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The Star Inn Hockliffe

The Limes February 2013
The Limes February 2013

The Star Inn stood on the corner of Watling Street and Woburn Road in an area originally part of Chalgrave parish which was transferred to Hockliffe in 1929. Bedfordshire and Luton Archives holds a series of deeds relating to the Star Inn between 1636 and 1882 which makes it possible to piece together the history of the building and its owners. In 1636/7 a messuage or inn called the "Starr" in "Hockliffe in the parish of Chalgrave" was sold by John Howe of Chaul End in Caddington to John Chenye, innholder and also of Hockliffe-in-Chalgrave, and his wife Ann for £160. The transaction also included a close containing two acres of pasture, and ½ acre of arable land in the open field of Tebworth [X52/1]. The Hockliffe parish register which records the baptism at Hockliffe of Ann daughter of Robert Burrows "borne at the starre in Chalgrave parish" on 31st December 1670. In 1672 the Star was sold by Withers Cheny of London, clockmaker to Robert Cheny of Hockliffe, innholder for £205. This time the inn was accompanied by two ½ acres in Tebworth field and pasture called the Pitts. [X52/2]. In 1678 the inn together with various parcels of land was given as a marriage settlement to Robert Cheyne, son of Roberty Cheyne of Hockliffe Street, gentleman, and his wife Margaret Gray, sister of John Gray of London, "drugster".

In 1710 the Star and its associated property was again used as a marriage settlement, this time for Thomas Keeble of Hockliffe, blacksmith and Sarah Cheyne of Chalgrave [X52/21]. By a post-nuptial settlement of 1726/7 Keeble settled the property on Sarah together with the household goods in the Starr Inn [X52/25-27]. After Sarah's death in 1730 the inn passed to her daughter, another Sarah and her husband Thomas Crookey [X52/28-29]. Ownership of the Star passed from Thomas Crookey to his son George Crookey, and then in 1796 to Thomas's nephew and heir James Crookey [X52/34-39]. In the same year James Crookey, of Constitution Row in the parish of St. Pancras [Middx] sold the Star and related land to John Purrett of Tebworth, maltster [X52/43-44]. By the 1820s the Star was occupied by the Crouch family, with Mary Crouch appearing as the licensee. In 1823 Purrett mortgaged the inn and two closes to Thomas Crouch of Chalgrave, innholder, for £500.

 The rear of The Limes March 2015
The rear of The Limes March 2015

In November 1837 Thomas Purrett put the Star Inn up for sale by auction after the death of both John Purrett and his tenant Thomas Crouch, whose lease still had one year to run. The sale particulars describe the Star as "particularly characterised for attention, neatness, and comfort, surpassing any other Inn on the Manchester and Birmingham Roads". The premises had a remarkably good situation, "possessing considerable frontage to the Great Roads; and they are equally well calculated for a private residence". There was also a site suitable for building a labourer's cottage, and the outgoings were land tax of £3 1s 0d and a quit-rent of 1s 9d per annum payable to the Lord of the Manor of Toddington. [X52/50]. The property for sale included:

  • Ground floor: Four parlours; tap-room; bar; larder; ale, beer, and wine cellars; brewhouse, with a pump of good water; scullery; solders' room.
  • First floor: Ten bedrooms, conveniently arranged; a store-room; a soldier's room, all approached by 3 staircases; also six attics.
  • Paved yard with a pump of good water, with front and back entrances, surrounded by a coach-house and seven stables, containing boxes and standings for 32 horses, with five lofts over, for corn, hay, and straw; also a headway for gigs and ostlery.
  • Detached buildings, consisting of a cow-house or stable, two pigsties, hen-house (boarded and tiled), and a thatched barn for wood and coals.
  • Neat flower gardens in front, and a good kitchen garden, well planted with choice fruit trees, and having a rustic summer-house therein.
  • Meadow land containing 8 acres, 3 roods and 18 perches, conveniently subdivided into a sheep-lair, and three closes, called Home Close, the Pits, and Clover Field, with thriving quick-set hedges, part of which are kept dwarf, and a good rick yard. The back drive from Woburn Road "has a row of ornamental trees, and there is a considerable number of timber trees growing in the hedge-rows. The whole is well supplied with water."

It appears that the former occupier Thomas Crouch's family decided to purchase the inn, as in 1838 William Crouch of Tebworth mortgaged the property to Hannah Crouch of Hockliffe-in-Chalgrave, spinster [X52/46-47]. In 1840 William Crouch sold the Star to David Roberts of Hockliffe, baker [X52/52-53]. In Roberts' will of 1870 the property was described as a dwelling-house, indicating that it had ceased to function as an inn sometime between 1856, when the Star had again been mortgaged, and 1870 [X52/56-57]. This series of deeds ends with the conveyance of the former inn by Miss M. E. Roberts to H. C. Roberts in 1882 [X52/58]. The property was divided into first four and later three separate premises, now known as The Limes.

References:

  • X52/1-59: Deeds relating to the Star Inn, 1636-1882;
  • Z102/44: Photograph from slide showing painting of the Star Inn, c.1820;
  • Historic Environment Record No.5332

List of Licensees: note that this is not a complete list; entries in italics refer to licensees where either beginning or end, or both, dates are not known:

1822-1839: Mary Crouch;
1840: David Roberts