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1 and 2 St Paul's Square

A Grade II Listed Building in Castle, Bedford

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Latitude: 52.1351 / 52°8'6"N

Longitude: -0.4668 / 0°28'0"W

OS Eastings: 505031

OS Northings: 249638

OS Grid: TL050496

Mapcode National: GBR G25.2SR

Mapcode Global: VHFQ7.VLKM

Plus Code: 9C4X4GPM+27

Entry Name: 1 and 2 St Paul's Square

Listing Date: 6 June 1952

Last Amended: 10 February 2023

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1114518

English Heritage Legacy ID: 35562

ID on this website: 101114518

Location: Bedford, Bedfordshire, MK40

County: Bedford

Electoral Ward/Division: Castle

Parish: Non Civil Parish

Built-Up Area: Bedford

Traditional County: Bedfordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Bedfordshire

Church of England Parish: Bedford St Paul

Church of England Diocese: St.Albans

Tagged with: Building

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Timber-framed house built around 1460, extended and remodelled in 1764, and further extended in the C19, and a pair of houses built in the late C18, remodelled and extended in the C19, all converted to apartments around 2015.


Timber-framed house built around 1460, extended and remodelled in 1764, and further extended in the C19, and a pair of houses built in the late C18, remodelled and extended in the C19, all converted to apartments around 2015.

MATERIALS: the roofs are covered in Welsh slate; the walls are constructed of red brick or gault brick, and the front elevations are stuccoed.

PLAN: the buildings are each rectangular on plan, facing north onto St Paul’s Square, with rectangular-plan extensions to the rear (south).

EXTERIOR: 1 St Paul’s Square is a symmetrical five-bay three-storey former house, built around 1460, extended and remodelled in 1764, further extended in the C19, and converted to flats around 2015. The steep pitched roof has a Welsh slate covering, a red brick chimneystack on the east end of the ridge, and a deep eaves cornice supported by modillion brackets. The brick walls are stuccoed, with flush flat-arched window surrounds containing six-over-six timber sash windows without horns. The central doorway has an early-C19 surround featuring an entablature with egg-and-dart and paterae ornamentation to its frieze and Doric pilasters with paterae to their frieze. A panelled architrave contains a four-panel door with a margin of paterae and a rectangular overlight with lozenge tracery. Either side of the doorway, the front elevation has pointed railings on a low plinth wall, erected around 2015.

To the right (west) of number 1, is a three-storey 5-window pair of houses (formerly known as numbers 2 and 3, latterly known as number 1A, now containing flats numbers 1C, 2 and 2A-2E). Built in the late C18, they were remodelled and extended in the C19, and converted to apartments around 2015. The pair share a shallow-pitched Welsh slate-covered roof, with two red brick chimneystacks to the ridge. Each building has a bracketed hood to the ground floor, under which the outer bay has a four-panel door with a rectangular overlight, and the inner bay has a canted window. Between the two canted windows is a shared carriageway, flat-arched with double timber plank doors. The pair of buildings feature a variety of timber sash windows without horns.


Bedford lies in the shallow valley of the River Great Ouse, and from the Middle Saxon period evidence appears for the beginnings of a settlement at ‘Beda’s ford’, a key river crossing point. The Middle Saxon core of Bedford developed on the north side of the river with an early street pattern (still recognisable) and was surrounded by a defensive ditch. In the C10 and C11, Bedford was important both as a trading centre, with coins minted in the town, and as the central burh of the shire. The town’s main north-south route, comprising what is now High Street to the north of the river and St Mary’s and St John’s Streets to the south of the river, was developed by this time. After 1066, Bedford became a stronghold of the new Norman regime and during the reign of William II, a motte and bailey castle was built in a strategic position on the north bank of the river and then rebuilt in stone. A period of unrest, however, led to a siege of the castle in 1224 and, when it fell, Henry III ordered it to be dismantled. Despite political struggles, the town experienced a period of consolidation during the Norman and Medieval periods, when local commerce flourished and religious houses and hospitals were founded. The population of the town was decimated by the Black Death in the C14, and a new river crossing at Great Barford undermined the local economy by drawing traffic and trade away from the town. There was little further growth and the town was largely contained within its Saxon framework, as can be seen from John Speed’s map of Bedford dated 1610.

The dissolution of the monasteries under Henry VIII dealt a further blow to the town’s prosperity but its fortunes began to revive with the receipt of letters patent from Edward VI, allowing the foundation of a grammar school. Bedford also benefitted from the River Navigation Act, which made the River Great Ouse navigable between Bedford and King’s Lynn (completed in 1689). The town became the headquarters of Cromwell’s army between 1646 and 1647 and the puritan influence established during the Civil War lived on after the Declaration of Indulgence in 1672, when the town became a centre for non-conformist preachers such as John Bunyan. Despite this prosperity, Bedford remained of modest size through to the end of the C18, as illustrated on Thomas Jefferys’ map of 1765. An Improvement Act in 1803 allowed for the erection of a new river bridge between 1811 and 1813 (widened in 1938), and clearance of the Market Square. Continuing prosperity in the early C19 was accompanied by modest growth, but by far the most dramatic expansion of Bedford followed the building of the Midland railway in 1873, linking the town with London, and associated industrialisation. In the early years of the C20, some houses in the town centre were replaced by department stores, banks and cinemas to serve the expanding population; The Arcade was built and other properties in and around the centre were converted to shops and offices. The High Street is characterised by narrow three and four-storey frontages, with long buildings, closes and yards occupying medieval burgage plots to the rear, those on the eastern side of High Street being particularly long.

A dendrochronological investigation was carried out at Nos. 1-4 St Paul’s Square in 2015 and found that the north part of No. 1 was built around 1460 as a two-storey timber-framed house, jettied at first floor level. The building served as an inn at various times during the C16 to C18; it is recorded as an inn called ‘The Falcon’ in 1507, later the ‘Seven Stars’, and then ‘The Ship’ in 1705. In the mid-C18 the building was purchased by Richard Cave a wealthy coal merchant and three-time Mayor of Bedford in [1755?], 1758 and 1770. Cave embarked on a major remodelling of the timber-framed and jettied house in 1764: an additional floor was added and the ground floor walls on the east and north sides were brought forward in line with the jetty above. Dendrochronology has proven that the original oak roof structure of the mid-C15 two-storey house was raised and reused in the taller mid-C18 structure. The front doorcase and door, with their unusual floral studs, may date from the early C19. The building was extended rearwards (southwards) in three phases in the C19, and there are C20 alterations which also obscure the earlier phases. A photograph of the building published in 1974 indicates that its C18 or early-C19 railings were removed around 1980, and pointed railings were later reintroduced following renovation work around 2015.

The pair of houses to the west of No.1 (formerly known as Nos. 2 and 3, latterly known as No. 1A, now containing flats Nos. 1C, 2 and 2A-2E) were built in two stages. By 1765 there was a building on the site of the east house, and it was later depicted as a three-storey house in a drawing of the south side of St Paul’s Square from the church tower by W Dawson in 1833. The west house is shown in the 1833 drawing as a low two-storey building; it was brought into the same ownership as the east house in 1834 and was remodelled and extended soon after to complement the east building. In 1854 a canted bay window was added to each ground floor, and it is probable the doors were also replaced at that time. The townhouse and pair of houses were together listed at Grade II in 1952 when they were occupied by the County Architect's Department; all were converted to apartments around 2015.

Reasons for Listing

1 and 2 St Paul’s Square are listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest:
* as a row of historic residential buildings, which contribute strongly to the architectural character and diversity of Bedford’s historic High Street and St Paul’s Square;
* for the architectural quality of its façades to St Paul’s Square, constructed with quality materials, classical proportions and elegant detailing.

Historic interest:
* for the historic interest of No.1 in particular, which was constructed as a two-storey timber-framed and jettied house around 1460, and remodelled and extended with a Georgian facade in 1764;
* for the contribution they make to the evolution of this historic part of Bedford town.

Group value:
* for their strong historic group value they hold with St Paul’s Church, Shire Hall and the Town Bridge.

External Links

External links are from the relevant listing authority and, where applicable, Wikidata. Wikidata IDs may be related buildings as well as this specific building. If you want to add or update a link, you will need to do so by editing the Wikidata entry.

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