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The Chequers Public House Wootton

The Chequers Inn March 2012
The Chequers Inn March 2012

The Chequers Public House: Hall End Road, Wootton

The Chequers is an old building, it was listed by Department of Environment who considered it to be 17th century in date. The first mention of the Chequers as a public house in any record held by Bedfordshire & Luton Archives & Records Service, however, is not until 1822 when a register of alehouse licenses notes that Thomas Curtis was licensee. The property was owned by the Monoux family, Lords of the Manor, who lived at Wootton House. Thomas Curtis obtained his beer from Bedford brewer Sir William Long between 1827 and 1832 as a stray account book [QDI2/2] shows.

The Chequers was sold by the Wootton House estate, along with other property, in 1914 to Richard Johnson Townsend. He then sold it on in 1917 to Bedford brewer Charles Wells Limited. Interestingly, Wells had bought out fellow Bedford brewer Thomas Jarvis in 1910, Jarvis had purchased the business of Bingham Newland in 1873 and Bingham had inherited his father Robert's business. Robert Newland was son-in-law and successor of Sir William Long.

In 1927 Bedfordshire was valued under the Rating Valuation Act 1925; every piece of land and building was surveyed to determine the rates to be paid on it. The valuer visiting the Chequers [DV1/C51/] noted that the premises comprised a tap room ("poor"), bar ("large but poor"), cellar and kitchen downstairs with four bedrooms above and a barn and pail closet outside. He noted: "Looks fairly nice outside but very poor inside. Very poor house, bad position, nice people". Trade was between half a barrel and one and a half dozen barrels of beer per week, eight bottles spirits and eight bottles wine per week.Also owned and occupied with the public house were an adjacent two bay open cart shed, barns and loose box, poultry house, store place and land.

In September 1975 a fire broke out at the public house which badly damaged rooms on the first floor but did no lasting damage to the structure. Most public houses of any age claim to have a ghost and in 2000 Pint Pot, the Charles Wells Limited in-house magazine recounted the tale of glasses falling from shelves, supposedly the work of a groom who fell under the wheels of a coach at the inn and lost his head and his life; as with all good ghost stories, there is no evidence of when or if this happened. The report also noted that staff had seen a customer out of the corner of their eye who, on a closer look, did not exist. The public house remains a Charles Wells establishment at the time of writing [2007]

Frozen spiders web December 2007
Frozen spider webs at the Chequers December 2007

References:
- CLP 13: register of alehouse licences: 1822-1828;
- PSB1/1: register of alehouse licensees: 1829 - 1834;
- QDI2/2: account book of Thomas Curtis with Long’s Brewery: 1827-1832;
- SF77/5: auction sale of freehold land held at Chequers: 1856;
- SF77/17: auction sale of cottage in Bot End held at Chequers: 1869;
- PSB9/1: Register of Alehouse Licences, Bedford Petty Sessional Division: 1903-1935;
- BML10/83/2 (iii): Chequers included in detailed schedule of Monoux Estate 1912;
- D101: Chequers Inn part of conveyance Payne to Townsend: 1914;
- X65/99: Chequers to be sold at auction: 1917;
- DV1/C/51: rating valuation: 1927;
- RDBP3/921: plan for additions: 1947;
- PSB9/2: Register of Alehouse Licences, Bedford Petty Sessional Division: c.1955-1995;
- Z1105/1: noted in liquor licence traders survey form: 1963;
- WL722/10: photograph in Charles Wells in house magazine Pint Pot: 1974;
- FSD/PC17: newspaper report with photograph of fire: 1975;
- PSBW8/3: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade and North Bedfordshire Petty Sessional Divisions: 1976-1980;
- WL722/97: Charles Wells in house magazine Pint Pot, feature on food at Chequers: 1999;
- WL722/100: Charles Wells in house magazine Pint Pot, article on ghost at Chequers: 1999/2000 

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

1822-1833: Thomas Curtis;
1834-1844 John Corner ;
1850 John Carver;
1851-1854: John Corner,
1861James King;
1869: Mrs Sarah King;
1876-1877 Richard Line;
1881-1885: George Line;
1890-1917: George Line;
1917-1928: William Line;
1928-1940: William Fuller;
1945: Alec G Rogers & Eva A Rogers
1963-1968: Ronald David Dodd;
1968-1972: Brian Alexander Welch;
1972-1976: Eric Page;
1976-1980: Madeleine Page;
1980: John Lawrance Henry Weedon;
1980-1987: John Lawrance Henry Weedon;
1987-1988: John Henry Alain Pasquet;
1988-1995: Edwin John Finch