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The Dog Inn Cople

the former Dog Inn February 2008
The former Dog Inn February 2008

Dog Inn, Bedford Road, Cople

Dog Farm lies just north of Bedford Road. For over a century it was also an inn. The earliest reference to it as an inn is in 1719 when Francis Brace agreed to sell it to John Pearson [R6/14/9/1]. This duly happened the following year when the Cople Dog, as it was called in the 18th century, along with four acres split into two closes adjoining the inn, was sold for £105. The Dof was occupied by Robert Samuel [R6/14/9/2]. In his will of 1733 Pearson left the Dog to his brother Thomas [R6/14/9/3]. He died and his will was proved later that year. By 1753 the Dog was still owned by Thomas Pearson and he sold it, along with five acres of land in Cople, to Robert Butcher, steward to the Duke of Bedford, for £230 [R6/14/9/16]. The dog ws noted as formerly occupied by Robert Samuel, now by Robert Larkins. The following year the Dog and a quantity of land was sold by Butcher to his master, John, 4th Duke of Bedford [R6/14/9/20].

By 1822 the Dog was kept by John Gudgin, also the farmer at Dog Farm, who died in 1835 and left a will [ABP/W1835/15]. His wife Elizabeth took over the running of the inn and two years later her landlord, the Duke of Bedford, owner of both inn and farm, was considering terminating her tenancy for misconduct. His steward wrote [R3/4010]: "The Duke cannot act in a drunken affray". The next reference in the Duke's steward's correspondence to the Dog is later in the year when he notes that nothing had yet been done about the tenancy [R3/4029]. The final reference indicates that no action was likely to be taken against Elizabeth Gudgin "without mature consideration". The steward also noted that Richard Gudgin, the farmer, made all his labourers buy their beer at The Dog [R3/4036]. In no records held by Bedfordshire & Luton Archives & Records Service is a brewer linked with the Dog, implying that it brewed its own beer.

Such a tied arrangement did Richard Gudgin no good, however. In the Bedfordshire Times of 26th July 1851, his bankruptcy was recorded; he was described as a licensed victualler and cattle dealer. The judge noted that: "This was a case where all had been sacrificed for the benefit of one creditor". Gudgin stated that: "he had a large family, which had been affected by severe illness". Gudgin's main creditor was Charles Higgins junior who had lent him money to clear his debts. The 1851 census confirms that he did have a relatively large family, the residents of Dog Farm being:

  • Richard Gudgin, head, married, 38, licensed victualler and farmer of 60 acres of land, born Cople
  • Jane Gudgin, married, 40,  farmer's wife, born Bedford
  • Francis Gudgin, son, 9, scholar, born Hitchin [Hertfordshire]
  • Jane Elizabeth Gudgin, daughter, 8, scholar, 8, born Hitchin
  • Mary Ann Gudgin, daughter, 7, scholar, born Hitchin,
  • Fanny Gudgin, daughter, 4, scholar, born Hitchin
  • Richard Gudgin, son, 18 months, born Cople
  • Millicent Markram, servant, 20, house servant, born Alconbury [Huntingdonshire]
  • William Worrell, servant, 16, unmarried, farm servant, born Cople

The Bedfordshire Times of 13th September that year duly noted that the licence of the Dog had been transferred from Richard Gudgin to John Harris. He was still at the Dog in 1884, the Bedfordshire Mercury of 27th September that year recorded: "The Recent Fire - As a mark of his appreciation of the services of the Bedford Fire Brigade at the recent fire at Cople Dog, Mr.Harris has sent each member of the Brigade a present of game".

It was around this time that the inn must have closed. It is not recorded in any directory after 1871, Harris, and later George Pruden being simply listed as farmer, or cattle dealer and farmer, at Dog Farm.

The Rating Valuation Act 1925 called for every building and piece of land in the country to be assessed to determine the rates to be paid on it. The valuer visiting Dog Farm [DV1/H36/62] noted that it was owned by the trustees of G.Pruden and occupied by G.Pruden and Son. The farm comprised two cottages, as well as the farm buildings and 90 acres of land. The valuer noted "Excellent land. Meadows by brook flood. Good House. A very lettable holding". He also noted: "House probably valued as a private House. Now used as a farm absolutely. Pruden senior was in the corn trade a traveller for Rogers I think". The house comprised three reception rooms, a kitchen, scullery and dairy downstairs with four bedrooms and a boxroom above.

The homestead comprised a coach house and hay stable, a two stall stable used as piggeries, a three stall stable and chaff place, an open hovel, four cow sheds, a two bay hovel, a barn ("v.small"), a three bay barn used as piggeries, two loose boxes used as a chaff house, two piggeries, two hen houses, a five bay cart shed, a cistern, a nursing house and a shed.

The former Department of Environment listed Dog Farm as Grade II, of special interest, deeming it to be an early 19th century building, which must have replaced the 18th century inn. It is built of yellow brick with a hipped slate roof. It has a symmetrical double-pile plan of two storeys with a single storey service wing projecting to the rear and flat-roofed 20th century single storey addition also to the rear.

Index References:

  • R6/14/9/1-2: sale: 1719-1720;
  • R6/14/9/3: will of John Pearson: 1732;
  • R6/14/9/15-16: conveyance: 1753;
  • R6/14/9/19-20: conveyance: 1754;
  • CLP13: register of alehouse licences: 1822-1828;
  • PSB1/1: licensees: 1829-1834;
  • ABP/W1835/15: will of John Gudgin: 1835;
  • R3/4010: drunken affray at the Dog: 1837;
  • R3/4029: nothing yet done about Dog tenancy: 1837;
  • R3/4036: should only act on Dog tenancy after mature consideration: 1837;
  • Bedfordshire Times: Richard Gudgin bankrupt (Court case & letter): 26th July 1851;
  • Bedfordshire Times: Bedford Petty Sessions - licence transferred: 13th September 1851;
  • Bedfordshire Mercury: Fire at Dog: 27th September: 1884  

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:

1720: Robert Samuel;
1753: Robert Larkins;
1822-1835: John Gudgin;
1835-1849: Elizabeth Gudgin;
1849-1851 Richard Gudgin;
1851-1885: John Harris (also cattle dealer and farmer);
1890-1894 George Pruden ‘Dog Farm’.