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19 Market Place Woburn

19 Market Place May 2012
19 Market Place May 2012

19 Market Place forms the southern end of the block of shops which used to stand as a middle row between the High Street and the now disappeared Back Lane. It used to be numbered 12 High Street. The property was listed by the former Ministry of Works in October 1952 as Grade II*, a particularly important building of special interest.

The property was, according to the listing, built about 1725, replacing a property with timber framing which was probably damaged in Woburn’s great fire of June 1724. The building was further reworked in 1820 by George Maddocks for John, 6th Duke of Bedford. The listing notes: “He designed new shop windows for the draper who was then occupying the building”. This was probably Thomas Osborne, noted by Thomas Evans in 1822 as occupying a premises “a house and shop against the Market House” and in a directory of 1822/23 as being a draper in the Market Place. He is also mentioned in Stephen Dodd's Account of Woburn of 1818. The property is built of red bricks and comprises three storeys beneath a slated roof.

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 19 Market Place [DV1/C126/151] found that, like most of Woburn, it was still owned by the Duke of Bedford’s London and Devon Estates Company.

The tenant was Francis John Gilbey, a general draper, whose rent was £40 per annum. The ground floor contained a shop divided into three areas measuring, respectively, 15 feet by 30 feet, 2 feet 6 inches by 30 feet (presumably behind the counter) and 5 feet by 11 feet 3 inches. There were also living rooms measuring 14 feet square and 11 feet 6 inches by 13 feet and a kitchen measuring 14 feet 6 inches by 14 feet 9 inches.

The first floor contained a living room measuring 11 feet by 14 feet, a reception room measuring 18 feet by 14 feet and bedrooms measuring 11 feet by 13 feet 6 inches and 11 feet by 14 feet. There were also store rooms measuring 15 feet by 13 feet and 11 feet 6 inches by 14 feet 9 inches. Four more bedrooms lay on the second floor. An annexe (immediately adjoining 20 Market Place) contained a living room, a kitchen and two store rooms as well as an attic. Also outside were a W. C., a washhouse, a barn, a coachhouse and a stable. Lighting was by gas and the property had mains water and drainage.

Directories for Bedfordshire were not published every year but every few years from the early to mid 19th century until 1940. As we have seen the occupier in 1927 was Francis John Gilbey and he is listed in directories of 1924, 1928, 1931, 1936 and 1940. His predecessor, presumably at the same address (the directories just say High Street) was John Gilbey or Gilby who was listed in 1898, 1903, 1906, 1910, 1914 and 1920; the directories of 1898, 1903 and 1906 also list him as an undertaker. Listed in the directory of 1894 is John Gilby & Sons (general draper, tailor and undertaker). Directories of 1853, 1862, 1869, 1877, 1885 and 1890 list John Gilby as general draper, tailor and undertaker. The Bedfordshire Mercury of 13th April 1861 carries a notice that John Gilby of Woburn, linen draper, dealer and chapman (a chapman was originally a seller of chap books, a form of early magazine, but by this date simply meant a general salesman) had conveyed his estate to William Bartholomew Best of Lincoln and Thomas Bayley of London as trustees for his creditors, so evidently his business was in severe trouble. Evidently things improved as he continued to trade for another thirty seven years or more.

In the Post Office Directory of 1847 Bartholomew Best and William Perkins are listed as a linen drapers in the Market Place. Two drapers are listed in 1839, John Slim and George Mellor, both in the Market Place. One, some, or none of these may have been Gilby’s predecessor at 12 High Street. At the time of writing 19 Market Place is restaurant Loch Fyne.

19 Market Place seen from the side May 2012
19 Market Place seen from the side May 2012