Monday, 27 November 2017

Harold O'Dell Country Park - Bedfordshire

The Harrold Odell Country Park is protected by the Woodland Trust and is managed by the Bedford Borough Council. It covers 144 acres and is an area of tranquility and natural beauty. There are two lakes, woods to explore, river meadows, a nature reserve and a range of managed habitats. It is very popular with walkers, nature lovers, and fishermen.
Harold O'Dell Country Park

MK43 7DS

Friday, 24 November 2017

Harlington Manor - Bedfordshire

Harlington Manor is supported by the Historic Houses Association, but this is more an hotel than a stately home, though visitors are welcome, at a entry fee. The HHA website describes the manor thus:


“The house is famous as the venue for the interrogation of John Bunyan, by the then owner, Sir Francis Wingate, in 1660, prior to Bunyan being sent to Bedford gaol. Charles II is reputed to have stayed in the King's Room. The house is a medium sized manor house, standing in the middle of Harlington. The house has origins as a medieval great hall (and probably stands on the site of earlier manor houses, perhaps Saxon) but was significantly extended in Tudor times. Fine oak panelling was added to the Great and Little Parlours in the early 17th century and a new staircase in the late 17th/early 18th century. A service wing was built in the early 19th century and, finally, in 1937, the eminent architect, Sir Albert Richardson PRA, designed an extension and made various internal alterations.”

Harlington Manor


Tuesday, 21 November 2017

The Emplins - Bedfordshire

The Emplins at Gamlingay is an old tythe barn, the last relic of a medieval settlement.

Gamlingay existed well before the Norman Conquest. It is listed in the Domesday Book, but its history goes back at least to the Bronze Age, so, something like 2000 years. Some local historians suggest that it is older even than that, dating back to the late Stone Age.


None of that is obvious today.


Although some of the medieval buildings lasted until the recent past, most of the village was lost in a great fire of 21st April 1600. Some 76 houses and barns were said to have been destroyed, along with haystacks


Though primarily a farming village, there was a period when it became an important staging post on the coach route from London to the North. At one time there seems to have been as many as 54 pubs in the village, offering shelter to the traveller and stabling for the horses.

The Emplins

SG19 3ER

Monday, 20 November 2017

De Gray Mausoleum - Bedfordshire

The De Grey Mausoleum is attached to the mid-15th-century parish church of St John at Flitton, Bedfordshire. It was first built in 1605, before being expanded in 1704.The mausoleum is described as being one of the largest sepulchral chapels in the country and contains seventeen monuments and a number of panels dedicated to the de Grey family who lived in nearby Wrest Park.

De Grey Mausoleum

MK45 5EJ

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Chilterns Gateway Centre - Bedfordshire

This is the place for a good walk. The first introduction to the Chilterns to the Northerner is the gap that cuts through the southern end of the Chilterns to facilitate the M40 Motorway. It is immediately impressive, always sports a number of keen amblers, and constantly boasts Red Kites drifting gracefully in search of prey.


Much of the Chilterns and Dunstable Downs is administered by the National Trust and the Chiltern Society, and for those who choose to spread along the length of the Chilterns rather than just cut straight through, there are 134 miles of tracks through a beautiful area of outstanding natural beauty.


It is claimed that if you want to walk the entire circuit of tracks and take the time to truly enjoy the sights and imbibe the aura, it would take twelve full days.


The Chilterns Gateway Centre is at the northern end, but is a good starting place. Here you can get guidance, plus you can have a kite of your own, for the Chilterns is a popular place to fly the kind of kite that doesn’t have wings.

Chilterns Gateway Centre


Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Chicksands Priory - Bedfordshire

Chicksands was established as a Gilbertine priory in 1152. Along with the priory came parkland and jurisdiction over the local church. It was relatively unusual in that both nuns and canons were residents. One famous short-term inhabitant was Thomas Becket, who was trying desperately to escape the attention of King Henry II.
With the dissolution of the monasteries the priory passed first to the Snowe family, but in 1576 it became the possession of the Osbourne family, and they kept it going for the best part of 400 years, during which time the building changed shape and size, maintaining part of the original building, but adding different styles.
In 1936 the estate was bought by the Crown Commissioners. During the Second World War it was used first by the Royal Navy and then the RAF. In 1950 it became a listening post for the US Armed Forces stationed in Britain. During that period the building was stripped of many of its features and the more modest treasures.

Chicksands Priory

SG17 5XF

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Bushmead Priory - Bedfordshire

It is thought that the priory was founded in 1195. The 28 acres of land was gifted by

Hugh de Beauchamp of Eaton Socon. A further concession was granted by King John in 1206, whereby the monks were permitted to include and partially clear the nearby Perry Woods.


The priory was not a grand affair in so far as it housed quite a small number of monks. In 1215, leadership passed to a new Chaplain, Joseph, and he was instrumental in converting it into an Augustinian Priory


Following the Dissolution of the Monasteries by Henry VIII, ownership became hotly disputed, but eventually, in 1537, it was passed to Sir William Gascoigne of Cardington. He controlled the area for 15 years, but then the Priory was bought William Gery. Some 100 years later a descendant built a mansion on the site, but this was short lived.


Most of the buildings connected to the priory have been razed, but what remains is worth a detour to see.

Bushmead Priory

MK44 2LD

Monday, 13 November 2017

Bromham Hall - Bedfordshire

The origins of Bromham Hall are unclear, probably in the 14th or 15th centuries. It is known that the house was altered and enlarged in the early 16000s, and then further altered around a hundred years later.


On their website, Bedfordshire County Council describes the hall as follows:


'Bromham Hall is the manor house of Bromham Manor and thus had the same ownership, at least from medieval times including the Dyve family (who enlarged it), the Trevors, Rices and Wingfields. The property was valued in 1927 under the 1925 Rating Valuation Act at which time it was owned and occupied by Richard Skinner who had recently bought it. The valuer found that the property was entered by a "Poor Pass[age]" Hall with a dining room facing east and measuring 23 by 27 feet. There was also a smoking room (13 feet by 21), a "flower room" and two drawing rooms measuring 16½ by 20 and 22½ by 19 feet respectively. Seven steps led up to the first floor and a bedroom measuring 13½ by 26 feet, a further three steps leading to another bedroom measuring 15 feet by 14 and a bath room. A further three steps led to a study measuring 23 feet by 11 with a bay of 13 by 3 feet. Again three steps led up to a "tiny place" measuring 7½ feet square. A dressing room measuring 12 feet by 20 lay at the top of the usual three steps and then five more steps led up to a "platform" measuring 12 feet by 8 feet.

Leading from the hall was a cellar and, again on the ground floor, a kitchen measuring 17 feet square, a scullery ("poor"), an old butler's pantry, boot room, wc and coal store, all "little used". The ground floor also contained a breakfast room measuring 18 feet by 17 with a stone floor, a "big store place", a servants' hall, scullery ("big"), larder ("big and cool") and another, smaller larder.

Another exit from the hall, up "v. small poor stairs" led to a landing with a wc and cupboard, a small study and a bedroom measuring 18 feet by 17 from which down two steps and along a "tiny pass[age]" lay a bedroom measuring 19 feet by 15. two steps then led down to a bedroom measuring 16 feet by 17 and a cupboard. A 12 by 17½ and a smaller bedroom also lay on this floor along with a bathroom ("fair"). An attic floor lay above with 7 attic bedrooms which had a "slope but not bad" and a set of back stairs downwards to a separate landing with two or three "derelict" rooms and a bathroom ("good") and two further bedrooms.

The grounds exceeded 14 acres and contained a loose box with two stalls, five further loose boxes, a harness room with four rooms over and two large coach houses. There was also a garage for 3 cars, a 2 stall stable and 2 hen houses. There was a walled-in kitchen garden with a potting shed and lean-to, a heated peach house measuring 46 feet by 12 and a vine and flower house 74 feet by 14½ .The grounds also contained a fruit or store room ("big with glass side"), another potting shed and heated glass house measuring 9 feet by 30, with an apple room, onion room and stoke hole, outside lay a vegetable garden. There were also large store rooms, a workshop, a 3 bay open wood shed, a mess room, an old dairy, a gas engine, dynamo and battery house, three little hovels and a "rough orchard".

Two cottages stood in the grounds, one a bungalow occupied by Thomas Stanford comprising three rooms and a scullery, the other a cottage occupied by Frederick Lord with a living room, kitchen and three bedrooms upstairs - all "quite good". These houses had shared use of a washhouse and laundry and water had to be fetched from a pump.

Overall the valuer noted: "V. nice picturesque old House. Repairs v. heavy. Damp in some rooms especially Din[ing] & Draw[ing] R[oo]ms. Approach being spoilt by Building in old Park now sold off".

The Hall was listed by the Department of Environment in 1952 at which time it was considered to have late medieval origins, enlarged in the 17th century, with new windows in the 18th and other additions later. The walls were of coursed limestone rubble and the roof of old clay tiles. The listing report noted, as can be seen from the 1927 valuation, that the plan was complex.'

Steve Humm has some further information:
'Evidence of occupation from the Roman period has been found in the area including pottery, bones and a stone figure that is preserved as part of Bromham Hall. Traces of circular huts mixed with Roman remains would suggest a Romano/British population was thriving in the area. Bromham is mentioned in the Domesday Book as Bruneham and later as Brimeham. The manor was then in the possession of Hugh De Beauchamp, a prominent local landowner, who held at least 44 lordships within Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire. Almost certainly these lands were given to De Beauchamp for services to William of Normandy during the conquest of 1066. The Manor consisted of 6 hides of land including a mill valued at 20 shillings.'


A house with trees in the background

Description generated with very high confidence
Bromham Hall

MK43 8HU