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Wood Farm Wootton Green

Wood Farm - in green - on the map accompanying the 1927 sale particulars [Z375-1]
Wood Farm - in green - on the map accompanying the 1927 sale particulars [Z375/1]

Wood Farmhouse was listed by English Heritage in August 1987 as Grade II, of special interest. The original building dates from the 17th century and is of timber-framed construction with rendered infill. It has a concrete tiled roof and comprises three storeys. The porch itself dates from the 20th century but bears a date, re-positioned, of 1620 which may apply to the original building. The left hand bay of the house was altered in the 18th century “by being brought forward to project beyond the building line of the original house”. A rear timber-framed and plastered lean-to was also added in the 18th century. The right hand bay of the house has seen extensive alterations , the front being rebuilt in the 18th century or early 19th century in brick which was then plastered over. This bay is considerably higher than the 17th century building and has a wing to the rear comprising one storey with attics.

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, Wootton was largely assessed in 1927 and the valuer visiting Wood Farm [DV1/H2/24] found it owned by Mrs. Doyne-Ditmas, who had bought the Wootton Estate from her father, Sir Philip Payne, in 1923 [D264]. The farm was run by the estate and comprised 220 acres.

The valuer commented: “Some way off main road, very poor buildings. Colonel Brook Smith has part of house and runs the farm”. Another hand has written: “Arable land runs round Wootton Wood. Best arable field farthest from lane. The further arable land is tumbled-down and is very rough”.

The farmhouse comprised a dining room, a study “used for incubator”, a kitchen and scullery, a parlour and a dairy with four bedrooms on the first floor and attics on the second (“no use”). A brick and slate coal shed stood outside. The valuer commented “Bailiff lives here also Colonel B. Smith”. Water came from a well (“bad”). The valuer further commented: “Was a cottage, had 2 rooms added. Colonel B. Smith is manager for Mrs. Ditmas and lives here”.

The homestead comprised the following: a wood and thatched nag stable; a wood and tiled store, barn and three bay open cart shed; in the yard were five wood and thatched calf boxes. There was also a wood and tiled stable for six horses, a barn, a calf box, a cowhouse for twelve (“bad”), two calf pens, three pigsties and a five bay open hovel. The valuer commented: “Very poor repair”. This was not surprising as the Wootton Estate had been in dire financial straits for about a hundred years.

At about the same time as the valuation the Wootton Estate was put up for sale by auction. Wood Farm was Lot 4 and the sale particulars [Z375/1] described it as having a frontage of about 1,900 feet to the Cranfield Road. The farmhouse was described as: “an old-fashioned farmhouse of brick and tiled construction with stucco-fronted Elevations, containing: FOUR BED ROOMS and BOX ROOM and Three Attics in roof; LARGE SITTING ROOM, fitted with modern barless grate; KITCHEN with range; SCULLERY with copper and sink; LARGE DAIRY with brick paved floor; INCUBATOR ROOM; Two Store Rooms; Wood Shed and E. C. Good Kitchen Garden with Fruit Trees. Water from deep Well. Pump in Scullery”.

The farm buildings comprised: “Timber and Tiled Mixing House with fitted copper, Loft over; BARN and Store Shed in rear; Timber and Thatch LOOSE BOX; COW HOUSE for 8 head; Timber and Tiled STABLE for 8 horses; Chaff House; Four-bay Open Cattle Shed, Fowl House and a Three-bay Open Cart Shed”. The whole area of the farm was measured as 251 acres, 2 roods, 17 poles, suggesting that the valuer (220 acres) had miscounted. The land was divided into pasture of 207 acres 2 roods, 30 poles (including some water) and arable of 41 acres, 2 roods, 38 poles, the rest being buildings.

The farm was not sold in 1927, being sold to Major G. Pelham Reid in 1944 [D300a ]. The land then comprised 186.358 acres. A grain store was built in 1947 [RDBP3/911] as well as a building to house prisoners-of-war who had not yet been repatriated and were being used for labouring in the vicinity [RDBP3/924].