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The Old Post Office - 31 High Street Silsoe

The Old Post Office - 31 High Street March 2011
The Old Post Office - 31 High Street March 2011

31 High Street is clearly an old building. Until at least 1719 part of the Ragged Staff Inn occupied this site and it is possible that 31 High Street is a survival of part of this building. A map drawn up for the 2nd Earl de Grey in 1856 [L33/12/13] shows that 31 High Street was tenanted by James Flint.

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 the property [DV1/C236/82] found that it was owned and occupied by Isaac James Cook who had a grocer's business as well as being the postmaster. He had bought the property from Nan Ino, 10th Baroness Lucas, owner of the Wrest Park Estate in March 1918 for £400.

The property comprised two living rooms, a kitchen, a scullery, four bedrooms and a box room. The shop measured 25 feet 3 inches by 13 feet. Stores and a telephone exchange measured 12 feet 3 inches by 9 feet 3 inches. Outside stood a store barn, a coal shed, a stall for a small horse, an open garage and a fowl house – all constructed of brick, tile and slate. The valuer commented: "House big and rambling and low, shop low".

Directories for Bedfordshire, which were not published annually but every few years, give the names of postmasters and postmistresses from 1869 to 1928 and the following names are taken from these directories. In those days the post office would often move to a new address when a new postmaster or postmistress took over. The dates are the dates the name first and last appears not the dates of residence:

  • 1869-1890: Mrs. Elizabeth Rich;
  • 1894-1903: Miss Mary Ann Rich;
  • 1906-1928: Isaac James Cook.