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5 Market Square and 1 Bull Street Potton

5 Market Square August 2013
5 Market Square August 2013

5 Market Square and 1 Bull Street, which is the return frontage, were listed by the former Ministry of Public Buildings and Works in October 1966 as Grade II, of special interest. 5 Market Square is also known as Lion Court. It was the former Red Lion Inn. This must have closed before 1822 when the first countywide list of licensees was compiled as there is no Red Lion listed in Potton (the establishment in Station Road did not open until 1843).

The house, now subdivided into flats, seems to date from the late 18th century but is actually a re-fronting of an earlier structure. Perhaps the earlier building was damaged in the Great Fire of Potton of 1783 and subsequently had to be repaired. It is built in brick, with colourwashed rendering applied externally though there is some timber-framing; roofs are composed of clay tiles. The main block comprises two storeys and attics, with a two-storeyed block running westwards along Bull Street.

Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service has a list of deeds of the property compiled in 1957 at solicitors Burgess and Chesher of Harpur Street, Bedford [CRT130Potton8]. The earliest deed dates from 1836 when Sarah Betts of Potton, widow, Matthew Betts of Potton, draper, John Betts of Paramatta, New South Wales, Josiah Allen Betts of Cox’s River, Roxburgh New South Wales, Sarah Betts of Potton, spinster, Mary Ann Betts of Potton, spinster and Ann Betts of Potton, spinster surrendered a former inn known as the Red Lion to Elizabeth Edwards of Potton, widow and John Hickman of Cardington, butcher for £900. The property was bounded by the Market Place to the east, a house to the west and the common street to the west. It sounds as if all these Betts were children, or at least relatives, of someone who had died and left them the property in their will.

The property was copyhold, that is to say, it was part of one of the manors of Potton. People held copyhold properties from the manor and instead of conveying them to someone else had to surrender them to the Lord of the Manor at a manor court and the new owners then had to seek admission from that manor court or a subsequent one. This allowed the manor to claim a fee (or fine) for the privilege.

In 1856 Charles Hickman of Cardington, butcher, gained admission to half the premises on the surrender of James King, John Hickman and William Heading, trustees of Elizabeth Edwards, deceased for £454/2/6 after a public auction. In 1874: Charles, son of John Hickman, was also admitted to the other half of the building under his father’s will of 1859. In 1877 he surrendered the property to William Thomas Emery Judd of Potton, draper for £1,050.

In 1886 Judd took out a mortgage, secured on the premises, for £2,200 with Sarah Jane Chaundler of Hampshire [CD829]. Later that year he also took out a mortgage with henry Chaundler for £800 [CD830]. Judd defaulted on both mortgages in 1891 [CD830] and so the premises was vested in Henry Chaundler by the Court of Chancery. At this time W. J. Valentine was in occupation. Chaundler was admitted as tenant in 1893 [CD830]. Henry Chaundler also took on Judd's debt and repaid £2,200 to Sarah Jane Chaundler's representative Charles Smither Chaundler after her death in 1897 [CD831].

Following redemption of the mortgage the property was put up for sale by auction late In 1897. It was described as a draper’s and outfitter’s business premises, with two gardeners’ homesteads, two cottages and eight acres of land. The sale was by by Richardson and Robarts at Rose and Crown, Potton. Evidently the tenant, W. J. Valentine, was the successful bidder because the property was surrendered to him. In 1913 Valentine surrendered the property to Albert Herbert Newby for £900.

W J Valentine bill head [X704/92/66/3]
W J Valentine bill head [X704/92/66/3]

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. Potton, like much of the county, was assessed in 1927. The rating valuation map [DV2/015a] is not clear as the building is not annotated with a number but the sequence of numbering in the vicinity together with a description of the property suggests that today’s Lion Court was still owned and occupied by Albert Herbert Newby [DV1/C11/97]. Kelly’s Directory for Bedfordshire for 1924 tells us that he, like Valentine before him, was a draper.

The ground floor comprised a kitchen, a pantry and scullery and a dining room measuring 20 feet by 14 feet 6 inches. There were also three shops – one faced Bull Street and measured 10 feet by 14 feet 6 inches, one faced the Market Square and measured 33 feet by 19 feet 6 inches and the other as at the back and measured 16 feet by 12 feet 6 inches. A disused coachhouse, coal shed and stable stood outside. The first floor comprised five bedrooms measuring, respectively, 16 feet by 16 feet 6 inches, 18 feet by 12 feet, 10 feet by 14 feet, 20 feet by 14 feet 6 inches and 10 feet 6 inches by 10 feet. There was also a dressing room, a bathroom with a W. C., a box room and a maid’s room measuring 15 feet by 11 feet 6 inches. Two attics lay on the second floor and were used as box rooms. The valuer commented: “Old, in fair condition”.

Directories for Bedfordshire were not published every year but every few years from the early to mid 19th century until 1940. Kelly’s Directory lists Newby at the Market Square in 1913, 1920 and 1924. He is not listed in the directory for 1928 and so, presumably, had ceased to trade soon after the visit from the valuer. The service has a handbill, sadly undated, which is given below, stating that Newby had died; please click on the imager to see a larger version.

Pritchett-Brown handbill [X704-92-53-1]
Pritchett-Brown handbill [X704/92/53/1]

The service has an undated sale particular, probably of the late 1940s or early 1950s regarding the ground floor flat at 1 Bull Street [Z35/42]. The partculars state that the flat was part of: "an extensive property built in brick and tile, with a back addition built in timber and tiled, standing in the main square at Potton". The flat had: a hall; a south facing lounge measuring 13 feet by 12 feet; a dining room measuring 19 feet  by 13 feet 6 inches; two bedrooms measuring, respectively, 16 feet by 13 feet and 16 feet by 10 feet; a kitchen and a bathroom with W. C. A rear lobby led to the garden: "There is a side entrance from the market square",

The particulars also mention that the remaining accommodation comprised a first and second floor flat and a lock-up shop with a store room.