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The Five Bells Public House Shillington

The Five Bells about 1950 [WB/Green4/5/Shi/FB2]
The Five Bells about 1950 [WB/Green4/5/Shi/FB2]

The Five Bells Public House: 18 Church Street

The former Five Bells occupied an old building, which was listed by the former Department of Environment in June 1973. The structure dates from the 17th century and is of timber-framed construction, the ground floor having been rebuilt in brick and coated in colourwashed render. Colourwashed plaster infill to first floor lies between the timbers on the first floor. The roof is composed of 20th century tiles. A 20th century two-storeyed addition projects from the rear.

The property was a public house from at least 1822 as it appears in the first countywide register of licensees [CLP13]. Interestingly in 1822 the licensee is given as Betty Poulter, John Poulter being licensee of the Red Sign Post. The following year the two of them had swapped, unless the original 1822 register is in error.

By the time of the countywide licensing register of 1876 the owner of the building was Hitchin [Hertfordshire] brewer Joseph Lucas. His was a well-established firm, having been set up by William Lucas in 1709. In 1898 the company was floated on the stock market as W and S Lucas Limited [WB/L4/1/VP1]. At this time the Five Bells was described as including three roods of land (three-quarters of an acre). A cottage belonging to Samuel Whitbread lay to the east and a close of land belonging to Thomas Crouch to the north.

Rosina Peck at the door of the Five Bells about 1950 [WB/Green4/5/Shi/FB1]
Rosina Peck at the door of the Five Bells about 1950 [WB/Green4/5-/Shi/FB1]

In 1921 W and S Lucas was taken over by Luton brewer J W Green. 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 Five Bells in 1926 [DV1/C75/53] found that the tenant, Stephen Peck paid rent of £12 per annum, this rate having been set when Green took over the property.

The valuer commented: "Nice looking old-fashioned place outside, clean inside". Accommodation comprised a tap room and a bar (both "fair"), a bar cellar, two living rooms and four bedrooms. Outside stood a wood and corrugated iron barn ("good"), two henhouses, a wood and slated stable for two horses (a later hand noting "now store") and two further barns.

Trade comprised one 36 gallon barrel of beer per week, four dozen bottles opf beer per week, less than a gallon of spirits per month and half a pound of tobacco per week. Takings varied between £250 and £350. The valuer noted:  "Does little trade in summer".

In 1954 J W Green merged with Midlands brewery Flowers, the new company taking the latter name. Eight years later the company was taken over by Whitbread. The Five Bells closed for the last time in April 1975 and is now a private house.

18 Church Street - the former Five Bells - March 2014
18 Church Street - the former Five Bells - March 2014

Sources:

  •  CLP13: list of licensees: 1822-1828;
  •  P44/8/1: reference to the road leading from the Five Bells: 1832
  •  PSA5/1: Register of Alehouse Licences - Ampthill Petty Sessional Division: 1872-1927;
  •  WB/Green5/5/1: register of successive tenants: 1887-1926;
  •  WB/L4/1/VP1: conveyance by Samuel Lucas to W & S Lucas: 1898;
  •  Z1229/124: photograph: c. 1900;
  •  WB/L4/1/VP3; conveyance by Samuel and George Frederick Lucas to W & S Lucas: 1923;
  •  PSA5/2: Register of Alehouse Licences - Ampthill Petty Sessional Division: 1934-1959;
  •  WB/Green4/2/4: properties belonging to J W Green: 1936-1952;
  •  WB/Green4/2/7: schedule of J W Green deeds and documents: c. 1949;
  •  WB/Green4/2/8: schedule of J W Green deeds and documents: c. 1949;
  •  WB/Green4/2/12: schedule of J W Green deeds and documents: c. 1949;
  •  PSA5/4: list of licensed premises in Ampthill Petty Sessional Division: c.1950s;
  •  WB/Green4/2/20: list of J W Green buildings of historic interest: c. 1950;
  •  WB/Green4/5/Shi/FB1-2: photographs: c. 1950s;
  •  WB/Green4/2/5: list of J W Green licensed houses: 1952;
  •  WB/Green4/2/16: letter regarding J W Green Limited titles: 1952;
  •  WB/Green4/2/17: J W Green trust deed: 1952-1972;
  •  WB/Green4/2/19: J W Green deeds: c. 1954;
  •  PCShillington14/15: construction of a footpath from Five Bells to 71 Hillfoot Road: 1963-1965;
  •  PSA5/5: list of licensed premises in Ampthill Petty Sessional Division: 1968-1995;
  •  Z1062/1/7/5: Photograph: 1998;
  •  Z1062/1/7/7: Photograph: 1998.

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

1822: Betty Poulter;
1823-1828: John Poulter;
1869-1885: James Waller;
1885-1886: John Poulter;
1886-1903: Robert Smith;
1903-1915: Elizabeth Smith;
1915-1921: William Parsons;
1921-1940: Stephen Peck;
1940-1959: Rosina Peck;
1961-1975: Frederick Bradley;
1975: Ernest Albert Raymond Mole.

Public house closed 6th April 1975