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43 High Street Leighton Buzzard

43 High Street December 2008
43 High Street December 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.

43 High Street was listed by the former Department of Environment in 1975 as Grade II, of special interest. It is an 18th century building in brickwork of a local bond, like a number of others in the High Street. It has a tiled roof and consists of two storeys with attics. The shop windows and casement windows 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 43, which stands next to the site of the Saracens Head, are as follows:

  • 1819: owner T. Price; occupiers J. Inwood, T. Price, T. L. Wood's office, J. Day and W. Rose;
  • 1841: owner Thomas Price occupiers himself, Sophia Price and James Readman, chemist and druggist;
  • 1851-1881: William Readman, chemist and druggist;
  • 1891: William Lewes, chemist and druggist;
  • 1898: Thomas Mallett, chemist;
  • 1906-1924: Joseph Spiers, silversmith;
  • 1928-1940: Edward John Pyman, watchmaker;
  • 2000-2008: Pyman Jewellers Limited

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 43 High Street noted that J. Spiers owned the premises which was leased to Edward John Pyman for twenty one years from 1925 at a rent of £100 per annum. The premises contained a basement cellar which was "not used v. damp". The ground floor contained shops measuring 14 feet b y16 feet and 12 feet 6 inches by 11 feet as well as a back workroom measuring 12 feet 6 inches by 8 feet 6 inches, a sitting room of 14 feet by 13 feet 6 inches and a kitchen ("was Hall") 7 feet square. The first floor contained three bedrooms measuring 14 feet by 15 feet 6 inches, 14 feet by 19 feet and 14 feet by 13 feet 6 inches as well as a bathroom and a W. C. The second floor attics had a "lean-to" bedroom measuring 12 feet by 15 feet ("poor"). Outside stood a brick and tile coalshed and washhouse as well as a brick built and felted garage for one car.