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Stagsden Smithy

Smithy December 2007
The Smithy in December 2007

Stagsden is unusual in still having a smithy, as may be seen in the photograph above taken in December 2007. Much of Stagsden was owned by the Crown at the beginning of the 20th century. This was because Stagsden Manor had been sold to the Crown by the executors of the Lord of the Manor George Rice Trevor, 4th Baron Dynevor, after his death in 1869. The Crown Estate was sold off by auction in 1921 in 37 lots at which time it comprised 14 farms and 3,360 acres of land.

Lot 27 in the sale was the blacksmith's shop together with just over two acres of meadow. The shop was described [X67/383] as a brick and stone building comprising a smithy with two forges, a coal place and adjoining shoeing shed. The grass land was let to J.T.Lay at £8 per annum rent and the shop to Albert Summerlin at an annual rent of £6/5/6.

In 1926 this part of Bedfordshire was valued under the terms of the Rating Valuation Act 1925; every piece of land and building was assessed to determine the rates to be paid on it. The valuer visiting the smithy noted [DV1/C36/55] that the owner was A.J.Whitmee, with Albert Summerlin still the tenant. He described it as a stone and tile structure with two furnaces (only one used) and summed it up as a: "Very poor place". The smithy measured 24 feet by 16 feet and the shoeing room 15 feet by 11 feet. The valuer noted: "V. Little Trade Here".

The Hearth Tax return of 1671 recorded no forge in the parish.