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The Easy Chair Beerhouse Girtford

The Easy Chair Beerhouse: Great North Road, Girtford

The countywide register of alehouse licences of 1876, when the Easy Chair Beerhouse was owned by Joseph Triplow of Girtford and leased to Charles Maulden at Eaton Socon, states that the building was first licensed in 1860.

In 1867 the Easy Chair was Lot 9 in an auction sale of land in Chalton (Mogerhanger) and Girtford. The conditions of sale [WG2546] note that the title to the Easy Chair came from a conveyance in 1823 between Ann Adams, widow, the vendor, Joseph Margetts Pearson (probably her trustee), Henry Turner Smith (probably the purchaser) and James Sutton, victualler (probably his trustee, Sutton was owner of The Greyhound Public House in Sandy). The description [WG2546] was as follows:

FREEHOLD PROPERTY
Situate at Girtford, Beds., comprising a Brick-built and Tiled
BEER HOUSE, KNOWN AS THE “EASY CHAIR”,

Containing 8 Rooms also a Wood-built and Pan-tiled Stable and Wood Barn, with Onion Loft, Closet and Well of good Water, having an extensive frontage to the High Street, together with 1 acre, 0 rood, 20 poles of Capital Garden Land at the back, as the same is bounded on the North by Property of Mr. Joseph Triplow, East by the Estate of the late F. Pym, Esq., and South by that of Mr. William Cooper, and now in tenure of Mr. Ebenezer Malden or his under-tenant.

Malden was a brewer at Eaton Socon who had commenced business in 1833. He would have had a licensee running the beerhouse. Presumably the Easy Chair was sold to Joseph Triplow as he was shown as owner in the Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division Licensing Register commencing in 1872 [HF143/1].

A sad little newspaper report of 14th April 1883 mentioned the Easy Chair. It read as follows: "FREAK OF NATURE: On Thursday evening last among a nest of kittens belonging to Mr. C. Blain of the Easy Chair Inn, Girtford, was found one with two bodies, one head, two mouths, two tongues, two eyes, two tails, and eight distinct legs. The kitten did not live long".

In 1902 the brewery begun by Ebenezer Malden was sold by his grandchildren. The particulars included five licensed premises including the lease of the Easy Chair, still owned by the Triplow family, which is described [WG2594] as follows:

“THE EASY CHAIR” BEERHOUSE, GIRTFORD

On the Great North Road, near Sandy, containing Tap Room, Parlour and Kitchen, cellar and Bed Rooms, Stable and Loft, Barn and extensive Market Garden.

Let to Mr. James Odell, at a rent of £20.

LEASEHOLD, for a term of 21 years from Michaelmas, 1889, at an Annual rent of £35.

The countywide register of alehouse licences of 1903 reveals that  the nearest licensed house was 52 yards away, that the Easy Chair needed repairing and that it had two front and two back doors. By 1904 the lesees were Biggleswade brewers Wells & Winch. The 1903 register notes that the nearest licensed building to the Wheatsheaf Beerhouse, 70 London Road, was 52 yards away - indicating that the Wheatsheaf and Easy Chair were mutual closest neighbours.

This raises the intriguing possibility that the Easy Chair was the property on the site of the modern 74 London Road - the distance is right and, in 1927, the owner was Mrs. S. Triplow. 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. Sandy. Like most of Bedfordshire, was assessed in 1927 and the valuer visiting the property found it occupied by market gardener F. Davison (annotated W. Thurley - perhaps davison's employee) who paid rent of £50 per annum including farm buildings and just over half an acre of land.

The brick and slate, detached property comprised two reception rooms, a kitchen, a scullery and pantry and four bedrooms above, one with a bath and w. c. Sadly there was no cellar, which is specifically mentioned in the 1902 sale particulars, it may be there really was not one, in which case this property is probably not the former Easy Chair, or it may be that the valuer omitted it in error, which is not unknown. Outside stood an office measuring 11 feet 6 inches by 10 feet, a w. c. and a coal shed. Another hand has written: "?Barn used as garage".

Davison also rented a range of "very good" farm buildings comprising two old onion drying lofts, each of seven tiers and built of timber and slate, an old timber and thatched barn, a seven bay cart shed with an onion loft over built of timber and tiles, an old brick, timber and tiled varn, a two tier onion loft, a brick, timber and tiled stable with four stalls, a loose box, a cow shed, a stable and a barn - "All old buildings".

In many ways a better candidate for the location of the Easy Chair would be neighbouring property 72 London Road. It was also owned by Mrs. S. Triplow and was occupied by Charles Odell. It is possible that this is either the same man as the George Charles Odell who was licensee of the Easy Chair in 1906 or a relative. The valuer described it as comprising eight rooms (like the 1867 description) – two living rooms, a kitchen, a scullery and four bedrooms. There were also two cellars. Outside were: a w. c.; an old timber and tiled barn; an old timber and tiled shed; a double and single stall brick and slate stable and a wood and corrugated iron two bay shed. The valuer commented: “Old house”. Behind lay 1.006 acres of market gardening land, also owned by Mrs. Triplow and leased by Charles Odell – a little less than the 1 acre 20 poles noted in 1867. Sadly, however, 72 London Road is much less than 52 yards from the site of the Wheatsheaf so, unless this figure is inaccurate, it would seem to rule the premises out.

The last reference to the beerhouse is in 1906 when Charles George Odell became licensee. He is not mentioned in the next Kelly’s Directory for Bedfordshire, that of 1910, and so the beerhouse may have closed by that date. Alternatively another, unknown, licensee may have taken over. A number of beerhouses in Bedfordshire closed around the time of the Great War, particularly in 1917, and the fact that neither licensing register covering the period [HF143/6 and PSBW8/1] mentions closure might indicate that it occurred around 1917.

References:

  • WG2546: sale particulars: 1867;
  • HF143/1: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1872-1873;
  • HF143/2: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1874-1877;
  • HF143/3: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1878-1881;
  • HF143/4: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1882-1890;
  • HF143/5: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1891-1900;
  • HF143/6: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1900-1914;
  • WG2591: sale particulars: 1902;
  • PSBW8/1: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1903-1915

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

1872-1876: Mary Lamb;
1876: Thomas Garner (administrator of the goods of Mary Lamb);
1876-1884: Charles Blain;
1884-1889: Seth Martin;
1889-1904: James Odell;
1904-1905: Harry Chillery;
1905-1906: William Kimmis;
1906: Charles George Odell
Beerhouse closed after 1906.