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The Kings Arms Public House Cardington

The King's Arms Cardington in March 2007
The King's Arms Cardington in March 2007

The King's Arms Public House: 31 The Green, Cardington

We are fortunate that three surveys of the parish of Cardington from the late 18th century survive. The first of these was undertaken in 1782 by James Lilburne. He was the parish schoolmaster and later agent for Samuel Whitbread, who owned large estates in the parish and also the sole Enclosure Commissioner for the parish. He produced a list of all the inhabitants of the parish arranged by house and hamlet [P38/28/1]. This was published, with extensive analysis by County Archaeologist David Baker in 1973 as Bedfordshire Historical Record Society Volume 52.

Since publication a second list has been found [P38/28/2]. It carries revisions up to the year 1789. Sadly neither of these surveys includes a map. Finally, in 1794 Lilburne produced another survey [W2/6/1-3] and this one had a map with a key showing where each house was. One can use this to plot the houses of the previous surveys and this work was carried out by John Wood of Bedfordshire County Council’s Conservation Section in October 1982 [CRT130Cardington29]. In 1782 William Troman was living at a cottage on the site [P38/28/1]. The later annotations [P38/28/2] make it clear that he was a malt maker and state: "This house pulled down and a new Public House built in 1783". William Trueman was still there in 1794 [W2/6/1-3]. William Tru[e]man was still licensee from 1822 to 1828 [CLP13].

The property was Grade II listed by the former Ministry of Public Buildings and Works in 1964. The department did its research well and noted the date of 1783 though they stated that the current property incorporated the remains of the earlier building. 

In 1927 the public house was valued under the 1925 Rating Valuation Act. This act stated that every piece of land and building in the country was to be assessed to determine the rateable value.

The valuer considered it a "nice looking place. Good staff but poor trade…ought to do a much better trade". Trade was poor, in fact the valuer notes, ¾ of a barrel of beer per year "not half a gallon a month" which seems inordinately low, especially as the for total takings in 1926 was £279. The premises comprised a bar with four pulls, one of which was working! There was also a tap room, a parlour used as a sitting room, a kitchen and a cellar downstairs; above there were three bedrooms. Outside were a coal house and wood house, a hen house, store place, tennis court, piggery, horse box and a stable used as storage. The licensee also occupied 1.889 acres of grass land adjoining the public house.


  • W4040 page 66: repairs and improvements mentioned in Whitbread Estate ledger: 1890-1895;
  • PSB9/1: register of licenses: 1903-1935; 
  • BTNegOB5/12: Bedfordshire Times negative of the public house: c.1920;
  • DV1/C116: rating valuation: 1927;
  • Z924/1 page 7: photograph of public house with snow on ground: c.1940s;
  • PSB9/2: register of licenses: c.1955-1995;
  • PCCardington18/5: plans for alterations: 1976-1989;
  • BorB/TP/88/716: plans for erection of thirteen dwellings on adjacent land: 1988;
  • BorB/TP/88/2541LB: plans and elevations for extension to public house: 1988

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

1822-1828: William Trueman;
1829-1835: Thomas Trueman;
1853 Thomas Truman;
1869-1877:Richard Witty;
1885-1910: Sarah Witty;
1910-1912: Frederick George Cherry;
1912-1920: Alfred Thomas Green;
1920-1940: George William Cook;
1969: Cecil James Surridge;
1969-1971: Geoffrey William Cooper;
1971-1975: Roger Sherwood;
1975-1980: David Malcolm James;
1980-1981: Norman Arthur Hards;
1981-1983: Leslie Jones;
1983-1985: Derrick Jones;
1985-1988: Geoffrey Ronald John Smith;
1988: Jane Quelch and Maurice Nelson;
1988-1989: Graham Colin Jones and Maurice Nelson;
1989-1990: Neville Clive Snell and David John Roberts;
1990: Neville Clive Snell and Eric Banks;
1990-1992: Anthony Howard Mears and Eric Banks;
1992: Anthony Howard Mears and Richard Andrew Harris;
1992-1993: Richard Harris and Martin Darby;
1993: William Joseph Bradley and Martin Peter Darby;
1993-1994: Nigel Anderton and William Bradley;
1994-1995: Nigel Anderton and Janet Goodyear;
1995: Neville Snell and Janet Goodyear;
1995: Neville Snell and Robert Vioello;
1995-1996: Neville Snell and Alex Duxbury-Watkinson