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Maison Belge
'Maison Belge'

Sunday Citizen July 23, 2000

War and Peace - The Early Fortunes of No. 44 Church Street

Under the Defence of the Realm Act, (DORA), during World War One, many buildings in Fenny Stratford, including the Town Hall, were reserved for the use of the military.

Associated with this, No. 44 Church Street became a home for Belgian refugees, cared for by residents of the town - and the house therefore became known as the 'Maison Beige'.

It remained under military authority until April 1919, when offered for sale by the trustees of the late Samuel Bragg, who had given the plot of land next door to the Salvation Army, as a site for their barracks.

Hedley Clarke, the local fire agent, purchased the house for £220 and being an astute sort of chap, he then agreed to sell it for £350 to the local branch of the National Federation of Discharged and Demobilised Soldiers and Sailors, for forerunner of the British Legion.

They intended to use the premises as a social centre but the deal fell through and it was purchased instead by the Roman Catholics, as a chapel.

In 1905 they had bought a piece of land, at the corner of Victoria Road and Denmark Street, as a plot for a chapel but this was never built and Mass was instead celebrated for many years at Hey Tor, in Bletchley Road the home of Mr JW Watson.

During the war Mass then came to be celebrated at five or six different places in the town, including an army hut at the military camp but now witt their purchase of 44 Church Street, the Roman Catholics at last had a perma nent centre of worship, capable of seating 80.

The Rev Walker, rector of the church at Wolverton, performed the opening ceremony.