Fielden Farmhouse October 2011
Fielden Farmhouse and Fielden House both lie on flat land south of WrestPark at the convergence of four ancient parishes: Flitton (which included Silsoe), Lower Gravenhurst, Barton-le-Clay and Higham Gobion. The name Fielden is first encountered about 1500. Before that there was a hamlet called La Felde.
Fielden Farmhouse lies just south of the road from the A6 to Higham Gobion and Fielden House lies at the end of a track leading south-east from this road, the boundary between Silsoe and Barton-le-Clay running through the building. Fielden House was erected some time after 1830 on a new site, having previously been closer to the farmhouse.
Fielden Farmhouse was listed by the former Department of Environment in January 1987 as Grade II, of special interest. The department dated the property to about 1700, with 19th century additions and alterations. It is constructed from colour-washed roughcast, probably over a timber frame at the front and brick elsewhere. It has clay tiled roofs.
The barn complex at Fielden Farm is not listed but is noted by the Historic Environment Record. 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 the farm buildings at Fielden Farm [HER 15151] notes that they are built on a square plan with a break to the south-west. The barns are brick constructions with ventilation holes and mostly have a corrugated iron roof, but some still retain slates. The north-east range of the barns has a large central carriage entrance that is taller than the rest of the barns, a window is located above the main arch and the building has a tile roof and a weathervane.
Another of the ranges is taller with a tiled roof and below the small windows is a wide corrugated iron roof which acts as a lean-to cover. Some of the barns are open on one elevation in there original form.
In 1774 Sir Anthony Abdy willed Fielden Farm to his wife Katherine and, after her death, his brother Sir William Abdy [Z937/3/3]. Sir Anthony died the following year. On Sir William's death his widow Dame Mary inherited the property for her life and it was then to pass to her son, also Sir William.
In 1813 Dame Mary Abdy of Saville Row, London, widow and Sir William Abdy of Chobham [Surrey] leased Fielden Farm, then in the occupation of Francis Hawkins, to John Whitbread Tuck and Charles Tuck, farmers of Silsoe, for £360 per annum of which £50 went to Dame Mary and £310 to Sir William [Z937/3/1]. At that date the farm comprised 150 acres of arable, meadow and pasture in Silsoe, Pulloxhill and Higham Gobion.
In 1822 Dame Mary and Sir William Abdy sold the farm to John Edwards of Silsoe, for £10,000 [Z937/3/3]. Edwards then sold two fields comprising seven acres of meadow to Thomas Field of Newgate Street, City of London, cheesemonger, who already owned nearby New Inn Farm. That same year John Whitbread Tuck surrendered the lease [Z937/3/4].
By 1859 Thomas Flint Field owned the farm and devised it in his will to trustees to maintain his wife and daughter, both called Rose Eliza Field [Z937/3/6]. It may be that the Field family traced their name back to the hamlet of la Felde mentioned above. Field died in 1861. That same year the trustees took out an insurance policy with Law Fire Insurance Society [Z937/3/7]. The properties insured, all brick and tiled or slated, except where stated otherwise, were as follows:
Fielden House, occupied privately by Mrs Rose Eliza Field - £950;
A washhouse and brewhouse adjoining, built of brick and timber - £50;
A granary in the yard opposite - £100;
A farmhouse near [Fielden Farmhouse], occupied by Edward Dans Roberts - £600;
Three sheds, two open and one enclosed, built of brick, timber and tile - £150
Two buildings used as stables, a piggery and a washhouse in the yard adjoining - £150
Two open sheds, built of timber and tiled - £50
A barn, built of timber and tiled - £50
Four cottages under one roof in Higham Gobion, occupied by Hillyard, Fisher, Stapleton junior and Stapleton senior - £200
Rose Eliza Field senior was still the owner in 1880 when tenant Edward Danns Roberts gave notice of his intention to quit the property [Z937/31/17]. In 1919 sale particulars for the farm were drawn up by estate agents Brown and Merry [BML10/64/1]. The particulars refer to the place as Fieldings Farm. The farmhouse was listed as containing a hall, dining room, drawing room, morning room, larder and kitchen on the ground floor with seven bedrooms and a W. C. on the first floor and attics above that. "There is good cellarage and a Dairy". Outside stood brick and slate washhouse, coal barn, nag stable, coachhouse and two earth closets in a range.
The "model homestead" comprised the following brick and slated buildings surrounding four stockyards: four pigsties; a fowl house; a loose box; a six bay hovel; a large barn with a granary and a loft over; two cart horse stables accommodating twelve horses with a chaff house; a six bay hovel; a similar building with a chaff house; a mixing place; a loose box; a cowhouse for ten with water laid on; a gatehouse with a wool room over; a mess house; an oxhouse and a henhouse. Opening onto the rickyard were two wagon sheds each of three bays, an implement shed, a root house and an engine house. The farm itself comprised 291 acres, 14 poles in Silsoe, Gravenhurst and Higham Gobion. The correspondence accompanying the draft particulars indicates that John George Murray, the new owner of the Wrest Park Estate bought the farm. Fielden House, however, was not sold and remained in the ownership of the Field family.
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 Fielden Farmhouse [DV1/H51/66] found that it was indeed owned, like much of the rest of the parish, by the owner of WrestPark, John George Murray. It was tenanted by Edward Bosworth who paid rent of £300 which had been fixed in 1919. The previous rent, fixed in 1902, had been £230, the farm then having 288 acres. By 1927 the acreage had dropped to 266. The valuer remarked: "Water from spring for House and Buildings, all wants draining, land very wet, too many trees and woods". The land extended over the parish of Gravenhurst as well as Silsoe.
The farmhouse comprised three reception rooms, a kitchen, scullery and dairy as well as a cellar ("full of water"). Six bedrooms lay upstairs, but no bathroom. There were also two attics. Immediately outside lay a three stall nag stable, a coach house and a wood barn.
Farm buildings comprised: a horse box; a two bay hovel; a blacksmith's shop; a cow house for ten beasts ("?not used"), a gateway with a loft over; a loose box; a six bay hovel; a cake house and root house with a loft over; a three bay cart shed; an implement house used as a barn; a corn store with a granary or loft over; a chaff house with a granary or loft over; a six bay hovel; a barn with two open bays behind for corn; a hen house; four piggeries; a loose box; a stable for six horses and a chaff house; a stable for two horses and a six bay implement hovel. All were of brick and slated construction.
In 1934 John George Murray tried, unsuccessfully, to sell the Wrest Park Estate. The sale particulars for Fielden Farm [AD1147/23] are as follows:
The Convenient Dairying Farm
situate at the South end of the Estate and conveniently intersected by the public road connecting the Villages of Silsoe and Gravenhurst, and extending to an Area of about
271 acres, 3 roods, 13 poles
The attractive FARM HOUSE is conveniently placed adjoining the road and contains: Hall, hree reception Rooms, Kitchen, Pantry, Dairy, Cellar, Seven Bed Rooms, W. C. and Two Attics. Outoffices and good Garden with Orchard.
The excellent FARM BUILDINGS, planned on similar lines to others on the Estate, include Cow Houses with tyings for about 20 cows, Cooling House, large Barns, Stabling, Loose Boxes, Stockyards with Shedding etc.
In a convenient position are Two good Cottages.
The Arable Land extends to about 147 Acres and the remaining 120 Acres is Pasture.
Directories for Bedfordshire, which were not published annually but every few years, give the names of the farmers at Fielden Farm from 1864 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:
1864-1885: Edward Dans Roberts;
1894-1898: Leonard Bottoms;
1903-1931: Edward Bosworth;
1936: Anthony Catlin junior;
1940: Anthony and Cuthbert Catlin