17 High Street is the second in a row of cottages which runs north along the High Street and then turns the corner to become 1 and 3 Church Road. The cottage was listed by the former Department of Environment in January 1961 as Grade II, of special interest. Number 17 originally formed one property with Number 19 and stands gable end onto the road, being jettied at first floor level, in other words the first floor overhangs the ground floor.
The row from 17 to 25 is dated as "16th and 18th centuries with 19th century alterations". Its jettied construction signifies that 17, with 19, probably belongs to the 16th century. The structure is timber-framed and "rather substantial" and has colour-wash render on the front. The cottage has a clay tiled roof and comprises one storey and attics. The property has a substantial chimney breast with a diagonal stack projecting from the left hand side.
A map drawn up for the 2nd Earl de Grey in 1856 [L33/12/13] shows that 17 High Street was tenanted by John Lowings. Directories show that he was a blacksmith in Silsoe from at least 1847 until at least 1854.
In 1919 part of the Wrest Park Estate was sold at auction [L23/1000/1]. 15, 17 and 21 to 29 High Street with 1 - 11 Church Road formed Lot 7. 17 High Street was then numbered 51 The Village, and the block was described as follows:
A BLOCK OF
Thirteen Good Cottages & Gardens
Nos. 39 to 52 inclusive (except No. 50)
Having a total Area of about
1 acre, 2 roods, 22 poles
In the occupation of Tenants, at rents amounting to
Per £41 16s. 3d. Ann.
These Cottages which are situated in Silsoe, near the Church, are built partly of brick and partly of stud and plaster with tiled roofs, and contain
The following ACCOMMODATION
Nos. 39, 41, 47 and 49. Two Rooms down and Three up.
Nos. 40, 43, 44, 46 & 58. Two Rooms down and two up.
No. 41. Three Rooms Down and Four up.
Nos. 45 and 52. Three Rooms down and One up.
No. 51. Three Rooms down and One up.
Each cottage has a Barn and Earth Closet.
The water supply is from a Well with pump on this Lot, the joint use of which with the joint liability to repair, with the owner of Cottages Nos. 24, 25 and 50 is included with this Lot.
There is also a large soft Water Tank.
The Land Tax has been apportioned for the purposes of Sale at £2 6s. 6d.
This Lot is sold subject as to No. 44 [1 Church Road] to the life tenancy of that Cottage, Mrs. Mary King, who is stated to have been born on 19th July, 1832 and her Rent is £1 13s. per annum. Subject also as to No. 51 [17 High Street] to the life tenancy of the Tenant of that Cottage, Miss Mary Ann Ashwell, who is stated to have been born on 2nd January, 1834 and her Rent is £2 10s. per annum
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 17 High Street [DV1/C236/47] found it was still part of the Wrest Park Estate, much of which, including the mansion, had been bought by John George Murray in 1918 and 1919. He had bought all thirteen cottages in July 1919 for a combined sum of £585 to ensure they remained part of the estate.
The cottage was occupied by Mrs. T. Whittemore who paid 1/3 per week rent for a living room, kitchen and scullery with one "very large" bedroom. A weather-boarded and tiled barn and a brick and tiled earth closet stood outside. The valuer commented: "Only 1 Bedroom, could be 2, otherwise quite good".