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The Bull Inn Hockliffe

The rear of The Manor House March 2015
The rear of The Manor House March 2015

There have been three inns known as the Bull in the vicinity of Hockliffe. It is likely that the popularity of the name reflects the importance of Watling Street as a cattle drove road and of stock rearing to the village economy. The most significant of the three was this property; the second Bull Inn was in Tilsworth parish until boundary changes moved it to Hockliffe in 1984; the third Bull Inn was located in the area on the east side of Watling Street originally part of Chalgrave parish which was transferred to Hockliffe in 1929 [PL/AC2/25].

The Bull Inn belonged to the Hockliffe Manor estate and was one of only two major buildings on the estate after the medieval period, the other being the Swan. The Bull has not been positively identified but the evidence points to it being the property which later became known as the Manor House. This is unlikely ever to have been a manor house as such and the tithe apportionment of 1835 shows the Manor House and the Swan to be the two main properties owned by the manorial estate. [PL/AC2/25] The main part of the Manor House which was demolished c.1963 was a large building typical of a roadside inn [HER5331]. These factors suggest that this building was indeed the former Bull.

The first known reference to the Bull is in a mortgage deed of 1623 relating to property in Hockliffe and Battlesden which includes the Bull together with an adjoining three acre close [GA469]. In 1671 John Dier spent an hour "at the sign of the Bull in Hockliffe" before he was arrested at Woburn for killing a certain Roger Norris with a cudgel in a fight which took place on the road between Market Street and Dunstable [HSA1671/W/79] and in 1677 Martha Swaine "a stranger" died at the Bull. References to this Bull Inn continue until the mid-18th century, when it presumably became a house and farmstead.

References:

  • GA469: Mortgage deed, 1623;
  • PL/AC2/25: Hockliffe Parish Survey (Historic Landscape and Archaeology) draft report, Stephen Coleman, 1982