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The Royal George Public House Stevington

The Royal George about 1920 [WL800/4]
The Royal George about 1920 [WL800/4]

The Royal George Public House [formerly the Cock until about 1800]: 8-10 Silver Street, Stevington.

The Royal George was listed by the former Department of Environment in June 1974 as Grade II, of special interest. The Department dated the building to the 18th and 19th centuries. The public house extends over two former dwellings, Numbers 8 and 10. Number 8 is built of brick, with a colourwashed plaster covering and has a single storey with attics and Number 10 has colourwashed plaster over stone and comprises two storeys. Both parts have an old clay tile roof.

The 18th century date is supported by the fact that in 1788 William Wheaton was admitted to the copyhold premises in Silver Street known as The Cock, held of the Manor of Stevington [Z3/60]. He died in 1793 and, following the death of his wife Elizabeth in 1799 their eldest son James was admitted [WL619]. James Wheaton immediately sold the establishment to Bedford brewer Peregrine Nash [WL619] but it did not ensure the future of the establishment because by 1809, when Nash's son George Peregrine was admitted, the property is simply described as a cottage "late called the Cock" [WL619].

William Poole or Pool was admitted to three cottages, which had formerly been the Cock, in 1822 [X106/77], on the death of his father and mother Richard and Mary. Nash had sold the premises to the parents at some time between 1809 and 1822. Ten years later Poole was dead and his trustees conveyed the former Cock  to Robert Newland [WL619]. It then became a beerhouse. Newland was the son-in-law of Sir William Long, who had bought a brewery in Bedford (formerly William Belsham's) at some point before 1784 with two brothers, Henry and James Whittingstall. Long had bought out the surviving brother in 1803 and before 1830 was in partnership with William Pestell. Before Long's death in 1841 the partnership with Pestell was dissolved and Newland entered into a partnership with Pestell, becoming sole owner after the latter's death. By 1861 his son Bingham had taken the business over.

In 1865 Bingham Newland was admitted to the former Cock as tenant [WL620]. He died in 1873 and his company was sold by auction [GA487] to another Bedford brewer, Thomas Jarvis [WL1000/1/Stev1/1]. Confusingly William Pritzler Newland, who in 1890 went into partnership with Susan Nash as Newland & Nash, was one of Bingham's executors!

The beerhouse was enfranchised, that is, converted into freehold by paying a fine to the Lord of the Manor, in 1918 [WL1000/1/Stev1/11-12]. Thomas Jarvis Limited had been bought by Bedford brewer Charles Wells and in a series of photographs taken in the 1920s the beerhouse is first given its modern name of the Royal George [WL800/4 page 29]. If directory evidence is to be believed it had been called the George & Dragon in 1876 but no other directory names it as it was not the custom for beerhouses to be named in directories.

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 the Royal George Beerhouse [DV1/C120/90] noted that it stood in just under a quarter of an acre and was a "poor looking place" - rent was £10/10/- per annum. The property comprised a tap room ("fair"), living room and scullery with a copper downstairs, with a cellar beneath ("good") with two bedrooms and a landing upstairs. Outside stood a garage measuring 12 feet 6 inches by 8 feet, a loose box, a "disused" bakehouse and stores as well as an old barn used as a saddler's shop and workshop measuring 28 feet by 18 feet occupied by Oliver Cox, which was "very poor, but roomy". The valuer discovered that trade was "very bad". It averaged nine gallons of beer per week. He commented: "Cannot be as good as Cock".

At some point after 1926 the Royal George became a fully licensed public house. Stevington is lucky that it still has two public houses at the time of writing [2009] as it also has the nearby Red Lion in Park Road.

 The Royal George December 2009
The Royal George December 2009

References:

  • Z3/60 and WL619: admission of William Wheaton and wife to Cock in Silver Street: 1788;
  • WL619: death of William Wheaton in 1793 and recent death of Elizabeth, his wife with subsequent admission of their son James Wheaton: 1799;
  • WL619: admission of Peregrine Nash on surrender of James Wheaton: 1799
  • AL559 and WL619: admission of George Peregrine Nash to cottage, "late called Cock" in Silver Street on surrender of Peregrine Nash: 1809;
  • X106/77 and WL1000/1/Stev/2/5: admission to three cottages, formerly Cock, of William Poole: 1822;
  • WL619: abstract of title of the trustees of William Pool to three cottages including the former Cock: 1832;
  • WL620: admission of Bingham Newland to three cottages, formerly Cock, in Silver Street, formerly Peregrine Nash's then Robert Newland's: 1865;
  • GA487: sale catalogue for Saint Paul's Brewery including a beerhouse and two neighbouring properties in Stevington: 1873;
  • WL621: admission of William Pritzler Newland and Charles William Powell, devisees of Bingham Newland, deceased: 1874;
  • WL1000/1/Stev1/1: admission of Thomas Jarvis on surrender of William Pritzler Newland and Charles William Powell: 1874;
  • WL1000/1/Stev1/3: admission of Samuel Wainwright Jarvis as heir at law of Thomas Jarvis: 1893;
  • PSB9/1: register of licenses: 1903-1935;
  • WL1000/1/Stev1/4: admission of Robert Page Jarvis and Walter Jarvis: 1904;
  • WL1000/1/Stev1/9: admission of Mary Jarvis and Henry Young as executors of Walter Jarvis: 1916;
  • WL1000/1/Stev1/10-12: enfranchisement: 1918;
  • WL800/4 p.29: photograph: c.1925;
  • WL801/66: negative of above: c.1925;
  • PSB9/2: register of licenses: c.1955-1995;
  • Z1105/1: liquor licence traders survey form: 1961;
  • WL722/89: use of room as youth club reported in Charles Wells in-house magazine Pint Pot: 1997.

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

1788-1793: William Wheaton;
1854-1871: Robert Cox;
1873: George Cox;
1874-1876: George Brown: George & Dragon;
1903-1905: Walter Poole;
1905-1909: Reginald Cockings;
1909-1931: Oliver Cox
1940 George Taylor;
1961-1975: Edward John Stoneman;
1975-1984: Brian Victor Hopkinson;
1984-1988: Clifford Dowling;
1988: Albert Christopher Ernest Hardy;
1988-1993: G.J.Bentham;
1993-1994: Michael Thomas Hanley and Hartley Charles Bolton;
1994-1995: Pamela Mavis Luck