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5 to 7a King Street Potton

5 and 7 King Street February 2013
5 and 7 King Street February 2013

The block comprising 5, 5a, 7 and 7a King Street was listed by English Heritage in November 1986 as Grade II, of special interest. As the numbering suggests they were originally two semi-detached houses, recently turned into flats. The building dates from the 18th century, with later reworking. The structure is red brick with a clay tiled roof. The building comprises two storey with blocks projecting to the rear. The listing comments: “Included for group value”.

The property was probably built in or soon after 1783 as it's predecessor on the site was destroyed in the Great Fire of Potton in this year. In 1784 the site of 9 King Street was conveyed and that building is described as being bounded on the south by premises of William Smith Devereux, which had been destroyed by fire, "with another messuage rebuilt thereon belonging to Mr. Samuel Wells" [CD840]. A pamphlet setting out the losses by property owners in the great fire records that William Devereux lost £317/16/-. He is described as a servant, clearly a very rich one, suggesting he may have been a senior servant, such as a butler, in a prestigious household. Samuel Wells was a Biggleswade brewer and the entry suggests that he bought the site from Devereux and built the replacement building as the New Inn

The rebuilt 7 King Street was a public house called the New Inn from at least the early 19th century, the first record of it being in 1822 [CLP13]. The countywide licensing register of 1876 states that it had been licensed for over a hundred years, but the register is not always accurate over dates. The New Inn closed for good in 1921, the public house becoming a private house. A reminder of this past is the sign for "Good Stabling" on the exterior right hand corner. When the property was put up for sale along with Biggleswade brewer Wells and Company in 1899. The sale catalogue described 5 King Street as follows: "a Dwelling House adjoining [the New Inn] containing Front Shop, Store Room, Scullery, &c., two Bed Rooms, Outhouse and Loft. In the occupation of Mr. S. Compton at £5 10s. per annum".

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 building found that both Number 5 and Number 7 were owned by Miss A. G. Bartle [DV1/C11/133-134].

Number 5 was occupied by Samuel Daniels whose went was five shillings per week. His accommodation comprised a living room, a kitchen, a scullery and a washhouse with two bedrooms above. Number 7 was in the occupation of George Hutchinson, whose rent is not recorded. He had a living room, a parlour, a kitchen and pantry with four bedrooms above.

Diretories for Bedfordshire were not published every year but every few years from the mid 19th century until 1940. Kelly’s Directory for 1928 lists George Hutchinson but those for 1936 and 1940 his greengrocer Ernest Herbert Dean at 7 King Street.