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The Cross Inn Beeston

Beeston Cross about 1920 [Z1306/99]
Beeston Cross about 1920 [Z1306/99]

The Beeston Cross Inn: 4 and 6 High Road, Beeston

The Beeston Cross, now just 4 and 6 High Road was listed by the former Department of Environment in December 1979 as Grade II, of special interest. The department dated the property to 1792, noting that a plaque on the building reads “GT 1792” – GT being Lord of the Manor of Beeston alias Beeston, Thorncote and Hatch, Godfrey Thornton. The building is red brick and comprises two storeys and attics and an old clay tile roof.

 Plaque on 4 High Road March 2010
Plaque on 4 High Road March 2010

It seems likely that the inn was named after a cross which stood on or near the Great North Road at this point. Such a medieval cross might well have survived into the 17th century. A conveyance forming part of the marriage settlement of Lord of the Manor Sir Thomas Bromsall in 1704 includes an inn called Beeston Cross, a home close of three acres, Riddy Close of three roods and two further acres of land, all in the occupation of  John Willes [H/WS806 and X177/1]. He must have bought the inn before 1689, when it was in the occupation of William Armitage [CRT130San15]. This shows that Godfrey Thornton either altered or completely rebuilt the Cross, perhaps after demolishing its predecessor, in 1796, he certainly did not create the inn.

Godfrey Thornton’s will stated that his estates in Mogerhanger and Beeston should be sold and this took place in 1857. The sale particulars [WG2539] described the Cross as follows:

LOT FOURTEEN

A Valuable Freehold Property
Situate at Beeston Cross, in the Parish of Sandy, and adjoining the Old North Road and Beeston Green
CONSISTING OF

The Old-established Public House

KNOWN AS

“THE BEESTON CROSS”Containing Two Parlors, Tap Room, Bar, Kitchen, Dairy, Cellar, Wash House, Brew House, Six Bed Rooms and Four Attics; with Coach House, Stabling, Pigsties, Cow House, Barn, Two Open Sheds, Poultry House, Cart-Horse Stable, Range of Stabling and Corn Chambers

A GOOD GARDEN AND GRASS CLOSE
containing 3 a. 0 r. 24 p. 

By the 1870s the inn was owned by brewers Day and Son of Saint Neots [Huntingdonshire]. John Day had purchased the brewery from William Fowler in 1814. By the 1870s the owner was William Cooper, who was also licensee and he continued to own the inn after giving up the licence. By 1900 Biggleswade brewers Wells and Winch Limited were owners. This firm was taken over by Suffolk brewers Greene King in 1961.

The Rating and Valuation Act 1925 specified that every building and piece of land in the country was to be assessed to determine its rateable value. The valuer visiting the Cross [DV1/C91/1] found it owned by Wells and Winch and tenanted by Mary Anne Sletcher who paid rent of £18 per annum, set in 1920.

The brick and tiled premises with “fairly good bars” comprised a bar, tap room and cellar, living room, kitchen and scullery with three bedrooms and an attic above. A urinal, a barn and an earth closet stood outside. Mains water was laid on.

Trade consisted of 1½ barrels of mild and nine gallons of bitter, half a gallon of spirits and three dozen bottles of beer per week. No doubt its position on the Great North Road boosted trade considerably. Takings were £9 per week.

Structural alterations were carried out in 1992 [PSBW8/4]. Some time after this and before the time of writing [2010] the Cross was closed and the buildings today are a private house.

4 to 6 High Road - the former Cross Inn March 2010
4 to 6 High Road - the former Cross Inn March 2010

References:

  • H/WS806 and X177/1: marriage settlement mentioning the Beeston Cross Inn: 1704;
  • AD2823-24: conveyance notes landlord of Beeston Cross as trustee: 1796;
  • CLP13: register of alehouse licences: 1822-1828;
  • CD1054: Thornton family settlement including -Beeston Cross Inn, garden and filbert orchard adjoining (1 acre 2rds 18p): 1831;
  • X612/85 and WG2539: sale catalogue: 1857;
  • HF143/1: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1872-1873;
  • HF143/2: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1874-1877;
  • HF143/3: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1878-1881;
  • HF143/4: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1882-1890;
  • HF143/5: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1891-1900;
  • GK1/33: prospectus for Wells & Winch shares, contracted to buy Beeston Cross for £1,250: 1900;
  • HF143/6: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1900-1914;
  • PSBW8/1: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1903-1915;
  • Z50/99/59: photograph: c. 1920;
  • X758/1/11/130: photograph: c. 1920;
  • PSBW8/2: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1956-1972;
  • PSBW8/4: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade and North Bedfordshire Petty Sessional Divisions: 1960s-1995;
  • Z53/96/5: photograph: 1960;
  • CRT130Sandy15: notes on the Beeston Cross, compiled 20th century

List of Licensees: note that this is not a complete list. Italics indicate licensees whose beginning and/or end dates are not known:

1704: Thomas Willes;
1796: Christopher Clarke;
1822-1828: John Bowers;
1857 Joseph Crisp;
1872: Edward John Barrence;
1872-1876: John Goode;
1876-1879: William Cooper;
1879-1886: Mark Hatton;
1886-1887: William Cooper
1887-1900: Charles Single;
1900-1904: George Berry;
1904-1913: William Sletcher;
1913-1928: Mary Ann Sletcher;
1931: William Scutchings;
1936: Robert Straffen Done;
1940: William Lewin Semmens;
1956-1958: James Cordell;
1958-1961: Albert Leslie Burton;
1961: Robert Frederick Edward Ross;
1961-1974: Geoffrey Derek Payne;
1974-1976: Jean Fidler;
1976-1980: Frank Alan France;
1980-1983: Robert Ernest Westgarth;
1983-1984: Francis McNiff;
1984-1985: Walter John Ellis;
1985-1989: Roy Munns;
1989-1993: Mary Keeshan;
1993-1995: Barry George and Sylvia Nancy Haslett

The side of 6 High Road Beeston - the former Cross Inn March 2010
The side of 6 High Road Beeston - the former Cross Inn March 2010