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299 and 301 Castle Hill Road Totternhoe

299 and 301 Castle Hill Road January 2010
299 and 301 Castle Hill Road January 2010

299 and 301 Castle Hill Road were listed by the Department of Environment in September 1980 as Grade II, of special interest. The listing ascribed an 18th century date (but see below!). The Department noted that the structure had formerly been one house (again, see below). The structure is built of dark red brick with light red window dressings and quoins. The house comprises two storeys beneath a hipped 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). 299 and 301 Castle Hill Road (or building on the site) were then part of a farm owned by the estate and occupied by George Fossey, standing in three acres, two roods, ten poles of land. A similar survey was carried out in 1840 and by that date nothing had changed other than that the cottages now stood in one acre, one rood, ten poles.

The 1841 census does not list George Fossey in lower End. It seems likely, judging by the progression of the census around the village, judging by fixed points, that his farm was inhabited by four families. Richard Baynes, aged about 55 was a farm bailiff and was living with his wife Ann who was about the same age. Mark Mitchell, aged about 35, was a carpenter. he lived with his wife, Rebecca, about 30, and their children John, aged 10, George, 8 and Richard, 3. John Clark, was about 30, and an agricultural labourer. He lived with his wife, Lydia, aged about 30 and their children, William, aged 9, Rebecca, 7, Thomas, 5, David, 3 and Richard, 1. Finally, Hannah Procter, aged about 50 and a straw plaiter lived with James and Jesse Procter, both aged about 15 and George Procter, 10.

In 1916 Earl Brownlow sold the Totternhoe portion of the Ashridge Estate by auction [AD1147/92]. 299 and 301 Castle Hill Road clearly formed part of Lot 22B "A Desirable Dairy Holding" comprising 24 acres, 32 poles and leased by Frederick Costin for £52/10/- per annum.  The holding was part of Manor Farm. Strangely, the sale particulars refer to "The Pair of capital Modern COTTAGES erected about two years ago on the site of an old Manor House". Whereas 299 and 301 are supposed to be 18th century! The description goes on: "substantially built of brick with tiled roof, and easily convertible into an excellent Farmhouse". They are described as having three bedrooms with two rooms and a larder below, tying in with the description in 1927 for which see below. "Each has a barn with a copper, and a good Garden. Water from well. There is also a large open Cattle Shed and Rickyard". The occupants of the two cottages were William and Thomas Holland.

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 299 and 301 Castle Hill Road [DV1/C101/142-143] discovered that both were owned by Henry Costin, of Manor Farm. Number 299 was occupied by William Holland, whose rent was taken from his wages, he obviously worked for Costin. He occupied a living room, kitchen and scullery downstairs and three bedrooms above. Outside stood a brick and tiled washhouse. Number 301 was identical and was occupied by Frederick J. Holdstock who paid seven shillings per week in rent. The valuer commented on Number 299: "Very, very large. As farm say £9 [rateable value] but see page 143 [301] which is semi-detached to it".