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Woodside Farm

Woodside Farm on a map of 1901
Woodside Farm on a map of 1901

Deeds to Woodside Farm were deposited with Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service in 1950 [X173]. The introduction to the catalogue notes that Woodside Farm comprises two farms known in the 17th century as Rickards and Cantletts, as well as various cottages and small pieces of land added over the years. The farmhouse is probably on the site of Rickards Farmhouse.

Rickards Farm

Rickards was owned by Thomas Purratt, who died about 1664. His son, another Thomas died in 1688 and in 1689 his widow, Alice, with his daughter Sarah, wife of John Beech of Flamstead [Hertfordshire] sold the 135 acre farm to William Newman of Sewell in Houghton Regis for £1,600, though Alice retained two rooms in the farmhouse, a small piece of garden and a small annuity for the rest of her life [X173/1].

Newman duly took up residence at Rickards and in his will of 1713 left it to his grandson, another William [X173/5]. William junior’s only daughter, Anna Maria, wife of Thomas Day of London, inherited the farm after his death and it was mortgaged and leased out [X173/12-25]. The farm was sold in 1748 to George Wilkins, a brewer from Flamstead [Hertfordshire] for £1,800 [X173/27]. The farm now included 2½ acres of land exchanged with Zachary Neale of Inions Farm, Caddington [X173/39].

Cantletts Farm

This farm lay east of Rickards on the corner of Wigmore Lane. In 1685 it was owned and occupied by William Whitley, yeoman and it comprised 62 acres with a cottage and a small piece of land abutting Caddington Common [X173/40]. In 1701 Whitley sold the farm to William Newman of Houghton Regis, son of the man who owned Rickards [X173/47]. Like Alice Purratt at Rickards, although he had sold the place Whitley reserved the right to live in part of the farmhouse for the rest of his life. In 1719 Newman sold the farm to Thomas King of Esher [Surrey] [X173/51]. In 1755 King’s widow Philadelphia sold the farm for £1,100 to George Wilkins, uniting the two farms [X173/56]. Cantletts Farmhouse had been pulled down by 1785 [X173/61].

Woodside Farm

In 1787 George Wilkins’ heirs sold the two farms now comprising Woodside Farm to John Pope of London, butcher, for £3,900 [X173/63-65]. The cottage adjoining Caddington Common, included in the sale of Cantletts back in 1685 had now become the Harrow Public House, this latter property was quickly sold by Pope who moved into Rickards Farmhouse. However in 1790 Pope sold the farm to another Londoner, John Arkley, a dyer, for £4,000 [X173/71].

In 1800 Caddington was inclosed [X173/94] and so the land held as part of the farm changed from being strips in open fields to smaller inclosed fields. Arkley exchanged some of the land he had been allotted by the Inclosure Commissioners for other pieces closer to the farmhouse, which was now described as a capital messuage built on the site of the original farmhouse.

In 1812 John Arkley’s heirs sold Woodside Farm to Edmund Morris of Chorley Wood [Hertfordshire] for £13,174/18/4 [X173/97]. The sale particulars [X173/95] described a farm of 212 acres with “a genteel and commodious farm House in Excellent Repair, with a Lawn in front containing 30 Acres; capital and substantial-built Out-Buildings, inclosing a large Farm Yard well supplied with Water, a good garden walled in and planted with choice Fruit Trees”.

The Morris family owned the farm for the rest of the 19th century and for most of the time seem to have been the farmers, though local magistrate John Hight Blundell was tenant at the end of the century. In 1898 Horatio Grece Regnart of Highgate [Middlesex] bought the 218 acre farm for £4,750 [X173/117]. By this date Thomas Brigg had succeeded Blundell as tenant. A lease from Regnart to Brigg of October 1898 sets the rent at £290 per annum [X173/118].

In July 1912 the farm was put up for sale [Z720/255/1]. A schedule and calculation of annual rent for the farm dating from the period 1907 to 1917 shows us that it included the Red Lion Public House and adjoining dwellings known as Red Lion Cottages [Z720/255/2].

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 the farm [DV1/H24/14] found it owned and occupied by Henry Abraham, who may have been the buyer in 1912. The farm now comprised 210 acres. The valuer commented: “House good. Buildings old but in good condition. Own electric light”

The farmhouse contained a living room, a kitchen and scullery, a pantry, a store room, another pantry, a living room and a reception room (“small”) on the ground floor. There was a cellar and, on the first floor, five bedrooms, two boxrooms and a bathroom. A disused brick and tiled dairy and coal store with cellar under and apple store room stood outside along with a brick and slate garage and a well house,

The farm buildings were as follows:

  • West Yard, South-West Block; a brick and slate four bay open cart shed; a brick and corrugated iron three bay open implement shed and a six bay open cart shed;
  • West Yard, Centre Block: a weather-boarded and corrugated iron Dutch barn
  • West Yard, North-West Block: a weather-boarded and thatched six bay open hovel (“poor”); a loose box; a hen house; four loose boxes (“part open”); four weather-boarded and corrugated iron loose boxes (“part open”);
  • West Yard South-East Block: a weather-boarded and slated two bay open shed; a store shed; a four bay open implement shed and a large brick, weather-boarded and corrugated iron barn;
  • North-West Yard, North Block: a brick and slate engine house; a weather-boarded and corrugated iron copper house; a workshop; a loose box; a cow house for six; a three horsepower engine in shed; an accumulator shed and a weather-boarded, timber and felt cow house for ten;
  • South Yard, North-West Block: three weather-boarded and slate cattle yards consisting of a part closed cow place, eighteen tie-ups and an open cow place with ten tie-ups;
  • South Yard, South-West Block: a weather-boarded and corrugated iron barn and granary and four brick and slate piggeries;
  • Further Block: a brick, roughcast and tiled harness room; a stable for seven; a chaff store; a stable for two and a brick and corrugated iron trap house