Rooktree Farm shown on a map of 1901
Rooktree Farm stands well north of the road to Salford and north-east of Hulcote church. The Bedfordshire Historic Environment Record [HER] contains information on the county's historic buildings and landscapes and summaries of each entry can now be found online as part of the Heritage Gateway website. The entry for Rooktree Farmhouse [HER 4375] describes the property as a 17th century building with 18th and 19th century additions and alterations. It is a timber framed construction encased in red brick of about 1800 and has old clay tiled roofs. The earliest part of the building consisted of just two rooms on each floor with a chimney stack and fireplaces between them.
The farm belonged to the Lord of the Manor of Hulcote. The Smith family owned a half share in the lordship of the manor from the early 19th century into the 20th century.In February 1919 the trustees under the will of Rev. Boteler Chernocke Smith together with Villiers Chernocke Smith sold the Hulcote Estate at auction. Rooktree Farm was Lot 3 and the sale particulars [X67/353] described it as follows:
THE VERY VALUABLE GRAZING AND DAIRY FARM
known as "Rook Tree Farm"
In the PARISH of HULCOTE, about 1½ Miles from Ridgmont Station, and approached by an accommodation road which also serves Wood Farm.
IT COMPRISES A
VERY COMFORTABLE FARMHOUSE,
Built of Brick and Tiled, containing Entrance Hall forming an attractive Conservatory, Drawing Room, Living Room, Large Kitchen fitted with copper &c., Dairy and Cellar with a large room over both Larder and Pantry. Upstairs are 4 Bedrooms.
THERE IS A VEGETABLEGARDEN AND AN ORCHARD
Comprises a Range of Buildings on brick foundations, built of timber and covered iron, containing Stabling for 4 Horses, Large Chaff-house and a Loose Box, also a 2-bay Open Cart Shed and a Large Barn. There are 2 Pigsties built of timber with iron roof and a granary on brick piers. There is also another building of timber on brick foundations with a tiled roof, containing 2 Cowhouses for 7 Cows.
This Farm is held, in conjunction with Wood Farm, by Mr. Walter W. J. Brawn, on a Yearly Michaelmas tenancy, the
APPROVED RENTAL for the purposes of Sale being £93
The Farm embraces an area of 75 acres, 1 rood, 10 poles
3 acres, 3 roods and 23 poles of this land was in Ridgmont, the rest in Hulcote.
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 Rooktree Farm [DV1/H6/12] found it owned and occupied by Walter William John Brawn who may have bought it in 1919. The rent on the property had been £95 in 1917 and the farm comprised 77 acres.
The valuer noted: "House old, good condition. Drink water from pond through filter to well, laid on to house and yard". Another hand has noted in the valuation book: "A useful smallholding".
The farmhouse comprised a lounge, a reception room, a kitchen, a scullery and dairy and a larder downstairs with three bedrooms ("1 sloping"), a store room and an attic above. Outside stood two old brick and tiled granaries, a timber workshop, a timber wood and coal barn and a pail closet.
The homestead contained a timber garage and two timber and tiled calf houses north of the farmhouse. Other farm buildings included a four bay implement shed and five timber pigsties. There was a pump from the pond to water tanks in the yard "but no engine". In the mixing house lay shafting for the dairy, cake breaker, chaff cutter and root pulper but as there was no engine it was not used.
The cow yard had the following buildings grouped around it:
North: a timber and tiled cow house for six beasts (a later hand has annotated this "workshop"); a stable for three horses; a mixing house and chaff house;
East: a timber and corrugated iron granary;
South: a two bay open hovel and loose box and an implement shed.
Directories for Bedfordshire, which were not published annually but every few years, give the names of the farmers of Rooktree Farm from 1847 to 1940 and the following names are taken from these directories. The dates are the dates the name first and last appears not the dates of residence:
1847-1864: Thomas Higgins;
1869-1898: George Higgins;
1903-1910: Mrs. George Higgins;
1914: Miss Susan Higgins;
1920-1936: Walter William John Brawn;
1940: William Gillith Ward.