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Bury Farmhouse Thurleigh

Bury Farm 1977 [Z50/122/22]
Bury Farm 1977 [Z50/122/22]

Bury Farmhouse was listed by the former Department of Environment in October 1977 as Grade II, of special interest. The building dates from around 1600 and has a "plain but substantial" timber frame which is partly exposed but which has been largely rendered with roughcast and some parts on the ground floor have been replaced with brick. The house is in an L-shape with a later pair of gables projecting to the north-west and lower additions with pantile roofs to the south-east. It comprises two storeys beneath an old clay tiled roof. The north-east wing may be the earliest part of the building as it has a central chimney stack leading up from a back-to-back hearth which kept two adjoining rooms warm.

The earliest reference to the farm is in a list of repairs required to farms owned by the Crawley family in Keysoe and Thurleigh and dates to 1783 [C1690]. Edward Ward was then the tenant and repairs were needed to the "Great Barley Barn" (£76/18/6), a cow hovel (£15), a stable next to the house (£4), the dovehouse (£1/10/-), cart hovel (£3/10/-, new fencing (£16/10/-) and new oak gates (£30). The house itself also required £13/5/- of repairs as follows [note original spellings]: "to lay a new floor to parlour (Bricks woud be best, Mrs Ward wants Boards) to take down the Chimney now Dangerous to stand & rebuild it smaller, to Rip fure [furze?] out & to tyle part of the Roof – to put in about 60 ft tun of Ground Sill [ground soil?] on back front & make good the Underpining To put in No 5 New Transome Window frames, fit & put in 3 Casements & Saddle Barrs of Iron". This suggests that the roof was at least partly thatched and that the clay tiles on the roof today date from around 1783.

Four years later particulars of Bury Farm [C1691] valued it at £125 per annum. It was a large farm with land totalling 478 acres, 3 roods, 35 poles. Of this total 219 acres, 1 rood, 18 poles was inclosed land, the rest being land forming strips in the open fields of the parish. The land was described as follows:

  • The house, yards, barns, garden and orchard: 3 acres, 3 roods, 15 poles;
  • Bury Hill: 1 acre, 2 roods, 11 poles ("pasture green sward, the soil middling part inferior its hilly, but convenient for dry Cattle");
  • A cottage and garden: 23 poles;
  • Old Layton Close: 3 acres, 18 poles ("Meadow or Pasture, mostly sweet herbage");
  • Home Close: 8 acres, 1 rood, 23 poles ("Ditto");
  • Reed Bed: 10 acres, 2 roods, 35 poles ("Ditto part Wet & Cold but capable of great Improvement");
  • Bushy Fillands: 21 acres, 2 roods, 10 poles ("Arable, part Clover ley part Winter fallow for Barley, great part of this staple requires dressing & rest");
  • Dovehouse Fillands: 14 acres, 3 roods, 29 poles ("Meadow or Old Swarde, good Land sweet herbage");
  • The Pickle: 1 acre, 32 poles ("Ditto");
  • Milehill Close: 9 acres, 16 poles ("Ditto");
  • Hither New Close: 14 acres, 2 roods, 34 poles ("Ditto or Pasture, the land of middling Quality much over run with hills &c wants dressing & better Management");
  • Further New Close: 9 acres, 12 poles ("Meadow, the Land rather kindly and capable of Improvement");
  • Park Field Hither Close: 16 acres, 1 rood, 36 poles ("Ditto, Pasture mostly a thin staple cold soil many parts over run with finns &c. poor in Nature");
  • Park Field Further Close: 13 acres, 5 poles ("Ditto");
  • Park Field Close: 21 acres, 37 poles ("arable, soil but indifferent, of a thin Staple");
  • Upper Bassingborn: 12 acres, 1 rood, 11 poles ("Meadow or Pasture cold thin Staple, if dress'd & mended woud be a great benefit to the Occupier");
  • Nether Bassingborn: 15 acres, 1 rood, 36 poles ("Arable, soil middling in quality & may be improved by dressing & rest");
  • Hicks's Close: 35 acres, 1 rood, 36 poles ("Meadow or Pasture, cols thin Staple but capable of Improvement");
  • Babes Close: 6 acres, 3 roods, 39 poles ("Arable the Soil part Loamy part inferior in quality").

A terrier taken a few years later for John Crawley has a different figure of 334 acres, 2 roods, 30 poles [C1697]. The fields are now as follows, many of them different. Some of them are inclosed some, as with South Field, being strips in the open fields. The terrier is undated but must pre-date inclosure of the parish in 1805 [note the original spellings]:

  • Farm house, 3 barns, stable, cart hovel, shelter hovel &c. with Home Close: 14 acres, 1 rood, 9 poles;
  • Reed Bed Meadow: 11 acres, 3 roods, 37 poles;
  • Bush Fillands: 21 acres, 2 roods, 19 poles;
  • Dove House Close: 12 acres, 24 poles;
  • Gammons Close: 10 acres, 32 poles;
  • Church Field: 40 acres, 3 roods, 10 poles;
  • Church Furlong: 13 acres, 2 roods, 36 poles;
  • Little Field: 42 acres, 3 roods, 18 poles;
  • Little Furlong: 45 acres, 3 roods, 1 pole;
  • South Field: 21 acres, 2 roods, 32 poles;
  • Meadow: 6 acres, 2 roods, 24 poles;
  • South Field: 26 acres, 2 roods, 14 poles;
  • South Field: 30 acres, 1 rood, 16 poles;
  • South Field: 35 acres, 2 roods, 30 poles;
  • Tenement and garden: 22 poles;
  • Tenement and garden: 26 poles.

In 1912 Francis Crawley put up the land he owned in Keysoe and Thurleigh for sale by auction. The cale catalogue [X65/74] gives Lot 3 was Bury Farm, which comprised 221.644 acres and was let to William Green at a rent of £148/10/8 per annum. The "comfortable and commodious old-fashioned farmhouse" which occupied: "a high position, facing south and commanding delightful cross-country views" comprised six bedrooms, a lounge, a hall, a dining room, a drawing room, a store room, a kitchen and cellar, a dairy, a coal barn with a hen house, a nag stable and coach house adjoining. "In the Home Close is a large earthwork, of considerable archaeological interest, from which extensive views may be obtained".

The farm buildings comprised: an open shed; a tool house; stabling for eight horses with a chaff place; a loose box, a root house; a chaff barn; four pigsties; a barn; a chaff house; a granary and mixing place; a cow house; a loose box; a large barn; an open cart shed; two calf boxes; cattle shelters in the yards and a dovehouse and lambing shed in the Home Close.

Adjoining the farm were three cottages and gardens. One, of stucco and thatch had two bedrooms, a lobby, a living room and a pantry with a coal barn in the garden (14 High Street). The other two (16 and 18 High Street) were brick and thatch, one with two bedrooms, two downstairs rooms and a coal barn, the other with one bedrooms, a living room and a pantry.

The Rating and Valuation Act 1925 stated that every building and piece of land in the country was to be assessed to determine its rateable value. The valuer visiting Bury Farm [DV1/H21/46] found that the owner was now W. Farrar and the occupier W. Ross. Directories show that Farrar farmed the land himself in 1914, having presumably bought the farm in 1912. The first directory after World War One, in 1920, has Ross as farmer. He paid rent of £148 per annum for 235 acres. The valuer noted: "Had seven years rent by arrangement, farmer farmed till Ross came in, water supply quite average".

The farmhouse comprised two reception rooms, a kitchen, a dairy, a pantry and four bedrooms. The homestead contained: a hay stable and coach house; a hen house; three pigsties; a barn with a dirt floor; a covered yard; a two bay hovel; a four bay covered yard; a seven bay cart shed; a barn; a six stall stable; a pigsty; an old implement shed; an old dovecote and an old sheep hovel.

Directories, published every few years, give Thomas Howkins as farmer in 1869 and 1877, Benjamin Howkins in 1885, 1890, 1894, 1898, 1903 and 1906, William Green in 1910, Arthur Swales in 1936 and Arthur Thomas Swales in 1940. In 1987 planning permission was sought to make alterations to the farmhouse [BorBTP/87/1759/LB].

Bury Farm in 1977 [Z50/122/25]
Bury Farm in 1977 [Z50/122/25]