17 High Street Leighton Buzzard
17 High Street June 2008
The Manor of Leighton Buzzard alias Grovebury was the principal landowner in the town before the 19th century. Bedfordshire & Luton Archives & Records Service has a full run of court rolls from 1393 to 1727 [KK619-715] and another full run from 1704 to 1867 [X288/1-23]. The service also has court rolls for other manor to own land in the town, the Prebendal Manor, from 1448 to 1459, 1588 to 1591, 1611 to 1622, 1627 and 1631 [KK792-1798]. A fair number of buildings in the High Street were originally copyhold and a detailed study of these court rolls would probably produce quite detailed histories for a number of properties and the sites on which they stand, though it would take many years of study.
17 High Street was listed by the former Department of Environment in 1975 as Grade II, of special interest. It is an old building, dating to the 17th century, though refronted in the 18th century in a local bond of grey header bricks with red dressings. It has a Welsh slated roof. the shop front dates to the 19th century.
A project called Our High Street Revisited 1819-2000 by Leighton-Linslade Local History Research Group [CRT130Lei58] aimed to use directories and census records to try to establish as full a history of use of the building in the High Street as possible. The results for Number 17 are as follows:
- 1819: owner Miss Hopkins; occupier W. Cotching;
- 1841: George Wilding, dealer in glass and James Wilding, dealer in china;
- 1851: house of William Baker;
- 1861: Ann Cotching, maltster;
- 1871-1881: empty;
- 1891-1898: David Rush, printer and stationer and deputy registrar;
- 1914-1936: Arthur Walker Merry, Estate Agent;
- 1940; Stafford, Rogers & A. W. Merry, auctioneers and estate agents;
- 1965-2008: Brown & Merry Estate Agents
Under the terms of the Rating and Valuation Act 1925 every piece of land and building in the country was assessed to determine the rates to be paid on them. Leighton Buzzard was assessed in 1927 and the valuer visiting 17 High Street [DV1/R56/58 and 60] noted that it was owned and occupied by valuer A. W. Merry. On the ground floor was a general office measuring 18 feet 6 inches by 21 feet with a private office at the back measuring 11 feet 6 inches by 15 feet. There was also a kitchen measuring 10 feet by 15 feet ("little used") and a W. C. On the floor above was a store room measuring 11 feet by 16 feet, an office measuring 10 feet 6 inches by 16 feet, another store 6 feet by 5 feet and another office 10 feet 6 inches by 13 feet 6 inches. There was also a "lean-to store" measuring 11 feet by 16 feet and a W. C.
Outside stood a brick and tile "old malting with loft over used for stores: too large" measuring 16 feet by 100 feet; it was "very old". Part of the yard and a number of outbuildings were also owned and occupied by R. H. Rush of Rush and Warwick, stationers, at 25 Market Square [DV1/R56/60] who had a wood and corrugated iron one storey workshop used for printing, ("wood floor"), measuring 24 feet by 29 feet and 9 feet by 8 feet on the ground floor. There was also a building measuring 24 feet by 15 feet with "loft part over". Plant was a gas engine by G. Brown (of Victoria Ironworks) rated at 4 horsepower with tube ignition ("old type") and shafting measuring 24 feet by 2 inches. There was also a 1½ horsepower petrol engine. The valuer remarked: "Right off main street".