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19 High Street Silsoe

19 High Street on the centre right March 2011
19 High Street on the centre right March 2011

19 High Street is the third 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 19 originally formed one property with Number 17 which 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". The jettied construction of 17 indicates that it probably belongs to the 16th century and, as originally part of the same house, so does Number 19. 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. A map drawn up for the 2nd Earl de Grey in 1856 [L33/12/13] shows that 19 High Street was occupied by Samuel Giddings.

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 19 High Street [DV1/C236/49] found it owned and occupied by market gardener Alfred John Lowings. He had bought the cottage from Nan Ino, 10th Baroness Lucas, owner of the Wrest Park Estate as sitting tenant in 1923 for £200 [L23/336], though the final conveyance was not until 10th October 1928 [L23/337].

The valuer commented: "Area includes House, garden, Smithy and approach". Accommodation comprised a living room, kitchen and three bedrooms, one of which was on the first floor of the neighbouring cottage. The valuer noted: "Cottage big, but right on pavement". The old brick and tiled blacksmith's shop was "now used as store and lock up garage". A barn and a weather-boarded and corrugated iron cycle shed also lay outside.

Directories for Bedfordshire, which were not published annually but every few years, give the names of smiths from 1847 to 1928 and the following names are taken from these directories. The dates are the dates the name first and last appears not the dates of residence:

  • 1847-1854: John Lowing;
  • 1862-1898: William Lowings;
  • 1903-1928: Alfred John Lowings