The Wheatsheaf Public House Aspley Guise
Wheatsheaf about 1925 [WL800/5]
The Wheatsheaf Public House: Mount Pleasant, Aspley Guise
The Wheatsheaf is first noted in a Directory in possession of Bedfordshire & Luton Archives & Records Service in 1864, run by James Britten. However, it is likely that it was around this date that it first became a public house, having previously been a beerhouse, certainly earlier directories list the following Brittens as beersellers:
1847: Mrs.Kitty Britten; 1850: Kitty Brittin; 1853: Kitty Britten; 1861: James Brittain; 1862: Kitty Britten.
This is the plan of the Wheatsheaf and attendant land from the 1900 sale catalogue [Ref.CRT130ASP16]
Today's building was erected some time between 1900 and 1902 (there is a break in licensees between 16 Nov 1900 and 10 Oct 1902). In 1900 the Bedford brewers Jarvis & Company purchased the existing public house at auction from the trustee of the will of Mary Britten, demolished it and rebuilt on the same site. The auction poster describes the old building thus:
"All that valuable freehold, old-established and fully-licensed free public house known as "The Wheatsheaf", well situate, adjoining Mount Pleasant Road, Aspley Guise, containing two Cellars in basement; Bar, Tap-room and Parlour on ground floor; Four Bed-rooms and Two Attics above, also the Brewhouse and Two Cottages adjoining, the latter being used as Washhouse and Dairy, with two Store-rooms over; also on the opposite side of the entrance to the Court-yard, a three-roomed COTTAGE let to Amos Bowler at 1s. 3d. per week, and a Coachhouse, and at the rear an enclosed FARM YARD, with ranges of timber and thatched buildings, including a Thrashing Barn, 2 Corn ditto, Stable, Cowhouse, Piggeries, Poultry House and Workshop, a PRODUCTIVE ORCHARD, with open Cattle Shed thereon, and a CAPITAL GARDEN, planted with choice fruit trees, the whole enclosing an area of ONE AND A-HALF ACRES, (more or less), with a frontage of 178 feet to Mount Pleasant Road. There is also a well of water with pump. This property has been in the occupation of members of the same family for many years, it is particularly well situate for trade, it stands back from the main road and is approached by a large Courtyard. It is especially adapted for carrying on the combined businesses of a publican and dealer. Outgoings: - Land tax at 5d. in the £ on the Annual Value. The fixtures and timber on this lot have been valued at £12 14s. 6d. An inventory will be produced at the time of sale".
The original set of buildings were probably built shortly after the land was purchased by Thomas Britten, yeoman, in April 1810. He died the following year leaving all his goods and land to his widow, Anne, who herself died in 1836. She left the Wheatsheaf to her executors in trust to raise £180 for her daughter-in-law, Kitty. The following mortgage deed of 1838 refers to the premises simply as a cottage in Kitty's occupation with three adjoining cottages and two ploughed closes totalling seven acres. Clearly Kitty ran the place as a beerhouse from at least 1847 but at what point it became so cannot be determined. In 1874 Alfred Britten (presumably Kitty's son though this is not certain) left the public house, as it now was, to his wife Mary, with their son George to inherit after her death. George, however, sold his interest in the pub to his uncle George during his mother's lifetime. When George the elder died his widow Ann then sold that interest back to Mary!
Charles Wells Limited purchased the Wheatsheaf, along with the other tied houses of Jarvis & Company when that company went into liquidation in 1917. At the time of writing (2005) the Wheatsheaf is still a public house and still owned by Charles Wells Limited.
In 1927 this part of Bedfordshire was valued under the terms of the Rating Valuation Act 1925; every piece of land and property was inspected to determine the rates to be paid on it. At this time the building consisted of a tap room, bar, kitchen, scullery, larder and pantry downstairs, with a cellar containing 3 eighteen gallon barrels of beer beneath. Upstairs were four bedrooms and outside a stable, coachhouse and trap house. Trade consisted of selling one eighteen gallon barrel of beer per week and a gallon of spirits a month. Four dozen bottle of beer were also sold in a week. The valuer noted "House very good but trade does not warrant more that £24". Rent was then £12 per annum. The valuer noted that the Wheatsheaf was the only public house at this end of the village. Intriguingly he also noted that the tenant was "not so good as might be" (he left next year).
The modern photograph was taken in February 2006. The Wheatsheaf closed in 2011 and at the time of writing  is derelict though the back garden has been ploughed up and the fencing removed suggesting building work is likely to take place on the plot.
List of Licensees: note that this is not a complete list. Entries in italics refer to licencees whose beginning and/or end dates are not known:
before 1847-1862: Kitty Britten;
1864-1869: James Britten;
1877-1900: Mrs.Mary Britten;
1900: Charles Matthews Turney;
1900: George William Norman;
1902-1903: Harry Lawson;
1903-1909: Thomas Henry Hayter;
1909-1911: John Edward Jerham
1911-1923: Thomas Lack;
1923-1928: John Harris;
1928-1943: Edward Walter Long;
1943-1953: Amy Long
1976: Leslie Basil Martin;
1976: Derek Laurence Hird
List of sources at Bedfordshire & Luton Archives & Records Service:
- CRT130ASP16: notes on history of site 1761-1836 including note of probable building by Thomas Britten c.1810 and that it was pulled down and rebuilt by Charles Wells & Company c.1900;
- SF2/3/1-2: sale of furniture, farming implements at public house: 2 Nov 1859;
- PSW3/1: Register of Alehouse Licences - Woburn Petty Sessional Division: 1868-1949;
- Z804/10/2: conveyance of 26 perches nearby from John Gregory White to James Brandon Barnwell: 17 Nov 1894;
- CRT130ASP16: sale poster: 24 Aug 1900;
- Z818/10: postcard: c.1910;
- Z804/10/2: conveyance of 26 perches nearby from Frank Daniel Barnwell, William John Barnwell and Clara Emily Sarah Sheard to F.D., W.J. and Clement James Barnwell: 5 May 1924;- WL800/5: photograph taken for Charles Wells Limited: c.1925;
- WL801/80: negative of WL800/5;
- PSW3/2: Register of Alehouse Licences - Woburn Petty Sessional Division: 1949-1953;
- Z1105/1: Liquor Licence Traders Survey Form: 1959;
- PCAspleyGuise30/8: transfer of licence: 1976;
- WL722/80: article on in Pintpot, magazine of Charles Wells Limited: 1994;
- PCAspleyGuise34/1/35: photograph of walkers in yard: 1999.