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The Golden Eagle Public House Bedford

Elevations of the new Golden Eagle in 1888
Elevations of the new Golden Eagle in 1888 [WL713]

The Golden Eagle Public House: 34 Castle Lane, Bedford

It is unclear at what date the Golden Eagle was first licensed. In the Middle Ages the site was part of the area of the bailey north of the motte of Bedford Castle. Deeds to the house begin in 1778 when John and Ann Starey of London conveyed it to Robert Robins of Bedford. The property was, at this date, clearly just a cottage (which was described as now divided into two). It had previously been owned by Ann Starey's father and mother Francis and Sarah Henderson, Sarah having inherited it from her grandmother Margaret Haines, presumably early in the 18th century [AT1692/2]. Robert Robins demolished the old cottage and built a new one on the site [ST1692/6] which he left to his daughter Rebecca who, as Rebecca Brace, widow, conveyed it to Bedford widow Jenny Johnson in 1818 following an auction [ST1692/4].

 The Golden Eagle about 1975
The Golden Eagle about 1975 [Z1091/6/12A/38]

In 1841 Jenny Johnson sold the cottage to a man named Griffin Cant, from Upper Caldecote in the parish of Northill [ST1692/6]. He was described as a brewer and as being already the tenant of the cottage. This seems to imply that he was using it as a beerhouse but the deeds still simply refer to it as a cottage. Three years later Cant sold the premises, still simply described as a cottage, to another brewer, John Hill Day of Saint Neots [Huntingdonshire] [ST1692/8]. The cottage was definitely a beerhouse called the Golden Eagle in 1858 as, in a conveyance by John Hill and Mary Day to Francis Day it is so described [ST16892/9].

Ground floor plan of the Golden Eagle in 1888 
Ground floor plan of the Golden Eagle in 1888 [WL713]

Francis Day died in 1863 leaving his son, Frank, as his heir. Frank was then just two years old [ST1692/9]. In 1888 Frank Day sold the Golden Eagle to Bedford brewer Charles Wells for £400 [ST1692/10] and Wells immediately set about improving the property [WL713 and BorBP1820]. In 1973 a medieval lime kiln was discovered just north of the Golden Eagle. It was probably used between 1216 and 1224 when the defences of BedfordCastle were improved. The Golden Eagle was sold by Charles Wells to Bedford Borough Council in 1975 [DC/NB/E2367/1/8]. Shortly after the public house, as it had by now become, was demolished. In 2007 work began on the present [2009] apartments called Castle Quay which cover the site both of the lime kiln and the Golden Eagle.

 Looking down Castle Lane to the site of the Golden Eagle May 2009
Looking down Castle Lane to the site of the Golden Eagle May 2009

References:

  • ST1692/1-2: conveyance of a cottage from John and Ann Starey to Robert Robins: 1778;
  • ST1692/3-4: conveyance of a newly built cottage from Rebecca Brace to Jenny Johnson: 1818;
  • ST1692/5-6: conveyance of a cottage from Jenny Johnson to Griffin Cant: 1841;
  • ST1692/8: conveyance of a cottage from Griffin Cant to John Hill Day: 1844;
  • ST1692/9: abstract of title of Frank Day to the Golden Eagle: 1887;
  • ST1692/10: conveyance of the Golden Eagle from Frank Day to Charles Wells: 1888;
  • DC/NB/E2367/1/8: abstracted conveyance of beerhouse by Frank Day to Charles Wells: 1888;
  • WL713: proposed alterations to the Golden Eagle: 1888;
  • BorBP1820: rebuilding plans: 1888;
  • Z1091/6/12A/38: photograph of Castle Lane showing Golden Lion: 1964;
  • DC/NB/E2367/1/8: abstracted sale by Charles Wells Limited to Bedford Borough Council: 1975

List of Licensees: note that this is not a complete list; entries in italics refer to licensees where either beginning or end, or both, dates are not known:

1858: James Payne;
1876: Mrs Payne;
1890-1898: Charles Gear;
1898: Edward Gilbert Palmer;
1931-1936: Henry O'Conner;
1936-1955: Arthur J. Higgins;
1957: Reginald F. Sanders