281 and 283 Castle Hill Road August 2009
281 and 283 Castle Hill Road were listed by the former Department of Environment in September 1980. The listing dates the houses to the 17th century. They are of timber-framed construction with red brick nogging [infill of the timber framing], have two storeys and an old clay tile roof.
In 1829, following the death of the Earl of Bridgewater, his estate in Totternhoe was surveyed [BW1004]. The survey also included every building in the parish, whether owned by the estate or not (and at that date most were not). 281 and 283 Castle Hill Road were then described as two cottages and a garden owned by Mr. Basterfield and occupied by James Green and W. East, standing in eighteen poles of land. A similar survey was carried out in 1840 and by that date Sarah Basterfield was the owner and the tenants simply described as T. Bliss and another.
The 1841 census reveals that Thomas Bliss was about 25, an agricultural labourer who had not been born in the county. He lived with his similarly aged wife Eliza and children Unis, aged 8, Benjamin, 6, Ann, 4 and Francis Bliss, 1. William East still lived next door. He was about 50 and also an agricultural labourer living with his wife Ann, about 40 and children Elizabeth, about 15, and James, 10. A William Turton, aged about 40 was also living at the premises.
Sarah Basterfield or one of her successors obviously sold the properties because when The Totternhoe Estate (part of the Ashridge Estate) was put up for sale by Lord of the Manor of Totternhoe, Earl Brownlow in 1916 281 and 283 Castle Hill Road formed "A Valuable Small Holding" catalogued as Lot 22 [Z513/22]. The cottages were described as "a Pair of Three Room COTTAGES, each having in addition Scullery, Barn and Garden, and some Rich Meadow and OrchardLand. The occupiers were John Proctor and Charles Jordan who each paid three guineas per annum in rent. The two acres, three roods, thirty one poles of small holding land was leased by Charles Wood for £5 per annum and comprised two acres, twenty four poles of meadow and three roods, seven poles of orchard.
The Rating and Valuation Act 1925 specified that every piece of land and property in the country should be valued to determine its rateable value. Totternhoe, like much of Bedfordshire, was assessed in 1927 and the valuer visiting 281 and 283 Castle Hill Road noted that they comprised the same accommodation. Both were owned by Henry Costin, of Manor Farm, 281 was occupied by T. Holland, whose rent was paid from his wages whilst 283 was occupied by S. A. Proctor who paid £4 per annum in rent. Accommodation comprised a living room, kitchen and scullery downstairs with two bedrooms and a boxroom above. A weather-boarded and tiled barn stood outside.