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The Salutation Public House Blunham


Salutation poster
Sale particulars of 1849 [GK112/30]

The Salutation Public House: 20 High Street, Blunham [formerly The Ragged Staff, also The Old Salutation]

The history of licensed premises in Blunham is complicated by the fact that there have been two separate public houses 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 beerhouse. The beerhouse closed in the 1920s.
  • The first mention of the Ragged Staff in any document held in Bedfordshire & Luton Archives & Records Service is in 1646 when the daughters of Samuel Osborne were admitted tenants to the building since it was copyhold of the Manor of Saint John's.

    By 1707 the building was in the hands of Thomas Bromsall who seems to have acquired it in thirds, presumably as the result of a tripartite division between beneficiaries in the will of a previous owner (or tenant of the Manor). Bromsall died in 1750 and left the bulk of his property to his cousin John Orlebar of Hinwick. John and his son, Richard, were admitted tenants in 1759 and, by 1768, they had sold the public house to William Fisher.

    The next mention of the premises is in 1802 when a Thomas Dennis (who must have either bought or inherited it from William Fisher or from another part or parties who had done so) surrendered a "messuage formerly in occupation of Thomas Nicholls but now an Inn called the Old Salutation" to its occupier Thomas Bassett and his wife, Rachel. When Bassett died in 1820 he left the property to Rachel and, after her death, to her two sons (presumably by a previous marriage) Joseph and Thomas Scruby. Thomas died in 1826 or 1827, well before his mother and devised his half of the property evenly between his two children William and Rachel. Rachel, the mother died in 1844  and her granddaughter Rachel in 1845, of tuberculosis aged just 22. Also in 1845 her son Joseph sold his half of the premises to his nephew William; with Rachel's husband Jesse selling him the remaining quarter in 1846 William thus came to own the premises outright.

    William Scruby sold the Salutation at auction in 1849 to Bedford brewer William Joseph Nash, at which time it was described as an old established free public house comprising: a parlour; a large tap room with a bay window; a smoking room with bar; a large pantry; cellarage; seven bedrooms; a kitchen and brewhouse; a yard; a pump and well; a wood barn and long range of piggeries and outhouses; a corn barn; a coach house and loose box; a four stalled stable; a skittle ground and "a very nice garden". The premises are described as "partly recently erected". After Nash's death in 1884 his widow Susan carried on the business, going into partnership with William Pritzler Newland in 1890 as Newland & Nash. This firm was bought out in 1922 by Biggleswade brewers Wells & Winch who merged with Suffolk brewers Greene King in 1961 adopting the Greene King name in 1963. The pub remains [2006] a Greene King house

    The Hooper & Fletcher archive contains a report by police constable Thomas Stock of an incident at the public house on 18th April 1875, which reads as follows:

    "I am Police Constable stationed at Blunham I was on Duty at Blunham on Saturday April 17th between six and seven in the evening I was called to the Salutation Public House kept by Charles Howard. I went in the House and found a man named Thomas Pestell of Whyboston [sic] gardener he was Drunk and said he had lost his Purse and Sixty Pounds he said someone had stole it. I told him to search his cloths [sic] he said you may search them yourself. I did so and found the Purse and money in his Trousers leg. I told him he had better go home at once he was in charge of a horse and cart while I was speaking to Mrs.Howard as to what Drink he had in the House he got up in his Cart and drove off. I went after him through Tempsford but did not overtake him he was Drunk".

    A note reveals that Thomas Pestell was fined 5/- with 10/- costs, the alternative being 14 days imprisonment.

    In 1927 the place was valued under the 1925 Rating Valuation Act - the valuer noted that it had a low rent "because house was rebuilt when T[enant] was in" and he thought it "looks nice new front…nice bars…nice looking house". The building was of brick and roughcast and tile and comprised a tap room, bar, living room, and parlour downstairs with five bedrooms and a bathroom above whilst outside were a washhouse, earth closet, stable for two horses and an onion loft. "Tenant could not say takings off hand" but business consisted of 1½ barrels of beer per week in winter and two barrels in summer with 6 or 7 dozen bottles of beer per week and "v.little" spirits sold.

    The Salutation in March 2007


    • X253/45 and L26/143: admission: 1646;
    • HSA1683/W/34: female thief apprehended at Ragged Staff: 1683;
    • X336/55: admission to a third part: 1707;
    • X336/56: recited surrender: 1728;
    • X336/56: admission: 1759;
    • X336/19-20: recital that the public house had been surrendered to William Fisher: 1768;
    • GK112/1: sale: 1802;
    • ABP/W1820/14: probate of will of Thomas Bassett, innholder: 1820;
    • ABP4/239: inventory of goods of Thomas Bassett: 1820;
    • GK112/2: will of Thomas Scruby: 1826 proved 1827;
    • GK112/3: conditional surrender by way of mortgage: 1827 (redeemed 1836);
    • GK112/4: conditional surrender by way of mortgage: 1836 (redeemed 1838);
    • GK112/8: conditional surrender by way of mortgage: 1838;
    • GK112/10: admission: 1844;
    • GK112/11: conditional surrender by way of mortgage: 1844 (redeemed 1845)
    • GK112/16: sale of half of Old Salutation and land: 1845;
    • GK112/20: death of Rachel Biggs (née Scruby) of consumption aged 22: 1845;
    • GK112/22: sale by Jesse Biggs to William Scruby of a quarter of Old Salutation for £140: 1846;
    • GK112/28: conditional surrender by way of mortgage: 1846 (redeemed 1849);
    • GK112/30: sale particulars of Salutation and two acres of land: 1849;
    • GK112/32: detailed inventory of Salutation: 1849;
    • GK112/34-37: transfer of Old Salutation to trustees of marriage settlement of W.J.Nash and Susan Platt: 1849;
    • GK3/3: schedule of deeds of properties of Wells & Winch including Old Salutation: 1849-1895;
    • HF147/3/654: police constable's report of incident at Salutation involving a drunken patron: 1875;
    • GK112/39-40: transfer of Old Salutation to new trustees of Nash marriage settlement: 1890;
    • GK3/1a: conveyance of Old Salutation from William Pritzler Newland, Emily Cressy Nash, Florence Mary Nash, Rosa Gertrude Nash and Constance Eveline Nash to Newland & Nash Limited of all properties: 1897;
    • GK3/1b: trust deed to secure debenture stock for Newland & Nash Limited listing all properties: 1897;
    • GK112/41: transfer of Old Salutation to new Nash marriage settlement trustees: 1919;
    • GK112/42: enfranchisement of Old Salutation: 1920;
    • GK112/43: conveyance of Old Salutation from Nash marriage settlement trustees to trustee for Newland & Nash Limited: 1920;
    • GK297/2: conveyance of all property from Newland & Nash to Wells & Winch: 1938;
    • PCBlunham9/17: transfer of licence: 1986

    List of Licensees: note that this is not a complete list. Italics indicate licensees whose beginning and/or end dates are not known:
    1802-1820 Thomas Bassett;
    1822-1827: Rachel Bassett;
    1828 Thomas Clarkson;
    1844: Thomas Nicholls;
    1845: Joseph Lovell;
    1869: James John Baker;
    1877: William Howard;
    1872-1873: Jane James;
    1873-1874: William Jefferies;
    1874-1881: Charles Howard;
    1881-1888: Charles Penwright;
    1888-1896: Charles Henry Clarke;
    1896-1898: William Fuller;
    1898-1906: Frederick George How;
    1906-1907: William Hill;
    1907-1914: William Thomas Davey;
    1957-1958: Frank Payne;
    1958-1961: Alec William Hughes;
    1961: Charles Graham Pressland;
    1961-1962: Arthur Cammack;
    1962-1965: Thomas Henry Curson;
    1965-1967: Barrie Thompson;
    1967-1972: Harold Edwin Randle;
    1972-1982: James William Collyer;
    1982-1985: Brian Fox;
    1985-1986: Robin Patrick Cowley;
    1986-1996: Roy Thomas Walsh;