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The Nags Head Beerhouse Wilshamstead

The Nags Head Beerhouse: site in Dines Close, Wilshamstead

Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service does not have a great deal of information on the Nag’s Head, the site of which stood in what is now Dines Close at either Number 6 or Number 8. That a building stood on the site is shown on a map drawn up to show the estate of the Whitbread family of Southill in 1794 [W2/6/1-2].

The countywide licensing register of 1876 states that the beerhouse was first licensed in 1862 and belonged to Biggleswade brewers Wells & Company. This date may not be accurate or may refer only to the most recent change in licence as a schedule of deeds states that in 1837 the premises was conveyed by James Weston to Hogg and Lindsell. These last two were William Hogg and Robert Burton Lindsell who ran the Biggleswade brewery they had inherited from their father-in-law Samuel Wells junior, son of the man who had established the business in the mid 18th century. The firm was then known as Hogg, Wells & Company before reverting to its former name of Wells & Company. This would mean that the property was owned by the brewery for twenty four years before becoming a licensed property, which seems unlikely.

In 1898 Wells & Company was put up for sale and bought by Chatham [Kent] business man George Winch for his son Edward Bluett Winch. From 1899 the firm was known as Wells & Winch. The conveyance [Z1039/34/2a] notes that the property had formerly been two cottages and had a yard, gardens, barns, a stable and outbuildings. The countywide licensing register of 1903 states that the Nag’s Head was in a bad state of repair but “fairly clean” and “apparently sanitary”. It was thirty yards from the nearest licensed premises (The Chequers) and had one front door.

The Nag's Head closed for the last time on 21st December 1907 [PSB9/1]. Its fate was sealed by a report by Walter Peacock in 1907 [CLP4]: "It is rough cast with slate roof. Three rooms and cellar on ground floor. Taproom is 10 feet 6 inches by 11 feet 3 inches by 6 feet 11 inches. The living room is 10 feet 8 inches by 11 feet 12 inches by 6 feet 11 inches. There are five bedrooms. There is a large barn, a washhouse and some stabling. The fabric of the house and buildings are in fair repair. The inside needs doing up. I consider the Chequers is better than the Nag's Head. I also consider Woolpack better".

A schedule of deeds dating from 1922 [Z1039/34/1] states that the property had been “sold to Boston” in 1908. 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. Like most of the county, Wilshamstead was largely assessed in 1927 and the valuer visiting the former Nag’s Head [DV1/C65/39] found it now owned and occupied by G. Bennett.

Accommodation comprised a parlour, a living room and a kitchen downstairs with five bedrooms (“2 communicate”) above. Outside stood two barns and a washhouse. The valuer commented: “was the Nags Head P. H.” He also commented: “Position not good, recently renovated and done up”.

Records

  • W2/6/1-2: Whitbread Estate map: 1794;
  • GK1/36: Baldock Brewery sale catalogue: 1898;
  • Z1039/34/2a: conveyance of licensed premises to Wells and Winch Limited: 1899;
  • PSB9/1: Register of Alehouse Licences - Bedford Petty Sessional Division: 1903-1935;
  • CLP4: closure report: 1907;
  • Z1039/34/1: schedule of deeds: 1922

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

1876: Joel Bennett;
1885-1899: Jonathan Bennett;
1903: Ernest Masters;
1903-1907: Charles Albury
Beerhouse closed 21st December 1907.