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The Five Bells Public House Stanbridge

 The Five Bells Public House about 1920
The Five Bells Public House about 1920 [Z50/108/7]

The Five Bells Public House: Leighton Road, Stanbridge

In 1933 then Records Clerk  F.G.Emmison made a note that the innkeeper, S.A.Williams, claimed that his deeds went back to about 1700. This would not be surprising as, when the former Department of Environment listed the Five Bells as Grade II, of special interest, it was estimated that the inn was 17th century with 18th century wings. The building is constructed of brick around a timber frame. Sadly Bedfordshire & Luton Archives & Records Service does not hold the deeds to the public house, as it is not owned by a Bedfordshire firm but by Fullers of Chiswick [Middlesex].

For nearly the first half of the 19th century the public house was run by members of the Goss family and the wills of Robert and Thomas are held by Bedfordshire & Luton Archives & Records Service. The will of Richard, made in 1805, left the inn to his wife Jane [PLBP/W1805/26] whilst that of Thomas made in 1841 left the inn to his wife Frances Mary, charged with paying two shillings per week to his brother Richard [PLBP/W1841/76].

The Five Bells was the scene of many auction sales during the latter half of the 19th and early part of the 20h century. In 1916 the public house itself was sold by auction at the premises on 11th February 1916 by the trustee of the late Joseph Eames and Jeffrey Sharratt. The Five Bells was Lot 1, Lot 2 being three orchards in Leighton Road amounting together to 1 acre, 3 roods, 26 perches, Lot 3 was a "promising young prune orchard" of 1 acre, 11 perches abutting Stanbridge Green, whilst Lot 4 was a pair of cottages facing Stanbridge Green and Lot 5 another young prune orchard of 3 acres, 30 perches at the junction of Peddars Lane and Tilsworth Road.

The sale particulars [P57/28/5] describe the Five Bells as comprising a cellar, kitchen, scullery, tap room, bar and two sitting rooms with four bedrooms above. Outside stood a brick and slate structure incorporating a brewhouse, coal house and stable with a club room over the whole. There were also "numerous outbuildings". A garden and a 1 acre, 2 rood, 16 perch inclosure of pasture land were included in the site and the rent was £30 per annum.

 The Five Bells and the Wheatsheaf about 1900
The Five Bells and the Wheatsheaf about 1900 [Z1130-108]

The Rating and Valuation Act of 1925 ordered that every piece if land and building in the country be assessed to determine the rates to be paid upon it. Stanbridge was assessed in 1927 and the valuer visiting the Five Bells [DV1/C97/29] noted that the owner was Jeffrey Sharratt. Presumably he had either bought the place in 1916 or it had not sold and he had subsequently bought out Eames' trustee. The site of the public house was 0.342 acres and rent was still £30 per annum. The Five Bells was a free house.

Accommodation was noted as being: a tap room; a cellar; two living rooms; a kitchen; a scullery; three bedrooms and a box room. An old brick and slate brewhouse ["good"] used as a store stood outside, along with a coal barn with a loft over. The valuer commented: "low pitched ceilings"; "very clean place" and "14 lamps hanging up". Trade was thirty four 36 gallon barrels and thirty eight gallons of spirits per year along with weekly totals of two dozen bottles of minerals and one dozen bottles of stout. Takings were a healthy £396 per year (summer £8/5/-, winter £7 per week). The valuer's final comment was: "Stands back from Green in a kind of cul-de-sac. Evidently the pub around here". 1.295 acres of "nice young trees" rented for £2/17/- per annum went with the pub as did a further 0.72 acres rented for £1/16/- per annum containing a brick and slate stables used as a meal house with a loft over, two brick, wood and thatch hen houses ["poor"]; an old weather board and thatch stable used as a straw store and two bay open hovel, a weather board and corrugated iron three bay open hovel, two weather board and thatch piggeries and a large loose box.

In 1952 an offer was made to purchase the Five Bells for £12,000. By that time the owner was the licensee, Raymond Driscoll. Frustratingly the correspondence with local estate agents Connells ends in 1953 with no decision having been reached [Z938/7/2/22] but as Driscoll was still licensee in 1956 it is likely no sale was made at that time. In 1988 the name became redundant when the church increased the number of bells in the tower to six!

Five Bells Public House March 2008 
The Five Bells public house March 2008

References

  • Note by F.G.Emmison that the innkeeper in 1933 [S.A.Williams] claimed that his deeds went back to about: 1700;
  • PLBP/W1805/26: will of Richard Goss: 1805;
  • CLP13: Register of alehouse licences: 1822-1828;
  • PLBP/W1841/76: will of Thomas Goss: 1841;
  • PSLB4/1: Register of Alehouse Licences - Leighton Buzzard Petty Sessional Division: c.1860s-1949;
  • PSLB4/3: Register of Alehouse Licences - Leighton Buzzard Petty Sessional Division: c.1860s-1956;
  • BML10/67/1: auction sale at Five Bells: 1860;
  • BML10/67/5: auction sale at Five Bells: 1867;
  • BML10/67/6: auction sale at Five Bells: 1868;
  • BML10/67/7: auction sale at Five Bells: 1877;
  • BML10/67/8-10: auction sales at Five Bells: 1880;
  • BML10/67/13: auction sale at Five Bells: 1883;
  • P57/28/1: auction sale at Five Bells: 1883;
  • BML10/67/14: auction sale at Five Bells: 1884;
  • BML10/67/15-16: auction sales at Five Bells: 1886;
  • BML10/67/17: auction sale at Five Bells: 1887;
  • BML10/67/18: auction sale at Five Bells: 1888;
  • BML10/67/19: auction sale at Five Bells: 1889;
  • BML10/67/20: auction sale at Five Bells: 1892;
  • BML10/67/21-22: auction sales at Five Bells: 1897;
  • BML10/67/24: auction sale at Five Bells: 1898;
  • BML10/67/29: auction sale at Five Bells: 1901;
  • Z50/108/7: postcard: c.1910;
  • BML10/67/42: auction sale at Five Bells: 1915;
  • BML10/67/43: inventory and sale particulars of Five Bells: 1916;
  • P57/28/5: sale particulars of Five Bells: 1916;
  • PSLB4/2: Register of Alehouse Licences - Leighton Buzzard Petty Sessional Division: 1922-1948;
  • WB/Green6/4/1: J.W.Green Limited trade analysis: 1936-1947;
  • BML10/67/47: auction sale at Five Bells: 1941;
  • Z938/7/2/22: file of correspondence regarding sale: 1952-1953;
  • Z866/1/2: Bedfordshire & Luton Topic Magazine with feature on Five Bells: 1966;
  • Z866/2/1: Bedfordshire & Luton Topic Magazine with feature on Five Bells: 1967

The Five Bells inn sign December 2008
The Five Bells inn sign December 1008

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:

1802: Richard Goss;
1822:  Thomas Goss;
1869: Joseph Eames;
1895: Alice Sarah Eames;
1901: Philip Olney;
1928: Stanley Arthur Williams;
1937: Richard John Daunsey;
1940: William Murray Graham and Olive Mary Graham;
1946: Bilbie Robinson Allan;
1947: Aubrey Frosdick Dudley and Peggy Eileen Poole;
1951: Raymond William Driscoll;
1966: William Somme Kemp;
1982: Paul Ivor White and Mark Ivor White;
1986: Alberto Macucci and Paul Hennens;
1987: Alberto Macucci and Wendy Elizabeth Macucci