Skip Navigation

Welcome to Bedford Borough Council

Home > Community Histories > Chawston > The Jolly Plough Boys Beerhouse Chawston

The Jolly Plough Boys Beerhouse Chawston

RDBP1-315 Jolly Plough Boys elevation 1915
Elevation of Jolly Plough Boys in 1915 [RDBP1/315]


The Jolly Plough Boys Beerhouse: Colesden Road, Chawston 

Directories list a Cambridgeshire Hunter public house in the hamlet in 1861, the licensee of which was a Henry Hill. However, no such public house is shown in Chawston on the 1861 census but Henry Hill is shown as a retailer of beer; no name is given to his residence. It is possible that the former Cambridgeshire Hunter public house was downgraded to a beerhouse sometime around 1861 when the twenty-six year old Henry took it over. By 1871 Henry gives his occupation as ‘gardener and publican’ and the name of the house is given as ‘The Plough Boys’. Henry Hill was still noted as the licensee of the Jolly Plough Boys in 1885 . 

The first known reference to this beerhouse in any document in Bedfordshire Archives Service is in 1885 when it was for sale by auction, along with the Beehive Beerhouse in Colesden. It is described as a public house (which may be a misunderstanding as it is definitely described as a beerhouse in the licensing register beginning in 1903 and does not appear in any directory, a feature of beerhouses rather than public houses). The premises is described as being of brick, stud and thatch and containing a tap room, cellar, sitting room, dairy, small room and three bedrooms; it also had a stud and thatch wash house, board, stud and thatch pig stye, large board and tile corn barn, board and tile three bay cart hovel with onion loft over, board and tile stable and cart house with a loft over and 2acres and 5 perches of "very rich and productive garden land" in the rear.

In 1895 there is a contract for sale of the Jolly Plough Boys beerhouse, Chawston, Roxton to Mrs Martha Marsom [HF20/356/3]. At this time the landlord was John Bartram, who is recorded in both the 1891 and 1901 censuses as living at the Ploughboys with his wife Susan. 

The premises was auctioned again in 1902 along with Darrington's Eagle Brewery at Eaton Socon, the Beehive and three other drinking establishments. In October 1904 Mrs Annie Jeffries granted a 21 year lease to Day & Son [HF40/3/11/1a] and it was later purchased by Day & Son of St.Neots [Huntingdonshire], brewers. Day & Son were taken over by Biggleswade brewers Wells & Winch in 1920. 

The thatched beerhouse burnt down on the morning of 16 November 1914. The Bedfordshire Times & Independent of 20 November 1914 reported ‘A fire occurred at Chawston on Monday morning when the licensed premises belonging to Messrs Day and Son in the occupation of Mr Stewart, were completely burnt down. The origin of the fire is unknown although opinion inclines to the belief that it was the result of smouldering beams. The alarm was given by a passer-by, who noticed smoke issuing from the roof. The roof being thatch, and of a good thickness, soon caught fire and the high wind quickly fanned the flames to such an extent that the whole building was engulfed in flames. A message was despatched to St Neots and the brigade was not long in arriving, but by this time the combustible materials had given the fire a good hold. The men worked with untiring zeal but unfortunately the efforts were unavailing. Most of the furniture from the lower rooms was removed before any damage was done, but the belongings in the upper rooms were destroyed. The unfortunate occupants received willing help from neighbours.’

A planning application for the rebuilding was submitted to the rural district council in 1915 [RDBP1/215]. 

The Rating and Valuation Act 1925 specified that every building and piece of land in the country was to be assessed as to its rateable value. Chawston was assessed in 1927. The valuer visiting the Jolly Plough Boys [DV1/C197] found a detached brick and slate building with a tap room ("good"), parlour ("fair"), kitchen, cellar and three bedrooms; outside was a washhouse. Trade was small and as the valuer noted "position not good", the beerhouse sold about 18 to 20 gallons of beer per week.

At some point after 1940 the beerhouse closed and is now a private residence called North View.


  • WG2466: sale catalogue: 1885;
  • HF20/356/3: contract for sale, 1895;
  • WG2594: sale catalogue: 1902;
  • PSB9/1: register of licences: c.1903-1932;
  • RDBP1/315: building plans: 1915.

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

1861-c.1885: Henry Hill;
1890: George Mark;
1891-1904: John Bartram;
1904: George Charlich;
1904-1905: James Austin;
1905-1909: Albert Whitney;
1909-1910: Harry Woodward;
1910-1920: Samuel Stewart;
1920-1940: Nathan Reed