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Croots Farmhouse Willington

Croots Farm about 1900 [X535/1]
Croots Farm about 1900 [X535/1]

Croots Farmhouse was listed by the former Department of Environment in May 1984 as Grade II, of special interest. The department dated the property to the 17th century with 19th century windows. The cottage is timber framed, with colourwashed roughcast render and a clay tile roof, hipped to the north. It is built in an L-plan, the main hall of two storeys and the cross-wing of two storeys and attics. A single-storeyed 19th century outhouse in red brick projects forward from the north end.

The farmhouse may have been built by a Lord of the Manor. Until 1731 the manor was owned by the Gostwick family, then the Dukes of Marlborough until 1779 when the manor was purchased by the Duke of Bedford. Alternatively the manorial estate may have bought the cottage at a later date. Clearly at some stage it was occupied by a man named Croot but research has, so far, not established when.

In 1904 then Lords of the Manor, George and James Keeble, sold off the final part of the Willington Manor Estate by auction, including Croots Farm. The particulars [SL4/3] listed the property as follows:

Being close to Willington Railway Station, and known as
Croots Farm Premises”

Which are principally Boarded and Slated on Brick Foundations and include 2 Large Barns, Cart Horse Stable and Gear House, 3 Good Yards with Bullock and Cow Houses and open Shelters, Pony Stable, cart Shed, Poultry House &c.

Together with a Capital Plot of Building Land recently used as a Stackyard with the Dutch Barn thereon and a piece of Garden Land at the back, and containing in the whole

1 acre, 2 roods, 3 poles

Part Ordnance Survey Number 56 – Premises and Stackyard – 1 acre, 3 poles
Part Ordnance Survey Number 58 – GardenLand – 2 roods

A portion of the Buildings and Stackyard is let to Mr. Charles Usher on a Yearly Michaelmas tenancy at an annual rent of £20. The remainder is in hand.

The lot is annotated with the price of £525 though there is nothing to indicate whether this was the reserve of the price realised at auction.

Croots Farmhouse about 1950 [X535/1]
Croots Farmhouse about 1950 [X535/1]

The Rating and Valuation Act 1925 specified that every piece of land and building in the country was to be assessed to determine its rateable value. Willington, like most of the county, was assessed in 1927 and the valuer visiting Croot’s Farmhouse [DV1/C154/82] found it known by that name, owned and occupied by market gardener Charles Wooding.

The property stood in well over half an acre. The “rambling” house contained three reception rooms, a kitchen, a scullery, four bedrooms and a bathroom. Two attics also lay in the roof. The valuer commented: “Big rambling place, was farm house”. Some farm buildings lay outside comprising weather-boarded and tiled shed and barn, a brick and corrugated iron shelter and a cattle yard with a further shelter. Wooding also owned and occupied an adjoining grass field of 1.218 acres.

In 1933 stables and a storage barn were added to the farm [RDBP2/410]. Later that same year a garden store was added [RDBP2/416] and in 1934 a mushroom culture building [RDBP2/610]. In 1934 some of the farm buildings were sold at auction [PK1/4/108]. The particulars are annotated: "Wightman £200".

Directories for the county were published every few years by a number of sources. the most notable are Kelly's Directory. Below is a short list of occupiers of Croots Farm as revealed by directories. Entries are not the beginning and end dates of tenure but the first and last time the name is noted in a directory:

  • 1847 to 1869: Thomas Twitchell;
  • 1877 to 1906: William Harris;
  • 1910 to 1914: Mrs. Harris

Charles Wooding, as has been noted, was owner in 1927 and is still listed in 1940.

Croots Farmhouse August 2010
Croots Farmhouse August 2010