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Residential Property: Farmhouse with a record of its past.

Byline: Marsya Lennox

There is an unusual optional extra on offer with Bittell Farm House at Barnt Green.

It's the nearest thing to time-travel for the period house enthusiast -a glimpse into the lives of its past occupants.

Available through the selling agents, the local office of John Sanders, is a 45 page study by a team of Birmingham University academics into the history of the listed farmhouse.

It was a pleasant surprise for Lynn Davies of the nearby Hewell Road agency branch. 'It is the first time in 20 years that I have been given such a history as this.

'I took it home for a bit of bedtime reading when I was preparing the particulars and was astonished by the detail.

'It really does add something and it makes the house a real piece of history,' she said.

Not all agents bother to quiz a vendor about a house's past. And most homeowners have not one clue about who lived there before, or even when the property was built.

Nostalgic types, local history enthusiasts and romantics will relish every last fact and figure: who was born there, who died there, their standing in the community -even their names.

The next owner of Bittell Farm House, however, is in for a treat. And the chances are, that buying a house of this calibre with such a well documented story, he will actually appreciate it.

The present owners of the property welcomed in the professional team which was so keen to examine its origins, architectural and social.

The results were not disappointing. A gentleman farmer and Justice of the Peace, Thomas Warren, renting the property from the Worcester Diocese, in 1617 made his will when his health was failing. One included snippet regarding his wife states: 'My whole will and intent is that soe longe as Sara, my loveinge wife shall keepe her unmarried that shee shal have the absolute dispose of all my goods and chattels, plate and utensils but soe that an Inventorie be taken of them. And that if she marrie, beinge contrarie to her promise heretofore made unto me, then my said goods to be equally devided amongst my children.'

His children had a bit of a problem with the bigger implications of the will, apparently.

Thomas wanted his younger son to give up his interest in Bittell Farm in favour of the elder son, William, in return for use of another lease at Fillongley but with some compensation from the income to make up any difference.

Thomas seems to have suspected the younger son might be unhappy with this, accepting that the allocation go the other way round 'if John Warren will not parte with his estate in Bittell'.

Whatever the cause of the eventual trouble, it was enough to end up in the record books when a few years later, when the farm was in different ownership, the same John Warren, younger son 'of Alvechurch, Gentleman' ended up in court with two 'husbandmen'.

They were summoned for 'breaking and entering the mansion house (Bittell Farm House) of John Hackluit Gentleman and putting his servants and family in great fear'.

The same hot-blooded Warren was accused of 'desseizing John Hackluit Esquire of one messuage 100 acres of land and 20 acres of land and 30 acres of meadow . .

The outcome was not recorded by the researchers, though 12 years later we know there was another tenant in place at Bittell.

It is the sort of mystery a keen new occupant might solve. But the research document by Birmingham University tells much more -about the phases of building of Bittell Farm and its many old features, mainly of the 17th century.

The earliest reference to occupation at Bittell dates from 1275 though the earliest identifiable portion is a much later timber framed section behind one of the front rooms to the east.

Most of the period detail now admired at Bittell Farm House is estimated to be 17th century though there are some medieval surprises listed in the research document.

Among them are some tiles in the panelled first floor bedroom, late 15th century and known to have come from Great Malvern's famous kilns.

The story is that these were imported from Grafton Manor but that might just be hearsay, according to the study.

This same large, oak panelled master bedroom has particularly good timberwork with moulded and channelled frames and a superb overmantel, a frieze of four dragons.

The style is echoed in the study, another good size room at more than 17ft by 15ft, also with a handsome stone fireplace, only one of many throughout the house.

There is also a partly panelled hall with oak staircase, a drawing room with inglenook, dining room of nearly 20ft by more than 18ft, a 26ft long kitchen with Aga, two chamber cellar and the large, original dairy, still with its arched fittings.

There are six bedrooms in all, three of them on the top, second floor plus first floor bathroom and large linen cupboard.

The potential buyer who can tear himself away from the fascinating interiors -and the written research -will notice the fine location, with its panoramic views over Lower Bittell Reservoir.

This outlook has only been enjoyed by occupants of the last 200 years, the construction of the reservoir radically altering the neighbouring landscape.

Bittell Farm House also comes with about eight and a half acres, gardens and garaging, plum orchard and a pool with timber bridge.

Offers based on pounds 950,000 are invited. Details from 0121 445 3575.

The research document by SJ Price and NAD Molyneux is available at the agency office.

CAPTION(S):

Bittell Farm House at Bittell Farm Road, Barnt Green in Worcestershire, a listed, mainly 17th century house with a long and well documented history. The eight acre property with reservoir views is available for pounds 950,000 through John Sanders; The waterside view from the property, which has been enjoyed for 200 years; The oak panelled master bedroom which has high quality oak panelling
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:May 1, 2004
Words:1007
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