Kempston Rural contains a number of impressive houses, among them Box End House. It was listed by Department of Environment in 1977 as Grade II*, in other words of great historic interest. The surveyor considered that the house was a late C16th timber-framed house probably of H-plan in origin but with the right-hand cross wing removed and a gable end built up with stone rubble and the left wing extended forward for one bay in 17th or early 18th century. In 1847 a new principal range was built parallel with the original, facing south. The main wing is of two storeys with heavy close studding exposed to the front and there is an old clay tile roof. In 1977 an early C17th wall painting was uncovered in a first floor room showing bull baiting with a charging bull surrounded by dogs, horsemen and hunters; executed in monochrome distemper with bull's and dogs' tongues coloured red. This discovery was the main catalyst for listing the whole building.
Thomas Mitchell (seated on roller), Elizabeth Mitchell and Edward Williams c.1865
The photograph of the family shown on this page was taken about 1865 and is annotated on the back: "Thos Mitchell, died 1877 with daughter Eliz and her future husband, Capt Edw W Williams and dau. Anne, who died unmarried with her admirer ?handsome Bob Newland, and two younger children".
Anne Mitchell, Robert Newland and two younger Mitchell children
Directories reveal the following occupiers: William George Mitchell 1876; James Plumbe 1885; Miss Mitchell 1894; William George Carter Mitchell 1898-1914; Rupert S.Allen 1920; Noel Tudor Lloyd 1924; Phillip Woodsend: 1928; L.E.H.Roberts 1931-1936; G.Neville Martin 1940. In 1912, following the death of Miss Mitchell, who had a half share in the House, it was valued prior to sale - the House, Box End Farm and brickworks together with 78 acres, 2 roods, 38 perches of and at £4,104. Planning applications show that Rupert Allen, the new owner, made a number of alterations to the property in 1919 including a new fodder house and new servants' hall downstairs with two bedrooms and a bathroom above - no doubt the servants' bedrooms and bathroom noted in the 1927 valuation [see below].
Wall painting [Z50/67/59]
In 1927 Bedfordshire was valued under the Rating Valuation Act 1925; each piece of land and building was valued to determine the rates to be paid on it. The valuer of Box End House noted that the occupier was P.Woodsend, who had it on a 7 year lease from 1921 from the owner Mrs.Mitchell (he had, presumably, taken over Noel Tudor Lloyd's lease). The property stood in 2.629 acres and accommodation consisted of: a hall ("dark") measuring 15ft square; a lavatory and wc; a kitchen ("dark"); a scullery; a servants' hall [added in 1919 see above]; a butler's pantry; up 3 steps was a south facing dining room measuring 20ft by 17½; then came a passage with a garden door to a south facing drawing room measuring 19ft by 16; down 3 steps again was the north-west facing main room measuring 18½ft by 12.
Detail of bull from wall painting [Z50/67/59]
The stairs lay at the north side of the building and went up to a first floor nursery over main room; a north facing bedroom over the hall; a north facing bathroom and wc; then came a back landing to a bedroom and dressing room ("not used"); a store; a servants' bathroom [added in 1919, see above]; two servants' bedrooms [added in 1919 see above]; and a servants' kitchen. On the 2nd floor lay: a south facing bedroom over the drawing room; a dressing room; and a bedroom over part of the dining room ("good").
Box End House from the road November 2007
Outside were: a brick and tile incubator house; three loose boxes; a garage for two cars ("poor"); three coal and wood places; a washhouse; a hen house; two hovels and a cart shed; a three bay open hovel used as a store; an electricity house and battery room; a fruit room; a further hen house; and a small conservatory. The valuer noted: "Gardens Nice. Has been let go". All in all it was a: "V. Nice old House Elec Light. Pump own water from well". He noted that the orchard and kitchen garden across the road and totalled 0.342 acres; they included a greenhouse measuring 30ft by 10 and a potting shed.