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23 Church Square Toddington

23 Church Square March 2016
23 Church Square March 2016

23 Church Square is an attractive old shop which, for many years, was a butcher's. 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 property found that it was owned by the Rector, Canon F C N Hicks and leased by Briden Brothers. Accommodation comprised a living room, a kitchen and scullery with four bedrooms above. The shop measured 13 feet by 16 feet with a "cupboard behind". The property had no electricity and was lit by lamps.

Outside stood a brick and slate ice box, an engine room with a 3½ horsepower Hornsby engine for cold storage, a fasting pen, a slaughterhouse, a store timber and a corrugated iron cart hovel. The valuer noted that the archway was used as a garage. He opined. "Very good shop".

Directories for Bedfordshire were not published every year but every few years from the early to mid-19th century until 1940. The first one to list Briden Brothers as butcher in Church Square is Kelly's Directory for 1914 and they are still listed in the last directory published, in 1940. Horace Briden is listed as the butcher in the directories of 1906 and 1910.

The directories of 1898 and 1903 list Mrs Emma Crawley as butcher in Church square and that for 1894 lists Mrs Eliza Crawley, possibly her first name was a mistake for Emma. Directories of 1885 and 1890 list Joseph Crawley as the butcher. He had been there for some years as he is listed in Quarter Sessions records for 1866 when he stood surety of £20 for James Hollis to keep the peace towards gamekeeper William Whitehead [QSR1866/3/4/17]. One wonders if Hollis had been providing Crawley with poached meat!

Recognizances of 1873 [QSR1873/3/4/8] give some idea of family relationships. Richard and Joseph Crawley are listed as butchers and Joseph as Richard's father. Another Joseph, also a butcher, is stated to be the first Joseph's nephew. Richard is here being bound over to keep the peace towards innkeeper Benjamin Roberts and his wife Elizabeth, they kept the Angel public house.

In 1877 James Spacey of Toddington, carrier, was tried with stealing 10½ pounds of pork worth seven shillings from brothers Ezra and Joseph Crawley who were in partnership as butchers [QSR1877/1/5/1]. They had employed Spacey to carry 40 stones weight of meat to Luton market in June 1876. Missing some or the meat Ezra and Joseph went to Spacey's house the next day and asked him to produce it, which he did, having salted it for his own consumption. Joseph Crawley said: "Ain't you a thief?" to which Spacey replied "Yes I are". In the event, however, Spacey was acquitted [QGV12/2].

In 1919 the shop was altered. The plan below [RDLP2/51] shows it looked very similar to today [2016].

23 Church Square in 1919 [RDLP2/51]
23 Church Square in 1919 [RDLP2/51]