Tebworth Buildings

The History of Buildings in Tebworth

There are a wide variety of buildings in Tebworth,Wingfield, and Chalgrave that have a rich and interesting history.

2 Hockliffe Road
2 Hockliffe Road, Tebworth. Former smithy
2 Hockliffe Road, Tebworth. Former smithy

2 Hockliffe Road is a 19th century cottage built of yellow brick with red brick dressings and comprising two storeys beneath a Welsh Slate roof. It was always known as ‘Smith House’.The adjacent 4 Hockliffe Road is today called ‘Forge Cottage’. Part of this building was, until recently single story and we think that is where the forge was situated. [4 Hockliffe Road was also ‘The Cock Beerhouse’]. In 1909 Liberal Chancellor of the Exchequer, David Lloyd George, brought out a pioneering budget which can be seen as foreshadowing the welfare state in that it introduced old age pensions. To pay for this and other facets of the budget Lloyd George decided that he needed an overhaul of rates and to do this he needed a complete survey of all buildings and land in the country to determine new rateable values, to be undertaken in the year following the budget. Surprisingly this was the first nationwide survey of property since the Domesday Book of 1086 and so came to be known as the 1910 Domesday Survey.

In 1910, the surveyor visiting Tebworth found that the property was owned by Levi Dudley of Hockliffe and occupied by George Ludgate. It was described as a house and smithy. Whilst Ludgate lived in the house it seems as if the smithy was used separately. Kelly’s Directory for 1910 records that the smith in Tebworth was William Squires who: “attends every Wednesday”. Directories were only published every few years for Bedfordshire, the first to mention William Squires is 1903 and the last is 1928 after which no smith is mentioned.

Kelly’s Directory for 1898 gives the blacksmith, seemingly resident, as Joseph Bing. He is also listed in 1894. In 1890 the blacksmith is listed as Ernest Tompkins. In 1864, 1877 and 1885 James and John Tompkins are both listed as blacksmiths but only James in 1862. In 1854 William Tompkins is listed as blacksmith and James Tompkins and blacksmith and beer retailer, William alone is listed in 1853 and in the first directory which includes Chalgrave, 1847, William is listed as blacksmith and James as a beer shop proprietor in Wingfield.

In 1926, the valuer visiting Tebworth found that 2 Hockliffe Road and its smithy were now owned by S. Mooring. The smithy was rented for 2/6 per half year, the valuer noted: “Could not get in, estimated size” and “Tenant [our friend William Squires] only here 3 days a week. Only one in village”.

The house was still occupied by George Ludgate whose rent was for shillings per month. It comprised a reception room and a living room downstairs with four bedrooms above. There was also a basement washhouse and cellar. A brick and slate earth closet stood outside. In 1942 Bedfordshire County Council took over ownership of the smithy.


Buttercup Farmhouse, Hockliffe Road
Buttercup Farmhouse, Hockliffe Road, Tebworth.
Buttercup Farmhouse, Hockliffe Road, Tebworth.

Buttercup Farmhouse was listed in September 1980 as Grade II, of special interest. It dates from the late 17th or early 18th century and is built of brick with red brick and vitrified bricks forming a chequered pattern and comprises two storeys beneath a thatched roof.

In 1926, the valuer visiting Buttercup Farmhouse found that it was now a dwelling, owned by Mrs Emmerton and occupied by A Hack with no farm attached to it. The house stood in just 0.194 of an acre. Rent was £23 per annum rent including buildings and land and was at a “family” rate.

The property comprised a reception room, a living room, a kitchen and a dining room downstairs with three bedrooms above. A brick and tiled earth closet stood outside. The valuer noted: “Enormous thatch roof” and “very old”.

Although the house was no longer part of a farm as such Hack did rent some adjoining farm buildings, together with 3.714 acres of land from Mrs Emmerton – he was obviously running a smallholding. The farm buildings comprised: a brick and tiled barn, mixing house and stall for two horses; a large brick, weather-boarded and tiled barn; a brick and tiled three bay hovel; a loose box and a weather-boarded and corrugated iron hen house. The valuer commented: “Quite a nice yard – a small homestead”.


Park Farm, Hockliffe Road
Park Farm, Tebworth (c1950)
Park Farm, Tebworth (c1950)

Park Farmhouse was listed in September 1980 as Grade II, of special interest. It dates from the 18th century and is built of grey brick with red brick dressings. It has a half-hipped old clay tile roof and comprises two storeys.

In 1907 Park Farm, with other property, was put up for sale by Richard Purrett. The Purrett family was well established in Tebworth. A Richard Purrett was buried in Chalgrave churchyard as early as 17th April 1558. The wills show the John who died in 1751 devising real estate to his son John, who died in 1793 and he to his son John who died in 1826. No mention of a farm or farmhouse, sadly, is made but it must remain a possibility that the John who died in 1751 or his son who died in 1793 had the property built. It seems likely that the land comprising the farm was once greatly in excess of that which went with the house by the 20th century and we know that the John Purrett who died in 1826 also owned the Star in what was then the parish of Chalgrave but later became part of Hockliffe.

Very early photograph of Park Farm and the unmade Hockliffe Road (date unknown)
Very early photograph of Park Farm and the unmade Hockliffe Road (date unknown)

The particulars for the house, occupied by the late Miss Purrett, read: “The House is brick-built and tiled, occupies an elevated and prominent position facing the Green, in the village of Tebworth. It contains: – On the Ground Floor, Two Reception Rooms, Capital Kitchen, Dairy, Cellar, Scullery with Copper, Sink and Hard and Soft Water Pumps. On the First Floor are three Best Bedrooms, Bathroom, Servant’s Bedroom and Two Attics. The house is well fitted with good Cupboards. In front is a Flower Garden enclosed by a wooden fence on dwarf wall, and there is a small secluded Flower Garden and Fernery at side. At rear, approached by a side entrance, is a Courtyard, with Pump and Hard Water Supply, never known to fail, a brick and tiled Building with Loft, formerly used as a Malting, a timber-built and thatched Fuel House, and a Closet, Drying Ground, brick and timber-built and thatched Barn and Fowlhouse, large Flower and Kitchen Garden, with Ornamental Summerhouse, good Orchard, a second Kitchen Garden and Paddock, with Ten Walnut and other Valuable Trees. Approached from the Green, through a pair of Boarded Gates, is a Yard with a two-bay timber and thatch Shed, timber-built Barn with iron roof, timber and thatch Stabling for 5 horses, and a Gighouse with Loft over”. The farm buildings were occupied by D and J Osborn: “The Farmyard and Buildings, consisting of three large timber-built and thatched Corn Barns, two having a boarded floor, a timber and thatch Cattle Shelter, Calf Yard with Shed, brick, timber and thatch 5-stall Cowhouse, 3-horse Stable and Pigsties. At rear is a Yard with a 6-bay timber and thatch Open Shed. The whole has an area of about 3 acres, 2 roods, 5 poles”. Also sold was The Grange, 93 acres, 20 poles of land and two thatched cottages, since pulled down.

The valuer visiting the farm in 1926 did so in the morning of 29th October 1926 when he found it was called Hart Farm. It was owned by G. Pratt and occupied by J. Osborn who paid £60 per annum rent for 17 acres of land and the buildings. The valuer noted: “Water from well. House and buildings too large. This homestead seems front of the Glebe Land” and “very fine house”. Another hand has written: “Not a farm, Osborn a Butcher”.

The farmhouse comprised two reception rooms, a kitchen, a scullery and three bedrooms with an attic above. An old brick and tiled cottage was used as barns and there was also a weather-boarded and thatched earth closet and barn, two brick, weather-boarded and tiled pigsties and henhouse, two brick and thatch henhouses, a brick and tile cowhouse for five, two brick and tile pigsties, a large brick, weather-boarded and thatched barn and cartshed, a weather-boarded six bay open feeding hovel, two large weather-boarded and thatched large barns in bays, a weather-boarded and tiled loose box, a weather-boarded and thatched stable for three and a loose box, a weather-boarded and corrugated iron trap house and a weather-boarded and thatched cart hovel.

The Grange, 22 Hockliffe Road
The Grange, 22 Hockliffe Road, Tebworth (1907)
The Grange, 22 Hockliffe Road, Tebworth (1907)

The house known today as’ The Grange’ is nothing of the sort. A grange was a manor and, by extension, its manor house, owned by a religious institution such as an abbey or priory. Today’s house dates from the 18th century. It used to be Grade II listed but this status was revoked in 2005 presumably due to extensive modernisation. It is constructed of red and vitreous brick and comprises two storeys beneath a clay tiled roof. The left hand side, as seen from the front, dates from the 19th century, is built in red brick and has a slate roof.

As the photograph shows, the end section was then configured differently to today. 1907 sale particulars read “A Pleasantly Situated Old-Fashioned House, distinguished as “The Laurels”, in the occupation of Mrs Duncombe; A cottage adjoining, occupied by John Day (sub-tenants of Messrs D and J Osborn). Pleasure and Kitchen Gardens, Orchard, Large Yard, Outbuildings, and a cottage, known as “The Lodge” situate at Tebworth. The House is brick-built, slated and tiled, stands well back from the road, with large lawn in front, and contains Drawing Room with Bay, Dining Room, Kitchen, Cellar and three Bedrooms. The Cottage has a Living Room, Scullery, Dairy and Three Bedrooms. The Outbuildings are principally timber-built and thatched, and consist of Stable, Fowlhouse, Gighouse, Pigsties, and large Corn Barn, with plank floor and bay. Adjoining the barn is a four-roomed Cottage, stuccoed and slated, called “The Lodge”, with lean-to Shed. There is a pump and well of water in the yard and a brick-and-tile Closet in the Orchard. The property abuts on the main road from Hockliffe and is enclosed by a wooden paled fence and belt of evergreen shrubs, and has an area of about 1 acre, 19 poles”. Also sold was Park Farm, of 93 acres, 20 poles of land and two thatched cottages, since pulled down.

The Grange, 22 Hockliffe Road, Tebworth (2013)
The Grange, 22 Hockliffe Road, Tebworth (2013)

In 1926 the valuer visiting 22 Hockliffe Road found it owned and occupied by F M Hinson and standing in 1.120 acres. He noted: “Spent a lot of money on it. Bought 19 years ago”, which tells us that it was bought at the auction sale of 1907. The valuer then remarked “Spent £5 to 600 on it since”. This must have included the alterations to the gable end evident. Finally, he noted: “Nice front, rotten back”.

The property had two reception rooms, a kitchen, a back kitchen, an incubator room (presumably for chickens) and larders (“1 old”). Upstairs were three bedrooms, two lumber rooms, a boxroom, a bathroom and a W.C. The following were attached to the house: an old weather-boarded and tiled stable for two horses; a henhouse; a trap house; four brick and slate pig sties; two weather-boarded and tiled stables for three horses each; a barn and a weather-boarded and corrugated iron two bay hovel. The valuer added the following observations: “Cess fall drainage, water from well, house old and rambling” and “was farmhouse”.

In 2003 the property was again for sale. The particulars stated: “An exceptional Grade II listed property, originally built as two houses and converted to a single dwelling circa 1900 and completely refurbished and extended from 1989”. The ground floor comprised: drawing room, a conservatory, a dining room, a sitting room, a study, a kitchen/breakfast room, an indoor pool, and a utility room. The first floor contained four bedrooms (two en-suite) and a bathroom. Outside were 1.12 acres with lawns, two fishponds, a greenhouse, a tennis court, a summer house, an aviary used as a store, a detached snooker room, a triple garage and a workshop.


Hill Cottage, Tebworth Road
Hill Cottage, Tebworth Road, Tebworth (2012)
Hill Cottage, Tebworth Road, Tebworth (2012)

The history of this house found that it used to be a pest house, that is, a dwelling some way from habitation in which people with infectious diseases could be isolated and treated. When the new Poor Law Union workhouse was built at Woburn in 1837 parish workhouses and pest houses were sold off. The pest house for Chalgrave was conveyed to Millard Adams for £88 on 13th November 1837. It was described as now divided into two tenements occupied by Richard Tearle and a man named Wright. It was reached from the Hockliffe road across land belonging to the parish church.

By 1887 the owner was John Warner Adams, Millard’s son and the two tenants were named Emmerton and Tearle, the annual value, for Land Tax purposes, was assessed as £4/10/-. By 1896 Charles Emmerton occupied both houses, paying rent of £3 for each. The following year Emmerton was occupying one tenement, the other being in the occupation of William Nash.

On 29th October 1909 the executors of John James Reynal Adams, Millard’s grandson, auctioned off a number of properties in Chalgrave including, as Lot 3, a cottage occupied by William Nash at an annual rent of £3/18/-, built of brick and tiled and formerly two cottages. There were two rooms upstairs and two down, so the two tenements had consisted of just one room up and one down each. There was also a timber and tiled barn, stables, a garden and a well of drinking water. The property was conveyed by Adams’ executors the following year to William Robins of Tebworth. In 1910 the house was once more divided into two, half occupied by William Nash and the other half empty.

In 1926, the valuer visiting Hill Cottage found that the owner and occupier was now G. Nash. His cottage stood in 0.126 of an acre and comprised a living room and a kitchen used as a barn downstairs with two bedrooms above. A bathroom was added later. The valuer commented: “Farm type”. Outside stood a weather-boarded and tiled barn and a brick and tiled earth closet. Nash also owned 1.621 acres of allotment adjoining the property.

2 The Lane
2 The Lane, Tebworth (1920). Former post office and shop.
2 The Lane, Tebworth (1920). Former post office and shop.

2 The Lane was listed in September 1980 as Grade II, of special interest. It dates from the 17th century and, in parts, from the 18th. The western part is built of whitewashed brick and the older, eastern, part is timber-framed with brick nogging or infill. The western part has an old tile roof whilst the eastern part is thatched. In 1926 the valuer visiting the property found that it was divided into two tenements, both owned by F. A. Roper.

Roper himself occupied the western part of the building, including the younger section, and used it as a post office. The tenement comprised a living room, the shop, measuring 15 feet by 13 feet 6 inches and had three bedrooms upstairs. A weather-boarded and corrugated iron pigsty and a stable both stood outside. The valuer commented: “Very poor”.

The eastern part was occupied by F Bird, whose rent was 2/6 per week. Accommodation comprised a living room and washhouse with two bedrooms above. Outside stood a weather-boarded and thatched barn. Roper and Bird both shared a common earth closet with the Queen’s Head next door.

Directories for Bedfordshire were not published every year but every few years, from the mid 19th century until 1940. They reveal the following post masters/mistresses for Tebworth:

1931, 1936, 1940: George Shackleford (also grocer);
1928: Frederick Roper (also shopkeeper);
1903, 1906, 1910, 1914, 1920, 1924: Miss Jane Robins (also shopkeeper);
1894, 1898: John Smith (also bootmaker).


30 The Lane Tebworth
30 The Lane, Tebworth (2013). The building probably dates back to 16th century
30 The Lane, Tebworth (2013). The building probably dates back to 16th century

30 The Lane was listed in September 1980 as Grade II, of special interest. The listing gives the age of the building as “probably dating back to 16th century but with many later alterations and extensions”. It comprises two storeys, has a red brick ground floor and a timber-framed first floor with plaster infill beneath a thatched roof. The building has an L-plan and the projecting gable to east end of the south face has oversailing first floor.

In 1926, the valuer visiting the property found it owned by W. Dolemore and occupied by S. C. Emmerton whose rent was 5/- per week. The cottage comprised a reception room, a living room, a kitchen and a scullery on the ground floor with four bedrooms above. Outside was a derelict cottage used as a barn along with a weather-boarded and tiled earth closet.


Home Farm

Home Farmhouse was listed in September 1980 as Grade II, of special interest. The property dates from the 17th century and was timber-framed. The interior still shows the timber framing but the exterior has been refaced in brick onto which render has been applied. The house comprises two storeys beneath an old clay tiled roof.

In 1907 the property was put up for sale by auction by the administratrix of J. E. Day. The particulars state that title to the property should be taken to commence with will of Edward Day of 19th January 1872; he died on 13th January 1878. The farm is described thus: “A convenient sized farm house, Brick-built, with Slated and Tiled Roof, containing the following accommodation: – Cellars, Wash-house, Kitchen, Dairy, Pantry, 3 Sitting Rooms, 5 Bedrooms and Attic. There is a small Front Garden with Brick-and-Slated Stable and 2 Chaise Houses thereon and a further Garden at side. A very conveniently arranged homestead, Consisting of the following Buildings, opening on to the principal stock-yard: – Brick-and-Slated Stable for 5 horses, with Chaff-house; similarly built Granary and Mixing House; Brick, Timber, and Slated 4-bay Barn, with brick and plank floors to 2 bays; Brick-and-Slated Cow-house for 8 cows; similarly built Open Shed with paved floor; Fowl-house and Brick-and –Tiled Piggeries. Opening on to a smaller Yard at the rear of the foregoing are Timber-built and Tiled Cowshed, range of Timber and Thatched Buildings, consisting of Shed and 3 Loose Places, Zinc-roofed Calf Box, and Timber and Thatched Barn. At the side is a walled-in Rickyard, with Cart Shed; also the Sheep Yard, with Timber and Iron-roofed Shed around two sides of same”. The farmlands comprised 73 acres, 1 rood 6 poles, around two thirds of it arable. “The Farm has been in the occupation of the late Mr. J. E. Day for many years past”. The particulars note at the back that the house and farm was sold to George Bunker for £2,325.

In 1926 the valuer visiting Home Farm noted that the owner was still G. C. Bunker, the occupier being H Fletcher who paid rent of £180 fixed 1924, the previous rent, fixed in 1911 having been £160. The valuer left a comment in the margin at this point which simply says: “Oh!”. Another note states: “No drinking water, this has to be fetched from village pump. House fair, buildings good”

The farmhouse comprised two reception rooms, a kitchen, scullery and dairy downstairs with four bedrooms and a boxroom above. A brick, weather-boarded and corrugated iron earth closet and coal barn both stood outside.


Ivy Farm
Ivry Farm, Tebworth (2012)
Ivry Farm, Tebworth (2012)

Ivy Farmhouse is described as an early 19th century structure, built from yellow brick with red brick dressings and comprising two storeys beneath a Welsh slate roof.

In 1926 the valuer visiting Ivy Farm discovered that it was owned and occupied by W. Dolemore who also had Lane Farm. The farm comprised 170 acres and the valuer commented: “Water from well. Telephone. House good, buildings fair”. Another hand has written: “Very good, lettable farm” and “3 sets of buildings and 2 houses. Spent money on house”. It was stated “Rent in wages. Tenant works for owner. Water from well”. W. Dolemore obviously lived at Lane Farm House and one of his workers lived in Ivy Farmhouse

The farmhouse comprised two reception rooms and a kitchen downstairs with three bedrooms and a box room above. A brick and slate earth closet stood outside. The homestead comprised: a brick, tile and corrugated iron trap house; a timber and thatched granary; a three bay cart shed; a loose box; a stable for four horses; a calf pen and loose box; a large barn in bays; three calf pens; two loose boxes and two timber and slate loose boxes.

In 1960 a fire took hold in the Ivy farm barns. Tom Horn was quite the hero apparently, releasing the cattle and driving out farm machinery


Tithe Farm
Tithe Farm 'Headys '(c 1950)
Tithe Farm ‘Headys ‘(c 1950)

Tithe Farmhouse was listed in September 1980 as Grade II, of special interest. The house dates from the late 17th or early 18th centuries and is built in brick – red and vitrified bricks set in a chequer pattern. The house comprises two storeys beneath an old clay tiled roof. The porch is 19th century.

In 1926 the valuer visiting Tithe Farm discovered that it was owned and occupied by A. Bird and comprised 150 acres. He noted: “Water from well. Telephone. House good, buildings bad. Purchased 1917 for £4,700”. Another hand has written: “Nice house, fair homestead”.

The house contained three reception rooms, a kitchen, a parlour and a dairy with three 3 bedrooms (“1 sloping”) and a store room upstairs. A brick and slate earth closet stood outside. The farm buildings comprised: a brick, weather-boarded and corrugated iron cowhouse for five; an old weather-boarded and thatched barn in bays; a weather-boarded and thatched coal barn; a weather-boarded and tiled stable for four horses with chaff house and large barn; a brick, weather-boarded and corrugated iron corn store and a timber and corrugated iron three bay open cart shed.


Chalgrave Vicarage (c 1900).
Chalgrave Vicarage (c 1900).

The medieval vicarage presumably stood close to the church. A small close on the south side of the church was known as Glebe Close. In modern times Chalgrave became a rather impoverished parish, both financially and spiritually because the church was some distance away from the two major settlements in the parish at Tebworth and Wingfield and because it had no vicarage meaning that the vicar had to live elsewhere. Towards the end of the 18th century this was acknowledged when Chalgrave was united with Hockliffe, which had a vicarage of its own.

This poor situation was rectified in 1862 when a new vicarage was built in Tebworth. The architect was George Halton of Market Hill, Luton and the builders John Vickers of Dunstable and John Ayre of Hockliffe; the building cost £1,250.

In 1926, the valuer visiting the Vicarage found that it stood in 1.2 acres and was built of brick and slate. He noted: “House faces east and is very cold, needs central heating, too much for family of three”. Downstairs accommodation comprised a hall, a study, two china pantries, a washhouse, a larder, a scullery, a kitchen, a cloakroom and disused earth closet, a dining room, a drawing room (“bad settlement crack”) and a large basement cellar. Upstairs were: a landing and WC; a bedroom; a bedroom over the drawing room; a dressing room; a bedroom over the study and a smaller bedroom also over the study. Leading from the back stairs were two maid’s rooms and a spare bedroom. Two attic bedrooms were on the second floor.

Outside stood a brick and slate coal barn, an earth closet, a tool house and a weather-boarded ash barn. There was also a brick and slate wood barn, coal barn, coach house, harness room and two-stall stable, all with a loft over them. The valuer concluded: “Garden is pleasant with lawn and a few old fruit trees. On the north side, the house shows some bad settlement cracks but is in fair repair … situation is poor”.

In 1931 the ecclesiastical parishes of Chalgrave and Hockliffe were united. This occasioned discussion about selling Chalgrave Vicarage but local opposition prevented this and the property was let for £100 per annum. This tenant bought the property for £6,750 in 1965.

In 1996 both the old vicarage and its outbuildings were listed by English Heritage as Grade II, of special interest. the listing described the house as “muscular Gothic style”. It is built from red brick and blue banding and polychrome dressings. The outbuildings are also in the Gothic style and built of the same materials. The description of the outbuildings lists a stable and cartshed and another building described as a “bothy” with bunk beds. This latter building was, presumably, for male servants but is not mentioned by the valuer in the 1920s but is, presumably, part of the range described as having a loft over it.

The building is now a private house known as the the Old Vicarage.


Tebworth Chapel
The Old Chapel, formerly Tebworth Chapel (2014)
The Old Chapel, formerly Tebworth Chapel (2014)

Bedfordshire Historical Record Society in 1978 includes an article and list of medieval chapels in Bedfordshire. It noted that there was a chapel of ease in Tebworth run by the canons of Dunstable Priory from at least 1277. Tebworth is some way from the parish church in Chalgrave so such a chapel was very sensible. Volume III of The Victoria County History for Bedfordshire published in 1912 adds the detail that services were held three days a week. The chapel and its visiting canon were supported by 36 acres of land given by the parishioners of Tebworth to the priory.

The chapel is not mentioned in surviving records between 1286 and 1549. At the latter date it is described as ruined and this ruinous structure along with one acre of land, were given, along with the advowson of Chalgrave, by the Crown to William Smith and his son.

Despite the decay of the medieval chapel the idea was so sensible that in 1889 a new chapel of ease was established in Tebworth, probably on a different site, adjoining the National School. It was dedicated to Saint Mary. The following inventory of the chapel was made about 1901 when it had: one silver chalice; one silver paten; one brass altar cross (given by the Vicar in 1901); two pairs of candlesticks (given in April 1901); one pair of brass vases (given in 1901); three china vases (give in April 1901); one large Bible (given in 1901); one American organ purchased in 1901 for £21; one credence table, purchased in 1901.

This structure was in use into the late 20th century. The latest set of parochial church council minutes currently [2014] held for the parish show that the building was still in use for ecclesiastical purposes in 1957. It was then converted into a dwelling, which survives.


Wesleyan Methodist Chapel
Wesleyan Methodist Chapel, Tebworth
Wesleyan Methodist Chapel, Tebworth

Methodism at Tebworth can be traced back into the 18th century, often listed alongside Toddington. There was clearly a chapel here preceding the current building. Until 1843 Chalgrave formed part of the Luton Methodist Circuit, changing to Dunstable from that date.

In 1846 the opinionated librarian of Woburn Abbey, John Martin, visited Chalgrave church for an article on it in the Northampton Mercury. As usual this article was scathing. He also mentions the Methodist chapel in Tebworth: “In passing through the hamlet which is in this parish, we observed a large chapel for dissenters, tasteless enough, but affording, in the attention paid to propriety of appearance, a marked contrast to the neglected church of the Establishment”.

This “tasteless” edifice was still quite new, having only been built in 1842. A notice of 2nd November 1842 advertising services for the dedication of this new chapel has, on the reverse, the following text: This new house of God is situated in a populous Hamlet, where there is no other place of religious Worship, save the Old dilapidated Chapel. The Parish Church being upwards of a mile distant and quite away from the population. There are upwards of 100 Members in Christian Communion with the Wesleyan body; and the great majority of the people are regular attendants on its ministry. Under these circumstances, the Trustees have been induced to erect an Elegant but Plain, Substantial and Commodious Building in the Gothic style of Architecture, an edifice somewhat worthy of the Noble Object to which it is about to be consecrated. And having themselves made great personal sacrifices for the attainment of their object, they beg most earnestly to solicit the attendance and assistance of their Friends and the religious Public on the occasion of its opening, which from the character of the eminent Ministers who have kindly engaged to conduct the Services, they doubt not will be a season of delight and profit to all”.

The Grand Chapel, Tebworth (2012)
The Grand Chapel, Tebworth (2012)

On Sunday 30th March 1851 a census of all churches, chapels and preaching-houses of every denomination was undertaken in England and Wales. The return for Tebworth Wesleyan Methodist church was made by the trustee and steward, David Roberts, who noted the following pieces of information: There were 100 free sittings and 100 others. The general congregation in the morning was 63, in the afternoon 200 and in the evening 150. The average morning congregation was 150 with 77 Sunday scholars for a total of 227. The chapel was redecorated externally in 1923. In 1932 the Wesleyan Methodists came together with the United Methodists and Primitive Methodists to form the Methodist Church of Great Britain. Throughout the rest of the life of the chapel the number of members and attendees fell.

In September 1980 the former Department of Environment listed the old chapel as Grade II, of special interest. They described it as being built in the Gothic style, from red brick with a Welsh slate roof behind a castellated parapet. The chapel was closed in 1989 and sold in 1993 after a public inquiry (necessary because of the building’s Listed status) the previous year allowed sale for residential or office use. It is now know as the Grand Chapel.


Chalgrave Wesleyan School
Wesleyan Sunday School (c1900)
Wesleyan Sunday School (c1900)

The Wesleyan School at Tebworth opened in 1838. In One Hundred and Fifty Years of Witness 1843-1993, a history of the Dunstable Methodist Circuit, the comment is made that the Sunday school was “probably the oldest Methodist building in continuous use in the Circuit”. It preceded Wesleyan Schools at Toddington and Dunstable by sixteen and fifteen years respectively. In 1870 it was reported that the Wesleyan School had accommodation for 83 children.

At some point before 1904 the school closed, as it is not listed as school premises in a survey undertaken in that year of all schools owned by the Local Education Authority. The last mention of it in a directory is in Kelly’s for 1890 when James Bransom is listed as schoolmaster. The next Kelly’s, for 1894, does not mention the school. The premises continued in use as a Sunday school for the Wesleyan Methodists, however and the schoolhouse continued to be leased out by the Sunday School Trustees.

In 1926 the valuer visiting Tebworth found that the Sunday school house was occupied by Mrs Osborn who paid rent of £10 per annum. Her accommodation comprised two reception rooms, a kitchen, three bedrooms and a boxroom. A brick and slate earth closet stood outside. The valuer commented: “Better type”

The schoolhouse was sold in 1968. The Sunday School closed in 1990 and was sold in 1993.


Chalgrave School
Chalgrave National School (c1900)
Chalgrave National School (c1900)

Chalgrave National School opened in 1855 in Wingfield Road, Tebworth. In 1870 the school reported that it had accommodation for 123 children.

Lessons were taught on a range of subjects. The entry in the logbook for 12th February1897 shows the subjects to be taught to the infant class for the year. Object lessons were divided into Common Articles of Food; Articles of Clothing; Common Things; Animal Life and On Country Scenes. Geography and Poetry were also mentioned.

Bedfordshire & Luton Archives & Records Service has a scrapbook of cuttings of visits made to most Bedfordshire Schools by School Inspectors for a period from just before the First World War through the inter-war years [E/IN1/1]. The first entry for Chalgrave School is dated February 1911 when average attendance was 83: “The School has been visited a good many times since it was last reported upon and has always been found in a thoroughly satisfactory state of efficiency. All the work is good and a great deal of it is excellent. The Head Mistress (Miss Emily Farrant) has been in charge since 1905 when she found the School practically inefficient, bad in tone and grossly neglected. She immediately improved matters and each year has made further advance in the intelligence and suitability of the training given. A School Library is much needed and would be of the greatest benefit”.

A further visit took place in November of the same year, when average attendance had sunk to 52: “This School is in a very creditable state of efficiency. Both order and tone are admirable and the work in all Classes – both Infants and Older Scholars – reaches a high level of efficiency; it is characterised by care, intelligence and success”.

The next inspection was in November 1913: “This little school is in a most satisfactory state of efficiency; order and tone are excellent and in all sections a good level of attainment is reached. This is the more creditable to the teacher as the work during the past year has been carried on under difficulties. The Infants’ class was in a good state of efficiency when the present teacher took charge but she has effected further improvement. The teaching is characterised by brightness and sympathy and the children make good progress”.

Because of lack of resources during the Great War there were no further inspections until that conflict had finished. There was an inspection in June 1923, when average attendance was 40: “This School has a very good tone and is carefully taught. Unfortunately the health of the Head Teacher [Helena Ursula Farrant] does not appear to have been good for some time past and this circumstance probably accounts for the fact that the work as a whole is at the present time not so satisfactory as usual. Arithmetic is quite weak and Composition, Spelling and Writing – the latter especially in Standards II-VI – all need special attention. In the lower division (Standard I and Infants’) the Reading of Standard I is satisfactory, but the rest of the work of the class, including the writing of Standard I, is not so good as is to be desired. It is hoped that at the next inspection both classes will be found to have recovered the ground which has lately been lost”.

The school was next inspected fifteen months later in September 1924, but that inspection was purely related to the school premises: “The structural condition of these premises appears to be most unsatisfactory. There is a general tendency for the walls to crack, both ceilings, several weak places in the roof and a bulge outside the infants’ room. The offices (i.e. toilets) are cracking, brickwork is perishing, paint and limewash are urgently needed. The seats of the boys’ offices are foul with droppings from the birdsnests, which should be removed from here, from the girls’ offices and from the ventilators. There is bit one cloakroom (a passage) for boys and girls; lavatory accommodation (i.e. somewhere to wash – having at this date no connection with toilets) is apparently a bowl in an unventilated little recess in the porchlike entrance to the infants’ room where their cloaks hang. The brickwork over the door is perished here, and over the entrance to the recess the beam is spongelike with damp rot: the window is also rotting away and there is general damp about the roof and walls. Water stands in several places in the playgrounds. The premises should be redecorated, more ventilating lower windows should be made, and the upper panes which should open for ventilation, but do not work, should receive attention. There seems to be no provision for earth for the sanitary pails in the offices”.

The next inspection of teaching came in 1925, by which time average attendance was 42: “The work of the School has throughout markedly improved since the last Report was made. The greater part of it – Arithmetic, Composition, Writing, reading, Geography and most of the Drawing – may now well be described as good. Physical Training has received careful attention, and though not yet quite on a level with the rest of the work is considerably better than it was. The only subject which shows little improvement is Singing. It is especially satisfactory to find that a thoroughly sound foundation is now laid at the bottom of the School”.

The following year the inspector wrote: “Only half the children of the upper group were present on the day the school was inspected. The work of the two Standard VII children was generally good and most of the children read very well. The rest of the work of this group, as represented by the children who were present is not of a high order, but it is as a rule satisfactory. The Standard V children who were present were weak in Arithmetic and Composition, and Writing below Standard VII should be of more careful formation. The work of the lower group, at least the Reading, shows some improvement, but Writing should be much better. It is to be remarked that there are several subnormal children in the school, and at various times during the current school year progress has been hindered by low attendance”.

By 1928 things seem to have improved, though average attendance was now only 29: “This Junior School is well conducted. Some of the written work of the older children is unusually well done; in particular the description of two visitors is excellent. The Handwork, in which waste material from Luton Hat Factories is used up, is most ingenious and well taught. Music is up to the average. The weakest point is speech: the aspiration and vowel sounds are very poor. In view of the condition of many of the children – to which reference was made at the discussion between the Medical Officers of the Board and the Local Education Authority – the result at the top of the School is very creditable indeed; and as the children are kindly managed, and their individual weaknesses known, there is no reason why the apparently backward ones should not be well up to the average when the time comes for their transference to the Senior School”.

More improvement was evident in 1931: “Since the last report this school has gradually improved. Of the outstandingly good features of the last report, the Composition is still striking: the Handwork and use of waste material has been developed in a most remarkable way. These Junior children, from the “big boys” of 10 to the Infants of 5 years old, produce well executed weaving, strong enough in the case of the older children for footstools and music stools, which should last for years. It is not only the execution (and strength of the work as regards stools, mats, bags) that is good – the training in colour blending and taste with this apparently unpropitious, and certainly difficult, material is also worth special commendation. The children reported as backward in the last report, which expressed the belief that they would become normal, have done well. There is now a promising lot of 8 and 9 year olds (doing “Standard IV and V” Arithmetic), writing well, speaking well. Again Standard I have a few dull children; they should not remain dull long here. The infants are promising. It is a pleasure to visit the school, and to be able to record the excellent work of the two teachers”.

In 1934 the theme was developed: “This school continues to prosper under the Head Teacher and the Supplementary Teacher in the Infants’ room. As some of the excellent material used, as was reported three years ago, for training in handwork and in taste is no longer available, this work which has not fallen off in execution has lost something in appearance. The other work, hardly as tidy as it was, is of very considerable merit in expression and calculation. Recitation is confidently and clearly spoken and the children are remarkably keen on all their work. Three boys at the top of the school show great promise: and even those with less quickness of brain are trying hard. The Teachers deserve much credit for the condition of the school”.

The final report in the volume is for February 1937, there is an annotation “Congrat HT” presumably meaning “congratulate head teacher”. The report reads: “This interesting little school continues to work as cheerfully and successfully as in the past. Written English is, as before, a very strong point, whether in reproductive, imaginative or descriptive work; in needlework and kindred craft , though the excellent waste material from which such valuable work was obtained is no longer available, still, with material involving cruder colouring, many well fashioned and useful articles are produced; and the children have (with appropriate aid) made their own frocks and knickers for Physical Training. Examinations are creditable; and essays on historical and geographical questions are evidence of the interest aroused by those subjects. Arithmetic and speech work are good. The new infants’ Mistress is working honestly and well, and with success in many subjects/ The Head Mistress may be congratulated on the results of her unending work for the benefit of these little children”.

During World War Two children were evacuated from London and the South East to Bedfordshire. The school logbook shows that twelve evacuees were admitted on 11th September 1939. The school admissions register shows that children came to Chalgrave from places like Enfield, Ilford, Bethnal Green, Clerkenwell, Chingford, and West Ham.

An entry from the following year, 3rd October 1940, tells us what life must have been like for children during the war: “Children in refuge room all morning. Air raid warning again just before 2 pm. Village bombed during day. School closed in the afternoon”. Air Raid Precaution records reveal that eighteen high explosive bombs fell including: one at Long Row cottages, Wingfield; one in a field at Sleckney’s Farm, Wingfield; one demolished 8 and 9 Crabtree Cottages, Wingfield (6 and 7 requiring later demolition); two in Sleckney’s Park Field, Wingfield; three in Beletts Field, Wingfield; four at Bird’s Farm, Wingfield and two in Bakers Field, Dunkers Farm, Tebworth (these were unexploded). There were three minor casualties and one casualty who had to be taken to hospital.

In the 1970s Bedfordshire County Council introduced comprehensive education, doing away with the 11+ examination and grammar schools and introducing a tier of school between the old County Primary and County Secondary Schools. Thus Lower Schools now taught children aged 4 to 9, Middle Schools from 9 to 13 and Upper Schools from 13 onwards. Chalgrave became a Voluntary Controlled Lower School. In 1982 a number of small rural schools across the county were investigated with a view to closing them in order to save money. One of these was Chalgrave. The Small Schools and Surplus Places Working Party reported in June that year that there would be 20 children on the school roll the next year with forecast six by 1985. Clearly this was too small to be viable and the school was closed in 1983 with children transferring to Saint George’s Lower School in Toddington. On 22nd July Pamela Buckle, acting headmistress, wrote the final entry in the school logbook: “Today was spent clearing up the school and preparing for the closure. At 3.15 pm the children were dismissed for the final time, the staff left and I closed the school”. The old school is now a private house.

For history on The Queens Head, the Shoulder of Mutton, and 4 Hockliffe Road (former Cock beerhouse), please see the Public Houses section of this website.

History courtesy of Bedfordshire Borough Council Community Archives.

1 comment

  1. I wonder if what is now known as Smith House is a later build? I know (as you mention) that both my 3x and 4x Great Grandfathers were Blacksmiths here (as the family also were at this time in Hockliffe and Hought Regis) from at least the 1840’s, this house though looks much later. Any pictures or maps that show a different layout to the centre of the village?

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