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35 High Street

A Grade II Listed Building in Castle, Bedford

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Latitude: 52.1359 / 52°8'9"N

Longitude: -0.4662 / 0°27'58"W

OS Eastings: 505074

OS Northings: 249727

OS Grid: TL050497

Mapcode National: GBR G25.2YY

Mapcode Global: VHFQ7.VLX0

Plus Code: 9C4X4GPM+8G

Entry Name: 35 High Street

Listing Date: 14 May 1971

Last Amended: 20 March 2023

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1321007

English Heritage Legacy ID: 35524

ID on this website: 101321007

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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Commercial building, built around 1835.


Commercial building, built around 1835.

MATERIALS: the roof has a Welsh slate covering and walls are stuccoed.

PLAN: the building is rectangular on plan facing west to High Street, with a long extension to the rear (east).

DESCRIPTION: constructed around 1835, this commercial building is three storeys in height and three bays in width. Its pitched roof has a Welsh slate covering hidden behind a stepped parapet and has a red brick chimneystack on each of its north and south gables. The front elevation to High Street is stuccoed, and the south gable has exposed red brick laid in Flemish bond. The second and first floors of the front elevation each have a plain cornice over architrave window surrounds; the second floor has six-over-six pane timber sash windows with horns, and the first floor has six-over-nine pane timber sash windows with horns, all replaced in the late C20. The shopfront was replaced around 1995.


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.

35 High Street was constructed around 1835 for John Howard, ironmonger and plough manufacturer. The Howard plough was awarded a Prize Medal at the 1851 Great Exhibition; it appears the plough was thenceforth displayed on the centre of the stepped parapet and remained there until 1969. As is characteristic of buildings on the east side of High Street, the building was extended to the rear (east) to occupy the medieval burgage plot in the C19; a long rear extension is shown on the Ordnance Survey Town Plan published in 1884, and a covered passageway along the south side of the building. Historic photographs of the High Street illustrate that the windows and shopfront of number 35 were replaced in the late C20, and the shopfront was certainly replaced around 1995.

Reasons for Listing

35 High Street is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest:

* as an attractive historic commercial building, which contributes strongly to the architectural character and diversity of Bedford’s historic High Street.

Historic interest:

* for the contribution it makes to the evolution of the historic High Street and development of the town.

Group value:

* for its proximity to and strong visual relationship with other listed buildings on High Street and St Paul’s Square.

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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