The Importance of Milton Ernest Heritage Trail is 3.2 miles (5.2 kilometres) long. The route has been designed to cater for all ages and abilities. The major part of the route covers the tarmac footpaths of the village making the trail accessible throughout the year. However, there are parts of the walk which cross grassed areas that could be difficult for wheelchair users or become muddy at certain times of the year. Bearing this in mind, alternative routes are shown on the map to ensure that everyone can complete the walk, no matter the weather conditions, without missing any of the historic buildings.
Please note that walkers must respect the privacy of householders and not enter their gardens or properties.
Green box = building exists. Grey box = building no longer exists.
Take the A6 from Bedford northwards. When you reach the village of Milton Ernest, turn left into the Radwell Road.
There is very limited on road parking. Please park thoughtfully.
The walk starts and finishes at the Queen's Head pub on the A6 in the centre of Milton Ernest.
Distance: 3.2 miles / 5.2 km
Access and General Information:
Surface Types: You can expect to walk across surface types ranging from hard and firm with no stones greater than 5mm in size, to hard but variable surfaces with loose, variable sized stones, to grass or uncultivated earth paths with and without ruts and mud.
Linear Gradient: The steepest linear gradient is 1:26 along River Lane.
Cross Falls: None recorded.
Width Restriction: There is no restriction less than 1000mm.
Steps: There are 3 steps near to point (3) with a maximum step height of 40mm.
Barriers: There is one kissing gate with a restriction of 620mm at point (30) and one staggered barrier with a minimum restriction of less than 950mm.
Refreshments: The Queen’s Head Public House in on the A6 in Milton Ernest.
Public Toilets: These are located in Milton Ernest Garden Centre.
Picnic Tables: None on route.
Seats: There are 6 seats along the route.
1 THE QUEEN'S HEAD
Originally two 17th century cottages which were converted into a public house. Earliest record of the Queen's Head dates back to 1733. Always known as the Queen's Head except between 1851-1854 when called 'Booth's Arms' after Philip Booth, a local landowner who lived at Milton Ernest Hall. The Queen's Head was in private ownership until 1876 when it was bought by a brewery. In 1987 the public house expanded into a hotel. An adjoining threshing barn, with a date stone of 1666, was converted into bedrooms. Due to the low ceiling a trapdoor in the floor was required for people to play darts.
2 SITE OF COOK'S ALLEY
In the vicinity of what is now the Queen's Head car park and 1 Radwell Road there used to be a small lane known as Cook's Alley. A map of 1857 (shown above) depicts that William Cook, a baker, owned a large barn, a pig sty, a bakehouse and a cottage in this area. It's therefore quite easy to discover how the alley got its name! Cook's Alley had three other cottages, a wood yard, a stable, a cart shed and a butcher's shop which was ran by Mr Mole. James Parrott, the local shepherd, lived in one of the cottages. Today there is no sign that Cook's Alley ever existed. Now walk along Radwell Road.
3 HOME FARM
Turn left into Parkside and walk to the end of this small close where you will find a late 16th / early 17th century building which was a farmhouse. Home Farm was renovated in the 1730s and then largely rebuilt in 1859 by the Victorian Gothic architect, William Butterfield. In 1871 the farm consisted of 228 acres providing employment for 12 men and 9 boys. The Starey family owned the property in the 20th century. They hired Sir Albert Richardson, who transformed Home Farm into a country residence. It was he who added the first floor balcony entrance. Today, Home Farm is two separate homes.
4 HOME FARM OUTBUILDINGS
Opposite Home Farm are a number of its former outbuildings which were converted into five homes circa 1985. These outbuildings would have had various uses for a working farm. The names of three of the dwellings sheds some light on their previous purpose - 'East Barn', 'West Barn' and 'The Old Stables'.
5 SITE OF WESLEYAN CHAPEL
Retrace your steps back along Parkside and just before you reach Radwell Road is the site of the Wesleyan Chapel. This was built for the Methodists of the village in 1839. Previously the villagers had to obtain official registrations to worship at their own buildings or homes. At its peak 120 villagers attended the Sunday evening service, but the congregation dwindled and the chapel closed its doors in 1970. Six years later the chapel was demolished. One little known fact of its 157 year history is that Glenn Miller performed at a chapel service on 6th August 1944. Now turn left and walk along Radwell Road.
6 THE STRAWBERRY TREE
Dating back to the 17th Century, The Strawberry Tree was originally three cottages, a sweet shop at the front, a laundry in the middle and a small cottage at theback. In thefirst half of the20th century it was a scrap merchant's business. An extension (the right hand side of the building) was added during the Second World War. It was known as 'The Old Cottage' until renamed 'Strawberry Tree' and converted into a tea shop (1982) and then a restaurant (1993). There are three strawberry trees (arbutus) in the garden. Did you see the face of 'Ernest Milton' carved into the wall?
7 SITE OF THE BARRACKS
On the opposite side of the road is a small grassed area with a bench. Here used to stand a large three storey red brick building. Fronting Radwell Road with no back yard the building was given the nickname 'The Barracks' by the villagers due to its sheer size. It was also known as 'Gawp Row' as the inhabitants of the six homes used to peer out of their windows at anyone who passed! The Barracks was demolished in 1962. Continue along Radwell Road.
8 BOB'S SHOP
Milton Ernest used to be a self contained village. Victorian records show that there were as many as 30 different trades being undertaken in the village many of which had shops to sell their goods. 'Bob's Shop' is the last reminder of these old style shops and is named after the proprietor, Mr Robert Haycock. His father, Christopher Haycock, used to run this grocer's shop. Other members of the Haycock family, based in River Lane, used to be carpenters and undertakers as well as hire out punts. Prior to being a grocery store it is thought that the premises were a Gentleman's Club. Continue along Radwell Road.
9 BUTTERFIELD'S COTTAGE
Number 13 Radwell Road was designed and built by the eminent Victorian architect, William Butterfield. It was built in 1859 at a cost of £259. William Butterfield (1814-1900) designed many ecclesiastical buildings in Britain as well as two cathedrals in Australia. He was a decorative designer with an individual Gothic style. Butterfield married into the Starey family which meant that the village benefited from his skills. In Milton Ernest he built the Hall and Mill, restored All Saints' Church and built other cottages and farm buildings.
10 SITE OF THE WORKHOUSE
Opposite the entrance to River Lane stand three cottages. Numbers 18, 20 and 22 Radwell Road, which along with two other cottages (on the site of number 24), long since demolished, used to be known as 'Rose Cottages'. Milton Ernest Workhouse was based in one of the demolished cottages. Here paupers were restricted to the building every day of the week except Sundays. They made lace to generate income for the person who ran the workhouse. Records show the workhouse as being in existence, at least, between 1783 and 1834. In 1812 it was described as 'the most filthy place I was ever in'.
11 RIVER GREAT OUSE
Turn left into River Lane and keep walking until you reach the river . This section of the River Great Ouse used to be a ford. Evidence (coins, slabs) suggests that it was used by the Romans. In bygone days people used to hire punts on this stretch of the river. It has also been used by villagers for fishing, rowing and swimming. However, where there's water, there's danger. The worst tragedy in the history of Milton Ernest occurred in July 1576 when four men from the village drowned 'by misadventure'. Now retrace your steps and head back towards Radwell Road.
12 THE OLD BAKERY
Walk past 'Ousebank Farm' home of the aforementioned Haycock family; continue past the entrance to the strangely named 'London End'; and turn left into Radwell Road . Formerly known as 'Nookery Corner', the Old Bakery dates back to the 15th century. The Newell family owned the business for 90 years (1847-1937). A steady stream of villagers used to take their Sunday roast to the bakery. Every Saturday 12 small loaves would be produced in the bakehouse and placed in a special box in All Saints' Church. These were distributed to the poor of the village but the practice stopped when the bakehouse closed in 1956.
13 HOOKER'S HOUSE
Continuing along Radwell Road and you'll come to a large pale brick building. 'Hooker's House' is not as shocking as it first seems, as this is the former home of Stephen Hooker. He ran an agricultural threshing business in and around Milton Ernest. His machinery was kept in a barn on Thurleigh Road which has long since been demolished. Stephen Hooker was a jack of all trades, with the 1891 census listing his profession as 'Agricultural engineer, machinist, cycle and motor manufacturer & threshing machine proprietor!' He also owned the village petrol station.
14 SWAN HOUSE
Next door to Hooker's House is a building with a white colour washed front. Swan House dates back to the 18th Century and was previously called 'North View'. It was renamed after the pub which used to be next door. A change of name would have been appropriate as the north view would have been blocked by the development of the housing estate across the road! Walk a few steps and you will come to two detached houses (numbers 27 and 27a, Radwell Road) which have been built on the site of The Swan public house.
15 SITE OF THE SWAN
Deeds for the Swan exist from 1785 although it is thought that the original stone building was built sometime before then. Records of pubs in the village date back to 1584 when the vicar was accused of being in the alehouse. In Victorian times the Swan was also a butcher's shop! In 1934 the old stone building was demolished and replaced with a brick version, which was regularly frequented by Glenn Miller and his band ten years later. The Swan used to host the village feast in Victorian times and more recently the local pig roast. On 21st February 1999 last orders were called for the final time.
16 & 17 THE BARNS & VILLAGE FARM HOUSE
Further along Radwell Road are buildings which were part of Village Farm. In 1994 two homes were created from the stables and barn ('The Barns') and the farmhouse ('Village Farm House'). The Village Farm house has 'RTM 1670' carved into the stone which depicts the year that it was built. The initials RTM refer to Richard and Thomas Morris, the stonemasons who built the property. During the Second World War Italian and German prisoners of war were housed here. It was around this time that Claude Ibbett bought the farm which in time led to the creation of the Milton Ernest based Bedfordia company.
18 WEST MANOR FARM
Across the road stands a former manor farmhouse which has been converted into three properties. West Manor Farm dates back to the early 17th century and once farmed 329 acres. In 1861 the farmer employed 10 men and 3 boys as well as relying on 6 men who travelled from Ireland each year to help with the harvest. It was named West Manor Farm to distinguish it from the other Manor Farm in the village. In the 1940s and 1950s locals told stories of the ghost of the 'Green Lady' who appeared at the now blocked up window.
19 WILD FLOWER MEADOW
Continue along Radwell Road and turn left into Riverside View. This area used to house many barns and outbuildings belonging to Village Farm. At the end of the road you will come to a wild flower meadow which leads down to the River Great Ouse. If you have the time, wander down to the river, before retracing your steps along Riverside View. Once you reach Radwell Road again, turn left and almost immediately you'll come to the entrance of Milton Ernest Garden Centre.
20 MILTON ERNEST GARDEN CENTRE
This is the second site for Milton Ernest Garden Centre. It originally opened on Good Friday 20th April 1973 in the gardens of Milton Ernest Hall, before moving to Radwell Road on 26th August 1993. Milton Ernest Garden Centre sells much more than plants. There is a pet shop, art centre, coffee shop, book area, craft stalls and post office on the premises. Walk back to Radwell Road, cross over and you now have a choice. Either turn left and go to the playing field, which will mean walking on grassland, or turn right and walk down the path with the sign which reads 'Radwell Road, Even No's. 58 to 64 & Huntsmans Way.'
21 MILTON ERNEST PLAYING FIELD
In 1980 Bedfordia provided the land from which Milton Ernest Playing Field was created. The annual peppercorn rent costs just 5p per year! The playing field is better equipped than many larger villages. There are swings, an adventure trail, a slide, a rocker, two climbing frames and a youth shelter. Add to this the basketball court, tarmac path, football pitch, seats and bin and you can see what a good job the Milton Ernest Playing Field Association have done over the last 25 years. Follow the path and exit via the Huntsmans Way gate. Walk along Huntsmans Way and turn left into Arkwright Road.
22 SITE OF OAKLEY HUNT KENNELS
Huntsmans Way and Arkwright Road are so named because the housing development was built on land previously owned by the Oakley Hunt. Robert Arkwright being their most famous Master of the Hunt. It was he who bred the brown into the coats of hunt hounds which had previously been just black and white. The Kennels were built in 1834 on a 2.5 acre site known as Rabletts Close. In 1873 the site was extended. At its peak the Kennels site housed 100 hounds and 30 horses. In 1972 the Oakley Hunt moved its kennels to Melchbourne ending 138 years association with Milton Ernest.
23 SITE OF THE OLD POST OFFICE
Turn left down the Arkwright Road alleyway and then turn right into Rushden Road. You'll soon come to a 17th century former farm house, now known as 'The Old Post Office'. Records of the farm are scarce, but it is known that William Gibbins was the farmer at the 'Farm House, Kettering Road'. In 1881 he employed a servant, 10 men and 3 boys to cope with the 390 acres of land. It was converted into a village stores known locally as the 'Top Shop'. It later combined with a post office, before closing down in 1975. Milton Ernest Post Office was also situated in both neighbouring properties.
Cross the road at the pedestrian crossing.
24 SITE OF BLACKSMITH'S SHOP
Continue along Rushden Road until you get to the bus stop. This used to be the site of the blacksmith's shop. The blacksmith used to make and repair iron items for the villagers. One of the most important roles was to make and fit horseshoes. Milton Ernest Smithy used to have two wells and a water pump in front of the building. A row of red buckets and a metal ladder were kept by the side of the Smithy in case of a fire in the village. The old smithy was bought by the village and used from 1955 for whist drives and dances. This continued until the Village Hall was built.
25 FORGE COTTAGE
The next building on Rushden Road is Forge Cottage which dates back to the eighteenth century. This used to be attached to the smithy and was the home of the village blacksmith. Joseph Paris Covington was Milton Ernest's blacksmith from 1836 to his death in 1866. His widow, Elizabeth, continued until her death 5 years later and then Frederick Gamball took over the role. When he passed away in 1917 Charles Clark became the final blacksmith to work in Milton Ernest. He died in 1946. Underhill Robinson, Bedfordshire's first printer, may have lived here. Turn left into Thurleigh Road.
26 MILTON ERNEST LOWER SCHOOL
Across the road is the village school . Milton Ernest Voluntary Controlled Lower School was built in 1872, replacing the school on Village Green. The blue engineering bricks within the structure were provided by railway workers. They were working on widening the railway and used the bricks in exchange for goods in the village. The school was built to accommodate 119 scholars. They were summoned by the ringing of a bell which was housed in the turret on the roof. The School held jumble sales, political meetings, dances and wedding receptions, until the Old Smithy was used for this role instead.
27 MILTON ERNEST VILLAGE HALL
Continue along Thurleigh Road. In 1959 Milton Ernest Village Hall was built from the proceeds of the local gymkhana. It was a long overdue community hall, replacing the School and the Old Smithy, which had in turn been used for village events. Today, Milton Ernest Village Hall is well used by the local community. Mothers & Toddlers Group, Milton Ernest Lower School, Brownies, Milton Ernest Youth Club, Milton Ernest Women's Institute and a Whist Drive all use the Village Hall which goes to show that people of all ages benefit from the facility. As the name suggests it truly is a village hall for the villagers.
28 THURLEIGH ROAD COTTAGES
1-3, Thurleigh Road date back to the 17th century and were originally a row of four cottages. The first was the original Milton Ernest Post Office, ran by William Solsbury in 1847. By 1876 William Mole was Post Master and also ran a tailor business. The Post Office was to remain in the Mole family until 1920 when it moved to Rushden Road. A telegraph office was opened in 1889 which would 'prove a boon for places around'. When the floors of the cottages were replaced it was found that they were made from face down tombstones! It is also reputed that the cottages were built on a plague pit.
29 GREEN FARM
Turn left into Marsh Lane. Walk to the entrance to Starey Close and from here you can see what was Green Farm. This old farmhouse dates back to the 17th century. It was named Balls Farm in Victorian times after the occupiers James and Thomas Ball. More recently it has been known as Tamar Court and then Lindham Court. The derivation of the name Green Farm is unknown. On either side of the old farmhouse are two homes converted from farm buildings. A wind up air raid siren was situated at Green Farm during World War II to warn of any bombing raids. You now have a choice of route.
30 STONE COTTAGE
If you're in a position to walk across grassland, turn left and continue along Marsh Lane. You'll come to a public footpath on the right which leads to Stone Cottage. Otherwise, turn right, retrace your steps to Thurleigh Road and follow the map. Either way you'll eventually be able to see Stone Cottage which has a gable end stone inscription of 'RTM 1669'. This depicts that it was built a year before Village Farm and by the same stonemasons. This area of the village is known as Flewton End, which translates roughly as some houses near a stream on the edge of the village. Medieval Milton Ernest used to extend 500 metres up the hill. Leave Flewton End via the track.
31 THE OLD VICARAGE
On the left at the end of the track, just before Thurleigh Road, is a large house known as Woodlands. Built in 1694, probably using Edmund Turnor's money, this used to be the vicarage. Records of the Milton Ernest Rectory actually date back to 1291, but whether it was on the same site is likely, but unproven. In the 16th century Queen Elizabeth I granted Milton Ernest Rectory to John Cotton. In 1836 the Vicarage was extended and during Victorian times the vicar employed four servants. By the late 20th century it was called 'Woodlands' and was a craft centre before tennis and languages were taught here.
32 EAST MANOR FARM
Turn left, walk a short distance, cross the road and you're at the entrance to what was East Manor Farm but is now called The Manor House. This was the site of the Manor of Middeltone. Ivo was listed as tenant in the Domesday Book. Between 1221 and 1558, the Erneys family, from which the village name is derived, lived in a house on this site. East Manor Farm dates back to the 17th century and was probably built by the Turnor family who acquired the manor through marriage. In the mid 19th century East Manor Farm had 600 acres and employed 25 men, 12 boys and 2 servants.
33A ALL SAINTS' CHURCH
Walk a short distance back towards the village and turn left into the churchyard . All Saints' Church, previously known as Allhallows, dates back to the 11th century. Previously a wooden church stood on this site. It is said that the stone church was being built up the hill but the stones kept being dumped on the present site. Seeing this as a sign of the devil, the church was built where directed! William Butterfield restored the church between 1858 and 1865. The clock dates back to 1882. The 13th century, 23 metres (75 feet) high, tower has 6 bells, 3 of which are inscribed 'Newcombe Leicester made me 1611'.
33B INTERIOR OF ALL SAINTS' CHURCH
Step inside the church and follow the route via the letters of the alphabet on the church plan.
[A] blocked entrance to former upper storey quarters of the incumbent. [B] 15th century font. [C] 1675 tablet to Christopher Turnor of East Manor Farm.
[D] 1866 stained glass window memorial to Lucy Starey of Milton Ernest Hall. [E] 1615 tablet probably to an Oakley Gent named Bartewe. [F] List of the vicars of All Saints' Church from 1215 to the present day. [G] Brass chandelier gifted by Thomas Rolt of Milton Ernest Hall in 1729. [H] 1717 tablet to Samuel Rolt of Milton Ernest Hall, MP for Bedford.
[I] 1726 memorial to Susanna Rolt, wife of Samuel. [J] dole board (bread cupboard) bequeathed by Susanna Rolt in her will to provide "…little loaves to 12 poor persons every Sunday for ever…". [K] worn marble grave slab circa 1340. [L] 1738 wall tablet dedicated to the vicar, Stephen Rolt. [M] Victorian pulpit. [N] stained glass window dedicated to the choir. [O] St Matthew and St Mark window provided by the children of the vicar, Charles Colyear Beaty-Pownall. [P] 'Peace on Earth' stained glass, designed by William Butterfield, in honour of the aforementioned vicar and his wife, Catherine. [Q] 14th century piscina recess used for the washing of the communion vessels. [R] St. Luke and St. John window, provided by George Hurst, a Gent from Bedford. [S] 1902 wall memorial to Alfred and Madeline Chapman of Milton Ernest Hall. [T] Victorian lectern.
[U] Milton Ernest Roll of Honour, which lists all those involved in WWI. Exit All Saints' via the porch door.
34 WAR MEMORIAL
Straight in front of you is the war memorial. Please spare a thought for the 13 men of Milton Ernest who lost their lives in the line of duty. WWI: John (shown as Joseph) Farrar (27, Aubers Ridge, 1915); Harry Taylor (28, Somme, 1917); Alfred Bonham (19, Arras, 1917); Edmund Heritage (details unknown);Thomas Horne (25, Somme, 1918); William Jacquest (19, Sheffield Military Hospital, 1917);John Purser (38, Heuvelland, 1917); Cyril Solesbury (30, Berlin, 1918); Frank Solesbury (27, Calais, 1917); James Bailey (details unknown). WWII: John Michael Bryan (22, Calvados, 1944); Christopher Jack Haycock (19, plane crash in Scotland, 1943); John Hunt (24, 1940).
35 EAST MANOR FARM OUTBUILDINGS
As you walk down the churchyard path you'll pass through the graveyard which includes the graves of William Butterfield (1866, father of William Butterfield, the Victorian architect) and Underhill Robinson (1719, Bedfordshire's first printer). Look to the left and you'll see
two old stone private dwellings. These were a threshing barn, a stable block and a thatched barn belonging to East Manor Farm. In 1979 they were converted into homes. Exit through the lychgate, which derives its name from the Anglo-Saxon name lich, which means corpse. This is because a lychgate is the roofed gateway to the churchyard through which the coffin is carried.
36 SITE OF VILLAGE POUND
Immediately ahead of you is the Village Green. The area to the right, in front of the churchyard, used to be the village pound. It was used to hold stray animals and a fine had to be paid to retrieve them. How long the pound was sited here is unknown but it is shown on a map dated 1884. Also, a document dated 1741, states "Indictment of Thomas Serjeant for rescuing certain sheep found doing damage in a field called Lynch Furlong, ... in the occupation of John Sturges and which were being driven to the pound".
37 VILLAGE GREEN
Turn left and walk along Church Green. On your right hand side is the Village Green. There is no evidence of any houses between the Thurleigh Road Cottages and the Almshouses, so it can be assumed that this open space has been here since at least the 17th century. This land belonged to East Manor Farm before being bought by the Starey family and gifted to the village. In 1963 the Village Green was conveyed to Milton Ernest Parish Council. Village Green is the site of the annual Milton Ernest Village Fete and is used primarily by the Lower School. Their Sports Day is held here each year.
38 SITE OF TURNOR'S ALMSHOUSES
Continue along Church Green. On your left are the Almshouses. These were erected in 1965 by Bedford Rural District Council. They are replacements for the original red brick almshouses which were built in 1695 and funded by Sir Edmund Turnor of East Manor Farm. Turnor felt impelled to help the less fortunate people of Milton Ernest and provided the 6 almshouses with 31 acres of land as a refuge for the aged of the village. During WWII two air raid shelters were dug into the Village Green at this spot. The almshouses were known as 'Scotland Yard' as you couldn't do anything without the inhabitants watching!
39 THE OLD SCHOOL
Next door to the almshouses is the Old School. An 1846 inquiry found that Milton Ernest only had a Sunday School and a daily school was badly needed. Five years later the Reverend Beaty-Pownall gifted a National School to Milton Ernest. On 2nd January 1851 there was a procession and festival, attended by 140 people, to celebrate the opening of the school. The new master was Mr D. Hanlon from Westminster Training School. There were 45 pupils in 1854. After the Lower School opened this Dame School (elementary education at 3d per week) was converted into a cottage.
40 THE MALTINGS
Turn left at the end of Church Green and walk along Bedford Road until you come to
Fairbrother's who sell office furniture. This old brewery building is a 19th century red brick malthouse on stone footings. The Gibbins family were brewers in the village from 1839 and it's likely that they were based here. What is definite is that Henry Staff ran the Steam Brewery from these premises between 1881 and at least 1900. During WWII the building was used as a factory where many of the village women worked. Later a sewing business was based here with 100 sewing machines on the top floor.
41 STABLE COTTAGE
Carefully cross over Bedford Road and continue walking away from Milton Ernest. On your right is the Milton Ernest Hall estate wall. This took 10 years to build in the 1920s/1930s and has Grade II listed status. Walk through the entrance and bear in mind: 'Permissive Path. The landowner has agreed to allow the public to use this path for the time being. There is no intention to dedicate this path as a right of way'. Follow the road. On your left are some metal gates which used to be the location of Milton Ernest Garden Centre. Continue and at the junction look left. Stable Cottage was built in the 17th Century as a stable block for a previous manor house on the Hall site.
42A MILTON ERNEST HALL
Milton Ernest Hall is built on the site which was known as the manor of Bassets in the Domesday Book. The Basset family were resident here until 1372. By 1573 Thomas Rolt owned Bassets Manor. It was to stay in his family until circa 1740. One member of the Rolt dynasty, also named Thomas, married the daughter of Dr Thomas Coxe, the physician to Charles II. Their son, Samuel Rolt, was elected MP for Bedford in both 1700 and 1713. By 1841, Philip Booth owned the house. He employed 7 servants. In 1853, Benjamin Helps Starey bought the 590 acre estate for £22,000.
He knocked down the house and had his brother-in-law, the eminent architect, William Butterfield, design and build the gothic Milton Ernest Hall. This was completed by 1858 at a cost of £12,167. However, a series of disasters on the stock market meant that the Starey family had to sell the property in 1872. During WWI, Lord and Lady Ampthill owned the Hall and even had two children of King George V stay with them. Incredibly, in 1919, the Starey family, who had made a new fortune in the Ceylon tea planting business, bought back the Hall. During WWII Milton Ernest Hall was the base of the United States Eighth Air Force Service Command. It is believed that important activities were undertaken here, but their exact nature remains classified. What is known is that Glenn Miller, the famous American bandleader, stayed at Milton Ernest Hall. On 16th July 1944, Miller and his band played a concert in the grounds of the Hall to 1,600 people. The next month Bing Crosby was a guest at the Hall.
The Starey family owned Milton Ernest Hall until 1968 after which it became a hotel and restaurant. In 1984 the property was converted into a 29 bed nursing home.
Now leave the grounds of the Hall via the old entrance to the estate. Glenn Miller passed through these gates on 15th December 1944 on his way to catch the flight on which he was to disappear. Local legend speaks of a phantom coach driven through these gates by a headless horseman, which turns into Bedford Road. Now turn left into Bedford Road yourself and follow the path back to the Queen's Head. You have now completed the Importance of Milton Ernest Heritage Trail. Hopefully you have enjoyed your walk and learnt something about the history of the village at the same time. Why not now go and enjoy a drink in the Queen's Head just as thousands of people from Milton Ernest have done over the last three hundred years! It is interesting to think that many of the characters who have lived throughout time, in the buildings that you have seen today, are more than likely to have spent some time in this very establishment!
The Importance of Milton Ernest Heritage Trail (Abridged Version). Researched, written and designed by David Newman.
All photographs and illustrations by David Newman except cover picture from a painting of Radwell Road by David Green, courtesy of David Green; , , ,  and  courtesy of Bedfordshire & Luton Archives & Records Service;  and  courtesy of Bill Dunham;  courtesy of Chris Way/After The Battle; and  courtesy of North Bedfordshire Archaeological Society/Bedfordshire County Council.  reproduced from the 1884 Ordnance Survey Map.
Printed by L.G. DIGITAL, 70 Singer Way, Kempston, Bedfordshire, MK42 7RU.