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The Cross Beerhouse Stevington

1 Church Road 1960 [Z53/112/3]
1 Church Road 1960 [Z53/112/3]

The Cross Beerhouse: 1 Church Road, Stevington

1 Church Road was listed by the former Department of Environment in June 1974 as Grade II, of special interest. The department dated it to the late 17th or early 18th century. It is constructed, like many older buildings in the area, of coursed limestone rubble. It has an old clay tile roof and two storeys. There is a one storey lean-to at the rear.

Deeds from the Charles Wells collection help to identify this property as The Cross Beerhouse, which is recorded in the countywide licensing register of 1876 as belonging to Mrs. Jefferies of Great Barford and tenanted by Alexander Field. The register states that the property had been licensed for over forty years.

The earliest document referred to in the deed packet [WL1000/1/Stev/2] which also includes deeds to 3 Church Road, is a surrender of the property by Richard Page abstracted in 1838. The property was copyhold, held of the Manor of Steventon and in 1766 Page surrendered it, with all his other property, to the uses in his will [WL1000/1/Stev/2/24]. In his will, of 1777, he devised it to his wife Lydia for her life, stating that it should then pass to their son Thomas and be security for payments of £80 to Richard's two daughters Sarah and Martha [WL1000/1/Stev/2/24]. Lydia was admitted to the property in 1779 following Richard's death [WL1000/1/Stev/2/1].

Lydia Page died in 1790 and the property was then described as a cottage by the Cross in Church End. Her son Thomas, a blacksmith, was then admitted as tenant [WL1000/1/Stev/2/24]. He made his will in 1814 and devised the property, with the rest of his real estate to two trustees John Perry and William Pool to hold in trust for his wife Mary then, after her death, for sale and the proceeds to be divided amongst their children [WL1000/1/Stev/2/24]. In 1819 the two trustees sold some land and "the cottage near the cross formerly in occupation of Mrs. Page" to Margaret Pool for £688 [WL1000/1/Stev/2/24].

The following year Margaret made her own will and devised the cottage, along with the rest of her real estate, to her son William [WL1000/1/Stev/2/24]. He was duly admitted to the property in 1822. At this date the property was certainly not  licensed as it does not appear in the countywide licensing registers which run from 1822 to 1828 [CLP13]. In 1824 William Pool mortgaged the cottage, along with the rest of his property, to William Halfhead the elder of Bedford for £1,000, a further £350 being lent seven years later [WL1000/1/Stev/2/24]. Poor William ran up too many debts and in 1832 all his property was conveyed to trustees - Daniel Hipwell of Bletsoe, miller and William Halfhead of Bedford, corn factor, on behalf of all his many creditors [WL1000/1/Stev/2/8].

In 1837 the trustees sold both this cottage and 3 Church Road next door to Thomas Barton of Bedford, butcher for £430 [WL1000/1/Stev/2/9]. The cottage was then described as opposite Stevington Cross with a garden, orchard or sward adjoining containing two and a half acres, formerly in the occupation of Samuel Risely, then Thomas Barton, now Alexander Field and bounded by Church Street to the south-east, the road from Stevington to Harrold to the south-west, property of Robert Bowyer, Jeremiah Sansom and George Hudson to the north-west and property of Thomas Bunting, Thomas Cox and Richard Eaton as well as 3 Church Road to the north-east. Oddly the deeds never refer to the cottage as a beerhouse, or any other form of licensed premises, evern when purchased by Charles Wells, but the combination of the 1876 licensing register stating that the property had been licensed for over forty years and the fact that its tenant, Alexander Field, was listed as a beer seller in Stevington in a directory of 1847 suggests that it was about this time that it became a beerhouse.

Thomas Barton immediately mortgaged the two cottages to Richard Halfhead of Bedford, coal merchant, for £300 [WL1000/1/Stev/2/12]. One might almost imagine the property cursed because William Pool's fate now befell Thomas Barton almost at once. Having bought the cottage in January 1837 in December all his property was conveyed to trustees, Richard Halfhead and Richard Smith of Bedford, butcher, for his creditors [WL1000/1/Stev/2/16]. In 1838 he surrendered both cottages to William Robert Jefferies of Great Barford, farmer, for £400 [WL1000/1/Stev/2/18].

Jefferies died in 1846 and in his will devised his Stevington properties to trustees to allow his wife Elizabeth to enjoy their benefits during her life and, after her death to devise them to his youngest son John Robert Jefferies [WL1000/1/Stev/2/27]. In 1894 it was Jefferies who surrendered both cottages to Bedford brewer Charles Wells for £500[WL1000/1/Stev/2/29]. By that time the beerhouse had become an off-licence as it is so recorded in the countywide licensing register of 1891 with Samuel Prentice as tenant. By the time of the countywide register of 1903 George John Swain was the occupier and the owner is still given as Mrs. Jefferies of Sandy despite the well recorded sale to Charles Wells! The property is described as "fair, clean, apparently sanitary" and had one front and two back doors.

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. Stevington was assessed in 1926 and the valuer visiting 1 Church Road [DV1/C120/131] noted that it was an still off-licence, owned by Charles Wells and occupied by Alfred Swain who paid £20 per annum rent. The property comprised a living room, kitchen and scullery downstairs with three bedrooms on the first floor and three attics above them. Two stables and a hen house along with a brick and tile barn stood outside, all "very poor". The valuer commented: "Big, poor old place" and "Off-licence Trade almost nil".

Alterations to the building were undertaken in 1970 [Z284/5/125]. The property is no longer a licensed premises but a private house.

The Off-Licence at 1 Church Street Stevington about 1920 [WL800/1]
The Off-Licence at 1 Church Street Stevington about 1920 [WL800/1]

Sources:

  • WL1000/1/Stev/2/24: abstracted surrender by Richard Page: 1766;
  • WL1000/1/Stev/2/24: abstracted will of Richard Page: 1777;
  • WL1000/1/Stev/2/1: admission of Lydia Page: 1779;
  • WL1000/1/Stev/2/24: abstracted admission of Thomas Page: 1790;
  • WL1000/1/Stev/2/24: abstracted will of Thomas Page: 1814;
  • WL1000/1/Stev/2/24: abstracted sale to Margaret Pool: 1819;
  • WL1000/1/Stev/2/24: abstracted will of Margaret Pool: 1820;
  • WL1000/1/Stev/2/24: abstracted mortgage to William Halfhead: 1824;
  • WL1000/1/Stev/2/24: abstracted further advance from William Halfhead: 1831;
  • WL1000/1/Stev/2/8: conveyance to trustees for William Pool's creditors: 1832;
  • WL1000/1/Stev/2/9: covenant to surrender to Thomas Barton: 1837
  • WL1000/1/Stev/2/12: mortgage to Richard Halfhead: 1837;
  • WL1000/1/Stev/2/16: covenant to surrender to trustees for Thomas Barton's creditors: 1837;
  • WL1000/1/Stev/2/18: surrender to William Robert Jefferies: 1838;
  • WL1000/1/Stev/2/27: will of William Robert Jefferies: 1846;
  • WL1000/1/Stev/2/29: surrender to Charles Wells: 1894.

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

  • Alexander Field: 1837-1869;
  • Alexander Field junior: 1877-1885;
  • Samuel Prentice: 1890-1898;
  • George John Swain: 1901-1920;
  • Alfred Swain: 1924-1940.
1 Church Road December 2008
1 Church Road December 2008