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12 Bedford Street Woburn

12 Bedford Street May 2012
12 Bedford Street Woburn

12 Bedford Street is an impressive Georgian building, listed by the former Ministry of Works in October 1952 as Grade II, of special interest. It was built in the mid 18th century of red brick with ashlar dressings. The front roof is slate with clay tiles to the rear and the house has a double pile plan, that is, two parallel roofs over the main body of the building. The house comprises two storeys and attics and has a symmetrical front with five windows on the first storey and four windows and a central door below them on the ground floor.

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. Woburn, like much of the county was valued in 1927 and the valuer visiting 12 Bedford Street [DV1/C137/101] found that, like most of the parish, if was owned by the Duke of Bedford’s London and Devon Estates Company.

The tenant was solicitor Robert Holborn (whose business archive is now held by Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service – reference HN) whose rent was £50 per annum. His accommodation comprised two reception rooms, a hall, a kitchen and a scullery downstairs with four bedrooms, a bathroom and three attics above. A greenhouse, a potting shed, a tool house, a garage and two loose boxes stood outside along with a “Good garden”. The valuer commented: “Good double fronted Residence”. He also noted the wisteria growing on the property and that there was a cedar in the garden. Directories for the county show that Holborn was in residence from at least 1910 and was still there when the last directory for the county was published in 1940.

In the early 1970s the magazine Northamptonshire and Bedfordshire Life published an article on the house [CRT130Wob22]. At that date the property was owned by a hotel and restaurant proprietor who ran a number of properties including the Bedford Arms in Woburn, leased from the Duke of Bedford. The article stated about the house: “Records of its earlier occupants have not been kept, but it is known that the house was built in 1725”. This suggests that the writer thought it likely that the property replaced one destroyed in Woburn’s great fire of June 1724 which seems to have affected neighbouring properties in Bedford Street and so is a reasonable hypothesis. The article continued: “Additions were made in 1820, when the house was extended”.