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1 High Street Leighton Buzzard

1 High Street June 2008
1 High Street June 2008

1 High Street is an old building standing on the corner of the High Street and what is left of Friday Street. It was listed by the former Department of Environment in 1975 as Grade II, of special interest. It is thought that the building dates from the early 17th century and is a timber framed-house with an 18th century front of a local bond of bricks with grey headers and red dressings. It has a steeply pitched tiled roof and contains two storeys. 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 1 are as follows:

  • 1819: house; owner John Procter senior; occupier John Procter junior;
  • 1841: house; owner George Procter; occupier: John Procter;
  • 1841: occupier John Procter, baker;
  • 1851-1861: occupier James Tompkins, butcher;
  • 1871-1881: William Hopkins, butcher;
  • 1891: unoccupied;
  • 1894: Mrs. Annie Carver, mineral water manufacturer; Miss Mary Scott, milliner;
  • 1898: Leighton Mineral Water Company; Miss Mary Scott, milliner;
  • 1906: Judah Gertler, draper;
  • 1920: David Cook & Sons, builders;
  • 1936: David Cook & Sons, builders; John Jeffrey Martin, nurseryman;
  • 1965: David Cook & Sons, builders;
  • 1972: Stags Menswear; Electrical Services;
  • 1986: Fantasia Kitchens; E. S. T. Travel;
  • 2000: Tillings, jewellers; Computer Friendly;
  • 2008: Philip King, jewellers; Me Me Me

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 1 High Street [DV1/R56/46-48] noted that it was owned by a Mrs. M. E. Burroughs and occupied by David Cook & Son, the builders on a 21 year lease from 1929 at a rent of £24 per annum ("rent very low"). The shop measured 13 feet 6 inches by 12 feet, the office 8 feet by 12 feet 6 inches and the store was 15 feet square. On the second floor lay another store measuring 17 feet by 13 feet 6 inches, an office measuring 12 feet by 9 feet, a boxroom and a store measuring 15 feet square ("poor").

Outside was a brick and tile "two storey old" building. The ground floor comprised a paint warehouse with an earth floor measuring 15 feet by 22 feet. The first floor, again, measured 15 feet by 22 feet. There was also a wood and corrugated iron store measuring 15 feet by 25 feet. The valuer noted: "Rent includes 2 sub-lets" - E. T. Gibbs at £25 per annum and Walter Samuel Higgs at £20 per annum. Gibbs, a florist and nurseryman, had a lock-up shop, 1a High Street, measuring 13 feet by 16 feet 6 inches and Higgs, a wine and spirit merchant at 23 Bridge Street, a wood and corrugated iron garage for two cars measuring 12 feet by 18 feet; brick and tile lean-to, also a bottle washing shed and beer bottling shed measuring 12 feet by 65 feet. The yard had an entrance to Friday Street.

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.