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Wilstead Cotton End Manor Farm

Wilstead Cotton End Manor Farmhouse in 1962 [Z53/134/1]
Wilstead Cotton End Manor Farmhouse in 1962 [Z53/134/1]

It is confusing that there are two Manor Farms in Wilshamstead, this one, with the farmhouse on Elms Lane and another, with the farmhouse on Cotton End Road. To differentiate them, this farm is often called Wilstead Cotton End Manor Farm – not to be confused The Manor House in Wilshamstead, or with the Cotton End Farm which is in Wilshamstead and also along Cotton End Road or the Manor Farm on the High Road in Cotton End! It is named after Cotton End Manor which, from 1779, was in the ownership of the Whitbread family of Southill.

This farmhouse was listed by English Heritage in May 1984 as Grade II, of special interest. It dates from the 17th century and bears a plaque on the exterior: “Restored, S.W. 1911”, S. W. being the owner, Samuel Whitbread. The building is timber-framed with a coating of pebbledash render. It comprises two storeys beneath a clay tiled roof.

In 1883 Joseph Simms took it the tenancy. The previous tenant was Henry John Peacock [BMB4/1/9/41/1-4].

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 Wilstead Cotton End Manor Farm [DV1/H48/24] found that it was still owned by the Southill Estate and farmed by Peter Barr. His rent, fixed in 1917, was £230 per annum – the previous rent, fixed in 1910/11 having been £150. The farm comprised 229 acres, 3 roods, 31 poles and the valuer commented: “All grass must run together”.

The farmhouse contained three reception rooms, a kitchen, scullery and pantry with a cellar (“beer”) beneath and four bedrooms, a bathroom and W. C. on the first floor (the valuer noted: “cold water carry hot”). A servant’s bedroom lay on the second floor. A wood and coal store combined and a further W. C. lay outside. The valuer commented: “Water from spring to tank thence gravitation when dry pumped. Drainage settling tank and soak away”.

The homestead was grouped into four blocks:

  • “By back door”: granary; tool place; dog box; two loose boxes; two calf boxes (wood and tile on brick foundations) and dovecote;
  • “By road”: four bay implement hovel; tractor house (wood and thatch); five bay cart hovel and garage (brick and tile);
  • “Main Number 1”: stabling for twelve; harness room; chaff house; loose box; four pig pens and boiling house; cake store and seven bay open hovel;
  • “Main Number 2”: corn and hay barn; seven bay open hovel; cooling room; cow place for twenty four; cow place for two and mixing place (wood on brick foundations) and a timber, brick and tiled barn.

The valuer noted: “Drainage direct to ditch”.

Directories for Bedfordshire were not published every year but every few years from the early to mid 19th century until 1940. Kelly’s Directory for 1931 gives the farmer here as Percy Edward Thorne, who was still listed as tenant in the last Kelly’s for the county, that of 1940.