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The Swan Inn Flitwick

The former Swan Inn about 1900
The former Swan Inn about 1900

The Swan Inn: 1 Church Road, Flitwick

The Gables is a most attractive old property with a fascinating history. It was listed in January 1961 by the Ministry of Works as Grade II, of special interest. The listing dates the house to about 1600. It is timber-framed with red brick infill and some parts of the ground floor are encased in a brick skin. There is colour-washed render to the rear and one side elevation and the roof is composed of clay tiles. The property has two storeys.

The first historical reference to the property is in 1663 when Godfrey Chybnale of Pytchley [Northamptonshire] and Elizabeth his wife conveyed Crouches Farm, the Swan and an adjoining close of five acres as well as other property to Richard Kynnesman of Broughton [Northamptonshire] and Thomas Weeden of Wiggington [Hertfordshire] [LL17/54-55]. These two men were probably trustees as in 1668 Chybnale and his wife mortgaged Crouches Farm and the Swan to Elizabeth Mordaunt of Great Harrowden [Northamptonshire] for £400 [LL17/56]. In 1676 Chybnale and his wife Elizabeth conveyed the Swan and other property and land to George Collop of Gray’s Inn, London [LL17/61-64]. Elizabeth Chybnale was daughter of Reynold Collop of Flitwick, deceased. Around this time the Swan was a favoured haunt of highwaymen.

The next mention of the Swan is in 1733 and at that date it had been divided into two halves by the will of John Collop, son of George. One half was devised to Rowland Walker. The other half of the property had been vested in the will of John Collop (son of George) in Elizabeth Reeves for her life with remainder to Thomas Day, for life then to Elizabeth Lamb for life, then to be divided into quarters between Arthur Hucks, Ann Hucks, Elizabeth Hucks and Mary Lamb, who were all children of Elizabeth Lamb.

It was Humphrey Dell of Flitwick who brought the Swan and the other Flitwick properties back into one ownership. Be bought Rowland Walker’s half share in 1741 [LL17/73-74] and that of Ann and Elizabeth Hucks in 1757 [LL17/76-77]. In his will of 1764 Humphrey Dell devised his Flitwick property to trustees for his Goddaughter Ann Fisher, then aged seven [LL1/143]. Ann was to marry George Brooks and the Swan remained in the Brooks family until it ceased to be an inn and then on into the 20th century when it had become a private house.

It is possible that the Swan was rwenamed the Butcher's Arms for a while. The countywide licensing register of 1822 has no listing for the Swan in Flitwick, just the Butcher's Arms, the Blackbirds and the Crown [CLP13]. The register for 1823 has the Swan, the Blackbirds and the Crown. Moreover the licensee of the Butcher's Arms in 1822 is given as Richard Brinklow and the licensee of the Swan in 1823 as Richard Brinkler. Henry Brinkler was licensee in 1853 but died either in that year or the next, being succeeded by his wife Phoebe. In 1865 she was given notice to quit [SFM3/262] and her goods were sold at auction [SF20/28/1].

In 1872 the Flitwick Estate was held by Mary, the mother of John Hatfield Brooks. This meant that, having no property qualification of his own, he was unable to vote at elections. Consequently his mother agreed to convey the Swan to him to give him the necessary qualification [HN2/B3/35]. In 1881 Brooks leased the Swan to Bedford brewer Charles Wells for 21 years at a rent of £25 per annum [LL17/184]. The lease has a bill for repairs undertaken in 1882 affixed to it. The lease was surrendered in 1900. Longstanding tenant James Richardson left the inn in 1895 and a sale of his goods was held [SF20/100].

In 1899 the license was removed from the building [HN2/B3/76/4] because Charles Wells gave up the lease and bought a site for a new public house, which would also be called the Swan, a short distance away [HN2/B3/76/8].The old Swan Inn was then renamed The Gables.

1 Church Road April 2017
1 Church Road April 2017

Sources:

  • LL17/54-55: conveyance: 1663;
  • LL17/56: mortgage: 1668;
  • LL1/86/1-2 and LL17/61: conveyance: 1676;
  • HSA1678/W/58: landlord gives evidence against a horse thief: 1678
  • HSA1679/W/51: highwaymen at the inn: 1679;
  • HSA1679/W/49: highwaymen at the inn: 1679;
  • LL17/73-74: conveyance of half share: 1741;
  • LL17/76-77: conveyance of half share: 1757;
  • LL1/143: devised in a will: 1764;
  • SFM3/262: notice to quit: 1865;
  • SF20/28/1: sale of former tenant’s goods: 1865;
  • HN2/B3/35: conveyance: 1872;
  • LL17/184: lease to Charles Wells: 1881;
  • LL17/184: bill for repairs: 1882;
  • SF20/100: sale of leaving tenant’s goods: 1895;
  • HN2/B3/76/4: de-licensing of the public house: 1899.

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

1678-1679: William Chapman;
1733: James Hodgson;
1757: John Howson;
1823-1824: Richard Brinkler;
1825-1853: Henry Brinkler;
1854-1865: Phoebe Brinkler;
1869-1895: James Richardson;
1895-1899: William Joy 

Public house closed 1899 and license transferred to a new Swan Public House