Turvey House is built in the Italian Style with a Welsh slate roof and overlooks
the pretty river Ouse at the entrance to the village.It was built by John Higgins
of Weston Underwood as a home for himself and his wife, Martha nee Farrer.
John brought the land where Turvey House now stands, together with other land in
Turvey, including the inn, the Tinker of Turvey, and the Mordaunt's family mansion,
Turvey Old Hall, in the late 1780's from his father in-law, Mr W. Farrer of Brayfield
House, who had in turn purchased the estate from the Earls of Peterborough in 1786.
Turvey Old Hall was already in ruins at this time.
In 1792, John Higgins built Turvey House, overlooking the Ouse valley across to the
little village of Cold Brayfield.
When John died, in 1813, he was buried in Weston Underwood and his eldest son, Thomas
Charles Higgins, took over the House.
Thomas enlarged and rebuilt the House quite considerably. He added the top storey in about 1830 and many of the out buildings. As a County Magistrate and High Sheriff of Bedfordshire, we was very interested in law and order, and it was on his land that the
In 1851 the following 12 servants lived in Turvey House, tending to the needs of
Thomas Charles Higgins and his family.
2 upper house maids
Under house maid
Upper laundry maid
Under laundry maid
The entrance is 27ft by 30ft and has a domed roof which reaches to the top of the
The Drawing room is 52ft by 30ft, the Billiard room is 19ft by 18ft and the Dining
room is 35ft by 19ft.
At the time of its letting on 11 October 1931, Turvey House contained the following
4 reception rooms
21 bed & dressing rooms (yes, that does say 21)
2 Bath rooms
'On the Upper Floors, which are approached by two Staircases are:
Ten Best and Secondary Bedrooms, six maidservants' rooms, two bedrooms for men, day
and night nurseries, schoolroom, there W.C.'s, bathroom etc
Hot and Cold Water, and Gas, are laid on all over the House, and the Reception Rooms
and Best Rooms face due South.
The domestic offices are on the ground floor, and include Housekeeper's room, Butler's
pantry with plate, closet, Servants' hall, kitchen completely fitted with range,
hot plates etc., scullery, larders, laundry, wash-house with drying ground attached,
bedroom for laundry maids, and all necessary out offices.
The drainage is modern and of the best description.
An abundant supply of excellent water, which has passed Dr. Voelcker's analysis,
supplies the house by gravitation.'
In the ground there was stabling for nine horses as well as garages and harness and
saddle rooms. There was even a blacksmith shop.
The gardens included a 1 acre Kitchen Garden, a tennis court, potting sheds, heated
greenhouse and fruit room.
Down by the river Ouse there was a Boathouse and a Bathing House.
In the 1880’s, Turvey House often saw Rook Shooting parties.
Click here to see when Turvey House is open to the public..
Turvey House servants of 1900
Click the image to enlarge.
Mabel Stenhouse Thompson In 1911, Turvey House was lived in by a rich Lancashire widow called Mabel Stenhouse Thompson. She was the daughter of Sir Edward Bates 1st Bt. Mabel had been married to Frederick Bellairs Thompson (died 1882). Mabel died on 25th April 1931. She had not made a will. Click here to read the newspaper notice. Turvey House was then let - see above.
In 1911 Mabel lived with her 28 year old son, Arthur, and had 6 servants at Turvey House: Lydia Still - 39 year old Cook Lydia Georgina Clare - 47 year old Lady’s Maid Margaret Alice Clare - 43 year old Housemaid Emma Harriett Matthew - 26 year old Housemaid Ada Annie Pearson - 19 year old Kitchen maid Ralph Thomas Wallace - 21 year old Footman