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17 Market Square Potton

16 and 17 Market Square August 2013
16 and 17 Market Square August 2013

16 and 17 Market Square were both listed by English Heritage in November 1986 as Grade II, of special interest. The property was once one house, later sub-divided. It dates from the 18th century with later alterations. The property may have been built in or shortly after 1783 as much of the Market Square was damaged by the Great Fire of Potton in that year. The structure is built from red brick and comprises two storeys and attics beneath a 20th century tiled roof. The listing notes that it was “included for group value”.

In 1847 16 and 17 Market Square were put up for sale by auction. The sale particulars [WG2441] that today's situation was reversed, with Number 16 having more than twice the footage of Number 17 as can be seen on the plan below, probably equating to the distence between the left hand chimney stack and the next one moving towards the right. The entry for Lot 3 reads: "All that respectable well-built FREEHHOLD RESIDENCE as occupied by Mr. George Kitchen, in the most eligible business situation in the Town, having a commanding frontage to the market-square, and containing a good lofty Dining Room and Drawing Room, a large Keeping Room, Kitchen and Scullery, excellent Cellar and eight good Sleeping Rooms. The Outbuildings comprising two Bakehouses, Corn Shops, Stabling, &c., are brick-built and tiled. A large Yard as now stumped out, with pump of good water. A most delightful garden, now occupied by Mr. Fisher [licensee at the George and Dragon]; together with a carriage entrance from the Hog Market over lot 4, as shown on the plan; the whole forming a most compact residence for a respectable family. This lot to fence next lots 4 and 5".

The entry for Lot 4 reads: "All that excellent brick-built and tiled FREEHOLD HOUSE and SHOP, most advantageously situate upon the Market Square, with substantial Outbuildings, in the occupation of Mr. Rogers, Cabinet Maker and Upholsterer, at a rental of £21 per annum; a Cottage occupied by Francis Young, at £4 per annum; and a convenient Yard, with carriage entrance from the Hog Market, as now stumped out, subject to a carriage right of way to lot 3, as delineated on the plan".

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. The valuer visiting these two properties [DV1/C12/63-64] found they were both shops.

Number 17 was owned and occupied by John Walter Bird, who was a draper [DV1/C12/64]. The “very good” shop measured 31 feet 3 inches by 18 feet and 14 feet by 7 feet 6 inches; the “fine showroom” at the rear measured 16 feet by 18 feet 6 inches. Also on the ground floor was a scullery, a living rook measuring 13 feet 6 inches by 13 feet and a morning room measuring 11 feet 6 inches by 17 feet.

The first floor comprised two store rooms, measuring 16 feet by 18 feet and 19 feet by 12 feet, respectively. There were four bedrooms measuring 11 feet 6 inches by 13 feet, 12 feet by 16 feet 6 inches, 13 feet by 15 feet and 10 feet 6 inches by 12 feet 6 inches. There was also a drawing room measuring 17 feet by 16 feet, a W. C., a landing and a second set of stairs at the rear. Five disused attics lay above.

Outside stood a garage for one car and a former two stall stable used as stores with a loft over. The valuer compared it with Albert Newby’s drapery at 1 Bull Street and 5 Market Square and concluded: “This is better, much smarter”.

A billhead of 1st February 1934 of W. J. Mattocks’ business at 17 Market Square states: “Having purchased the Business of Mr. J. W. Bird, of Potton, I beg to solicit a continuance of your patronage. Both Mrs. Mattocks and myself have had considerable experience of the Drapery Trade, and will endeavour to give care and attention to any orders or enquiries given to us” [X704/92/48]. Kelly’s Directory lists Mattocks at the address in its last two Bedfordshire editions, 1936 and 1940. A later billhead [X704/92/36] has Howard’s drapers, milliners, ladies’ and children’s outfitters at 17 Market Square.