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Extract from the Bedford Mercury 1879, during the Agricultural Depression



This village 12 years ago (1867) was one of the happiest and prosperous in the county. The farms, eight in number, were let to respectable, well-to-do tenants, most of whom were born upon the soil they cultivated, and whose ancestors were natives of the village. But since then there has been a total change both in landlords and tenants. Some years ago, when the land-hunger was at its height, the estate, comprising 1,700 acres, was sold; all the old tenants were evicted; the land was let to strangers at advanced rental, and an entirely new system of management was inaugurated by the gentleman who took the management of the estate. The farms were not long occupied. The advanced rent, like the last straw, made itself felt, and tenant after tenant found themselves obliged to give up their holdings; they were succeeded in some cases by other tenants, who, like their predecessors, eventually succumbed, until at length the village has become almost deserted by farmers. Seven farmhouses are unoccupied by farmers, one or two are shut up, and the others are occupied by either bailiffs or labourers. The whole of the land, with the exception o one farm and some garden land, is in the hands of the estate agent, who is carrying on the cultivation at the expense of the landlord. The labour employed is so small that labourers have to go out of the parish for employment, whereas during the time when the land was farmed by farmers there was not sufficient labour in the place, and labourers from other villages had to be obtained. The land, as might be expected, has not much advanced in cultivation, and the houses and buildings appear to be falling rapidly into decay. The probability is that there is not so much money spent in the village by 2,000 a year as there was twelve years ago. This has made its effect felt, and a most dependant tone pervades the whole place. We were informed by a resident that the landlords used to clear 3,000 a year from this estate, but that now, and for the last four years, he believed that they had lost 3,000 a year. The estate is in the hands of trustees, the gentlemen to whom it belongs, not being of age, and it is hoped that when the proprietor attains his majority a happier state of things may result.


(Beds. Mercury, Saturday September 27, 1879)


See what happened two years later.


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