Nostalgia: How house rose from the ashes
COMMERCE HOUSE, 22 HIGH STREET, BIGGLESWADE Part One COMMERCE House was burned down in the Great Fire of Biggleswade in 1785 due to its location facing the Crown Inn where the fire started. In an advert placed in the Northamptonshire Mercury in June 1787
COMMERCE HOUSE, 22 HIGH STREET, BIGGLESWADE
COMMERCE House was burned down in the Great Fire of Biggleswade in 1785 due to its location facing the Crown Inn where the fire started.
In an advert placed in the Northamptonshire Mercury in June 1787 it was described as a property in "Bigleswade" for sale by order of "the Assignees of George Gregory".
George was described as a "Linen and Woollen Draper, Mercer Hosier and Hatter, a Bankrupt".
Commerce House was billed as a "complete new-built Brick Dwelling House, situate near the Market Place".
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It was described as comprising of "an elegant modern Draper's Shop in full Trade, with neat Compass sash Front and glaz'd Doors and replete in every fixture and Convenience for carrying on the above Business in all its branches".
The ground floor appeared to consist of a small parlour, large "eating room", with "convenient closets and pantries", back kitchen, cellar and other offices.
On the first storey, there was a dining room, store room and three bedrooms.
Outside, there was a barn, stable, hayloft and garden.
The advertisers were keen to point out that "the above is well worth the Attention of any Person going into business as the late and present Premises have been employed with much credit in the Drapery line & etc for near a century past".
By 1838 John Brunt was a draper at Commerce House, but it is unclear whether he worked out of the same building or from a rebuilt building on the same site.
The building had definitely been rebuilt, however, by the time John Tilcock was in occupation as a draper in 1850.
His son William Tilcock followed him in 1894.
Elsewhere in the town in 1878, Robert Denny had opened as a gentleman's outfitter in Hitchin Street and was trading on the opposite side of High Street to Commerce House by 1894.
He had moved over to Commerce House by 1903. His son Albert Denny was in charge by 1906, continuing with a reputation for good class gentleman's clothing.
Part two follows next week.