Probably over 400 years old, (the house is mentioned in a letter dated 1580), this is one of the oldest houses in Barrow. Its name derives from Bishop Beveridge who was reputedly born and brought up here, and whose grandfather, father and brothers were all vicars of Barrow in the 17th century. Bishop William Beveridge was born in 1636 and lived through the turbulent years of the English Civil War. He was educated at Oakham School and then St John’s College Cambridge. He was a man of great learning, and wrote a number of important ecclesiastical and spiritual works. After he was ordained, his first parish was in Ealing, and later he became chaplain to William and Mary in 1689. Further advancement was offered in 1691 with the See of Bath and Wells, but he refused on a matter of principle as the incumbent was being removed owing to his opposition to the new religious direction of William and Mary. However, late in life he was persuaded to accept the Bishopric of St Asaph’s in North Wales. He died in the cloisters of Westminster Abbey in 1708 and is buried in St Paul’s Cathedral.
Bishop Beveridge was a local benefactor, and set up charities for the welfare of the poor in the village. When he died, he left part of the Hall Orchard estate to the Bishop Beveridge Charity, which with the Babington Charity later were united as the Barrow Hospitals Charity. The old almshouses on the corner of Beveridge Street and Church Street (1692), and the Women’s Hospital in North Street opposite Thirlmere Road were built by the Babington charity.
Bishop Beveridge House and gardens were possibly the site of the old Hall of the village, and parsonage land around formed the Hall Orchard estate. The notable feature of the house is that it is built of local limestone, and is actually an amalgam of two separate dwellings, the original house being next to the present Baptist Church and the second house to the left looking from the street built later as an extension. It is recorded as a leise design. This was originally a building with a timber-framed attic which was subsequently incorporated into the later limestone-built walls. The end gables are of red bricks stepped above the roof line in Tudor fashion, which provides additional evidence of its age. A date of 1666 is carved into one of the attic walls, and believed by the present owners Mr and Mrs Middleton to have been inscribed when the chimneys were first constructed. The roof/attic space has probably been lowered at some time as the original stairs continue up towards a second upper floor which no longer exists. The front porch also appears to have been taller at one time.
Many years ago, it is said that relief was distributed from the house (charitable relief presumably from the Bishop Beveridge charity (see below) rather than parish relief which was the responsibility of the Poor Law Guardians)– and the poor would sit on the stone seats in the porch waiting their turn. At this time the two dwellings were owned by the Bishop Beveridge Charity. In 1921 they were sold as two houses to Mr George Chapman for £2000. The trustees who witnessed the sale comprised several notable local worthies – Rev. William Arthur King of Woodhouse, Charles Stuart Thompson of the Mount in Barrow, Robert Edmund Martin of the Brand in Swithland, William Whetstone of the Lodge, Barrow, the Rev. Harry Hunn Ramsey Vicar of Quorn. In 1963, the original half of the house was purchased by Les and Lilian Middleton, whilst George’s widow, Daisy Chapman Ryder continued to live in the other half of the house. The house was finally united after Daisy’s death in 1975, when the Middletons bought her half and converted the two to the single house we see today.
Several characters lived in the two houses which now constitute BB House. A French lady known as Mamoiselle lived in the original house; she was a friend and companion of Dr Grey’s wife who was also French and lived at the Surgery, No 47 Beveridge Street. It is said that the local village children were not above tormenting Mamoiselle by knocking on the windows and such like. Another character, Henry Howe, a skilled bricklayer and well known village character, occupied half the house in the mid 19th century. There is a ditty to him which goes:- “Henry Howe/He went to plough/ But when he got there/He didn’t know how!” The other half of the building was then known as “The Pantry” and was occupied by “Nan of the Pantry”.