BRA Visit to Southill 6 June 2019
The BRA has arranged for its members and their guests to visit Southill and its Park.
The present house at Southill has been the home of the Whitbread family for over 200 years. It was purchased in 1795 by Samuel Whitbread I from Viscount Torrington whose unfortunate uncle, Vice-Admiral the Hon John Byng, was shot at Portsmouth in 1757 for an error of judgement whilst in Command of the Fleet. Samuel Whitbread I died in 1796, a year after buying Southill, and his son, Samuel Whitbread II (1764-1815), a prominent Whig politician, employed Henry Holland (1745-1806) to rebuild the existing house.
Holland was the fashionable architect of the day; he reconstructed Carlton House for The Prince of Wales (late George IV) and other examples of his work may be seen at Woburn, Ampthill, the Swan Hotel in Bedford, and at Althorp. Southill looks much as it did when Holland died with decoration and furniture (as designed by him) in situ and. One of the odd features is a collection of portraits of the staff at Samuel Whitbread’s Chiswell Street Brewery 1780s some by Gainsborough and some by his nephew.
The ‘old’ archives are at the Bedfordshire and Luton Archives, including the important correspondence of Samuel Whitbread II. Other items of interest include the Game Distribution Book of the 1820s which shows the large range of the family’s contacts and a book of plans of the house dating from Henry Holland’s time. Charles’s great grandfather gave the latter part of his life to serving Bedfordshire and his correspondence up to his death 1944 illustrates this.
The Whitbreads have been Presidents of the Bedfordshire Historical Records Society since its inception in 1912. Charles’s great grandfather worked closely with Dr Fowler Bedfordshire’s first County Archivist and key figure in the early years of the BRA.
Charles Whitbread, the present incumbent, and James Collett-White, Archivist at the house (and previously Archivist at Bedfordshire Archives) will take us round the rooms in the house to show us the art and furniture. An exhibition of items from the archive will also be on display.
2.30pm The house tour will start followed by tea/coffee/biscuits and finishing at approx 4.45 pm.
Afterwards there will be the opportunity for the group to go outside and walk round the garden.
There is car parking for those who come by car.
For those coming by public transport we suggest taking the train to Biggleswade Station.
There are frequent half-hourly trains from London St Pancras Station : e.g.
11.46 arr 12.30
12.16 arr 13.00
12.46 arr 13.30
13.16 arr 14.00
From there we advise you take a taxi or mini cab if there are several people. The house is c 1.5 miles distant and would cost c.£10 for taxi, £15 for mini bus which will take 5-8 people.
Recommend pre-booking taxi as they are not normally at the station.
Village Taxi 01767 600300
Ace Cars 01767 834041 or 07587 771368
BP Karz -7921 222094
(There is a proper taxi rank at Bedford Station but that is further away and would cost more like £22).
If you wish to lunch before visiting the house we suggest that the White Horse pub which does good lunches and is opposite the gate to the estate, within 10 mins walk of the house.
The charge for this visit and tour (including tea) will be £15 for BRA members , £18 for non-members. This cost covers a contribution to The Wixamtree Trust (a family trust which helps worthy causes in Bedfordshire), refreshments, and BRA administration.
Payment can be made via Eventbrite: