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A Street through time - Church Street
No 15 The Village Farmhouse

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This red brick farmhouse - now a residential house - with slate roof was built c. 1800. This building is probably one of those built or altered by Gregory de Ligne Gregory in the late 18th century and remodelled in a picturesque style by Gregory Gregory in the 19th century. 

The adjoining properties now known as 17 & 19 Church St, and 16,14 and 12 Pond Street, along with ~80 acres of fields north of the A607 (now thought to be part of “Village Farm”) together was Lot 51, in the estate auction of 1937.

Records suggest the main farmhouse (later known as Village Farmhouse) dates from ~1810, forming most of what is now 17 Church St. To the “rear” of the main house, a single storey row of outbuildings ran south along the road, as depicted in the ~1918 aerial photograph at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/royalairforcemuseum/6890759087/ . These outbuildings are thought to have been originally used for animals. The barn was nearby (now 16 Pond Street), with another single storey outbuilding running between it and 17/19 Church St.

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At the time of the auction in 1937 the farm and buildings were rented to the Geeson family. Purchased along with other plots in the area to a group of investors, what was Lot 51 was then sold on, to Capt Thomas Batt in July 1939. At the time of his purchase the Geeson family were apparently still in place, although it seems it must have been the family without the main listed tenant: Mr Thomas Geeson, who is recorded elsewhere as having died in 1926. Little further detail is known about the Geeson family who worked the farm for decades. Such is the iniquitous nature of history that rather more is discoverable about those who owned and administered the sales of the property over the next 10 years or so.

Capt Batt was originally from Gresham Hall in Norfolk, though his mother Violet was local, having been brought up at Colston Bassett Hall, as was Batt’s cousin, Denis Le Marchant, later of Hungerton Hall. He was regular army and spent some of the early 1930s in India as ADC to the Governor of Madras. It seems unlikely that he intended to live in Harlaxton. He arrived in France in Sept 1939 with HQ Guards Bde. In June 1940 he was awarded an MC for his conduct during the Dunkirk evacuations, supervising the embarkation of British troops from the mole. Subsequently, as CO 1Sqn 2Bn Coldstream Guards in the Guards Armoured Div he was killed in Normandy in Aug 1944.

His father, Lt Col Reginald Batt, arranged sale of the property in 1945, with Sir Denis Le Marchant as fellow executor. The 80 acres of land were disposed of, and it is presumed the Geeson family had moved out. The remainder of the property was acquired by Brig Sir George Paynter, a former professional soldier, champion jockey and veteran of the Boer War. He was CO 1Bn Scots Guards in WW1, awarded the DSO twice and became an acting Brigadier whilst still a substantive Major. Later he became equerry to George V.

 

At the time of the acquisition, he was resident at Eaton Grange (an estate just west of Croxton Kerrial) and had been appointed Lord Lieutenant of Sutherland. Well placed for these sorts for roles he was descended from the Duke of St Albans, illegitimate son of Charles II and Nell Gwyn.


In 1946 the barn (now the house at 16 Pond St) was sold to builder Frederick (also known as Ralph?) Parker. At some point around this time, the connecting outbuilding was removed, and a second storey added to the outbuildings to the rear of 17 Church St, to apparently create two cottages.  Various other refurbishments and alterations were carried out, particularly fitting steel windows and blocking off two original windows on the NE elevation of 17 Church St.

Following the death of Sir George in 1950 the remainder of the property (apart from what is now 19 Church St) was sold on 1951 by his 3 executors. Again, to Frederick Parker, this time with his son Ralph Parker, apparently an Agricultural Engineer, and later Tyre Factory Foreman. The property now known as 17 Church St remained in the hands of the Parker family until 1972.


For reasons unknown, the widow of Sir George, Lady Alberta Paynter retained ownership of what became 19 Church St until the 1960s. She was highly likely not resident, being occupied as Lady-in-Waiting to the Princess Royal, daughter of George V.

Numerous alterations have been carried out to 17 Church St leaving little internal evidence of how it might have looked in the 19C. The primary obvious original features of 17 Church St are the curved front door and window above, and the grimly authentic cellar. Less obvious is the first floor, which is made of a soft concrete poured on a reed matting. This apparently was due to wood being prioritised for ship construction during the Napoleonic Wars.

At some point, thought between 1960 and 1972, much of the garden to the south of 17 Church St was sold, making a rear garden for 16 Pond St, and allowing the development of the new homes at 12 and 14 Pond St.


In 1972 17 Church St was sold to Horace and Maud Daniels, of whom little is known.  The house was listed, Grade 2 in 1979. Mr Daniels died in 1981, and Mrs Daniels sold onto Lt Cdr & Mrs Chris Notley in 1988. After 25 years in the Royal Navy, Chris Notley was then a sales manager with BMARC/Oerlikon. Whilst at 17 Church St, they rewired, replumbed, fitted oil fired central heating and added the garage. The Notleys lived there until sale to the current owners in 2007.

Some questions of interest:

  • What more is known of the Geeson family that lived and worked the farm for a long period?

  • When exactly were the outbuildings developed that became 19 Church St and the rear extension to 17 Church St. Did this extension ever exist as a separate cottage?

  • Was the stream feeding the Mowbeck from the pond put into a culvert or is this a natural feature as it seems to have been that way on various maps since before 1900?

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