Cawne Close - 34 Bedford Road Wilshamstead
34 Bedford Road March 2012
Cawne Close, 34 Bedford Road, was listed by English Heritage in May 1984 as Grade II, of special interest. The property dates from the late 17th or early 18th century and was remodelled in the 19th and 20th centuries. It is a timber-framed structure, albeit with 20th century concrete rendering, with an inglenook fireplace at the north-west gable end, the structure comprises two storeys beneath an old clay tiled roof. The original cottage may simply have had two rooms up and down with a service wing extending to the north-east. In the 19th or 20th century an extension was added to the south-east, forming a hall and a two storey extension was added to the rear of the north-eastern wing. The listing notes that a 16th century beam was installed in the left ground floor room, it was said to have come from Houghton Hall. Sadly the cottage has been vacant for many years and is now  derelict.
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. Like most of the county, Wilshamstead was largely assessed in 1927 and the valuer visiting Bedford Road Farm, as it was then known [DV1/H42/18] found it owned by T. Simms and occupied by C. Sinfield who had paid rent of £50 per annum since 1918 for 25 acres. The valuer commented: “Heavy land and hard to work”.
The farmhouse comprised a kitchen and two parlours with three bedrooms above, two of which communicated. Outside stood an earth closet and a coal barn but, most unusually, there were no farm buildings.
In 1947 planning permission was sought for alterations - Bedfordshire and Luton Archive and Record Service has the plans [RDBP3/852]. At that time the owner was S. Newman, owner of Duck End Farm. The following year he applied for permission to build an agricultural store at the property [RDBP4/35].
The Cawnes were a prominent Bedford family, one of whom became mayor in the 18th century. They also owned land in Wilshamstead in the same century.