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The Exeter Arms Public House Cardington

former Exeter Arms Mar 2007
The former Exeter Arms in March 2007

The Exeter Arms Public House: Southill Road, Cardington

The countywide licensing register of 1876 states that the Exeter Arms was first licensed in 1830. The register is not always accurate about dates of first licensing but this date does seem to agree with the evidence of deeds, as set out below.

The public house was named for the Earls of Exeter, Lords of the lesser Cardington Manor from 1577. The building has, perhaps been in existence since around the time of the battle of Waterloo. Before this it was a small cottage which was left by Richard Brown to John Garrett in his will of 1782, proved in 1788 [GK115/1]. Garrett died in 1814 and left the cottage to his children [GK115/3] who immediately sold it to Samuel Gambrell, a blacksmith from Tilbrook [GK115/2]. By the time Gambrell mortgaged the property to John Beedham in 1821 it had become two cottages "recently erected by Samuel Gambrell" so presumably he had knocked the old building down and built on its site [GK115/5].

Gambrell sold the cottages to John Battams, a farmer from Hardmead in Buckinghamshire in 1825 [GK115/8] and he sold them to George Peregrine Nash, a brewer whose father had set up a brewery in Bedford in 1783, and it is presumably at that point that the building became a licensed premises [GK115/13]. The first mention of the building as a licensed premises occurs in contemporary records occurs in the Post Office Directory for Bedfordshire of 1847 when it is referred to as a beershop, the licensee was James Berrington. He acquired a spirit licence in September 1855:

The Bedfordshire Times of 8th September 1855 reported: “New Licence: Mr Eagles junior applied for a licence to sell spirituous liquors on behalf of James Berrington, keeper of the Exeter Arms beerhouse, Cardington. The applicant, Mr Berrington, had kept the house for the sale of beer during 18 years and not a single complaint had ever been made against him. The house was roomy, had good stabling; was far superior in its general appearance and arrangements to the great majority of village inns, and posessed every convenience for carrying on a considerable trade. There was no opposition, and the bench granted a licence”.

The owner of the premises, now William Joseph Nash, second son of George Peregrine Nash, died in 1884 and his widow Susan became the proprietor. In 1890 she took a rival Bedford brewer William Pritzler Newland as business partner in a combined firm called Newland and Nash. On Susan’s death her four daughters became Newland’s partners and the company was floated on the Stock Exchange in 1897. Newland died three years later. By 1922 the firm was failing and was bought by Biggleswade brewers Wells and Winch Limited.

In 1927 the public house was valued under the 1925 Rating Valuation Act which stated that every piece of land and every building in the country was to be assessed to determine its rateable value. The valuer noted that the property was of red brick and slate and comprised a bar, smoke room ("very small"), bar parlour and kitchen downstairs with a cellar below and three bedrooms above. Outside were a stable with a loft over and a barn. The licensee "does not keep takings" and reckoned to sell about two barrels of beer a week and about a gallon of spirits a month as well as a small tobacco trade. Modest though this trade was it was booming by comparison with the Kings Arms

In 1961 Wells and Winch was taken over by Suffolk brewers Greene King. The Exeter Arms closed in 1988.

The former Exeter Arms Christmas Eve 2010
The former Exeter Arms Christmas Eve 2010


  • GK115/1: receipt of legacy: will 1782, probate 1788;
  • GK115/3: will of John Garrett; made 1782, proved 1814;
  • GK115/2: feoffment: 1814;
  • GK115/4: four-fifths conveyed: 1821;
  • GK115/5: mortgage: 1821;
  • GK115/6: remaining one fifth conveyed: 1823;
  • GK115/8: conveyance: 1825;
  • GK115/13: conveyance: 1830;
  • GK3/3: schedule of deeds of properties of Wells & Winch including Exeter Arms: 1830;
  • GK161/1: abstract of title of William Joseph Nash to licensed premises: 1867;
  • GK161/2: mortgage: 1867;
  • GK159/1: mortgage: 1875;
  • GK161/5: mortgage: 1882;
  • GK3/1a: conveyance: 1897;
  • GK3/1b: trust deed: 1897;
  • PSB9/1: Register of Alehouse Licences - Bedford Petty Sessional Division: 1903-1935;
  • DV1/C116: rating valuation: 1927;
  • GK297/2: conveyance of all property from Newland & Nash to Wells & Winch: 1938;
  • PSB9/2: register of licenses: c.1955-1995; 
  • PSBW8/3: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade and North Bedfordshire Petty Sessional Divisions: 1976-1980

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

1837-1868: James Berrington [died 1868];
1868-1869: Sarah Berrington [died 1890];
1871-1877: Benjamin Minney;
1881: John Day;
1885-1893: George Richardson;
1893-1898: Frederick Walker;
1900-1903: Thomas White;
1903-1939: George Monk;
1939-1948: Harry Surridge;
1948-1952: Cecil J. Surridge;
1952-1956: Jack F. Newton;
1956-1958: John Lumley;
1958-1964: William E. George;
1964-1966: James Johnson;
1966-1972: Frank Archibald Turner;
1972-1977: Winifred Agnes Edith Turner;
1977-1988: Terry Booth McCarthy
Public house closed 1988