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The Chequers Public House Roxton

WG2464 Chequers
Sale particulars for The Chequers in 1862 [WG2464]

Chequers Public House, High Street, Roxton

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 Chequers [HER12461] states that the building dates to the 19th century, is of brick construction with a slate roof.

The first reference to this public house in any document held by Bedfordshire & Luton Archives & Records Service is in 1777 when William Speary or Spearey devised it in his will to his wife Mary for her life, it was then to pass to their two sons Thomas and William [WG2228]. Clearly if the current building is 19th century then it must have been rebuilt at some stage, though surviving records do not tell us when.

The Chequers stayed with the Spear(e)y family until 1850 when William Speary sold it to Charles King [GK29/1]. King then willed in, in 1851, to his wife Elizabeth for her life then to trustees for sale [GK29/1].  Elizabeth King died in 1862 and the property was duly sold at auction with all other real estate of Charles King [WG2464]. The particulars read as follows:

A Freehold Old Licensed and Well-accustomed Public House,
CALLED THE "CHEQUERS"

Well-situated for Business in the Village of Roxton, in the County of Bedford, now in full trade, in the occupation of Mr. SAMUEL KING, as under tenant of Messrs WELLS and Co., Brewers, Biggleswade, at the nominal rent of Fifteen Pounds a-year, with convenient Yard, Stable, and other conveniences, estimated to be of the annual value of Twenty-five Pounds, the Tenant paying the Rates and Taxes, and keeping the Premises in Tenantable repair, the Landlord paying the Land-tax and Property-tax, under Schedule A.

Clearly Charles King had let the Chequers to Wells and Company who then sublet. The public house was purchased by Frederick Hogge and Robert Lindsell who ran Wells & Company [GK29/1] thus turning from leaseholders of the premises to freeholders. This company was bought by Kent businessman George Winch for his son Edward Bluett Winch in 1899 and in 1961 merged with Suffolk brewers Greene King.

In 1927 the Chequers was valued under the 1925 Rating Valuation Act, the valuer considering it a "good house", it consisted of a tap room, parlour, kitchen, scullery and cellar ("fair") with four bedrooms and a box room above. Unfortunately for the valuer (and posterity) "Mr.Greaves was out & Mrs.Greaves was unable to find rent receipts & could not give any idea of the trade done". Another valuer evidently called at a later date as a different hand merely notes "Mr.Greaves still out". Occupied with the Chequers was 0.35 of  an acre with a stable for two horses, a two bay cart hovel and two piggeries.

In 1981 a local newspaper did a feature on ghosts in Bedfordshire and featured "Mabel" at the Chequers. She was described as a woman in a white shroud who was thought to be responsible for turning beer pumps and water off on occasion. Other witnesses reported seeing a man with a cap in his hand. The newspaper reported that "Mabel" had been seen in the next door cottage leading to the usual stories of squire's sons, serving maids and an unplanned pregnancy leading to murder. If there is a ghost, however, it more likely to have a more prosaic name like Mary or Elizabeth and to be a former owner!

At the time of writing the Chequers is a private house [March 2007]

 former Chequers Roxton Mar 2007
former Chequers in March 2007

References:

  • WG2228: will of William Speary devising Chequers to his wife Mary for her life, then to their sons Thomas and William: 1777;
  • CLP13: register of alehouse licences: 1822-1828;
  • PSB1/1: change of licence on death of William Spear(e)y: 1830;
  • GK29/1: reciting contract by Charles King to purchase Chequers from William Speary of which half was paid and half borrowed on mortgage but no conveyance made: 1850;
  • GK29/1: recited will of Charles King devising all his real estate to his wife Elizabeth for life, then to trustees for sale: 1851, proved 1852;
  • WG2464: sale particulars of inn at auction by trustees of late Charles King: 1862;
  • GK29/1: conveyance by trustees of Charles King to Frederick Hogge and Robert Henry Lindsell: 1863;
  • GK1/36: three sales catalogues bound together: Wells & Company of Biggleswade 1898; Henlow Brewery 1899; Baldock Brewery Limited 1903;
  • Z1039/34/2a: conveyed with other property from Wells & Company to Wells & Winch: 1899;
  • PSB9/1: register of licences: 1903-1935;
  • RDBP1/56: plans for cottage next to Chequers: 1909;
  • PSB9/2: register of licenses: c.1955-1995;
  • PSBW8/3: register of licences: 1976-1980;
  • X395/53: newspaper cutting regarding alleged haunting: 1981 

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

1777: William Spearey;
1822-1829: William Spearey;
1830-1834 - Elizabeth Spearey;
1835: Elizabeth Waltham, spinster.
1853-1854: Elizabeth King;
1862-1864: Samuel King;
1869-1885: John Ford;
1890-1894: George Darrington;
1898-1909: Hannah Elizabeth Darrington;
1909-1915: Albert Whitney;
1915-1917: Peter Donald Forbes;
1917-1921: Charles Gregg;
1921-1926: Albert George Starbuck;
1926-1931: Frederick David Greaves;
1931-1932: Alfred Edward James;
1932-1934: James Wheeler;
1934-1936: Charles Norman;
1940: Harold L. Humphries;
1976-1977: Anthony John Bowden;
1977-1980: Thomas William Gentle;
1980-1981: Kenneth Hugh Staynor