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38 High Street Leighton Buzzard

38 High Street June 2008
38 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.

38 High Street was listed by the former Department of Environment in 1974 as Grade II, of special interest. It is an 18th century building with a front constructed from vitrified brick with pale red brick dressings. It has a steeply pitched tiled roof and comprises two storeys with attics. The shop fronts are modern.

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 38 are as follows:

  • 1819: owner/occupier: Susannah Healey;
  • 1823-1830: John Procter, baker;
  • 1841: Mary Culverhouse, shopkeeper;
  • 1851-1861: house of John Procter;
  • 1871: house of Elizabeth Procter;
  • 1881: house of Mary Procter;
  • 1891: Temperance Hotel - John Langston;
  • 1894: Fountain Coffee and Commercial House - John Langston;
  • 1906: Temperance Hotel - Wood & Company;
  • 1924: Horace Munday, drug store; Mrs. Munday, school of music;
  • 1928: Horace Munday, drug store; Mrs. Munday, teacher of music; Oliver George Wright, dentist;
  • 1931: Mrs. Mary Munday, drug store;
  • 1936: Mrs. Emily Cooley, medical botanist;
  • 1940: Walter E. Pilgrim, optician; Dorice Ladies' Hairdressers;
  • 1972: Pilgrim Opticians; P. Rainbow, insurance brokers;
  • 2000: Brian Clark, optician; Hill House Hammond, insurance brokers;
  • 2008: Brian Clark, opticians; Squares 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 38 High Street [DV1/R74/77] noted that the owner was Henry William Clough, a bailiff occupying 40 High Street next door and the occupier Horace Munday, a druggist, at a rent of £33 per annum.

Munday's shop measured 12 feet by 17 feet and a sitting room of 13 feet square and a kitchen and scullery measuring 12 feet by 14 feet completed the ground floor. A basement store 12 feet square lay beneath. On the first floor were two bedrooms measuring 11 feet 6 inches by 17 feet and 11 feet 6 inches by 9 feet respectively. There was also a room measuring 12 feet by 13 feet, store room of 8 feet by 5 feet and a W. C. Two attic stores ("lean-to, poor") lay above. A cupboard and W. C. stood outside. At the time of writing [2009] the shop is split between an optician and an estate agent.