Millfield, on the market with Chesterton Humberts, is situated in the quiet village of Colsterworth in Lincolnshire. Built in the early 1900s, the house was home to a local farming family for many years, but during World War II the house was used to billet soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, Parachute Regiment, who famously went on to fight in the Battle of Arnhem in 1944. The heroic story of the parachute regiment at the Battle of Arnhem was later re-told in the popular film, A Bridge Too Far, featuring Sean Connery, Laurence Olivier and Michael Caine.
Millfield was built in around 1905 and named after its association with a nearby water-mill that still provided water to the house until the 1920s. The house was built for local farmer, Robert Doubleday, who was later recorded in the 1911 census as 47 years old, and a ‘farmer and grazier’. Robert Doubleday was living in his new house with his wife Elizabeth, along with their 20 year old daughter, Martha, and 19 year old son, Robert Doubleday, the younger.
By 1937, Millfield had become the home of Wing Commander Gerard Stephen Oddie. World War I records reveal that Gerard Oddie fought with the Royal Air Force in some of the first campaigns on the Western Front and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. Oddie continued in the Air Force after the war and in 1927 was awarded the Air Force Cross by King George V. Both awards honour those who have shown ‘valour, courage or devotion to duty whilst flying’.
During World War II, this large family home in a quiet village near Grantham became connected to one of the most significant battles of the war. Records show that Millfield was used to billet officers from the 2nd Battalion, Parachute Regiment in 1943-44, while soldiers slept in nissen huts in the gardens. The 2nd Battalion was only formed in September 1941, with first active service in 1942, but it was their crucial involvement in Operation Market Garden – the Battle of Arnhem – in 1942 that has gone down in history. Their heroic effort to hold on to key positions at Arnhem Bridge in the Netherlands was the inspiration for the famous film, A Bridge Too Far.
The day before the soldiers of B Company left Millfield to fly over to Arnhem, Private Vincent Goodwin completed an illustration of the house, much as it is today, but with a few additions thanks to the presence of the Battalion. But, Private Goodwin not only recorded the house at this time, he returned many years later with an extraordinary story of his survival during the battle. After he was advised by his commanding officer, Goodwin sewed pennies into the breast pocket of his uniform as additional protection, and on his return to Millfield he presented the remains of one of those pennies that actually saved his life after he was hit by a bullet.
After the war, Millfield was transformed back into a comfortable family home. Today, the house offers eight bedrooms, four reception rooms, along with an adjoining coach house, a large glazed courtyard and stables. It sits within 1.5 acres and also features a lovely restored Victorian Greenhouse.
* More details on Millfield
* Read the full history visit my blog – The House Historian