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26 High Street Silsoe

26 High Street March 2011
26 High Street March 2011

26 High Street is a substantial building on the east side of the High Street. It was listed by the former Department of Environment in January 1985 as Grade II, of special interest. The department dated the property to the early 19th century, "possibly a reworking of an earlier building". There appears to be a building on the site in 1718 when a map was drawn up for an estate survey for the Duke of Kent [L33/286 folio 11].

26 High Street is built of colour-washed rough-cast render and has a slate roof. It comprises two storeys "apparently raised from one storey and attics". There is a single storey addition to the right hand side with a pantiled roof. The building was "Included for group value". A map drawn up for the 2nd Earl de Grey in 1856 [L33/12/13] shows that  26 High Street was in the occupation of Charlotte Bone.

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 26 High Street, then known as Yellow House Farm [DV1/C236/148], found it owned by John George Murray, owner of Wrest Park, who had bought much of the Wrest Park Estate in 1918 and 1919. The occupier was John Harris who paid rent of £35/2/- per annum.

The house comprised a reception room, a living room, a kitchen and a scullery and three bedrooms. An old bakehouse was used as a dairy. An earth closet, a washhouse, a lock up garaged, an outhouse and coal and wood sheds stood outside. Farm buildings comprised a fowl house, a stable for two horses, a small covered cattle yard with a loft over, a mixing barn, cow stalls for four beasts, a loose box and an earth closet. Harris also leased 3.306 acres nearby as part of the rent.

Clearly the property was later used as a private school since a later hand has made annotations indicating that ground floor accommodation included three schoolrooms and a kitchen. The valuer noted that the school had about eight children aged between 3 ½ and 14, whose parents paid two guineas per term. The owner, whose name seems to have been Pitts had been teaching for eleven years. No private school is recorded in the parish directories for Bedfordshire for 1928, 1931, 1936 or 1940 and, as can be seen below, the property was still a farm rented by John Harris in 1934.

In 1934 John George Murray tried, unsuccessfully, to sell the Wrest Park Estate. The sale particulars [AD1147/23] describe 26 High Street as follows:

The Convenient Small Holding
extending to about

6 acres 2 roods 23 poles

The FARMHOUSE, fronting the main road through SilsoeVillage, brick-built, stucco faced with slated roof, contains: Hall, Two Sitting Rooms, Kitchen, Scullery, back Kitchen, Three Bed Rooms. Yard with pump and outoffices. Together with convenient Range of Brick and SlatedBuildings.

The Land comprises Two Good Grass Fields with road frontage.

Now in the occupation of Mr. John Harris on an annual (24th June) Tenancy at a rental of £35 2s. per annum.