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The White House - 224 Heath Road Leighton Buzzard

 The White House Heath Road December 2008
The White House, Heath Road, December 2008

Today [2018] 224 Heath Road is known as The White House (not to be confused by the White House in Hockliffe Road which is the current offices of the town council). The house has had a number of different names in its history.

In June 1846 [Z1679/1/1] site owner William Stevens of Heath and Reach, carpenter and builder borrowed £250 from Joseph Godman of Aldbury [Hertfordshire] presumably to enable him to buy materials and pay workmen to build the house. In July 1851 Godman and Stevens conveyed the site and the house to Thomas Toffield of Stewkley [Buckinghamshire], yeoman for £350. Toffield immediately mortgaged it to Thomas Stratford of Linslade for £300 [Z1679/1/2]. On the redemption of this mortgage Toffield borrowed the specific sum of £363/8/8 from the wonderfully named Benjamin Ming of Bayswater [Middlesex] and Leighton Buzzard farmer Thomas King [Z1679/1/3].

Sadly Thomas King hanged himself on Lady Day (25th March) 1863 [Z1679/1/4]. Choice of this day, when rent became due, suggests he may have been depressed because he was in debt. In 1868 Benjamin Ming assigned the mortgage to John Belgrove of Hoggeston [Buckinghamshire], George Belgrove of Swanbourne [Buckinghamshire]  and Thomas Swinstead of Heath and Reach [Z1679/1/3]. Toffield borrowed an additional sum of £404 from Richard Wallis Dare of Shepherd’s Bush [Middlesex] in 1874 [Z1679/1/5]. The mortgage deed notes that £238/2/- of this was to pay for alterations and repairs  to the still relatively new property, suggesting that some of the alterations may have included additions to extend it.

Thomas Toffield is heard of no more after this date and in 1877 Thomas Swinstead (George and John Belgrove being dead) transferred his mortgage to Richard dare and George dare, shoe salesmen of Hammersmith [Middlesex] and New Brentford [Middlesex] respectively [Z1679/1/8]. It seems likely that either Toffield defaulted on the mortgage or that he came to a private arrangement to sell the house to the Dares, who were acting for their cousin, Leah Dare Daniels [Z1679/1/10] because in 1878 Richard and George conveyed the house to William Cotton Salisbury of Upper Gloucester Place [Middlesex] for £775 [Z1679/1/11-12].

In 1882 Salisbury conveyed the house to Leighton Buzzard solicitor Frederic Willis for £950 [Z1679/1/13]  and in 1897 Willis sold the house, now called Lindula, to Elizabeth Frances Hamilton of Aspley Heath for £900 [Z1679/1/14].

Four years later Elizabeth Hamilton conveyed Saint Michael’s Cottage, as she had renamed the house, to another Leighton Buzzard solicitor, George Lancelot Berkeley Calcott for £1,100. Just two years later in 1903 Calcott sold the house to Louisa Bassett, a spinster in the family of prominent Leighton Buzzard bankers [Z1679/1/18]. On Lady day 1904 Louisa gave the house to Maud Mary Pease, spinster, who was living with her at Saint Michael’s Cottage [Z1679/1/19].

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 saint Michael’s Cottage found that Louisa Bassett and Maud Pease were still living there. The house comprised and entrance hall, two reception rooms, a kitchen and a scullery amongst other rooms downstairs, with four bedrooms, two maids’ bedrooms and a bathroom above. The house boasted central heating.

Outside was a one-stall stable and a loose box (“used as store”). There was also a tennis court (“now used as lawn”). The valuer confirms that the house was extended at some point: “Loft over back addition”. He considered that the property had “very good grounds”.