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The Oven Beerhouse Keysoe

The former beerhouse October 2016
The former beerhouse October 2016

Bedfordshire Archive and Record Service does not have very much information on the Oven, a beerhouse in Hatch Lane. Though its name suggests it was run as a side-line by a baker, the first known licensee, Thomas Hill, is listed in directories as a butcher! The countywide licensing register of 1876 states that the owner was brewer William Paine of Saint Neots [Huntingdonshire]. The 1891 countywide register gives the owner as John McNish of Saint Neots, who had become Paine’s business partner in 1877.

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. The valuer visiting the Oven [DV1/C211/18] found it owned and occupied by Charles William Hartop and standing in just over a third of an acre. It stood back from the road and comprised a tap room, a cellar, a living room, a private room, a kitchen and four bedrooms. The beerhouse trade was about half a barre; per week with two or three dozen bottles of beer in the same period. There was also a small tobacco trade. Farm buildings on-site were: a weather-boarded and tiled barn, chaff house and stable for three horses. “lower down lane” were three weather-boarded and thatched loose boxes and a cart shed.

In 1946 plans for additions were submitted to Bedford Borough Council [RDBP3/553]. At that date the owner was G A Curtis. Two photographs taken in 1958 by Whitbread, then presumably owners of the property, show the hanging sign and licensee name plate still in place but the sign affixed to the building removed and has the word “Closed” written on it – evidence that the public house, as it would then have been, closed around that time. Today the former public house is a private house.

  • PSS3/1: Register of Alehouse Licences - Sharnbrook Petty Sessional Division: c.1901;
  • PSS3/2: Register of Alehouse Licences - Sharnbrook Petty Sessional Division: c.1903;
  • PSS3/3: Register of Alehouse Licences - Sharnbrook Petty Sessional Division: 1904-1930
  • RDBP3/553 plans for additions 1946;
  • Z1523/11-12: photographs: 1958.

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

1864-1898: Thomas Hill;
1903-1912 William Wagstaff;
1912-1914: William Swales;
1914-1921: Frederick Matthew Wagstaff;
1921-1940: Charles William Hartop.