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The Swan Public House Shillington

Old Swan House April 2015
Old Swan House April 2015

The Swan Public House: 7 Hanscombe End Road, Shillington

The Swan is listed in the first countywide directory for Bedfordshire, that of 1847. It is not listed in the countywide licensing registers which run from 1822 to 1828 and so it must have opened between 1828 and 1847. The countywide licensing register of 1876 gives the owner as Mrs King of Brighton [Sussex]. The countywide register of 1891 lists the owner as John Holden of Henlow. He had, in fact, the rather unfortunate name of John Brown Staines Holden and was a brewer. His business was taken over by Biggleswade brewers Wells and Winch in 1900.

A schedule of deeds to the Swan [GK164/18] shows us that it was sold in 1802 by John Nicholas to Thomas Bates and three years later by Bates to John Oliver. Four years later Oliver sold it to Richard Pain. Sarah Mary King seems to have acquired the property in 1837 and Holden in 1891 from an R F H King.

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 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 Swan in 1926 [DV1/C62/111] found that the tenant, Stephen George Wilson paid rent of £18 per annum, which included a 2.163 acre grass field. The valuer commented: "Looks big outside but poor public accommodation inside".

The property comprised a tap room ("fair"), a cellar, two living rooms, a scullery and pantry, with three bedrooms above. A wood and thatched shed, coal shed and piggery stood outside. The valuer noted: "has not kept account (varies very much). Thinks average twenty 36 gallon barrels a year (one 18 gallon barrel las fortnight in winter). Doesn't sell bottled beer. About six gallons of spirits a year. Never has done good trade, very few people down Sandy Heath". Another note reads: "Said could not live here without ten acres of land hired in the village!"

The pub is one of three which appear in the licensing register which ends in 1959 [PSA5/2] but not in the register which begins in the early 1960s [PSA5/5] and so must have closed at some time around 1959.

Sources:

  • PSA5/1: Register of Alehouse Licences - Ampthill Petty Sessional Division: 1872-1927;
  • HE252: Shillington Manor court to be held at Swan: 1886;
  • GK164/18: schedule of deeds: 1894;
  • X900/1/9: Shillington Manor court held at Swan: 1913;
  • PSA5/2: Register of Alehouse Licences - Ampthill Petty Sessional Division: 1934-1959;
  • PSA5/5: list of licensed premises in Ampthill Petty Sessional Division: 1968-1995.
  • Z1062/4/9/4a-b: photographs: 2005

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

1847: William Strapp;
1853-1854: Mary Strapp;
1864-1881: William Waller;
1881-1924: George Elliott;
1924-1950: Stephen George Wilson;
1950-1953: Stephen Fred Wilson;
1953-1959: Archibald James Alcock