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14 to 20 Sun Street Potton

14 to 20 Sun Street August 2013
14 to 20 Sun Street August 2013

14 to 20 Sun Street is a terrace of four houses with a distinctive polychrome tile and brick band at first storey level. The terrace is not listed. The Bedfordshire Historic Environment Record [HER] contains information on the county’s historic buildings and landscapes and summaries of each entry can now be found online as part of the Heritage Gateway website. The entry for 14 to 20 Sun Street [HER 7086] dates the row to the 19th century “replacing a 17th century original”.

In 1878 the row was narrowly saved from a disastrous fire which destroyed many of the buildings in a square formed by Sun Street, Blackbird Street, Chapel Street and Bull Street. More properties might have been saved but for the selfishness of the butcher at Number 14, John Fane, who refused to allow the fire brigade to use water from his pump. He suffered to the extent that his outhouse was demolished to form a fire break but still for his actions he was accorded the “rough music” from his neighbours to stood outside the house banging on pots and kettles and threatening him with violence so he needed a police guard. He survived, however and probably prospered, certainly he was still a butcher in Potton in 1885.

The Rating and Valuation Act 1925 specified that every building and piece of land in the country was to be assessed to determine its rateable value. Potton, like much of the county, was assessed in 1927. The valuer visiting the terrace [DV1/C11/75-78] found that each of the four properties was owned by Bedford brewers Newland and Nash, who owned the Gardeners Arms at Number 20. The other three properties each had a living room, a scullery and two bedrooms above.

• 14: the tenant was John Bird, no rent was given;
• 16: the tenant was William Joseph Mills at 12/6 per month, which the valuer stated was an: "absurd rent";
• 18: the tenant was Hugh George Denniss at a rent of 16/8 per month.

According to the countywide licensing register of 1876 The Gardeners Arms was first licensed in 1838, perhaps the date at which the row was built. It closed for the last time on 3rd August 1957. It is now a private house.