Keeper's Cottage

Shuttleworth, Old Warden, Bedfordshire


Keeper’s Cottage is nestled in the pinewoods and ferns of the Shuttleworth estate and is a handsome Landmark in which you can imagine being at the heart of Edwardian shooting parties.

  • Dogs AllowedDogs Allowed
  • Electric Car Charging PointElectric Car Charging Point
  • CotCot
  • Fire or StoveFire or Stove
  • Open SpaceOpen Space
  • Parking AvailableParking Available
  • BathBath
  • MicrowaveMicrowave
  • RemoteRemote
  • Table Tennis TableTable Tennis Table

Beds 1 Twin, 1 Double

4 nights from
£412 equivalent to £25.75 per person, per night

An estate with a long and varied past

Keeper’s Cottage is a model cottage tucked away in the woods. It was built in 1878 for Joseph Shuttleworth, who wanted to bring shooting on the estate up to the fashionable standards of the day. For a few years we can imagine this cottage being the hub of prodigious Edwardian shooting parties, with the gamekeeper hatching pheasants at the back and rearing them in pens on the warren. The Shuttleworth Estate is best known today for its collection of vintage aeroplanes, but its history stretches back far earlier. In the Middle Ages, the area belonged to Warden Abbey on the other side of today’s village (its remnants are another Landmark). In the early 18th century, Sir Samuel Ongley, a wealthy London linen draper, bought what would become the Shuttleworth Estate and it was his descendant who, in the 1820s, created the famous Swiss Garden and began the model village of Old Warden.

Restored using traditional crafts

The Shuttleworths, rich industrialists, acquired the estate in 1872 and golden years of weekend shooting parties followed. But after the 1940s Keeper’s Cottage was left deserted. The sitting house and yard outbuildings collapsed and the detached kennel block became almost as ruinous. Luckily the original plans of its local architect builder, John Usher, survived and so we were able not just to restore the cottage, but also to rebuild the outbuildings. You may not have to feed the hounds at dusk or fend off poachers, but you can still appreciate the sensible accommodation wealthy Victorians built for their employees – especially those who could raise a pheasant or two.

Floor Plan


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Map & local info

Keeper’s Cottage is perfectly situated to explore the museums and gardens of the Shuttleworth estate. The world famous Shuttleworth Collection is home to 50 unique and original aeroplanes. Look out for special flying days which run from May until October.

The Swiss Gardens at Shuttleworth are a tranquil Regency gem. The model estate village of Old Warden is also close by, where there is an excellent circular walk.

Luton Hoo Estate derives it's name from the Anglo-Norse word meaning "the spur of the hill", the estate remains steeped in traditional values still today. The stunning walled garden is a must see. 

Knebworth House offers 500 years of history of the house and generations of changes made by the Lytton family.  

Nearby in Bedford is the Higgins Bedford, dedicated to local history and culture. Wrest Park – a magnificent country estate, with 90 acres of landscaped gardens in a variety of European styles – is also nearby. Both are within half an hour’s drive.

Discover local walks for dogs with our friends at, the dog walks community.

Take a look at our Pinterest Page for more information on things to see and do during your stay at Keeper's Cottage. 

Please Note: The Landmark Trust does not take any responsibility and makes no warranties, representations or undertakings about the content of any website accessed by hypertext link. Links should not be taken as an endorsement of any kind. The Landmark Trust has no control over the availability of the linked pages.


See all our Landmarks at Old Warden

Clear directions
Essential info
What you need to know about this building
  • Yes. You are welcome to bring up to two dogs. A charge of £20 per stay is made for each dog. Please contact booking enquiries if you have an assistance dog, for which there is no charge.
  • Via an estate track from the main road.
  • Bedford – 6 miles.
  • There are two parking spaces.
  • There is a Type 2 Electric Vehicle charge point, delivering a 7.2kW charge, at the property. You will need to request this facility at the time of booking to ensure the outlet has been enabled for your arrival. There is a small charge to cover the cost of electricity provided.
  • There are electric panel heaters, an open fire and a multi-fuel stove.
  • Unfortunately, there is currently no arrangement for the purchase and delivery of logs or fuel, however details of local sources will be provided with your order confirmation.
  • To check up-to-date mobile network coverage in the area, visit Due to the location and structure of many of our buildings, signal strength may differ to those indicated.
  • The kitchen is fully equipped with all plates, cutlery, fridge etc. There is also an electric cooker.
  • There is one bathroom with a bath.
  • The stairs are relatively steep.
  • There are open grounds. Shuttleworth is a working estate, there are footpaths through the area which pass close to the property.
  • No. At the moment, we have decided not to implement Wi-Fi in our buildings following a consultation with our customers. Many said that they would find it useful, but many also felt that it would somehow damage the experience of staying in a Landmark. As the responses were so split, and as we have so many other initiatives requiring funding, we have decided to put this on hold for the time being.
    Except at Llwyn Celyn Bunk House where a password is available in the property when you arrive.
Booking and Payment
  • If the weather is bad, please contact our booking office who will be able to tell you whether the Landmark is accessible. If the housekeeper can safely get to the building to prepare it then we consider that it is open and available for guests. However if we cannot undertake a changeover then we will do our utmost to transfer your stay to another Landmark, depending on what we have available. It may not be of a similar size or in the same part of the country as your original booking. If the building is accessible but the customer cannot travel due to poor weather in his/her local area then please be aware that Landmark will not provide a refund. However the customer may be able to claim on his/her own travel insurance. We recommend that all guests take out travel insurance when they first secure a booking.
  • We accept Maestro (if issued in the UK), Visa, MasterCard, direct transfer and sterling cheques drawn on a UK bank. Cheques should be made payable to the Landmark Trust except for Lundy stays and boat/helicopter tickets which should be payable to The Lundy Company Ltd. All payments must be in sterling.
  • The key arrangements will be included in the Further Infomation document which will be sent to you prior to your stay.
  • If your stay starts more than two months from the date you make the booking, you are required to pay a deposit of one third of the cost of your stay (or £100 per booking, if greater) at the time of booking. Camping on Lundy and The Bunk House at Llwyn Celyn must be paid for in full at the time of booking.
  • If you wish to cancel or change your booking, please contact our Booking Office on 01628 825925
  • At the moment we only accept payment in sterling.
  • Our housekeeper will leave the key in a suitable place, the details of which will be sent to you prior to your stay.
  • It depends. Some of our most popular Landmarks are booked up a long time in advance, but many can be booked at short notice. We will always have Landmarks free for the coming weekend so it’s always worth checking our availability list.
  • No, Landmarks are available to be booked for anyone.
  • No, all the information you need can be found on our website, although we’d like you to buy one anyway as it will be a pleasure to own!
Staying at a Landmark
  • Some of our Landmarks are suitable for people with disabilities or limited mobility. However, many Landmarks have steep or narrow staircases, uneven floors and thresholds, changes of level, low ceilings or beams, as well as indistinct colours on steps and in corridors. We recommend that you call Booking Enquiries on 01628 825925 if you would like to find out the suitability of a particular Landmark for anyone with a specific disability.  Further information on access when visiting Lundy can also be found here.
  • Yes, Landmarks are only available as self-catering accommodation. We do not offer bed and breakfast.
  • Landmark does not provide catering, but we can recommend Greycoat Lumleys who can arrange for expert and well-trained staff to cater for one evening or for your entire holiday. Their cooks and chefs are able to work with you to meet your specific requirements
  • You may bring up to two dogs to properties where dogs are allowed (please see specific property details for exemptions however dogs are not permitted on Lundy except assistance dogs). They must be kept off the furniture and under proper control. A charge of £20 per stay is made for each dog. Please contact booking enquiries if a registered assistance dog is supporting one of the guests, for which there is no charge.
  • Apart from two dogs (see above) no other pets are permitted.
  • Arrival is from 4pm and departure is by 10am.
  • We do not carry insurance for breakages. However we appreciate that accidents do sometimes happen. If you have a breakage during your stay, please let the housekeeper know and if appropriate we reserve the right to invoice you accordingly.
  • Yes, most of our Landmarks are perfect for children, with gardens to play in and secret places to discover. Our furniture is surprisingly robust and we positively encourage families to stay. However, some of our buildings may not be suitable for small children; for example, some of them have steep or uneven spiral staircases. We recommend that you call the Booking Enquiries team if you would like to find out the suitability of any of our Landmarks for young children.
  • Unfortunately, most of our Landmarks are not licensed for weddings. However, you may get married on Lundy.
  • All our larger Landmarks are perfect for gatherings of family or friends. You may invite an additional two guests to visit you during your stay, however they must not stay overnight. This is very important because our fire regulations specifically note the maximum number of people in any one building. In addition our properties are prepared, furnished and equipped for the number of people specified and greater numbers cause damage and excessive wear and tear to vulnerable buildings. Should this condition be ignored we shall make a retrospective charge per person per day (whether or not they stay overnight) for each guest over the permitted limit, the charge being pro-rated on the total cost of your booking.
  • We deliberately do not provide televisions and find that most people appreciate this.
  • One of the challenges of restoring unloved buildings is gaining access to them. We frequently have to negotiate rights with our neighbours and share tracks with them. In many cases tracks do not belong to us and we have no right to maintain them. Wherever possible we work with our neighbours to provide you with a good quality surface, but where this is a problem then you will be warned at the time of booking.
  • Yes, we have standard electricity sockets for UK appliances. If you are coming from outside the UK, you will need to bring your own adaptor plug(s). If you are visiting one of our European properties we have standard European electricity sockets. If you are visiting from the UK, you will need to bring your own adapter plug (s).
  • Landmark’s electrical systems have not been designed to provide continuous power from one socket over several hours.  If an ordinary socket is used to charge an electric vehicle, there is significant risk of an electrical fire and consequent danger to life.  Therefore, we are unable to allow electric vehicle charging from most of our Landmarks at present.

    We are working to provide Type 2 Electric Vehicle charge points at our properties where there is private parking.  Where this is available, please request this facility when booking the property to ensure the outlet is enabled on your arrival.  There is a small charge to cover the cost of electricity provided.  Please book this facility in advance.
  • No, we do not allow smoking in any Landmark.

The Shuttleworth Estate

Queen Anne’s Summerhouse and Keeper’s Cottage stand in an area called The Warren on the Shuttleworth Estate. Before 1872, the Estate was known as Old Warden Park and was once part of the lands owned by Warden Abbey, which stood to the west of today’s Old Warden. After the Dissolution of Warden Abbey in 1537 by Henry VIII, part of the Abbey became a mansion house. (This only surviving fragment of the Abbey was restored in the 1970s, also by the Landmark Trust and is now let for holidays.)



The lands of Old Warden manor passed at first into royal hands and then in the 1690s, various portions of land were consolidated as Old Warden Park by a rich linen draper called Samuel Ongley. It was almost certainly Samuel Ongley who built Queen Anne’s Summerhouse in around 1713.

The Ongley family owned the Old Warden estate until 1872. In the late 18th century, Robert Henley, inheriting through his mother, became 1st Baron Ongley of Old Warden. It was his grandson, the 3rd Lord Ongley, who created the picturesque Swiss Garden on the other side of the estate (now restored and open to the public) and began to build the model village at Old Warden in the 1830s. However, by the 1870s the family’s wealth was failing and their line exhausted. In 1872 the estate was sold to another self-made man, Joseph Shuttleworth.

Joseph Shuttleworth was the son of a Lincolnshire shipwright who spotted the potential of steam. With Nathaniel Clayton, in 1842, he formed The Clayton & Shuttleworth Co., an iron foundry and engineering business that made mobile steam and traction engines. By 1872, when Joseph Shuttleworth came to Old Warden, the firm had branches throughout Europe and exported their engines all over the world. Shuttleworth employed architect Henry Clutton to demolish the old brick mansion and build him a new one. Shuttleworth took as his model Gawthorpe Hall in Lancashire, an early Jacobean seat of Shuttleworth namesakes but not, it seems, his ancestors. Clutton transformed its design into the ‘Jacobethan’ mansion that stands at Old Warden today.

Working with Clutton was a local architect called John Usher. Estate accounts show that it was Usher, rather than Clutton, who in 1877-8 designed and built Keeper’s Cottage, a short distance from the summerhouse on The Warren and today also a Landmark. Both Joseph Shuttleworth and his son Colonel Frank Shuttleworth (who inherited the estate in 1883) loved to shoot, and Old Warden became renowned for its pheasant and partridge shooting. Queen Anne’s Summerhouse perhaps provided the shooting party with a suitable setting for refreshments.

In 1940, Frank’s only son and heir, Richard Shuttleworth, died in a flying accident. His mother Dorothy decided to make the estate over to an educational trust in his memory and the mansion became a college for countryside-based studies. Both Queen Anne’s Summerhouse and Keeper’s Cottage became derelict, their repair beyond the resources of a trust devoted to other aims. In 2001, knowing about Landmark’s restoration of Warden Abbey on the neighbouring Whitbread Estate in the 1970s, the Shuttleworth Trust approached the Landmark Trust to take on both Keeper’s Cottage and Queen Anne’s Summerhouse, offering generous donations towards their restoration costs.


Keeper’s Cottage is a model gamekeeper’s establishment provided in 1878 by Joseph Shuttleworth. The Cottage, outbuildings and kennels together form a handsome example of Victorian model estate architecture, based on the pattern books published to help architects, builders and clients design ideal homes for people from all levels of society. The fashion for such dwellings (and there are many in Old Warden village) was driven partly by benevolent landowners’ desire to improve the living conditions of their estate workers and partly by the same landowners’ wish to create a picturesque landscape in which to exist and demonstrate their position in local society.

Estate accounts show that it was John Usher, rather than Henry Clutton, who designed and built Keeper’s Cottage in 1877-8. Usher’s designs for the cottage and its outbuildings are now at the Bedford & Luton Archive Service. The gamekeeper was a crucial member of the estate team in building up the pheasant and partridge shooting for which it became well-known. The preparation for the shoots and their management would have been masterminded from Keeper’s Cottage, where pheasant chicks were hatched in the sitting house and working dogs housed in the kennels.

Keeper Richard Aireton and his family were the first of several such estate families to live at Keeper’s Cottage. However, despite being such a model establishment in the 1870s, the Cottage failed to keep up with the times. Left without water or electricity, it became first a weekend cottage and was finally left deserted. By the time the Landmark Trust was approached for help, the Cottage’s outbuildings had mostly fallen down, its roof had holes in it, the windows were boarded up and floorboards were rotten and dangerous. The roof of the detached kennel block had collapsed.

For a short history of Keeper's Cottage please click here.

To read the full history album for Keeper's Cottage please click here.

To download the children's Explorer pack for Keeper's Cottage please click here.


Repaired according to the evidence found

The Cottage was repaired according to the evidence found, using traditional crafts and techniques. The roof had to be almost completely rebuilt. Many of the roof tiles were salvaged, but there were not enough for the Cottage roof so new ones had to be sourced, the original being re-used on the outbuildings. Lime mortar, coloured by crushed charcoal like the original, was used for the repointing and repair of the brickwork. Some of the external stonework, plasterwork and timber framing had to be replaced.

The metal window frames had almost all survived but had to be reglazed and each diamond frame repainted – a laborious task. Much of the internal woodwork had to be replaced and a partition wall was taken down to make room to install a modern kitchen. Upstairs, the smallest of the original bedrooms was made into a bathroom.

At first, it was not planned to reinstate the outbuildings (coal house, washhouse, WC and sitting house - where the pheasant chicks were hatched) but the discovery that John Usher’s plans survived allowed the outbuildings to be reconstructed without speculation. The later, detached kennel block was also repaired, complete with cauldron for boiling up the bones and mash for the dogs’ feed – another of the Head Keeper’s responsibilities. This recreation of a model gamekeeper’s establishment provides a fascinating glimpse into another, earlier world of Edwardian shoots, a sport made possible only by the skill and dedication of keepers like those who lived here.

Supporters of Keeper's Cottage

Landmark gratefully acknowledges donations towards the restoration of Keeper’s Cottage from the Shuttleworth Trust, English Heritage, a private donor and the estate of the late Diana Wray Bliss.