Church Cottages November 2007
Before the 1834 Poor Law Act grouped parishes into ‘Unions’, some parishes had their own workhouses. These varied from places where enforced menial work such as stone breaking was undertaken in return for basic food and lodgings to near derelict buildings where families in receipt of relief from the parish were housed. Kempston seems, to judge by a deed of 1822 [SW13-14] to have had two parish workhouses, the most important in a cottage next to the Town House with All Saints churchyard to the north and the river to the east and another some distance off in Littleworth End, a settlement west of Tithe Farm on Tithe Road between Wood End and West End. Both the poor house and Town House are probably Church End cottages lying between All Saints Church and Kempston Rural Lower School. The excerpt below is from the Kempston Overseers Account book [Ref.P60/18] and gives some idea of the conditions endured by families there in the late 18th Century; it could refer to either of the workhouses. No item, no matter how small, was overlooked in the inventory:
The effects of the workhouse taken 4th April 1776
1 large iron grate with cheeks, bellows, fire shovel & tongs, 3 pot hooks, iron & pads, 1 candlebox, 1 candlestick, 5 stools, 5 horses for pillows, 4 chairs, 2 oaken tables, 3 deal tables, 3 press cupboards, all oak, 2 earthen baking pans, 1 large wooden dish and spoon, 1 dough trough, 1 scuttle, 2 iron bound pails, 5 lace pillows, 1 bobbin wheel, 8 wooden dishes, & 12 spoons, 2 coppers with grate & covers, 1 iron frying pan, 1 large bellmetal dining pot with wooden cover, 1 brass dining pot with wooden cover, 1 small brass kettle, 2 tubs, 1 mashing vat and underback tub, 1 lye leach with 2 pairs of tongs to lay on it, 2 hogsheads for beer, 1 form, 1 large table.
9 bedsteads, 3 feather beds, 6 flock beds, 4 feather bolsters, 5 flock bolsters, 3 feather pillows, 7 mattresses, 11 flannel blankets, 1 quilt, 1 rug, 3 coverlets, 1 pillower, 10 pair of sheets and 1 single sheet, 1 large iron dining pot, an old brass frying pan without a handle, 4 oak chests, 3 coffers, 1 large oaken oval table, 1 trundle bedstead and cord, 1 small barrel, a small parcel of flocks, a small plumb table, 2 pair of chest of drawers both oak, 1 old chair, 4 chamber pots, 2 sacks, 1 pint mug, 1 pitcher, 1 pint tin, 8 knives and 6 forks, 1 large carving knife, 1 earthen pot for flour, 1 yoke, 1 peel to draw bread, 1 hand brush, 1 brass cock for a barrel, 1 bedstead with curtains and rods, 1 flock bolster, , 1 flock bed, 1 blanket, 2 earthen pans, 1 trencher, 1 earthen plate, 1 pudding maid, an old warming pan without a lid, 1 falling axe, a bill and hatchet, 1 small deal box, 1 tea kettle, 4 pewter plates, 2 dishes, 6 stone platters, 2 candlesticks, 2 brass kettles, 1 tin saucepan.
Church Cottages about 1920 [Z50/67/29]
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 noted that Church End Cottages was then four cottages, owned by the Kempston Charity. The structure was built of brick and tile. He noted that they were: "Very old Cottages. Water from a pump, good water". Each one consisted of a living room and scullery downstairs with two bedrooms above, outside being a barn and earth closet in each case. One end cottage was a little bigger than the others, whilst the cottage at the other end had "just been done up". The cottages were Grade II Listed by the Department of Environment in 1964, the surveyor considering them to be 17th century and noting that the ground floor was of red brick whilst the upper floor was timber framed "now mainly rendered in colourwashed roughcast"