9. 11 Market Square
The Belgium House
Standing the test of time
The row of substantial houses, of which the Belgium House is one, have lined the Market Square for a significant amount of time. On the 1591 map of Higham Ferrers the house at the end of the row by the lane leading to the church was once owned by Hugh, who was listed as “Hugh by the gate of the church” in the 1251 charter giving 91 people their freedom by the Earl of Ferrers.
On this 1591 map of Higham these houses are clearly depicted, the one at the opposite end to “Hugh by the gate” shown as belonging to the Rudd’s, an important family in Higham at the time. An archway giving entrance to the rear of the house can be seen.
On the 1840 enclosure map of Higham the “Belgium” house is number 87. At some point the entrance between house 87 and house 76 (previously Mr Rudd’s) was infilled with a garage and a room above, although the substantial gate posts previously securing the entrance to the passageway can still be seen.
“The Belgium House” built of squared coursed limestone is a Grade II listed building. The front of the house was modified over time and during late 18/early 19th century additions were made to it.
Why is it known as the Belgium House?
At the beginning of 1915 twelve refugees from the nation of Beligum were met at Wellingborough station by the Mayor and Mayoress of Higham Ferrers, Ald and Mrs Owen Parker, Ald T Patenall (Deputy Mayor) and Mrs Patenall, Rev H K Fry (Vicar), Mrs Fry and members of the Belgium Relief committee.
On arriving in Higham Ferrers they were taken straight to their temporary abode, 11 Market Square where Mrs Fry had purchased a photograph of King Albert and a couple of Belgium flags and placed them in the larger sitting room and an excellent meat tea was provided – thus 11 Market Square became known as “The Belgium House”.1
The warp, weft and Woolfe
During the second World War (6 December 1940) adverts were placed in the Market Harborough Advertiser by the owners of the house for a cook and general help. Good wages were promised. The help might have been needed because the owners of the house were engaged in the knitwear trade, and as well as advertising for help in the home they wanted more “outdoor” workers who would knit and crochet gloves in their spare time.
There were very few cars in Higham during this period, but Marjorie Lilian Woolfe, who lived in the house had one. However, a warrant was issued for her arrest by the Wellingborough police, because she had been driving without a licence and had failed to produce a certificate of insurance. The Northampton Mercury noted (5 June 1942) that she did not attend the court hearing and that this was the third time she had ignored the summons.
From home to business
Originally a private residence 11 Market Square is now home to The Ashgrove Clinic providing therapies such as osteopathy, physiotherapy, acupuncture, sports therapy with single treatment tables in each of the designated rooms.
1 Northampton Mercury November 1914