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The Sun Public House Eaton Bray

The former Sun is marked by a red dot - postcard about 1915 [Z50/39/39]
The former Sun is marked by a red dot - postcard about 1915 [Z50/39/39]

The Sun Public House: 51 High Street, Eaton Bray

Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service has only one document referring to this public house. In December 1867 a number of properties of an unnamed individual were put up for sale by the mortgagees suggesting either that the owner had died or has become insolvent [BML10/22/2]. The particulars describe the Sun thus:

THE
“SUN” PUBLIC HOUSE
AND
10 COTTAGES
SITUATE AT
EATON BRAY, BEDS

The “Sun” Public House has recently been built in a most substantial manner in the centre of the town of Eaton Bray, and contains a capital Cellar. The House is of brick, and covered with slates, as is also one newly-erected Cottage adjoining; now in the occupation of MR. JOSEPH ROW, at a rental of £5 17s. 0d. per annum.

Adjoining the House is a Small Brewhouse and Stable, and in the rear are 9 Cottages, 6 of them being slated, and 3 thatched; in the occupation of MR. THOMAS WOOD and others, at a gross Rental of £32 3s. 6d. per annum.

Sadly there is no surrounding documentation giving the name of the owner or the buyer making tracing this property very difficult. The particulars state that it has been “recently built”. No directory of the period (1862, 1864 or 1869) mentions a Sun public house. It is possible that the property, although here called a public house was, in fact, a beerhouse – beerhouses are not named in directories, the proprietor is merely listed as “beer retailer” or “beer seller”.

The licensed premises probably closed in 1867 or shortly after the sale. Certainly the countywide licensing register of 1876 (which does name both public houses and beerhouses) lists no Sun in Eaton Bray.

51 High Street and its nine cottages to the rear in 1880
51 High Street and its nine cottages to the rear in 1880

The only guess we can make is around the fact that the Sun had nine cottages behind, three thatched and six slated. The property today numbered 51 High Street is shown on an Ordnance Survey 25 inches to the Mile 1st edition map of 1880 with one block of three and one block of six properties to the rear of the house facing the street and at right angles to it (all shown in green on the map above). Another supporting piece of evidence for this being the Sun is that the main block on the road is divided into three, accounting for (a) the Sun, (b) the adjoining cottage and (c) the adjoining brewhouse and stable all mentioned in the sale particulars – thus the Sun would be the property in the middle of the three.

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. The valuer visiting 51 High Street [DV1/C202/106] found it vacant, but owned by S. Copperwaite. The rent had been £12 per annum for three living rooms, three sculleries and three bedrooms above. A brick, weather-boarded and slated coal shed and WC stood outside. The valuer commented: “Was 3 cottages” which would make sense if the brewhouse and stable had been converted into a cottage after the closure of the pub. The property seems to survive (though much altered) – today’s 51 High Street seems once to have been three cottages, traces of blocked up doors being very faintly visible at the right hand side and in the front elevation.

51 High Street July 2012
51 High Street July 2012