House lie on the flat land south of Wrest Park . The name Fielden first occurs around 1500. Before then there was a hamlet or vill called La Felde where there was a house grand enough to serve as a meeting-place at which local dignitaries met to sign documents. La Felde lay next to the highway to Gravenhurst which ran halfway between two brooks and parallel with them, presumably along a ridge of slightly drier ground in the middle of the marshy area. It was known then as the Portway, a link between two markets, although sometimes it was also referred to as the King's Highway. Fielden House lies at the end of a track leading south-east out of the road, on the boundary of two parishes, Silsoe and Shillington.

Fielden House is shown on a map of Silsoe and the surrounding area made in 1718 for the Duke of Kent [L33/286 folio 6]. It is labelled as "Mr. Millward's" and is a simple two storey dwelling unlike the three storey structure of today.A plan made in 1801 by the Duke of Bedford's surveyor Thomas Evans [P54/28/20 – see below] shows the parish boundary between Silsoe and Shillington running through the middle of the hall! To see a larger version, please click on the image.

Fielden House in 1801 by Thomas Evans [P54-28-20]
Fielden House in 1801 by Thomas Evans [P54/28/20]

By 1859 Thomas Flint Field owned Fielden House and Fielden Farm and devised them in his will to trustees to maintain his wife and daughter, both called Rose Eliza Field [Z937/3/6]. It may be that the Fields took their name from the vill of la Felde mentioned above. Field died in 1861. That same year the trustees took out an insurance policy with Law Fire Insurance Society [Z937/3/7]. The properties insured, all brick and tiled or slated, except where stated otherwise, were as follows:

  • Fielden House, occupied privately by Mrs Rose Eliza Field - £950;
  • A washhouse and brewhouse adjoining, built of brick and timber - £50;
  • A granary in the yard opposite - £100;
  • A farmhouse near [Fielden Farmhouse], occupied by Edward Dans Roberts - £600;
  • Three sheds, two open and one enclosed, built of brick, timber and tile - £150
  • Two buildings used as stables, a piggery and a washhouse in the yard adjoining - £150
  • Two open sheds, built of timber and tiled - £50
  • A barn, built of timber and tiled - £50
  • Four cottages under one roof in Higham Gobion, occupied by Hillyard, Fisher, Stapleton junior and Stapleton senior - £200

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 Fielden House [DV1/A37/17-18] found it still occupied by its owner Miss Field. The "old farm house" was noted as in "very poor repair" and in a "miserable situation". Water came from a well and lighting was from oil lamps.

Downstairs were: a small hall; a dining room; a drawing room; a kitchen; a brewhouse; a larder; a conservatory; a butler's pantry; a breakfast room and a pantry. Upstairs lay six bedrooms (one of them over the brewhouse) and a boxroom and the attics. A cellar lay beneath the property.

Outside lay two horse boxes and two stalls, a harness room, a coach house and hen house, both of which were derelict, an old stable, some wood barns, a granary used as a store, a coal place and a tool shed. The parish boundary still went right through the house, a state of affairs which no longer appertains.

On the night of 9th November 1940 nine or ten high explosive bombs were dropped from a German aircraft nearby. The line of bombs ran from West Hay Manor in Higham Gobion to Fielden House [WW2/AR/CO/2/2].