The Newport Arms Public House Thurleigh
The former Newport Arms from the road January 2015
The former Newport Arms Public House was listed by English Heritage in August 1983, under the name of the public house, implying that it was still open at that point. The property dates from about 1700 with later alterations. It is constructed from colour-washed roughcast over a timber frame with an old clay tiled roof. It has two storeys and stands gable end on to road, with a 20th century gabled porch at the right hand side and with lean-to additions to north and west. Two downstairs rooms share a back-to-back hearth.
The countywide licensing register of 1876 tells us that at that time the establishment was an unnamed beerhouse. The owner is given as John Saunderson of Keysoe and the date of first licensing as 1869. An abstract of title of John Saunderson to the property [WL1000/1/Thur2/1] shows that in 1807 the owner was John Carter of Thurleigh who had bought it from Henry Smith. He owned a cottage in Holt End in his own occupation, two closes of pasture adjoining it and two dwellings “since erected” on the closes. In 1813 Carter sold his property to Lawrence Castleman, who sold them to Thomas Jefferies of Thurleigh in 1816. Jefferies’ son, also called Thomas, conveyed the cottage, now described as being in Scoll End and divided into two tenements occupied by Benjamin Swales and Thomas Crossley along with the two closes of pasture with their dwellings, to John Saunderson in 1859 [WL1000/1/Thur2/1].
In 1890 John Saunderson conveyed the cottage, now used as a beerhouse, to Newport Pagnell [Buckinghamshire] brewers Francis Allfrey and William George Lovell for £650. Saunderson also sold an adjoining piece of land of 6 acres, 1 rood, 19 poles to the brewers. The countywide licensing register of 1891 tells us that the beerhouse was now called the Carpenter’s Arms, though at some point it changed to the Newport Arms. Given that Allfrey and Lovell had their brewery in Newport Pagnell it seems reasonable to speculate that they must have soon changed the name.
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. The valuer visiting the Newport Arms[DV1/C73/6] found that the beerhouse was now owned by Bedford brewer Charles Wells. The tenant, Walter Cambers, paid rent of £8 per annum.
The beerhouse contained: a tap room; two living rooms and three bedrooms. Outside stood a wood and corrugated iron barn and box. The valuer commented: "Poor place", "Not much trade", "Rotten position", “Bottle Beer only”, "Saw Mrs 18 years only bottled 4 dozen pints a week" and "referred to brewers for trade". The 6.086 acres in two fields still adjoined the property and were leased by the tenant so the place was really a smallholding with a beerhouse attached.
At some point, probably around 1950, the beerhouse would have become a fully licensed public house. It is now a private house and, at present  Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service has no record of when it closed.
List of Licensees: note that this is not a complete list. Italics indicate licensees whose beginning and/or end dates are not known:
- 1864-1885: Edward Wildman (and carpenter);
- 1891: William Inyon;
- 1898-1906: Otho Johnson (also carrier);
- 1910-1936: Walter Chambers
- 1938: Robert Perkins;
- 1938-1940: Jack King.
- WL1000/1/THUR/2/2: abstract of title of John Saunderson: 1889;
- WL1000/1/THUR/2/2: conveyance from John Saunderson to Francis Allfrey and William George Lovell: 1890;
- PSS3/1: Register of Alehouse Licences - Sharnbrook Petty Sessional Division: c.1901;
- PSS3/2: Register of Alehouse Licences - Sharnbrook Petty Sessional Division: c.1903;
- WL1000/1/THUR/2/3: redemption of Land Tax: 1903;
- PSS3/3: Register of Alehouse Licences - Sharnbrook Petty Sessional Division: 1904-1930;
- WL800/3: photograph: c. 1925