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The Woolpack Beerhouse Potton

The Woolpack Beerhouse: 8 Chapel Street, Potton

4 to 8 Chapel Street August 2013
4 to 8 Chapel Street August 2013

The countywide licensing register of 1876 states that this beerhouse was first licensed in 1854. This is wrong. We have the will of Thomas Seamer, drawn up in 1843 and proved on his death in 1845 in which he devises the Woolpack, which he described as in the occupation of Mrs. Lyles, Jacob Russell, Thomas Duffin, John Head, Joseph Boness and Giggle to his brother James [GK286/13].

By 1853 James Seamer was dead and his property was put up for sale by auction. The particulars [Z858/28/9] describe the beerhouse as follows: “All those well-built and commodious PREMISES, called the Wool Pack, comprising several respectable Houses and Tenements, extensive Work-Shops, Stabling, Barns, Lofts and Out-houses, conveniently and advantageously situated for Business, now in the occupation of Messrs. LEE, KITCHENER, DUFFIN, HEAD and Mrs. BONESS, at £29 17s. Part Freehold and part Copyhold, held of the Manor of "Potton Much Manured" fine certain. Quit Rent 6d.” People held copyhold properties from the manor and instead of conveying them to someone else had to surrender them to the Lord of the Manor at a manor court and the new owners then had to seek admission from that manor court or a subsequent one. This allowed the manor to claim a fee (or fine) for the privilege.

It is not recorded who purchased the property - it may have been Francis Bingham who is recorded as owner in the licensing register of 1876. Licensee Henry Croot was convicted two years running for opening during prohibited hours, on 14th January 1874 and 16th June 1875. On each occasion he was fined £1 with eight shillings costs [HF143/2].

The countywide licensing register of 1891 gives Bedford brewer Thomas Jarvis as the owner, as does the 1903 register which tells us that the Woolpack needed repairs, was 45 yards from the nearest licensed premises and had one front and one back door. The beerhouse closed for the last time on 22nd December 1909. At that time the licensee was Walter Duffin and the Duffin continued to operate a market gardening business from the premises for the next thirty years or so.

References:

  • Z858/28/8 and GK286/13: will of Thomas Seamer: 1843 (proved 1845);
  • Z858/28/9: sale particulars: 1853;
  • HF143/1: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1872-1873; 
  • HF143/2: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1874-1877;
  • HF147/4/724: Occurrence report of Potton police sergeant on failure to close the beerhouse on time: 1875;
  • HF143/3: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1878-1881;
  • HF143/4: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1882-1890;
  • HF143/5: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1891-1900;
  • HF143/6: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1900-1914;
  • PSBW8/1: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1903-1915;
  • Z758: papers of Duffin family, who ran a market gardening business from former Woolpack from about 1910 to 1940 or later: c.1910.

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

1872-1876: Henry Croot;
1876-1882: George Winters;
1890-1891: Eli Bailey;
1891-1892: Thomas Mead;
1892-1894: Thomas Elderbeck;
1894-1899: James Papworth;
1899-1900: Daniel Brown Piggott;
1900-1909: Walter Duffin
Beerhouse closed 22nd December 1909.