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45 High Street Leighton Buzzard

45-47 High Street June 2008
45-47 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.

45 and 47 High Street were listed by the former Department of Environment in 1954 as Grade II, of special interest. They do not look it at a casual glance, but both originate in the 17th century as a single building, later divided into two. The front is of colour-washed plaster and the roof is steeply pitched and formed from tiles. Number 47 had an 18th century shop front but this was removed and both are now modern fronts.

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 45 are as follows:

  • 1819: owner Thomas Price; occupier J. Day;
  • 1841-1861: empty;
  • 1871-1881: Henry Stone, draper;
  • 1891-1906: Michael Jennings, draper;
  • 1940-1986: Foster Brothers Clothing Company Limited;
  • 2000: Size Up, ladies clothes;
  • 2008: Yours, ladies clothes.

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 45 High Street [DV1/R56/72] noted that it was owned and occupied by Foster Brothers, the tailors: "garden let to manager at £5 per annum; shed let to Mr. Willard [the grocer next door at 47] at £2 per annum".

The premises contained a - "basement under shop used for rubbish - trap door - fair". On the ground floor were two shops measuring 19 feet 3 inches by 15 feet and 19 feet 3 inches by 18 feet together with a back store measuring 10 feet by 5 feet, a living room of 15 feet by 10 feet 6 inches and two kitchens measuring 9 feet 6 inches by 10 feet and 11 feet 6 inches by 8 feet as well as a pantry. On the first floor was a sitting room measuring 19 feet 6 inches by 15 feet 3 inches and three bedrooms measuring, respectively, 15 feet 6 inches by 12 feet 6 inches, 8 feet by 10 feet and 12 feet 6 inches by 10 feet. The second floor contained two bedrooms measuring 12 feet by 15 feet and 17 feet by 15 feet. Outside stood a brick and tile washhouse with a loft over, a brick and tile one storey store ("very old and poor") and a small wood built garage for one car. There was also a garden.