A History of Preston in Hertfordshire
Preston’s Farms: Minsden Farm aka Ladygrove
The complex was designed by Lutyens for Mr H G Fenwick in 1913 as the farm for Temple Dinsley. It was known as Home Farm, then Minsden Farm but today it is called Ladygrove.
The buildings have solid walls (with no cavity) in English bond, with alternate rows of ‘headers’ and ‘stretchers’. The brickwork is dark red with dressing of a lighter red. The roofs are steep and are of hand-made red tiles. The farm is compactly laid out with single and 1½ storey buildings (B and C) arranged around a courtyard and dairy complex. This is open-ended to the south. There are two cottages (A) to the north. Access to the courtyard was originally between these cottages, through an archway. This is part of a two-storey, red-roofed cross range and perched on top of the archway is a wind-vane featuring a cow. The view towards the two cottages from School Lane is symmetrical. The identical, detached homes are 1½ storeys high with steeply pitched mansard roofs of hand-made red tiles. At the eaves are hipped dormers. At ground level are flush, wooden, two-lights casement windows beneath arches. Each cottage has a typical Lutyens tall-slab central chimney with his trademark waisted top and clasping corner pilasters. To the south and north, the chimneys have projecting panels. In 1945, the cottages had two living rooms, kitchen, scullery, bathroom, three bedrooms and an outside barn/wash-house. To the east of the courtyard are now stables. In 1945, there were nine calf pens, five calving boxes and a seven-bay hovel. Today, on the west side of the courtyard there are more stables but sixty years ago there were four calving boxes, an office, two stores and a garage. In the centre of the courtyard is Dairy Cottage which is surrounded by stables. In 1945, the building comprised a dairy, washing room, butter room, sterilizing room with a Hallmark automatic refrigerator and boiler house. By 1970, the dairy had fallen derelict, but then it was renovated, re-roofed and converted following the design of the other cottages. A wall was built across the archway blocking off the approach between the two cottages. To the south of the courtyard is a cattle yard with three lower-pitched roofs. In 1945, these were made up by two cow-houses with 72 ties, a washing and a grinding room, seven bull boxes, an insemination room and stores. Clearly, the farm has changed from a dairy operation sixty years ago to the stud farm that it is nowadays.