The Rectory about 1920 [Z50/126/29]
We have a number of early descriptions of the Rectory in Toddington, which lay in Park Street. The first of these dates from 1690 and is found in a terrier of church property in the archdeaconry [ABE I]. Downstairs accommodation comprised a hall, a parlour, a kitchen, a washhouse with chimneys, two butteries, a "little room by the parlour" and three pairs of stairs; the parlour was wainscoted, that is, the walls were panelled in wood. Upstairs were four chambers, with a study, each wainscoted and each with a chimney and one chamber not wainscoted and without a chimney. There was also an un-wainscoted passage, a gallery with a chimney "well wainscoted" and two garrets over a chamber which had formerly been a dining room and was over the hall on the ground floor. The presence of a gallery suggests the house may have been of some age. Outside was a stable, a hay barn, a woodhouse, two hogsties, a small lean-to, another woodhouse "lately built", two henhouses and a "necessary house", probably a simple outside privy.
A description from 1708 [ABE ii (II 424)] tells us that the house was built timber (probably half-timbered) and roofed in tiles. It had thirteen rooms – two galleries, three staircases, five closets (all floored with boards), a cellar, pantry and parlour and a kitchen, a hall and a Brewhouse floored with bricks. Outside was a large barn of five bays, a stable of one bay, a hay barn of two bays, a coachhouse, a granary, a woodhouse of two bays and a wood barm and henhouse of two bays – all timbered and thatched. A description of 1730 [ABE I] describes a tiled hall, two wood floored parlours, two brick floored kitchens and a pantry with chambers, a study and two garrets upstairs a five-bay barn, stable hay barn, "another barn", a granary with a hogsty beneath it (the granary being raised off the ground to deter rats), a woodhouse and a henhouse.
The Rectory was enlarged on several occasions and by the early 20th century had 15 bedrooms and two kitchens, resulting in a house which was "bad in every way". In the middle of the house a kitchen and a large bedroom were enclosed with hardly any light or air, and there were many small rooms and narrow passages. The house was empty for a few years before the resignation of Reverend J.C.C. Pipon at the end of 1915. Between 1916 and 1920 the curate in charge and his wife lived in three or four rooms, leaving the rest unoccupied. The Rector, Rev. N.G. Railton was serving at this time as an Army Chaplain. Due to its poor state he tried to sell the Rectory and buy the Wainholm [LINK] for use as a rectory, however a commission appointed by the Bishop of St. Albans decided that Wainholm was unsuitable and recommended removing the extensions to the existing Rectory. Papers concerning the Rectory before Bedfordshire was transferred to the Diocese of Saint Albans in 1914 are held in the Ely Diocesan archive at Cambridge University Library [EDR/G3/40, MGA/BED/83].
By 1919 Rev. Railton had sold the Toddington glebe land and a large part of the garden for £10,000. Plans were drawn up by Luton architects Franklin and Deacon to reduce the size of the house, including a reduction in the number of bedrooms from fifteen to six. After Rev. Railton was succeeded as Rector by Canon Hicks in 1920 the plans were revised; this time it was to be left at the same size but rearranged into an eight bedroom house, including three servants' rooms and one very small bedroom. The estimated cost for both schemes was £3,000, and both included electric light, hot and cold water supply, and heating. The work was begun in July 1920 and finished in February 1921. Previously undiscovered defects and a rise in the price of materials increased the eventual cost to £6,000 [Z913/6/3].
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. In 1924 the Rectory had been leased by the Rector to Canon M. Ponsonby for three years at £200 per annum, subject to the Rector remaining in Toddington [DV1/C82/14]. The property consisted of:
- Downstairs: Study 15 feet by 12½ feet; hall 14 feet by 25 feet; drawing room 18 feet by 29 feet; dining room 22 feet by 16 feet; pantry; kitchen ("very good") 19½ feet by 15 feet; scullery; larder; cellars; W.C.; coal shed; store room; lavatory and W.C.
- Upstairs: Bedroom 10 feet by 15 feet; bedroom 14 feet by 17 feet; dressing room; bedroom 15 feet by 24 feet; bedroom 16½ feet by 14½ feet; bathroom; W.C.; housemaids' sink etc; bedroom 13 feet by 17 feet; bathroom; bedroom 10 feet by 15 feet; two maids' rooms; attic.
- Outside: Brick and thatch stable for three; three loose boxes; coach house; two stall stable.
The property had electric light, a Petter oil engine, and a 56 cell battery. The house had a "very nice" garden of 1½ acres and a "magnificent" view from the back.
By 1940 the Rectory was no longer in use [P8/2/2] and in 1951 plans were drawn up for a new Rectory in Leighton Road. This house was subsequently enlarged in 1968 [Z889/2/32] and still serves as the Rectory at the time of writing . The old property in Park Road was demolished and modern housing now covers the site.
Elevation of the Rectory 1968 [Z889/2/32]