The Cricketers Beer Shop Eaton Bray
Surviving documents only show this as a public house in 1843 and 1844 but it seems likely that it was open from 1831 until 1850 or just before. In 1758 the building was sold by Joseph Whinnett to William Mead, a carpenter from Eaton Bray [MN15/1]. In 1826 his son, another William, and another carpenter, though living in Leighton Buzzard, mortgaged it [MN15/2]. He died in that same year and the cottage passed to his son, yet another William who remortgaged the property in 1828 [MN15/5]. The property was copyhold of the Manor of Eaton Bray and the court rolls describe it simply as a messuage in Eaton Bray with four butts of arable lying on the backside of the building and comprising about an acre. It was certainly not a licensed premises at this time as it does not appear in the countywide lists of licensed premises from 1822 to 1828 [CLP13].
In 1831 William Mead sold the property to Thomas Burr of Dunstable [MN15/6]. Burr was a brewer and had been plying his trade in Dunstable since at least 1806. It seems likely, therefore, that it was about this time that the private house became a public house. If it was called the Cricketers at this time it is a remarkably early reference – pre-dating the formation of the first county club, Sussex, by eight years and the great growth in the popularity of the game fostered by the creation of the travelling All England XI by fifteen years. Today the position, in Green Lane, seems out of the way but in the 1830s the property would have faced the Great Green and we can assume that cricket was being played on the area which, today, is still the recreation ground, as is labelled so as early as the inclosure map of 1860 [MA92].
Thomas Burr died in 1835 and left the Cricketers, as well as his brewery and all its tied premises to his nephew Edward Burr [MN15/9-10]. In 1840 Edward was admitted to the property [MN15/10] and it is still referred to simply as a messuage but it seems unlikely that it was not licensed by this time – descriptions in court rolls and deeds are often out of date and do not necessarily reflect the status of a building at the time.
In 1843 Edward Burr put his Dunstable Brewery up for sale by auction and The Cricketers Beershop, as it was called, was Lot 41 [BH409]. It comprised a parlour, a tap room, a washhouse, a cellar and three bedrooms. Outside stood a yard, a barn, a shed, a range of stabling, a wood lodge, a small garden and an orchard. The beershop also had: "a piece of capital arable land containing about an acre, lying in the Common Field … two common rights for one cow each, or one horse together". The annual rent was £14. This is the first explicit reference to the property being licensed.
The Cricketers was bought by its tenant George Abraham (also Abrahams), for £200 [MN15/11]. He had lived in the premises since at least 1831 [MN15/6], when he had shared it with Michael Puddefoot or Puddephatt, so the property was presumably then divided into two separate dwellings. George Abraham sold the property to David Abraham in 1850 for £280 and by that time it was described as formerly a public house called the Cricketers [MN15/13]. George Abraham is also described as formerly a victualler, now a farmer.
Whether the Cricketers was ever a public house is open to doubt. It is referred to as a beer shop (just that, an establishment selling beer but not spirits) in 1843 and a directory of 1847 refers to George Abraham simply as beer retailer indicating that he simply sold beer rather than running a fully licensed public house, which would have been referred to by name. The statement that it was a public house only comes in court rolls after it had closed and so may not be accurate. David Abraham sold the cottage to Lord of the Manor Arthur Macnamara in 1864 for £400 [MN15/20].
It is fortunate that the court rolls note that the land attached to the property was swapped for newly inclosed fields when Eaton Bray was inclosed in 1860. The two new inclosures are shown on the inclosure map [MA92] which also shows the building, which was in Green Lane. In 1915 the Manor of Eaton Bray was sold at auction, the former Cricketers with it. The sale particulars [Z214/1] are as follows:
A FREEHOLD SMALL HOLDING
5a. 3r. 37p.
Situate in “The Rye” at the Northern extremity of the Village of Eaton Bray, within a mile of Stanbridgeford Station on the Dunstable Branch of the London and North-Western Railway, equi-distant about fur miles from the market towns of Leighton Buzzard and Dunstable, and 11 miles from Hemel Hempstead. It includes
A Two-storied Dwelling House
Brick and half timber-built, with partly thatched and partly slated roof, containing Two Bed Rooms, Living Room, Kitchen, wash-house and Pantry, with Garden
Adjoining, timber and corrugated built, of Small Barn, Stable, Cart Shed and Loose Boxes, with Foldyard and
Two Grass Orchards and an Arable Field
One of the Orchards abutting upon the high road to Stanbridgeford and Leighton Buzzard
The property was let to Jeffrey Archer at a rent of £42 per annum. He bought the place at the auction for £420.
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. Eaton Bray, like most of the county, was assessed in 1927 and the valuer visiting the former Cricketers [DV1/C202/23] found it still owned and occupied by Jeffrey Archer who still had a small farm. The house comprised a living room, a kitchen, a scullery, a washhouse and two bedrooms which were “in the roof”. The valuer commented: “Lot of it” and “Poor place”. The farm buildings comprised a north block built of weather-boarding and corrugated iron and consisting of three loose boxes, a stable for three horses, another loose box and a large loose box; a north block, built of the same materials, comprised a stable, a small barn and two piggeries. An old brick and thatched cottage was also used as a store. Archer had 5.707 acres split into four fields – 2.532 acres, 1.342 acres, 1.422 acres and 0.157 of an acre all laid down as orchard “young trees at one end, others first class”
- MN15/1: admission of William Mead to the cottage: 1758;
- MN15/2-4: the cottage mortgaged by William Mead: 1826-1828;
- MN15/5: the cottage mortgaged: 1828;
- MN15/5-8: the cottage conveyed by William Mead to Thomas Burr: 1831;
- MN15/10: admission of Edward Burr to the cottage: 1840;
- BH409: sale catalogue: 1843;
- MN15/11-12: conveyance of the Cricketers to George Abraham: 1844;
- MN15/13-15: conveyance of the cottage from George Abraham to David Abraham: 1850;
- MN15/16-18: the cottage mortgaged: 1858;
- MN15/19-20: the cottage conveyed by David Abraham to Arthur Macnamara: 1864;
- MN15/21: the cottage mortgaged by Arthur Macnamara to Robert Arnold Wainwright: 1872.
Licensees: note that this is not a complete list and that dates in italics are not necessarily beginning or end dates, merely the first/last date which can be confirmed from sources such as directories and deeds:
1843-1847: George Abraham.