Retro: Book tells the story of Burton Latimer houses

John Meads outside The Old Chapel in High Street, Burton Latimer
John Meads outside The Old Chapel in High Street, Burton Latimer

The history of the former homes of an Hawaiian princess and a cup-winning Liverpool footballer are among those delved into in a new book.

Burton Latimer House Histories takes readers on a journey around the town, pointing out the hidden past of more than 50 homes in the town.

The book was compiled by John Meads and was the result of an exhibition hosted by the town’s heritage society earlier this year.

He said: “I did quite a lot of research for that exhibition and as a charity we are always looking to make more money, so the committee said, ‘Why don’t you turn it into a book?’

“A lot of houses have got hidden histories and we thought people walk around and don’t really look at the houses or know what’s happened in them, so it would be interesting to draw people’s attention to them.”

The book’s introduction describes Burton Latimer as a town with no castle, stately home or famous inhabitants.

But that was not always the case. A Kettering Road house described in the book was the home of Hawaii’s Princess Ka’iulani, who lived there in the late 19th Century.

The teenager, whose family was later overthrown when the kingdom was annexed by the United States, was living with Caroline Sharp, a former principal of a girls’ school in Great Harrowden.

Meanwhile, Billy Perkins, a goalkeeper who had been an integral part of the first Liverpool side to win the league in 1901, moved to a home in Station Road – coincidentally named Aston Villa – during the First World War.

Other homes of interest include one rumoured to be haunted as well as the Grade I-listed Burton Latimer Hall.

But not all the properties featured are there for historical reasons.

The book also tells the tale of a home which blew up in 1987 after a crane dropped some machinery outside, causing a gas leak.

The devastating aftermath was captured by an Evening Telegraph photographer.

The book is available at the Burton Latimer Civic Centre. Proceeds from the sales will help to support the heritage society.