45 to 51 High Street March 2011
The Bedfordshire Historic Environment Record [HER] contains information on the county's historic buildings and landscapes and summaries of each entry can now be found online as part of the Heritage Gateway website. The entry for 45 to 51 High Street [HER 13301] describes them as a row of 18th to 19th century houses. "They are timber-framed constructions with a brick outer [skin] and a slate roof. The lower front half of the buildings is brick while the upper part and the sides of the dwellings are rendered".
A map made for a rental survey by the Duke of Kent in 1718 [L33/286 folio 11] seems to show a building on the site of 45 and possibly also 47.The building was described as "A Messuage with Barn, yard and Garden &c." It was occupied by Ann Cooper who paid rent of £6 per annum for the house, buildings and 3 acres, 3 poles of land. A map drawn up for the 2nd Earl de Grey in 1856 [L33/12/13] shows that 45 High Street was tenanted by John Collins, 47 by Widow Newbury, 49 by William Wright and 51 by James Rich.
The row of cottages was part of the Wrest Park Estate sold at auction in 1919 [L23/1000/1]. 45-51 High Street, then numbered 18 to 15 The Village, respectively formed one block as Lot 8 and are described as follows:
A BLOCK OF
Four good Cottages and Gardens
(Nos. 15, 16, 17 and 18)
with a total Area of about
1 rood, 2 perches
Situated in the High Street, Silsoe, and occupied respectively by Miss Rich, William Walker, F, Stanley and William Brothers, at Rents amounting to
Per £12 10s. Ann.
They are built of brick to the first floor, with stud and plaster above, and slated roofs, and contain the following ACCOMMODATION: -
No. 15. Parlour, [Post] Office and Kitchen down, Three Bedrooms up, Barn and Earth Closet.
No. 16. Front and Back Kitchen down, Three Bedrooms up, Barn and Earth Closet.
No. 17 and 18. Kitchen, Scullery and Pantry down, Three Bedrooms up, Barn and Earth Closet.
No. 15 has in addition a wash-house, and No. 18 a Pigsty and lean-to Shed.
The Land Tax has been apportioned for the purposes of Sale at 13s. 6d.
In June 1919 Nan Ino, 10th Baroness Lucas conveyed the cottages to Samuel Brightman [L23/303]. The purchase price was £340 for the four.
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 this row of cottages [DV1/C236/92-95] found that all were still owned by Samuel Brightman.
Number 45 was in the occupation of William Brothers who paid £4/18/- per annum in rent; it had been £3 per annum before the Great War. His accommodation comprised a living room, kitchen and three bedrooms. The valuer compared the house with 23 High Street and concluded: "One more Bed … and better at back, not so crowded" though it was "right on pavement". A separate piece of nearby allotment went with the property and measured 0.15 of an acre.
Number 47 was occupied by A. W. Izzard who paid an identical rent for identical accommodation, though his allotment of ground was only 0.128 of an acre. Number 49 was tenanted by William Walker, again his rent and accommodation were the same as Brothers' and Izzard's. He had no allotment of land but did have a "Barn and shed very old".
Finally, Number 51 was in the occupation of Mrs. R. Eddy. Her rent was identical to that of the other three tenants. She also had a living room, kitchen and three bedrooms as well as another small room. She had a barn and shed but the valuer noted: "Garden taken without notice with removal of following: Four rows = 100 young Carrots; 2 Apple trees; 3 Plum trees; Number of raspberries; 4 Gooseberry bushes; Walnut tree".