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23 High Street Shefford

23 High Street January 2012
23 High Street January 2012

23 High Street is a handsome red brick building on the south side of the High Street. It was listed by the former Department of Environment in August 1979 as Grade II, of special interest. The department dated the property to the 18th century "with some mid 19th century reworking", which would have been when it as acquired by the Roman Catholic Church in connection with the Saint Francis Boys' Home which was founded in 1869. Roman Catholicism had been present in Shefford since the early 18th century with the first priest mentioned in 1760. It is possible that 23 High Street was built by the Roman Catholic Church as a presbytery, deeds, not deposited with Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service, would confirm or deny this guess. The house is built in red brick with flared headers and has a gabled clay tile roof with decorative ridge cresting. The

The Rating and Valuation Act 1925 specified that every piece of land and building in the country was to be assessed to determine the rates to be paid on it. Shefford, like most of the county, was assessed in 1927 and the valuer visiting 23 High Street [DV1/C289/49] found it owned by the managers of the Saint Francis' Home and occupied by the priest, Canon Laurence Youens.

He found that the canon occupied two rooms plus two rooms for a Father Wilson (probably Youens' successor as parish priest in 1932, Alfred Wilson) one room for the housekeeper and one maid and four rooms for five nuns – a total of nine rooms plus the infirmary and attendant's room for the boys' home and "about 6 visitors' rooms". The valuer noted: "Large part at back of playground is waste".