POTTON HISTORY SOCIETY
Copyright © Potton History Society. Compiled with Serif WebPlusX8. Author Dave Thompson.
New version started 17 January 2016 | Site last updated 4th December 2020
Virtual Tour Part Two
Return to the Market Square, past the flats, and turn left into Bull Street. You pass two carriage entrances on the right. These belonged to the Bull Inn (number 8) and the Green Man pubs. The latter only closed in 1997, and until this date had an impressive pub sign projecting over the road (the support still remains). Note also the oriel windows on the upper floors, together with a number of other 18th and 19th century features.
At the top of Bull Street, turn left into Chapel Street. In medieval times the cottages on the left marked the edge of the town, with countryside on the right. On the right is the Salvation Army Citadel, originally a Methodist Chapel, built in 1851 in ironstone, and rebuilt later in red brick. The iron railings are original. If it is lunchtime, you may carry on to the end of Chapel Street to visit the Royal Oak pub over the road. This apparently old pub was completely, but sympathetically, rebuilt in 1979. Otherwise, you turn back, passing the top of Bull Street, into Horslow Street. This name, known from the 13th century, is said to derive from 'Ostler's Street'. As you enter Horslow Street, you see on the left a row of cottages with a sign indicating that they were a bequest from William Potter. They were rebuilt in 1863, and at one time were the town workhouse. Beyond this is a Baptist Chapel from 1801.
On your right you pass Chigwell House with its large garden - another impressive mansion built by a town notable in the 18th century. Beyond Chigwell House you pass Cross Keys House, until recently yet another inn. Further on the right, just before the narrow Meeting Lane, is the old bakery. Beyond Meeting Lane (which was also known as Chapmans Lane), the first house was originally the 17th century Cock Inn (there is also an old inn, the Rising Sun, at the end of Horslow Street). Turn into Meeting Lane, noting the herringbone design of some of the walls. The lane was probably named after the early days of Non-Conformity in the town (John Wesley preached here in 1742 but was unimpressed by the Pottonians whom he called "wild beasts in abundance"). Towards the end of the lane you will see some 'Potton Houses' behind the old wall on the right. Eventually you come to King Street. It was in this area that the Great Fire started - in 1783 in a hayrick in the yard of a house on the west side of the street. Charles Edwards rented the house from Earl Spencer (an ancestor of Diana, Princess of Wales) who owned much property in the town.
Now, cross the road to walk down Church Causeway. Immediately on the left is the site of the old Spencer farmhouse. In the base of the walls on each side of the Causeway you can see old stonework - possibly re-used remains of the medieval Fraternity House that was located near here. You will cross two streams, both called Potton Brook, which join further down.
At the end of the Causeway the Church of Saint Mary the Virgin is seen over the road, on a small hill. On your left is St Mary's Day and Sunday School, built in 1848 in local ironstone in the herringbone design we have seen previously. The day school was closed in 1876, but the extended building is in constant use today. The field beyond is church glebe land and is the scene of many local events during the year.
Cross the road to the church, which dates from the 13th century. The tower with its six bells was built in the 15th century. The church is well worth a detailed visit - but if you are short of time, look in the porch (14th century) to see the door leading to stairs up to the visiting priest's room. You can enter the church to see the new 1995 window on the south wall, designed by Mr Carl Russell, of Potton, for the church's 900th celebrations. You may also walk around outside of the church to see many listed gravestones.
Return to the road - the old 18th century Rectory is on your right. Walk back along the Causeway to a path on the left, just before the brook. Continue through the playing fields, which were donated to the town in memory of Henry Smith in 1934. This will bring you back to your starting point. If it is very wet you may prefer to walk through the town from the top of the Causeway.
Other places worth a visit locally include : - Sutton with its church and old packhorse bridge, Cockayne Hatley church with its magnificent wood carvings and Gamlingay with its fine 15th century house 'The Emplins', near the church.
For a full guide to all the "listed buildings" of Potton please click the button below (please be aware that this is a 40MB pdf file and will download very slowly if you do not have a fast broadband connection).
Of Sun Street and Blackbird Street
The following pages were used by George Howe and Peter Ibbett in their July 201I presentation to the Potton History Society.
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The Census and Trade Directory information elsewhere on the web site can provide more information about the people and businesses in Sun Street and Blackbird Street over the last 200 years.
Click Map for Printable Version of the Walk
Click for Market Square Walk Leaflet
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