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The Swan Public House Studham

Swan House 17 Common Road January 2010
Swan House 17 Common Road January 2010

The Swan Public House: 17 Common Road, Studham

A major problem in sorting out the early history of licensed premises in Studham is that there were, in the 19th century, houses called The Red Lion, Bell and Swan in both Studham and in Markyate Street or Humbershoe. Until 1866 the latter settlement was a hamlet of Studham. It then became a separate Bedfordshire civil parish before being abolished in 1897 to help create the Hertfordshire civil parish of Markyate. Humbershoe ran along the west side of the current High Street in Markyate.

The Swan in Studham occupied the westernmost of a terrace of houses known locally as Brownlow Terrace, having been built by that family in 1864, when they were Lords of the Manor of Studham. At that date this part of Studham was in Hertfordshire, being transferred to Bedfordshire in 1897. Because the licensed premises was leased by a brewery outside the county, Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service has no information on it other than entries in directories and rating returns after 1897. Interestingly a Swan existed in Studham before 1864; directories show a beerseller called William Moreton and the 1851 census describes him as a 63 year old residing at the Swan Inn. The previous entries are for cottages called Scotts Cottages and the next is for Clementsend Farm. This seems to suggest that the site of the Swan before 1864 was somewhat further east along Common Road. An estate map of 1832 [BW1029]shows numerous buildings on the south side of Common Road from the junction with Valley Road to Clements End Road but, frustratingly, no reference book has survived allowing the properties to be identified. Thus it cannot be properly determined where the Swan stood before 1864 without futher evidence.

The Rating and Valuation Act 1925 specified that every piece of land and building in the country was to be assessed to determine the rates to be paid on it. Studham was assessed at the end of 1926 and the valuer visiting the Swan [DV1/C/21/93] noted that tenant Stanley A. Williams paid Chesham Brewery Limited £20 per annum in rent, including 1.734 acres of land nearby. The rent had been £19 in 1914.

The brick and tile property comprised a tap room, bar parlour, cellar and kitchen downstairs with three bedrooms above. Outside stood a brick and tile coal shed with earth closet and a brick and tile range comprising a trap house, store shed, two loose boxes ("small, no horse, pigs in one") urinal, two stalls and a pigsty.

Trade was estimated to be one and a half to two barrels of beer per week and two gallons of spirits per month. Over two hundred bottles of minerals were also sold per week. The valuer wrote: "Takings £200 a year?" to which another hand has added "Rot". The valuer commented: "3 pubs and off licence in village. This one rather isolated". He considered a fairer rent would be £16 per annum.

The other three houses in the row, were owned, like much of Studham, by the trustees of the Ashridge Estate, in other words, by the same Brownlow family who had built them. The tenants, moving east to west, were Mrs. E. Austin, who paid £7/17/- per annum rent, fixed in 1924, Leonard Rance, who paid £7/10/- per annum and George Rance whose rent was taken out of his wages as a blacksmith. The valuer noted that his house was bigger than the other two. He did not seem to work from the premises.

Mrs. Austin inhabited a reception room and kitchen downstairs, Leonard Rance had a kitchen, scullery and living room downstairs whilst George Rance had a reception room, kitchen and larder downstairs. All three had three bedrooms above and a brick and tile barn outside. They all shared a washhouse. The valuer commented: "Very fine indeed" and "Best row of houses in Studham" though they had to "fetch water 100 yards". Each had a "Good Garden".

The last reference at Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service to the public house is in 1955. The property is now [2010] a private house.

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: 

1841: William Moreton;
1869: Mrs Mary Moreton;
1876: William Smith;
1899: Sarah Smith;
1914: Augustus Clarke;
1924: Stanley A. Williams;
1931: William George Smith;
1940: Charles Keen;
1950: Percy G Beavis ;
1955: Wilfred T. R. Read.