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Carts Farm Upper Gravenhurst

Carts Farm in the early 18th century [BS788]
Cart's Farm in the 18th century[BS788]

Cart's Farmhouse was listed by English Heritage in January 1993 as Grade II, of special interest. The listing dates the farmhouse to the late 17th century, noting that it was extended in the 20th century. It was certainly built by the early 18th century as a map showing the extent of the farm survives [BS788]. It is timber-framed with brick infill and has been rendered. The roof is composed of new tiles and the property comprises two storeys with attics. The plan has two front rooms either side of a central entrance passage which leads to a staircase and smaller service rooms at the rear. The kitchen is on the left and a dairy on the right. There are single-storey 20th century extensions at the right-hand side and the rear.

At the same time a three-bay barn about forty metres north of the farmhouse was listed. It dates from the early 18th century and is timber-framed and weather-boarded and stands on a brick plinth. It has a corrugated iron roof which projects as a cat-slide almost to the ground at the centre rear. Here the timber framing has some brick infill.

In 1920 Cart's Farm was sold. The tile derived, as the name suggests, from Jane Cart’s Charity, founded by a conveyance to trustees of 23rd June 1736. Jane Cart (nee Chew) died in 1736 at the age of 83 years. Born in Dunstable, she retired there after the death of her husband in 1706. Not only did she out live him, but also her nine children, and all her brothers and sisters.   The family distilling business in the City of London had been very successful, so she was left a very wealthy widow. Being a vigorous supporter of the Church, she contributed generously to charitable causes in the area, building alms houses, co-founding a boys’ school, donating communion plate for local churches etc. Shortly before her death she took steps to perpetuate these good works by setting up a Trust with five Trustees and a Clerk, to which she transferred all her properties, and which was charged with the task of administering the properties and distributing the annual revenue to specific beneficiaries.  

After her death her will transferred her other investments to the Trust along with further specific instructions.The objects of the trust, which still exists, are to provide support to Church of England clergy, clergy widows and widowers and the maiden daughters of clergy (the latter when aged over 45) and where that member of the clergy currently or in the past lives or lived or works or worked in the Diocese of Saint Albans. The administration of the trust was taken over by the Bedfordshire and Luton Community Foundation in 2011 [X699]

The final previous conveyance to new trustees had taken place in December 1918 and they agreed to sell the farm at auction, provided the Charity Commissioners gave their assent. The auction sale was held at the White Hart, Shefford and the sale included farmhouse, homestead, a dove house and 176 acres, 1 rood, 16 poles [Z720/1/33].

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. The valuer visiting Carts Farm [DV1/H51/52] found that the owner and occupier was Reuben Parish. The farm still contained 176 acres. The valuer commented: “Water from well for house and buildings. Bought 1920”. An unnamed colleague commented: “I sold it to Parish” meaning that he acted as estate agent. Land lay partly in Clophill and partly in Gravenhurst. No description of house or buildings is given, presumably by oversight.