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The Kings Head Public House Lower Caldecote

The site of former Kings Head July 2007
The site of former King's Arms July 2007

The King's Head Public House, Great North Road, Lower Caldecote

The King's Head public house stood on the west side of the Great North Road a few yards south of the Wellington Tap. The first mention of the public house in any document held by Bedfordshire & Luton Archives & Records Service is in 1812 when adjoining land was sold at auction. The building itself was older than this. A date stone carried the date 1789 though 1650 was a date inscribed on the front of the property, albeit in modern letters. Without deeds it is impossible to say just how old the building might have been.

The public house was owned by Samuel Wells in 1834 when it was conveyed to Frederick Hogg and William Lindsell, partners in the firm of Wells & Company (a brewery located in Biggleswade and in no way related to the Charles Wells brewery of Bedford). In 1899 Wells & Company became Wells & Winch when bought out by Kent businessman George Winch for his son Edward Bluett Winch.

The conveyance of the various licensed premises describes the King's Head as containing a coach house, stable, barn, outbuildings, yard and garden and a close of pasture of 8 acres nearby with a right of herbage upon and from a drift way leading from the orchard of the public house into the close; it also had a close of pasture called Watts Close formerly part of Bryant’s Field [Bryant had owned the Wellington Tap until his death in 1844] of 3a 0r 10p on west side of Great North Road. The premises also included two plots in Lower Caldecote of 0a 1r 31p and 0a 3r 1op bounded east by the Great North Road and divided from one another by a lane or drift way, they were formerly part of Brown's Field and were in separate occupation to the public house.

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 parish of Northill was assessed in 1927 and the valuer visiting the King’s Head In 1927 [DV1/C/5/15], the valuer found the building contained an old kitchen, living room, tap room, private bar, club room; cellar; four bedrooms and an earth closet. The business had a "good draw up" and sold one barrel of mild, one dozen bottles of beer and half a gallon of whiskey per week; as to takings the licensee "cannot say". The valuer further noted: "house is in good decorative repair, small local trade, travellers do not stop between Biggleswade & Sandy; 1 barrel mild costs £3.14.0 - sold 5d. pint; 1 barrel bitter costs £6.12.0, sold 7d. pint"

The public house is later recorded in a telephone directory held by Bedfordshire & Luton Archives & Records Service in 1984, by 1986 it was no longer listed and so, presumably, had closed. The Bedfordshire Historic Environment Record [HER] contains information on the county’s historic buildings and landscapes and summaries of each entry can now be found online as part of the Heritage Gateway website. The entry for the King’s Head [HER 4320] notes that it had been demolished but describes it in some detail: the building had three sections:

  • Left hand: two storeys, colour washed brick with rendering at the rear; a gabled roof with slates. A date stone on the building read 1789. The front elevation had four windows, two at each floor level. They were sash windows slightly recessed with glazing bars and gauged brick heads. A third blocked window stood at the first floor level.
  • Middle: had a colourwashed brick skin over a timber frame and comprised a ground floor and attic. There was an old clay tile roof. With a central chimney stack. The front elevation had one window with glazing bars and the ground floor had one sash window to the left of the main door.
  • Right hand: again a colourwashed brick skin over a timber frame. This part of the building comprised one storey and attics. The roof was pantiled. There were two casement windows on the ground floor and two gabled dormers each with casements. Modern letters read “1650 AD”. The door was up one step.

References

  • X64/2: Notice of sale (with declaration of purchase by William Simons for £365) of freehold estate near King's Head: 1812;
  • CLP13: register of alehouse licences: 1822-1828;
  • GK0/1: conveyance of brewery and licensed properties of Samuel Wells of Biggleswade, brewer, deceased to Frederick Hogg and William Lindsell: 1834;
  • 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;
  • HF143/2: 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;
  • GK1/36: three sales catalogues bound together: Wells & Company of Biggleswade 1898; Henlow Brewery 1899; Baldock Brewery Limited 1903;
  • Z1039/34/2a: conveyance, with other properties, from partners of Wells & company to Wells & Winch: 1899;
  • HF143/6: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1900-1914;
  • PSBW8/1: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1903-1915;
  • PL/P/MB77/678: plans of proposed building adjoining public house: 1977;
  • PSBW8/2: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1956-1972;
  • PSBW8/3: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade and North Bedfordshire Petty Sessional Divisions: 1976-1980.

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

1822-1829: Thomas Pope;
1847-1877: Mark Nesfield Pope;
1877-1885: Joseph Lee;
1885-1890: Joseph Lee junior.;
1890-1896: James Lee;
1896-1900: William Dilley;
1900-1907: Henry Brinklow;
1907-1909: Susan Brinklow;
1909-1928: Charles William Bowles;
1932-1960: William Arthur Brooks;
1960-1964: Frederick Odey;
1964-1971: Cyril John Harris;
1971: Charles William Hines