Seymour Ashwell's Rectory
Finmere's old rambling Rectory was too modest for wealthy Seymour Ashwell. In 1866, his father William Ashwell, also the patron of the church, purchased the “Apprentice Ground” south of the churchyard, already in use as the Rectory garden. In 1867–68, a new Rectory was built in the garden (this is now the Old Rectory) and the old building demolished. The architects of the new Rectory were F. C. Penrose and Charles Claridge and their plans show a brick-built house of the decent proportions desired by wealthy Victorian families.
The house was built of brick, trimmed with Bath Stone. Its ground floor had a dining room and study, with pantry, kitchen, larder and scullery to the rear. There were three bedrooms on the first floor accompanied by a dressing room and nursery. Both floors had a water closet. The attic under the eaves housed four smaller rooms for servants; the Ashwells retained four servants and a governess, Rose Temple from London. The attic also incorporated a lumber—a room used, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, ‘for storage of disused chattels.’ In the basement was a large tank, about 10 feet square. Rainwater was collected on the roof and diverted around the exterior of the house into the tank, which incorporated an overflow pipe. The soft water collected was pumped into tanks into the attic to provide additional washing water. The house also had cellars for wine and beer. An outbuilding housed a coal store, “knife, boot and wood house” and an earth closet.
Not everyone saw Ashwell's Rectory as an improvement:
The place is now changed; the thatched cottage has disappeared; the new Rectory is, doubtless more convenient; it stands higher, so as to overlook more of the surrounding country, and is not so close to the village; but, to my eyes at all events, the old charm is gone. (Memorials. Part I. Family & Personal. 1766-1865. Roundell Palmer. Page 55. )
The Rectory was extended in 1879 and replaced by the current Rectory in 1958. The Misses Logan bought the Old Rectory on its sale.
Ashwell's Rectory is now known as The Old Rectory