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No.49-51 High Street

Nationwide Building Society
formerly Musk Butchers

Shop History


Nationwide Building Society - Domesday Survey

1979 - Present

Nationwide Building Society

26th May 1979

Musk Butchers closed

12th June 1953

No.49:- Southdown House
No.51:- Southdown House - Musk's
- Newmarket UDC re-numbering map


Musk J. & Co., butchers - Nkt.47 - Newmarket Directory


Musk J. & Co., Family Butchers, High Street - Newmarket Street Directory


Musk & Co., butchers, High Street - Nkt.47 - Kelly's Directory


Musk, James & Co., butchers, High Street - Kelly's Directory


lock-up shop - Census


Musk, James, butcher, High Street - Kelly's Directory


Musk - Street Market Map


George Bradfer, draper - Census


Mr. Bradfer (through to Palace Street) - Map of Palace


Bradfer & Sons - Newmarket Directory


George Bradfer, clothier & woollen draper - Census


George Bradfer, draper / Catherine Bradley, widow
  - Census


Bradfer & Son (Mrs. Mary & George), tailors, drapers, and glass, china. &c. dealers
Bradley, Mrs. Catherine, apartments, High Street
- White's Directory


George Bradfer, woollen draper / Catherine Bradley, widow
 - Census


Bradfer & Son, tailors & drapers - Post Office Directory


George Bradfer, woollen draper / James Bradfer, woollen draper
  - Census


Matilda Postans, wife of grocer (George was in London during the census)
/ Charles Stebbing, hairdresser (wife betsy)
  - Census


George Campion Postans, grocer & tea dealer, High Street - Slater's Directory


Joseph Falkes, tailor - Census


Joseph Folks, tailor - Robson's Directory


Joseph Folks, tailor - Pigot's Directory


  • The Musk Family Tree
    [click on the picture for a larger view]

  • Elizabeth Cooper was born in Newmarket in 1848. She married Edward Drake from Rougham and by the 1881 census are shown living in a Butcher's shop in Tea Kettle Lane (the road in Stetchworth going to Dullingham).

    Sadly on 13th December 1882 Edward died and this left Elizabeth in quite significant difficulties - a single mother with 4 children (3 boys and a girl) ... and also with Victorian attitudes towards women to contend with.  Her 'solution' was to marry James (Jim) Musk, 12 years her junior.

  • James' father, Robert Musk, was born in Stetchworth in 1831 and in 1855 he married Lucy Henson Andrews in Newmarket. When James Musk was born on 5th August 1860 in Newmarket his father's occupation was given as 'groom'.

    Oddly on the 1861 census James is shown living with his grandfather in Stetchworth and it's not until the 1871 census that he's shown with the rest of the family at Lordship Farm, Dullingham (now Lordship Stud), with his father as the farmer (farming 232 acres and employing 7 men and 4 boys).

    On the 1881 census James was living in Chiswick, London - and he'd started his career as a Butcher.

  • Although both local to Stetchworth, James and Elizabeth were married in St. John's Church, Depford, Kent on 18th June 1884. This is unusual as they were both supporters of the village churches. The assumption is that the marriage was frowned upon by the local community, but her father, William Cooper was a witness, as was Annie Musk.

    In the 1891 census they were living in Ivy Farm, High Street, Stetchworth - land that belonged to Francis Charles Granville Egerton, 3rd Earl of Ellesmere. Elizabeth's son from her first marriage, Edward, is shown as a butcher's assistant. James is also by then shown as a Master Butcher.

  • In the 1883 Kelly's directory Mrs. Elizabeth Drake is shown as owning two butchers shops, one in High Street, Stetchworth (most probably Ivy Farm), and the other in Market Place, Newmarket. By the 1892 Kelly's Directory the shop was just in Newmarket and is listed as James Musk, Market Street.

    If you refer to page with the details about Musk's shop in Market Street it would appear that Musk's had occupied the same building as the Co-operative Stores, obviously at different times. From the entry in Kelly's Directory it's known that James Musk had moved his shop to this location in the High Street by at least 1904 - so it would seem that after he moved out, the Co-op moved in, and according to a Co-op handbook from the time this would have been in 1899.

  • There are also some further details that may help in understanding when James actually moved into this shop in the High Street - if you refer to the Building Changes section below, building work was being done in 1903 - with changes to the shop and drainage alterations - all most probably needed to install a butchers.

  • James died on 13th December 1905, and according to his will he had become a very rich man - leaving money to his whole family, including all his step children. He must have been a very popular and important person in the area as a local newspaper at the time gave a long and detailed report of his funeral. There were so many mourners that not everyone could get into the church. James was buried at Dullingham church where he had become an important member of the congregation - his grave is very close to the church door, a sure sign of his high status and also close to his parents.

    James' step-son Louis Frederick Drake took over the shop in Newmarket which then became James Musk & Co.

    Many thanks to Peter Norman for the above photo

    Musk's became most notable for their variety of the Newmarket Sausage. These were highly sort-after and in 1907 the shop received its first Royal Warrant, granted by George, Prince of Wales, later to become King George V. This was later converted to the King’s Warrant in 1911 as suppliers of Pork Products. So famous was 'Musk's Butchers' that Stetchworth villagers claim pork and sausages were regularly produced and shipped to Buckingham Palace and Balmoral Castle by train.

    During WWII, when meat supplies ran low, Sandringham would send down their own pigs to be slaughtered and returned as meat and sausages. Hearsay has it that apparently every Friday throughout the war 1lb of "illicit" sausages (i.e. off the ration) were available to key customers from Jack Drake or Reg Human ... and of course on many occasions they would be from blue-blooded pigs.

    The business received further Royal Warrants in 1929 from Edward, Prince of Wales (later the Duke of Windsor), and 1965 from the late Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother .

    These various royal warrants can be seen on the shop front in the photo below:-

    Following James' death Elizabeth moved to live in No.6 All Saints Terrace, All Saint's Road, where she died on June 15th 1930 and was buried with her first husband (as was the tradition) at Stetchworth parish church.

    When Louis Frederick died on 23rd Jun 1928 the business passed on to his wife Agnes Annie Drake and subsequently when she died on 22nd August 1950 the shop passed on to their sons, Louis Gilbert Drake and William Edward Drake.

    Ancestry searches have shown that there was a third brother; Lionel John C Drake, thought to be known as 'Jack' - but from the above probate details by 1950 he doesn't seem to have been associated with the butchers.

    Note that throughout all this time that the family were still living at Ivy House Farm in Stetchworth. Musk's brand of Newmarket Sausages were mixed with their own secret range of spices and apparently originally Elizabeth Musk mixed these on her kitchen work-top in Ivy House.

    Further details about Ivy House and it's association with the Drakes and Musk's can be found on Jeff Fenton's Blogspot. Jeff lived for many years at the former farm house and has researched the fascinating story of the family in detail. Many thanks to Jeff for his contribution to this page and also the photo of the shop above.

  • Musk's shop in the High Street finally shut it’s doors on 26th May 1979 and the secret recipe was sold by auction to Amanda Clarke who, with her manager Mrs. Waddilove, established a new delicatessen in the then recently built Rookery Shopping Centre - No.1 ... just a few yards from where Elizabeth Drake had started her shop in Market Place almost 100 years earlier.

    In 1984 Heather Waddilove received the 4th Royal Warrant for the sausage recipe from Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother (trading as Greenstage Ltd.)

    The Delicatessen was sold in 1993 to Lord Ronaldshay, who three years later built the present Musk's factory in Goodwin Business Park, Willie Snaith Road (near Tesco) and subsequently split the two businesses, selling the shop to George Vesty. Shops in the Rookery don't seem to stay for long and the Delicatessen closed a few years after.

    In 1999 when Lord Ronaldshay moved back to Yorkshire the factory was sold to Chris Sheen and became Musk's® Limited, who still produce Newmarket sausages to the original recipe. A further Royal Warrant was granted by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in 2005, with deliveries being made to Sandringham in Norfolk at Christmas.

  • Musk's® is one of the EU registered brands of Newmarket Sausages, another being Powters® Ltd. - No.11 Wellington Street.

    On 15th November 2012, the 'Newmarket Sausage' received the European Commision's Protected Geographical Indications (PGI) status, the registration for this requiring the sausages to be produced within a very tightly closed geographical boundary surrounding Newmarket - 'from junction 37 on the A14, north on the A142 left at River Lane ....'. The sausage recipe is also controlled, although of course each shop has it's own variation on this.

  • It's not known exactly from where the recipe for Musk's® own brand of Newmarket sausage came from. Over many centuries a large number of butchers in Newmarket have produced sausages to varying recipes. But if you refer to the 1891 census for Wellington Street, Frank Edwin Musk (aka Edwin Frank Musk), James' younger brother, worked as a butcher's apprentice for Cunnington's butchers, alongside William John Harper - Grant Powter's great-grandfather. Powter's do attribute the origin of their recipe to William John Harper and his time at Cunnington's, so it would appear that Musk's recipe possibly came from the same source.

    Both Frank Edwin and James (and also another brother; Thomas Albert) worked for some time as butchers in London, so it seems likely that during that time the brothers evolved Cunnington's original recipe to eventually create their own unique variant of it.

    And let's not forget that even before the Musk brothers were butchers that Elizabeth Drake had been producing her own sausages for sale in Stetchworth, so there's probably also some contribution from her in its mix.

  • The case of the vanishing third storey

  • Underlying all the above changes of ownership throughout the years there's been a less than obvious structural change to this building, and it's not until you look carefully at all the various photos that what has changed becomes obvious.

    1890s - The first photo, from the 1890s, is of the building before Musk's moved in ... i.e. when it was George Bradfer's drapery shop. At this time it was only 2 storeys high, with two large dormer windows in the roof.

    1900s - Then the next photo is from the 1900s, presumably after 1903 (as this was when Musk's moved in). By then the building was 3 storeys high, and looks very much like it had been majorely re-built, with a new roof and bay windows added to the 1st floor.

    1947 - At that time nothing much had changed and the building was still 3 storeys high ... so the bombs that inflicted such great damage on the other side of the High Street hadn't had any influence here.

    2015 - Then we come to the present day and the building has mysteriously completely lost its upper storey ... though the 1st floor bay windows are still there. Presumably this truncation had occurred when the Nationwide Building Society acquired the building in 1979; as they probably didn't need the extra storey for living accommodation - but the outline planning details shown below don't mention this change.
    (If anyone can prove or refute this date please E-MAIL)

  • In conclusion, what we've ended up with is that another of Newmarket's fine buildings has been scarred in the name of development. And that once proud nameplate 'Southdown House', that's so visible in the Musk & Co. photo further up this page, has now been lost to history.





  • Building Changes

  • Planning Application - F/2002/475/ADI
    Application Received Fri 26 Jul 2002
    Application Validated Fri 26 Jul 2002
    Address Nationwide Building Society 49 High Street Newmarket.
    Proposal Replacement of ATM cash machine surround.
    Status Unknown
    Decision Approve with conditions

  • Planning Application - F/92/407
    Application Received Fri 18 Sep 1992
    Application Validated Fri 18 Sep 1992
    Address 49 High Street Newmarket Suffolk
    Proposal Alterations to shop front (Appeal Allowed)
    Status Unknown
    Decision Recommend Refusal

  • Planning Application - F/79/486/LB
    Application Received Wed 18 Jul 1979
    Application Validated Wed 18 Jul 1979
    Address 49 High Street Newmarket Suffolk
    Proposal Alteration to shopfront and interior As amended by letters dated 10/8/79 and 28/8/79 and drawing No NEW 2C received on 30/8/79
    Status Unknown
    Decision Application Approved

  • Planning Application - F/79/484/A
    Application Received Wed 18 Jul 1979
    Application Validated Wed 18 Jul 1979
    Address 49 High Street Newmarket Suffolk
    Proposal Non-illumined sign
    Status Unknown
    Decision Application Approved

  • Planning Application - F/79/483
    Application Received Wed 18 Jul 1979
    Application Validated Wed 18 Jul 1979
    Address 49 High Street Newmarket Suffolk
    Proposal Conversion into Building Society Branch Offices As amended by letters dated 10/8/79 and 28/8/79 and drawing No NEW 2C received on 30/8/79
    Status Unknown
    Decision Application Approved

  • Planning Application - F/79/164
    Application Received Tue 13 Feb 1979
    Application Validated Tue 13 Feb 1979
    Address 49-51 High Street Newmarket Suffolk
    Proposal C/USE from shop with residential upper to Building Society Branch
    Status Unknown
    Decision Approve with conditions

  • Suffolk Record Office, Bury St Edmunds Branch
    Newmarket Urban District Council Records
    Reference EF 506
    Alterations to shop, High St, for James Musk (Holland & Sons) EF 506/6/1/9/161 Jun 1903
    Drainage, house in High St, Newmarket, for James Musk (Holland & Sons) EF 506/6/1/9/172 Sep 1903

  • Many thanks to Peter Norman for the photo 'Newmarket High Street c.1900'.


Click on image to view full size

No.49-51 High Street

No.49-51 High Street

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