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Manor Farm Totternhoe

Manor Farm February 2010
Manor Farm February 2010

On 29th July 1811, at Garraway's Coffee House in Exchange Alley, London the manor and advowson of Totternhoe were sold by auction, together with Manor Farm [BW998]. It is not clear whether this was the Totternhoe Manor which had been in existence since Domesday or the later 16th century creation but the former seems more likely. The farm was described as: "a good Farm House, Three Barns, Granary, Stable, Cart House, and other Conveniences". The land which made up the farm comprised 120 acres, 1 rood, 8 poles, divided into small arable strips in the following fields: Ditchling (3 acres, 2 roods, 35 poles); Quarry (4 acres, 3 roods, 32 poles); North (3 acres, 1 rood); Great (31 acres, 3 roods, 29 poles); Castle (4 acres, 2 roods, 3 poles); Middle (14 acres, 3 roods, 20 poles); Windmill (1 rood) and Goles Hill (1 acre, 1 rood, 25 poles). In addition the farm had the following whole fields:

  • The Home Four Acres: 4 acres, 1 rood of meadow;
  • The Long Meadow: 6 acres, 1 rood of meadow;
  • The Eight Acres: 8 acres, 2 roods, 3 poles of meadow;
  • The Hales: 10 acres, 2 roods, 6 poles of pasture;
  • The Litany Close: 15 acres, 2 roods, 27 poles of pasture;
  • Whippers Slough: 1 acre, 2 roods, 20 poles of pasture;
  • First Overway Close: 1 acre, 2 roods, 28 poles of meadow;
  • Second Overway Close: 1 acre, 3 roods, 25 poles of meadow;
  • Close next Orton's: 1 acre, 34 poles of meadow.

The land was let to a Mrs. Fossey for £180 per annum. The sale particulars are not annotated with the name of a buyer but it is assumed to be a man named Basterfield because 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). Manor Farm was then owned by the man named Basterfield and occupied by William Pratt, the farmhouse standing in one rood, twenty seven poles. A similar survey was carried out in 1840 and by that date the owner was Sarah Basterfield, though the tenant was still William Pratt. A marginal note indicates that it was afterwards bought by Lord Brownlow (see below).

The 1841 census reveals that farmer William Pratt was about 35 and had been born outside Bedfordshire. He lived with his wife Fanny, about the same age, and their children John, aged 12, William, 9, Ann, 6, Fanny, 4 and Alfred, 1. The servants were Emma Gurney, about 15, Jesse Morgan about 15, and Thomas Dudley, aged 14.

The Totternhoe Estate (part of the Ashridge Estate) was put up for sale by Lord of the Manor of Totternhoe, Earl Brownlow in 1916 [Z513/22]. Manor Farm formed Lot 20 - divided into six sub lots (Lot 20 itself and Lots 20a to 20e). The whole farm came to 210 acres and 1 pole. The farmhouse and its immediate 24 acres, 2 poles were let to Frederick Costin for £50 per annum. The farmhouse was described as "brick and tiled built, and contains on the GROUND FLOOR: - Drawing Room, about 18 feet by 15 feet, Dining Room, about 18 feet by 16 feet, and Dairy, and on the UPPER FLOOR: - Four Bedrooms. Water from well by Force Pump, and soft water from large brick and cement tank. There is also a Wash-house with copper and Coalhouse, and excellent walled Garden. THE BUILDINGS are in good repair, many having brick-paved or concrete floors, and comprise Trap House, 4-bay open Cattle Shed with Loft over, Cow Shed for eight, two Calf Pens, Mixing House with Loft over, Cow Shed for four, Calf House, Barn, Cart-horse Stable for eight, Corn Store and Loft, three-division Barn, 9-bay open Shed and Yard, and 4-bay ditto. All the enclosures adjoin good roads, and the Homestead is in the centre of the Holding". The rest of this lot comprised a meadow of 6 acres, 1 rood, 10 poles, an orchard of 4 acres, 3 roods, 39 poles and 11 acres, 3 roods, 24 poles of Regulated Pasture. Of this latter phenomenon the particulars state: "The whole of Castle Hill, having an Area of about 31 acres, 3 roods, 18 poles is regulated pasture, and comprises 95 stints, 35 of which are allotted … and, although undefined, are the property of the Vendor under the Enclosure Award, 1891". In some ways these stints are a continuation of the concept of small strips which existed before inclosure, except that these stints were purely for grazing whereas strips were for arable farming.

The rest of the farm comprised as follows:

  • Lot 20a: 57 acres, 2 roods, 2 poles of "deep rich arable land" let to Frederick Costin at £50 per annum and including 8 stints at Lower End and Eaton Bray Green;
  • Lot 20b: 24 acres, 32  poles of "desirable dairy holding" including 299-301 Castle Hill Road; the grazing land let to Frederick Costin at £42 per annum and including a moat. These are often indications that a substantial house was built on the spot, probably the former manor house;
  • Lot 20c: 28 acres of "conveniently situate arable holding" let to Frederick Costin at £25 per annum;
  • Lot 20d: 54 acres, 1 rood, 32 poles of "productive arable land" let to Frederick Costin at £48 per annum;
  • Lot 20e: 21 acres, 3 roods, 13 poles of "fertile meadow land" let to Frederick Costin at £25 per annum.

The location of each holding is shown on the annotated map from the sale particulars shown below. To see a larger version please click on the image.

Manor Farm land annotated on the sale particulars of 1916 [AD1147-92]
Manor Farm land annotated on the sale particulars of 1916 [AD1147-92]

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 Manor Farm [DV1/H25/46] noted that it was owned and occupied by Henry Costin and comprised about 206 acres - clearly Lots 20 to 20e of 1916. The valuer noted that water as drawn from a well and that the farmhouse was fair, with a telephone. Another hand wrote "Nice House and Homestead".

The brick and tiled house comprised two reception rooms, a kitchen and dining room downstairs with four bedrooms above. A brick and slate kitchen, barn and earth closet stood outside. The homestead was made up as follows (letters refer to the blocks annotated on the map):

  • A: a brick, timber and tile coach house used as a garage, nag stable and hovel, all with a loft over and a brick, timber and tile mixing house with shafting and mill for power and a cow house for nine beasts, all with a loft over;
  • B: a brick, timber and slate cart shed;
  • C: a brick, timber and tile cow house for four; a large brick, timber and corrugated iron barn; a cow house for six; a stable for eight; a chaff place with a loft over; a large barn and a timber and slate implement shed;
  • D: a timber and corrugated iron nine bay open hovel.