Skip Navigation

Welcome to Bedford Borough Council

Home > Community Histories > Chawston > The Nags Head Public House Chawston

The Nags Head Public House Chawston

WG2526 Nags Head from 1840 sale catalogue
Sale catalogue description of the Nag's Head in 1840 [WG2526]

The Nags Head Public House: Nags Head Lane/Great North Road, Chawston

The first reference to the Nags Head comes in 1735 when it was simply a cottage and lay on the north of Nags Head Lane where it met the Great North Road. In 1735 half of it it was assured to Richard Kefford, nephew of Elizabeth, a daughter of William Staplo, deceased, who had purchased it from William Wildman years earlier [WG29].

It is first referred to as the Nags Head in 1782 when Richard Kefford mortgaged his share in it [WG32], he conveyed that share four years later to another Richard Kefford, of Elstow, for £143 [WG34-35]. That same year this second William Kefford sold the premises to William Fowler of St.Neots [Huntingdonshire], brewer [WG37-39].

Fowler's brewery was sold by the trustees of his will to John Day of Bedford in 1814 [WG331-332] and the brewery and its tied houses eventually became Day and Son. The brewery sold of a number of licensed premises in 1840, one of which was the Nags Head [WG2526]. It was purchased by Biggleswade brewers William Hogg and Robert Burton Lindsell, a pencil annotation tells us for £567 [HF40/2/22/1-2]. The premises was described as containing a "good" tap room, parlour, kitchen, cellar, five bedrooms, a washhouse, barn, stable, shed, yard and garden "well supplied with Water".

Hogg and Lindsell's firm was known as Wells and Company who were bought out by Kent businessman George Winch in 1899 for his son Edward Bluett Winch, the company name changing to Wells & Winch. The Nags Head closed in 1917 and became a private house called The Croft. It has since been demolished as the photograph below shows.

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. Aspley Guise was assessed in 1927. The valuer visiting the building on the north corner of Nags Head Lane and Great North Road [DV1/C197/137] found it was The Croft Poultry Farm, owned and occupied by Ernest A. Green. The description of the premises is very different to that of 1840, suggesting they were different buildings, the older property having beend emolished and replaced, or substantially altered. The Croft was a brick and tiled, detached building comprising two reception rooms, a kitchen and scullery downstairs with three bedrooms above and three small attics above that. The valuer commented: "Garden nice". The house stood in just over a third of an acre and on the adjoining twenty poles of ground stood: weatherboarded and tiled nesting houses; a weatherboarded and corrugated iron mixing house; a weatherboarded and corrugated iron store and brooder house; a weatherboarded and tiled open hen house; a weatherboarded and tiled incubator house and a weatherboarded and tiled barn.

site of Nags Head Chawston - Mar 2007
site of the former Nag's Head in March 2007


  • WG29: deed to lead to the uses of a fine: 1735;
  • WG32: mortgage: 1782;
  • WG34-35: conveyance of half share: 1786;
  • WG37-39: conveyance: 1786;
  • LS37: conveyance of Fowler's brewery to trustees: 1800;
  • WG331-332: conveyance of Fowler's brewery to John Day of Bedford: 1814;
  • CLP13: register of alehouse licences: 1822-1828;
  • PSB1/1: register of licences: 1829-1834;
  • WG2526: sale catalogue of St. Neots Brewery premises: 1840;
  • HF40/2/22/1-2: conveyance: 1840;
  • GK1/36: three sales catalogues bound together: Wells & Company of Biggleswade 1898; Henlow Brewery 1899; Baldock Brewery Limited 1903;
  • PSB9/1: register of licences: c.1903-1932.

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

18th Century: Robert George;
18th Century: Henry Coy;
1822-1833: John Neale;
1834: William
Neal(e) (gardener);
1840: John Neale;
1854-1871: William Neale;

1877-1890: James P. Wayman (market gardener)
1894-1915: Jane
1915-1916: Stanley Harold Franks;
1916-1917: Albert Whitney
Public house closed 25th December 1917