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The Queens Head Beerhouse Blunham

 The Queens Head about 1920 [Z1306/19]
The Queens Head about 1920 [Z1306/19]

The Queen's Head Beerhouse: 5-7 High Street, Blunham [earlier called Ragged Staff, then the Salutation]

The history of licensed premises in Blunham is complicated by the fact that there have been two separate pubs which both started life as the Ragged Staff and later became the Salutation, the respective histories seem to be as follows:

the present day Salutation seems to have been a public house by 1646 under the name of the Ragged Staff. It closed at some point in the 18th century and became a simple cottage, later reopening as a public house called Salutation, changing to the Old Salutation when the other Salutation opened and reverting when the other Salutation closed in the early 19th century;
  • the other Ragged Staff seems to have opened at some point after the previous one closed (quite possibly the public house simply moved properties). By 1786 it had been named the Salutation and remained as such until closing at some point before 1846. In 1848 the house was let to a brewer and it is at this point that it presumably reopened as the Queens Head. The beerhouse closed in the 1920s.
  • The first mention of the Ragged Staff in any document held by Bedfordshire & Luton Archives & Records Service is in 1767 when Richard Orlebar (who also held the other Salutation!) sold it to butcher Henry Dennis. Like the other Salutation, this premises was copyhold.

    Henry Dennis mortgaged the premises to Matthias West in 1786 [CRT130/Blu10/2] at which point it was described as formerly the Ragged Staff, now the Salutation. Dennis devised the property in his will of 1795, proved in 1796, to his wife Ann for her life, then to his son Thomas. Thomas subsequently, in 1798, mortgaged it to Joseph Fossey and, in his will of 1802 (proved in the same year) devised it to his wife, Elizabeth. The beerhouse was still known as the Salutation in 1819 when Elizabeth surrendered it to her son, Henry, who subsequently mortgaged it on a number of occasions.

    At some point Henry Dennis must have sold the beerhouse as in 1846 Henry Usher sold it to Joseph Lovell for £345. Lovell sold the inn to Herbert Allbury Dunnage in 1865 and Dunnage sold it to Baldock brewer Oliver Steed in 1885. Steed enfranchised the property (i.e. made it into freehold) in 1887 at which point the premises was known as the Queen Head (perhaps renamed by Steed). Steed died in 1888 and his firm was taken over by William Pickering and known as Morley & Company, later renamed Wilson & Company. This beerhouse was sold to Charles Wells in 1895. The premises was sold, interestingly to a father and son, both called Harry Thomas Dennis in 1926, by which time it is referred to as being formerly the Queens Head beerhouse.

    The Rating and Valuation Act of 1925 specified that every piece of land and building in the country was to be assessed to determine the rates to be paid on it. The valuer visiting 5 and 7 High Street [DV1/C179/65 and 67] found that both were, unsurprisingly, still owned by Harry Dennis; Number 5 was vacant and Number 7 was occupied by W. Tudd. The valuer noted that the premises were constructed of roughcast over half-timbering and tile and slate roofs. To judge by the valuer's comments only Number 5 had been the Queens Head; it comprised two parlours (one with a bay window), a kitchen and larder downstairs with four bedrooms above. A washhouse stood outside. The valuer commented: "Recently a pub (Queen's Head) - now being repaired by purchaser (Dennis) as Dwelling House", also "Just done up. Looks Nice", "Garden (Good)" and "Right on Road".

    Number 7 comprised a parlour with a bay window, a living room and scullery downstairs with two bedrooms above and a barn outside. The tenant paid £7 per annum rent, which had been fixed before the Great War and which the valuer thought low. He also commented: "Very nice, on Road", "Small Bay down", "Recently purchased from Charles Wells Limited" and "Water from pump outside".

    This old building was listed by English Heritage in March 1985 as Grade II, of special interest. The listing dates the building as 16th century, reworked in the 19th century. As noted by the valuer in 1927 it is timber-framed with a colour-washed roughcast exterior and applied mock timber framing at the front. The roof is of clay tiles. The eastern elevation has been rebuilt. The building is in an L-plan, of two storeys with a single storey lean-to addition at the rear.

    former Ragged Staff
    The former Ragged Staff or Queen's Head in March 2007


    • CRT130/Blunham10/2: photocopied précis of surrender: 1767;
    • CRT130/Blunham10/2: photocopied précis of surrender by way of mortgage : 1786 (redeemed 1798);
    • CRT130/Blunham10/2: photocopied précis of will of Henry Dennis: 1795, proved 1796;
    • CRT130/Blunham10/2: photocopied précis of mortgage: 1798 (redeemed 1817);
    • CRT130/Blunham10/2: photocopied précis of will of Thomas Dennis: 1802, proved 1802;
    • CRT130/Blunham10/2: photocopied précis of admission: 1811;
    • CRT130/Blunham10/2: photocopied précis of surrender: 1819;
    • CRT130/Blunham10/2: photocopied précis of surrender by way of mortgage: 1829 (redeemed 1831);
    • CRT130/Blunham10/2: photocopied précis of surrender by way of mortgage: 1831;
    • CRT130/Blunham10/2: photocopied précis of surrender by way of mortgage: 1831; 
    • CRT130/Blunham10/1: photocopied précis of contract of sale: 1846;
    • CRT130/Blunham10/3: photocopied précis of surrender:1847;
    • CRT130/Blunham10/6: photocopied précis of surrender by way of mortgage: 1848 (redeemed 1864);
    • CRT130/Blunham10/8: photocopied précis of surrender:1865;
    • CRT130/Blunham10/10 and 13: photocopied précis of conveyance: 1885;
    • CRT130/Blunham10/12: photocopied précis of enfranchisement: 1887;   
    • GK165/4: conveyed, with other properties: 1889;
    • CRT130/Blunham10/14: photocopied precis of conveyance: 1895;
    • CRT130/Blunham10/15: photocopied precis of sale particulars: 1926;
    • CRT130/Blunham10/17: photocopied precis of  conveyance: 1927;
    • CRT130/Blunham10/18: photocopied précis of conveyance: 1943;
    • CRT130/Blunham10/19: photocopied précis of mortgage: 1943;
    • CRT130/Blunham10/20: photocopied précis of conveyance: 1954

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

    1869-1889: James Boness or Bonus;
    1891: Robert Beadle;
    1891-1893: Elizabeth White;
    1893-1894: William John Wright;
    1894: James John Kither;
    1894: Arthur Jane;
    1894-1897: William James Phipper;
    1897-1904: William Giggle;
    1904-1908: Hannah Giggle;
    1908-1914: John Burton;
    1914-1924: Herbert Currant
    Beerhouse closed before 1926