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The Ram Inn Bedford

51 High Street showing the entrance to Ram Yard May 2009
51 High Street showing the entrance to Ram Yard May 2009

The Ram Inn: 47-51 High Street and Ram Yard, Bedford

This inn seems to have closed about two hundred years ago yet its name lives on in the narrow thoroughfare between the High Street and Castle Lane still called Ram Yard. The first reference to it is in a will of 1533 when Thomas Knight devised it to his wife Joan and, after her death, to his granddaughter Joan West. In about 1700 a hagable roll for Bedford (in other words a roll showing property ownership) the inn was described as belonging to a William Beckett and including an orchard, dovehouse, barn and garden [Fac8/1]. In 1710 William Beckett's daughter married and the Rose Inn was part of her marriage settlement, which notes that Beckett also owned the Ram [R6/5/2/23].

An abstract of title to 49 High Street was deposited with Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records service in 1995 by Nationwide Building Society [Z890/7]. This states that in 1719 a third share of the Ram and buildings to the south was mortgaged by John Darling to secure a loan of £20 from Edward Wales.  Darling's father George had bought the properties, from Mrs. Paradine, John Russh and Franklin. On his death George left the properties equally to his three children John, Mary and William. After Wales' death the mortgage was assigned by his trustees to Thomas Woodward and Thomas Vincent in 1722.

Sadly, the abstract does not follow the ownership of the property through but skips ahead to 1828 when a third part of it was owned by one John Bull of Bedford, jeweller and silversmith when he mortgaged it for £600. The property is then described as being bounded north by the messuage or tenement formerly of William Smith, but afterwards of John Gillham lately called the Ram Inn. This suggests that the Ram had occupied the site today occupied by 51 High Street and probably that part of 53 without the ornamental facade. By that date the inn had clearly closed, which is confirmed by the fact that it is not noted on the countywide return of alehouse licences dating from 1822 to 1828 [CLP13]. The last known mention of the Ram is when run by William Smith in 1804.

 High Street entrance to Ram Yard May 2009
High Street entrance to Ram Yard May 2009

At some point the old building was demolished and the properties occupying the site today were built. The Ordnance Survey map of 1881 shows much the same footprint as today and so the old Ram must have been pulled down before that date.

References:

  • ABP/R 3f.106d: will of Thomas Knight: 1533;
  • WL184: abuttal in a deed: 1698;
  • Fac8/1: hagable roll for Bedford: c.1700;
  • R6/5/2/23: abuttal in a marriage settlement: 1710;
  • Z890/7A: Mortgage: 1719;
  • R6/5/2/25: noted as abutting the Rose Inn directly to the north: 1725;
  • CRT130Bed155: John Cumberland, innkeeper buried: 4 Jul 1752;
  • QSR1753/31: alehouse licence: 1753;
  • Bedfordshire Parish register Series: John Cumberland, innholder buried: 4 Jul 1754;
  • Bedfordshire Parish register Series: Elizabeth Cumberland, widow, innholder buried: 23 Dec 1759;
  • WL365: conveyance of two pieces of garden formerly belonging to the Ram: 1766;
  • X420/0: abuttal in a deed: 1777;
  • Z890/7A: mortgage: 1828  

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:

1719: Richard Sherman;
1752-1754: John Cumberland;
1759: Elizabeth Cumberland;
1785-1804: William Smith