20 and 22 Lake Street Leighton Buzzard
20-22 Lake 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 Lake 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.
20 and 22 Lake Street were listed by the former Department of Environment in 1975 as Grade II, of special interest. The building was dated to the early to mid 19th century and is built of yellow brick with a Welsh slated hipped roof with a panelled cornice. The building comprises three storeys. In 1819 Benjamin Bevan published a map of Leighton Buzzard which was enhanced two years later with a reference book showing the owners and occupiers of each property shown on the map. The map shows two smaller properties on the site suggesting that these were pulled down to build 20 and 22 (the architecturally similar 16 and 18 Lake Street were certainly not built by this date). These two older cottages were owned by J. MIllard and inhabited by Joseph Chamberlain and J. Field.
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 the two properties [DV1/R80/4] noted that 22 was owned and occupied by E. S. Buckingham and comprised an entrance passage, two sitting rooms, a kitchen and a "lean to" scullery on the ground floor. Two bedrooms lay above with a further two bedrooms and a boxroom above them. The building had two cellars which were "not used". The W. C. stood outside.
Number 20 was owned and occupied by G. H. Evans. It was the same as 22 but: "one bay only first floor back, plus one W. C., but smaller garden".
The two houses were owned by Speight Development Company Limited by 1958 and both were put up for sale by auction by order of the Receiver for the Debenture Holders when the firm failed [BML10/42/270]. 20 was described as having on the ground floor: an entrance hall; two offices measuring 14 feet by 16 feet and 11 feet 3 inches by 9 feet 9 inches with power points and open fire-places; a kitchen with a quarry tiled floor and sink; a cloakroom with a wash basin; two separate W. C.s (gents and ladies) with "two good cellars" beneath. A private office measuring 18 feet 10 inches by 13 feet with a cloakroom and W. C. stood on the first floor with a connecting doorway to 22. The second floor contained three offices measuring 13 feet 4 inches by 10 feet 5 inches, 11 feet 5 inches square and 9 feet 4 inches by 7 feet 8 inches.
22 also had two cellars (one with a hot water boiler) and, on the ground floor, an entrance hall, a reception room measuring 14 feet by 16 feet, a kitchen of 10 feet 6 inches by 9 feet 4 inches with sink and cupboards. A 17 feet by 13 feet 3 inches office with power points and built-in cupboard stood on the first floor along with a bathroom with panelled bath, wash basin and W. C. as well as a heated linen cupboard. Three rooms measuring 11 feet 3 inches by 11 feet, 13 feet by 10 feet 3 inches and 9 feet 3 inches by 7 feet 7 inches stood on the second floor. There was also an open yard "with good surface" measuring 3,500 square feet "of which approximately 1,000 square feet is covered affording ample car parking facilities approached by 8 feet entrance adjoining Number 22".