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20 to 28 Main Road Biddenham

20 to 28 Main Road March 2012
20 to 28 Main Road March 2012

20 to 28 Main Road is a delightful row of cottages on the corner of Days Lane. It was listed by the former Department of Environment in August 1978 as Grade II, of special interest. The department dated the row to the 18th century and it was probably built by the Lord of the Manor to house his tenants.

The cottages are constructed of colourwashed roughcast over a timber frame and have thatched roofs. They have red brick chimney stacks and comprise one storey with attics. The first two on the right are taller than the rest. Originally each had just two rooms downstairs with beds in the attics. Modern extensions now stand to the rear.

The Rating and Valuation Act 1925 specified that every building and piece of land in the country was to be assessed to determine its rateable value. The valuer visiting the row found it owned by the Wingfield family, Lords of the Manor of Biddenham. Individual details were as follows:

  • 20: occupied by S. W. Douler and comprising a living room, a kitchen, two bedrooms in the attics and a barn and earth closet outside;
  • 22: occupied by W. Church, with identical accommodation to Number 20;
  • 24: occupied by William Williams who had a living room, a kitchen and a scullery (“small”), downstairs, two bedrooms above and a barn and earth closet outside;
  • 26: occupied by Miss Ingram who had a living room downstairs and a bedroom above, with a barn and earth closet outside (“poor”);
  • 28: occupied by Arthur Ingram, the sub-postmaster. He has a sitting room used as the Post Office and a kitchen downstairs, two bedrooms above and a barn and earth closet outside. The valuer noted “very bad slope” as he did for all the cottages. Ingram was also “jobbing gardener”.

Directories for Bedfordshire were published every few years rather than annually. Arthur Ingram was listed as postmaster in directories for 1898, 1903, 1906, 1910, 1914, 1920, 1924 and 1928. Before this the tradition had been for the village schoolmistress to also run the post office from the school house. A directory of 1853 lists Mary Nichols as infants’ mistress and postmistress. A directory of 1864 lists Sophia Nicholls. A Miss Green was postmistress and National School mistress in 1869 and in 1885, 1890 and 1894 it was Miss Adelaide Osborne. Arthur Ingram was succeeded by Percy Charles Shurety in 1931, he was also a shopkeeper. The last two directories published for the county, in 1936 and 1940 list Mrs. Emily Susan Davis as postmistress. The Biddenham Women's Institute scrapbook made in 1956 [X535/6] states that the post office moved in 1934 when Mrs Davis took over and remained there until her retirement in 1953 when it moved next door and her son took over.

Miss Ingram outside the Post Office in the Biddenham WI scrapbook [X535/6]
Miss Ingram outside the Post Office in the Biddenham WI scrapbook [X535/6]