MANOR FARM, EVERTON
Apart from St Mary’s Church, Manor Farm is
one of the oldest houses in the village. Its earliest part dates back to .... when *** was
Lord of Everton Manor. The manor house itself was probably on the moated site
which is now called Story Moats. The occupants of Manor Farm were their tenants
over the generations. It is quite possible that there was a more ancient
building on the site of the farm as a moat has been reported immediately to the
east of the present house. This was not defensive - more an attractive Norman
feature which provided the owners with fish for Fridays, the forty days Lent,
as well as ducks, eggs and frogs.
Reformation in the 16th century, everyone was expected to conform to
the new Church of England. The recusants, those who wanted to keep their Roman
Catholic faith, were often fined or imprisoned if they were found out. Those wanting to "keep their
faith" had to do so in secret and in many of the larger households a
special hiding place constructed for a visiting priest. These "priest
holes" were often in a recess up the chimney, others were under stairs,
behind oak panelling or in the roof. There is said to be such "priest
hole" in Manor Farm located
.... What was called a
“monk’s hole” was reportedly found in the Blacksmith’s house at the top of the
hill on the other side of the road.
There is said to be a tunnel connecting
Everton House with the Church. It would have allowed the occupants a dry route
to the services. Maybe this gave rise to a similar story of a tunnel from Manor
Farm to the church that was said to have been discovered during digging work on
the road outside the Thornton Arms. The cellar of the pub has some bricked-up
sections which may have given rise to this story.
Also found in the walls of Manor Farm were
two mummified rats and a mummified cat. These are supposed to have been immured
to deter witches. A child’s bonnet was also found. (Conversation with Mrs
Gurney, Everton) Two
apparitions are said to have been seen in Manor Farm: one a Quaker Lady who
walked through a bedroom wall and the other was a man in old-fashioned riding
clothes who stood in the kitchen.
After the Civil War, it was occupied by the
vicar’s daughter and her husband. Judith Fowl spent some time at the vicarage
looking after her ill mother. In 1661, fourteen months after the restoration of
James II, she died. Judith stayed on in the vicarage looking after her father.
The church register records that in “June
1661 Samuel Luke married Judith Fowl the daughter of the Vicar of Everton with
Tetworth.” Two months later her father died and the register recalls “Thomas Fowl had been vicar of Everton 32
years was buried August 1662 formerly fellow of Clare Hall.” (Hamlyn, F.C. (194-),
‘A Country Vicar and his Daughter’, Beds. Mag. Book 5, p.121)
had to move out to allow Rev. Thomas Peele, the new vicar, to move in. The
Hearth tax, based on how many chimneys a house had, revealed where she went. It
was a tax that the occupier rather than the landlord had to pay. In 1671 there
were twenty-four families in Everton with “five
persons receiving constant alms.” Samuel and Judith lived in Manor Farm
which had six chimneys – a considerable size. It suggests that it had six ground floor rooms as it was unlikely
that upstairs bedrooms had fireplaces. There is a plan of the old dwelling with
heavy beams in the roof. Samuel’s entry was one of the first in the tithe book
and suggests he owned a farm of considerable size. He was described as a
gentleman and from the annual amount he paid he was one of Everton’s major
“In those days labour was easily procurable
and Judith Luke’s influence and position would have been sufficient to attract as
many employees as she desired or could afford. She prepared for her coming
family. At the end of their first married year as son was born and baptised
Thomas after his grandfather. In 1664 John was born and in 1667 another son was
called Samuel after his father; lastly in 1668 a daughter was baptized
Elizabeth. Many mothers of the seventeenth century were short-lived,
child-bearing proving a dangerous and arduous task. Judith Luke proved no
exception to this melancholy rule. Her eldest child was born during her first
married year and the rest of the family arrived at regular intervals. When the
youngest was seven the eldest was twelve years old, and on November 30th
1674 Judith Luke died after a married life of a little over twelve years.
After the tragic death of his wife, Samuel
faced a world as a widower, with his four children, Thomas twelve years of age, John eleven, Samuel
seven and Elizabeth six. For the next seventeen years the registers are silent.
When next we hear of the Lukes Thomas has reached the age of twenty-nine. By
that time he appears in the tithe book entered up each half year by the vicar.
His name was placed second in the list of tithe payers, although others
contributed a greater amount, and his social standing in the village warranted
the title of ‘Mr' or ‘gent’.
He married Mary – as she came from another
parish her surname is not recorded – and in 1695 they had a daughter baptized
Alice in Everton church, and a son Robert baptized in 1697. But things went
badly. Thomas fell ill, and from the fact that he paid no tithe for two years
it must be concluded that he was too ill to farm profitably. In 1701, when he
was only 38 years old, he died. His death is recorded in the register of those
who were buried in a woollen shroud according to the Act. There appeared some
uncertainty about his status. After his name the title ‘Gent’ has been written
in but erased and ‘yeoman’ substituted. So Thomas Luke, grandson of the vicar
of Everton, was buried in the
churchyard of the church where his mother’s father had ministered during
the thirty-two years of the Civil War and Commonwealth. The name of Luke does
not appear again in the tithe book, and the last entry of the family in the
parish register records the baptism of Mary Luke, daughter of Thomas’ son
Robert. She was the great, great grand-daughter of Thomas Fowl.”
F.C. (194-), ‘A Country Vicar and his Daughter’, Beds. Mag. Book 5, p. 124-5)
centuries various additions have been made. In 1876 the tenant was John Kirkham. Parker Dynes was the
tenant in the early 1900s and Hilda Brooker recalled that children used to
gather ripe acorns which he bought from them and sold to nurserymen who grew
trees. Albert Darlow was the tenant in
1931 who was also farming Port Mahon Farm. Mr Gurney took over as tenant later
in the 1900s.
During repair work on the house
in the late 20th century the removal of some floorboards in one of
the downstairs rooms revealed numerous clay inkwells strewn on the earth floor
about two feet below. This suggests that the room had been used as a schoolroom
at some time during the 19th century. The original
village school house was in a barn
belonging to Church Farm on the land opposite the Parish Hall. It was called
Jubilee Barn, probably built at the time of Queen Victoria's silver jubilee in
1896? As pupil numbers increased the board of governors decided on larger
premises - a building at the end of
Manor Farm. This was again a temporary room until the present school was built
in ???? and the schoolroom was lived in by Mr and Mrs Gurney. Jubilee Barn was
burnt down in 1956 and rebuilt by Mr Pym. Frank Hunt was the foreman of the
builders and it is said he put two half crowns in the brickwork.
At the back of the farm was a brewhouse
where the farmer brewed his own ale. This was given to the farm labourers.
Often a small barrel was taken out into the fields and the men and women could
have a pint or two with their lunch of bread and cheese. During harvest time
they got twice as much.
Hilda Brooker reported there also being a
bakehouse in the farm and that Mr and Mrs Gurney used to allow friends to use
it to bake their Christmas bread and cakes.
The farm used to employ many local people
but with increased mechanisation over the 20th century,
After the War ? a box making plant was
established which provided employment for some years.
Development of the free range pig farm.