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The Royal Oak Public House Shefford

The Royal Oak about 1925 [WL800/5]
The Royal Oak about 1925 [WL800/5]

The Royal Oak Public House: 5 Ampthill Road, Shefford

This beerhouse, according to a register of alehouse licences [HF143/1] was first licensed in 1861, however, a return of alehouse licenses for 1828 [CLP13] notes a Royal Oak in Shefford in the occupation of Mary Seamer. Either the later register is in error or the 1828 Royal Oak was a different business. Other than licensing registers Bedfordshire & Luton Archives & Records Service does not have very much information on this establishment. In 1878 it was owned by Mary Foster and in that year she leased to for seven years to Baldock [Hertfordshire] brewer Oliver Steed (who died in 1888, his firm being taken over by the Burton-on-Trent firm of William Pickering).

In 1927 the town of Shefford was valued under the Rating Valuation Act 1925; every piece of land and building in the country was assessed to determine the rates to be paid on it. The valuer visiting the Royal Oak [DV1/C/289] noted that by that date the owner was Bedford brewer Charles Wells Limited, the occupier C.Valentine ["been here 23 years"]. Accommodation comprised a tap room ["fair"], cellar, private parlour, living room and kitchen downstairs with three bedrooms above. Outside were a baker's oven ["not used"], a coach house and stable with a loft over both and a hovel. Weekly trade was 1½ barrels and 4½ dozen bottles of beer. The valuer summed it up as: "Not so poor looking as Coach & Horses".

A full licence was granted on 6th February 1957 turning the Royal Oak into a public house. It closed in 1987 and is now a private house.

The former Royal Oak January 2008
The former Royal Oak January 2008

Document References:

  • CLP13: register of alehouse licences: 1822-1828;
  • 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;
  • X753/16: lease for 7 years from Mary Foster to Oliver Steed: 1878;
  • HF143/4: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1882-1890;
  • HF143/5: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1891-1900;
  • HF143/6: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1900-1914;
  • PSBW8/1: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1903-1915;
  • WL800/5 page 1: photograph: c.1925;
  • DV1/C/289: rating valuation: 1927;
  • 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;
  • WL722/20: photograph in Charles Wells in-house magazine Pint Pot: 1977

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:

1828: Ann Seamer;
1869-1887: David Wagstaff;
1887-1888: Charles Spencer;
1888-1904: Frederick Bland;
1904-1936: Charles Valentine;
1940: Mrs Mary Valentine;
1945: Mary A Valentine, Hubert H Longhurst &
Maud E Longhurst;
1957-1978: Maud Elizabeth Longhurst;
1978-1987: John Ernest Gibbs
public house closed 1987