Ups and downs of a parish vicarage

The Parish Church and Bishop s Land in Shortmead Street WHEN Joseph Douton was vicar of Biggleswade from 1840 to 1855, his vicarage was located behind what is now Goldthorpe s shop in the High Street with the garden facing Market Square. This building pr

The Parish Church and Bishop's Land in Shortmead Street

WHEN Joseph Douton was vicar of Biggleswade from 1840 to 1855, his vicarage was located behind what is now Goldthorpe's shop in the High Street with the garden facing Market Square.

This building probably replaced a medieval vicarage located in St Andrews Street where the Conservative Club is now.

The High Street vicarage was sold on June 13, 1842, and the site now forms part of Goldthorpe's yard. The garden was sold to build Biggleswade Town Hall in 1844.


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A decision was made to relocate the vicarage adjacent to the churchyard next to St Andrews Church in Shortmead Street. The land was described as 'The Bishop's Land' in the 1838 Tithe Award Plan and was purchased in 1843 from Robert Lindsell for the sum of £450 plus £30 expenses.

The handsome new Victorian vicarage opened in 1844 and lasted until 1962 when it was considered to be too large and draughty. So the new incumbent, the Rev John Dominey, moved into a more convenient private house at 40 Drove Road.

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The old vicarage stood empty for seven years before a decision was made and funds made available to erect a new vicarage in 1972 and the beautiful old vicarage was demolished. The architects, FC Levitt and Partners, designed the present vicarage using facing bricks from the old building. These were made in Biggleswade and are known as Shortmead Bricks. The builders were Wrights of Langford and the cost was £12,833.

The entrance is from Ivel Gardens, which was developed at about the same time on parsonage land. The urban district council had demolished the church wall giving a better view of St Andrews Church and the vicarage from Shortmead Street. Gravestones were removed in 1958 and the churchyard turned into a grassed open space with seating. The whole area has proved to be an asset by enhancing the view of the parish church and is now used for various events during the year.

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