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The White Lion Public House Wootton

The site of White Lion Wootton July 2007
The site of the former White Lion July 2007

The White Lion Public House: Bedford Road, Wootton

It is not clear from records when the White Lion beerhouse was first licensed. Deeds indicate that a cottage on the site was conveyed by John Davidson to Wootton carpenter Daniel Cook in 1799 [GK92/8]. Other deeds suggest that he pulled this property down and built three new ones on the site as these were conveyed by him to Thomas North and Mary Christian in 1827 [GK92/8]. In his turn North seems to have pulled these down and built two new ones which he sold to Thomas Abbot Green in 1831 [GK92/8], Mary Christian selling her cottage to him the next year [GK92/8].

The White Lion is first mentioned by name in 1850 in sale particulars of Green's Newport Pagnell Brewery and its houses [GK92/10]. It is described as a beerhouse containing five lower rooms, one of which was let off, a newly built shop and six upper rooms, of which two were let off with a cellar behind. There were outhouses in the back yard and just over an acre of arable land detached at a short distance. The buyer at the auction was Bedford brewer George Higgins.

On his death his business passed to his sons Laurence Read Colburne Higgins and Cecil Charles Norman Colburne Higgins who floated the business as a limited company called Higgins & Sons Limited in 1902 [GK4/4]. The business was bought by Biggleswade brewer Wells & Winch Limited in 1927. The countywide licensing register of 1903 states that the White Lion was in a fair condition, clean and apparently sanitary. It was 210 yards from the nearest licensed premises and had a front door, a back door and a side gate. 

In 1927 Wootton was valued under the Rating Valuation Act of 1925; ever piece of land and property was surveyed to determine the rates to be paid on it. The valuer visiting the White Lion noted that it was still a beerhouse, not yet a fully licensed public house and comprised a tap room, smoke room, cellar and larder downstairs with four bedrooms and two box rooms above; outside were a barn and earth closet, loose box, stable and open hovel and two pigsties. Trade was 1½ barrels and 1½ dozen bottles of beer per week. The valuer concluded by noting: "Well Built house, poor tenant, could do better trade". The brewery and tenant also occupied the adjacent orchard.

Wells & Winch merged with Suffolk brewers Greene King in 1961, taking the Greene King name in 1963. The White Lion closed in 2005 and was demolished, new housing being built on the site in 2007. 

References:

  • GK92/1: sale catalogue of 11 lots of land in Wootton: 1795;
  • GK92/3: conveyance: 1796;
  • GK92/8: abstracted conveyance: 1799;
  • GK92/8: abstracted conveyance: 1827;
  • GK92/8: abstracted conveyance: 1827;
  • GK92/8: abstracted conveyance: 1831;
  • GK92/8: abstracted conveyance: 1832;
  • GK92/5: conveyance: 1837;
  • GK82/7 and WG2533: sale particulars of Newport Pagnell brewery and licensed houses: 1850;
  • GK92/10: conveyance: 1850;
  • GK4/2: conveyance: 1882;
  • GK4/4: conveyance: 1902;
  • PSB9/1: register of licenses: 1903-1935;
  • BTNegOB60/6: Bedfordshire Times negative: c.1920;
  • GK4/6: schedule of deeds of properties of Higgins & Sons Limited: 1927;
  • GK297/1: conveyance: 1931;
  • PSB9/2: register of licenses: c.1955-1995;
  • Z1105/1: Liquor Licence Traders Survey Forms: 1962

List of Licensees: note that this is not a complete list; italics indicate licensees whose beginning and/or end dates are not known:
1850: Thomas Hall;
1876: Abel Low;
1891-1906: James Lunnis;
1906-1924: Charles Cook;
1924: Herbert William Harding;
1931-1940: Alfred Smith;
1962: John Brogan;
1965-1968: Percy John Siebert;
1968-1970: John Thomas Rust;
1970-1972: Tom Kenneth Robertson;
1972-1977: Francis William Roe;
1977-1978: Raymond Jack Bennett;
1978-1981: Terence Henry Buck;
1981-1985: John Alfred Wigglesworth;
1985-1988: John Michael Smith;
1988-1992: Barry Arthur Amsdon;
1992-1993: Peter Gorman McKendrick;
1993-1994: Keith Anthony Timewell;
1994-1995: Cheryl Marlaine Mckendrick