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Prestons Beerhouse Sand Lane Northill

22 to 24 Sand Lane March 2010
22 to 24 Sand Lane March 2010

A packet of deeds in the Harvey archive [HY] reveals the location of a beerhouse in Northill. It lay at 22 to 24 Sand Land. Much of the property in the immediate locality was owned by Thomas Preston of Old Warden, carpenter and, on his death in 1836, was devised to a number of relatives. His grandson William was devised the carpenter’s shop he occupied [HY414] and in a mortgage of 1838 [HY415] it was described as a messuage and shop and kitchen lately erected by William Preston on the site of an old cottage.

He had to sell household furniture and carpenter’s equipment in 1838 as well as a thousand new bricks and his life interest in the property to pay his debts [HY417] however, he was able to get his life interest back the following year [HY418]. In 1840 he sold the property to John Harvey of Ickwell Bury [HY427-428]. The property was now described as a beershop with a workshop and an adjoining acre of land. The plan in the margin of this deed pinpoints the location for us.

The year before, Preston had taken out a fire insurance policy on all his property with Atlas Assurance Company [HY430]. The policy, to William Preston the younger of Northill, carpenter, grocer and beer retailer, is worded as follows: “the Building of his Dwelling house, situate at Northill, aforesaid, with Workshop, communicating, no pipe stove therein, stud, plaster, brick and slated, Two hundred Pounds. On Household Goods and furniture, including Linen, Wearing apparel, Printed books, Plate, Wine and Liquors in private use therein Fifty Pounds. On Stock and Utensils in trade in the said Dwelling house Fifty Pounds. On stock and utensils in trade in the workshop, Twenty Pounds. On two Houses adjoining near, in tenure of William Preston the elder and Zachariah Preston, stud, plaster, brick and slated and private , in equal proportions Fifty Pounds. On two Houses adjoining near, in tenure of John and Robert Barker, stud, plaster, slated and private in equal proportions, Fifty Pounds. On two Houses adjoining near, in tenure of Thomas Hill and Henry Marshall, stud, plaster, slated and private, in equal proportions, Fifty Pounds.

The beerhouse was evidently shortlived as Preston's name is not mentioned in any directory and the countywide licensing register of 1876 does not list any beerhouse which could be Preston's old business.

The Rating and Valuation Act 1925 specified that every piece of land and building in the country was to be assessed to determine its rateable value. Northill was assessed in 1927 and the valuer visiting 22 to 24 Sand Lane [DV1/C42/120-122] found each premises owned by Frank Garner - evidently he or a predecessor had bought them from the Ickwell Bury Estate. Number 22 was occupied by Charles Woodward who had paid 18/- per month since 1922. The plaster and slate cottage ("good") comprised a living room, kitchen, scullery and three bedrooms. Outside stood a barn, w. c., earth closet and a small garden. Water came from an outside tap, as it did with Numbers 23 and 24.

23 Sand Lane was occupied by Alfred Norman who had paid 15/- per month since 1921. His plaster and slate "good looking" cottage comprised a living room, kitchen and three bedrooms. A barn, w. c. and earth closet stood outside. The valuer noted that in 1914 rent had been 11/- per month, rising to 12/- in 1919, 13/- in 1920 and 15/- in 1921.

24 Sand Lane was occupied by Jane Norman who had paid 16/- per month rent since 1921. Her "good" plaster and slate cottage comprised two living rooms, a scullery and four bedrooms. Again a barn, w. c. and earth closet stood outside.