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51 High Street Leighton Buzzard

51 and 53 High Street June 2008
51 and 53 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.

51 High Street was listed by the former Department of Environment in 1954 as Grade II, of special interest. It is an 18th century building with the local bond brickwork of grey headers with red brick dressings so common in the High Street. The property has a dentil cornice and a moulded stone parapet. The property has three storeys. The shop front is, of course, 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 51-53 were as follows:

  • 1819: owner Mrs. Firth; occupier Mrs. Firth and J. Scrivenor;
  • 1830-1841: John Flint, auctioneer;
  • 1851: Frank Flint, auctioneer, bookseller, stationer and printer;
  • 1861: empty;
  • 1871-1881: John Burrin/Burren, grocer;
  • 1891-1903: Charles Haskins, grocer;
  • 1906-1962: Freeman, Hardy & Willis;
  • 1972: empty;
  • 2000-2008: Boots [with Number 49]

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 clearly visited 51 High Street, then shoe chain Freeman, Hardy & Willis but the page was subsequently torn from the notebook!