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The Chequer Inn Elstow

The Chequer Inn, High Street, Elstow

Bedfordshire & Luton Archives & Records Service has a run of deeds for this public house [W3749-3764]. However, the first reference to the inn is in the Augmentation Accounts for Bedfordshire. These accounts were of property formerly owned by religious houses which had been dissolved. In the case of The Chequer this was, of course, Elstow Abbey, dissolved in 1539. The accounts date from 1542 and The Chequer was then in the occupation of William Jurden whose rent was twelve pence per annum. The accounts were published by Bedfordshire Historical Record Society in 1984 and 1985 as Volumes 63 and 64 - Augmentation Accounts I and Augmentation Accounts II.

The Chequer was conveyed by feoffment in 1664 by John Ward of Elstow to Joseph Stevens of Elstow, yeoman, for £12; it was then described as abutting on the King's highway to the east [W3749]. The very next day Stevens made the property leasehold (to be held of Saint John's Hospital, Bedford) by assigning it to Mary Harrington for £11 for 1,000 years [W3750]. This is the last mention of the property as being called the Chequer. Mary Harrington assigned the property to her father Anthony in 1672. When Anthony Harrington died in 1698 his executor and his heirs, his daughter and his granddaughters, assigned the property to Thomas Stoakes of Kempston, mason for £13 [W3751].

In 1725 the property adjoining the Chequer was conveyed to George Allen of Elstow, tailor [W2830]. Allen's acquisition is described as abutting west on the common green, east on the King's highway, north on a tenement of the heirs of William Hillersdon and south on the Chequer. This may be evidence that the Chequer was still in business in 1725 but abuttals in deeds are not always reliable and can refer back to something which was true once but was so no longer. Allen's house had previously belonged to Thomas Bonyan, John Bunyan's grandfather.

Stoaks devised all his property in his will to his widow Sarah, who, in 1736 assigned the property to John Tysum of Kempston, labourer for £25 [W3754]. Tysum assigned the cottage to Edward Chapman of Bedford, currier, in 1778 for £25 [W3755]and he, in his will of 1808 (proved in 1812) assigned the property in trust for his son Edward [W3756], who assigned it to Elizabeth Denyer for £80 in 1824 [W3757]. Elizabeth clearly married Charles Berrill because in 1835 Charles and Elizabeth Berrill mortgaged the property for £150 to Thomas Green of Bedford, grocer [W3759]. The mortgage was assigned to Harriet Leach in 1841 at which time a further £75 was borrowed.

The mortgage was paid off in 1852 when Harriet Leach and Elizabeth Berrill, widow, assigned the premises to Robert Thorp of Bedford, laceman. The cottage had been "altered and enlarged, rebuilt and improved" by Charles Berrill, Elizabeth Berrill and James Butcher and was then described as abutting west on the village green and east on the public street [W3761]. Thorp's sons and widow assigned the property to Samuel Charles Whitbread in 1871 for £235 [W3762].

References:

  • W3749: feoffment: 1664;
  • W3750: assignment: 1664;
  • W3751: assignment: 1698;
  • W3752: copy will of Anthony Harrington: 1697;
  • W3753: copy will of Thomas Stoaks: 1724, proved 1734;
  • W2830: Chequer referred to in a deed: 1725;
  • W3754: assignment: 1736;
  • W3755: assignment: 1778;
  • W3756: will of Edward Chapman: 1808, proved 1812;
  • W3757: assignment: 1824;
  • W3759: mortgage: 1835;
  • W3761: assignment: 1852;
  • W3762: assignment: 1871.

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

1542: William Jurden;
1664: Richard Maior.