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The Horse and Groom Public House Clapham

The Horse and Groom April 2010
The Horse and Groom April 2010

The Horse and Groom Public House: 15 High Street, Clapham

The Horse and Groom is an old building and has been a public house for over two hundred years. The building was listed by English Heritage in August 1987 as Grade II, of special interest. It dates from the 17th century and is timber-framed with pebbledash render and has an old clay tiled roof. The building comprises two storeys.

The first reference to the public house is in 1812 under the name of the Horse and Jockey. It was part of the Clapham Park Estate, put on the market in that year by the Earl of Ashburnham. The sale particulars [BS188] read: “situate the town street of Clapham, on the high road from Kettering to Bedford, with roomy Stabling, 2 Barns, cart-lodge and Granary, with the Yards, containing by estimation 2 roods 28 poles”. The tenant was William Eling, who also leased a pightle of pasture of 3 roods, 8 poles on the west side of the road and a piece of hempland called The Island of 2 roods, 32 poles. “This house brews its own beer, is much resorted to by Drovers and other travellers, and is capable of carrying on an extensive trade”.

The following year the earl conveyed the Horse and Jockey  to brewer William Long of Bedford [GK116/1]. In 1817 Long conveyed the pub to Thomas Green of Kingsthorpe [Northamptonshire] brewer [GK116/2]. In 1830 Green conveyed the Horse and Jockey to a trustee for Alexander Sharman of Wellingborough [Northamptonshire] and Irene, his wife [GK116/7].

In 1842 James Crisp was a farmer and also kept the Horse and Jockey. On 1st June that year the local police constable. William Fane, showed him a large table knife which was Crisp’s. He had not missed it before, but after it was shown to him he counted his knives and found only three when there should have been six. They were all there on Saturday May 28th. The previous afternoon there was a great fire at Clapham and the people who worked the engines were at his house for refreshment and took bread and cheese. His knives were in use on that occasion.

PC Fane, of Bedfordshire Rural Police, had been on duty at the fire. Between 11 pm and midnight he heard a very great noise in the village some distance from the fire. He went there and found seven or eight men rioting. Another police constable was taking the party into the Horse and Jockey where there was light and they could be recognised. He assisted the constable. Henry Pearson tried to rescue one of the rioters. He secured them both and handcuffed them. He later took two more into custody and took them with the prisoner to Bedford. When he searched Pearson at Bedford he saw him take Crisp’s knife and put it under the bed clothes in the cage. He turned down the cover and took possession of the knife. PC Fane remembered that as he had been taking Pearson to Bedford, Mr Small junior, son of Mr Thomas Small the superintendent of the engines, said to him that Pearson had been working the engines and taking refreshments at Crisp's and ought to have known better than to interfere with a party he knew nothing about.

Henry Pearson himself, a Clapham, labourer, said that he went with the Saint Peter’s Engine to the fire. He continued to work the engine without ceasing until it stopped going. After that he went to Crisp’s at the Horse and Jockey to have some bread and cheese and beer. They had only one pint apiece during the working. Having had no victuals the beer soon made him tipsy. He had a knife in his hand. There was a cry of fighting and he and some others went out. As he was going in a policeman had got a man doubled between two doors in the passage. He went in a flurry not thinking what he had got in his hand. He thought he had the knife but was so tipsy he took no notice. The man neing apprehended was groaning very much as got his arm twisted so Pearson pushed him to release him and so Pearson was also taken into custody. When he got to the Station House something pricked him – he did not know what. He pulled it out of his pocket and knew he had no business with it so put it under the bed.

The gaol register for Bedford Prison [QGV10/2] tells us that Henry Pearson was 20 years old and stood 5 feet 4 inches. He had brown hair, hazel eyes and a dark complexion. Perhaps it comes as no surprise that he was acquitted.

In 1857 the Horse and Jockey was part of a 114 acre estate put up for sale by auction. The sale particulars [GK116/8] described it as an “Old Licensed Public House known as the “Horse and Jockey” situate on the High Road in the best part of the village; containing ample accommodation with productive Garden, yard, Stabling, Hovels and a small piece of capital Meadow Land, and an Island near thereto”. The pub was conveyed to Bedford brewer William Joseph Nash [Gk116/9].

Nash died in 1884 and his widow Susan went into partnership with William Ptrizler Newland in 1890 as Newland and Nash. The Horse and Jockey had become the Horse and Groom by 1895 [GK162/4]. In 1924 Newland and Nash was bought by Biggleswade brewers Wells and Winch.

In 1921 estate agents and valuers Peacocks were requested by the magistrates to compare licensed premises in Clapham. Newland and Nash recorded trade at the Horse and Groom as 165 barrels and 114 dozen pint bottles of beer in 1919 along with 116.16 gallons of spirits. In 1920 it was 140.25 barrels, 203 doxen pints and 105.16 gallons of spirits [PK7/4/6].

The Rating and Valuation Act 1925 specified that every building and piece of land in the country was to be assessed to determine its rateable value. The valuer visiting the Horse and Groom [DV1/C276/21] found that the rent was £15 per annum fixed in 1915. The building stood in just over one pole of land. The ground floor comprised a tap room (“small”), a bar (“very small”), a smoke room (“small”), a large parlour (“good”), a private sitting room and kitchen. Four bedrooms (“own use”) lay upstairs. Outside were some tea gardens as well as wood and corrugated iron pigsties, a four-stall brick and slate cow pen, a coachhouse, a two-stall stable and two stalls kept in a covered way - all described as “very good”. Trade was two barrels of beer per week as well as a gallon of spirits “bottle trade almost nil”. The valuer commented: “Electric light” and “Long frontage, nice looking place, inside kept very clean”. The tenant, Mrs Rogers, also rented 0.684 of an acre of land for which a separate rent of £1/13/3 per annum was paid.

The Horse and Groom March 2017
The Horse and Groom March 2017


  • WG2523, Z659/26a and BS188: sale particulars: 1812;
  • GK116/1 and S/AM289: conveyance: 1813;
  • GK116/2-3: agreement for sale and conveyance: 1817;
  • GK116/4: mortgage: 1817;
  • CLP13: countywide registers of licences: 1822-1828;
  • GK116/7: conveyance: 1830;
  • QSR1842/3/5/42: theft from the Horse and Jockey: 1842;
  • GK116/8: sale particulars: 1857;
  • GK116/9: conveyance: 1857;
  • GK116/10: mortgage: 1866;
  • GK116/11: reconveyance 1879;
  • Z188/181: four photographs: 20th century;
  • PSB9/1: Register of Alehouse Licences - Bedford Petty Sessional Division: 1903-1935;
  • PK7/4/6: valuation: 1920-1921;
  • P117/2/4/5: boundary dispute with neighbouring vicarage: 1931;
  • X456/15/15: postcard: c. 1934;
  • PSB9/2: Register of Licensed Premises: c. 1955-1995;
  • Z53/29/2: photograph: 1960;
  • Z188/1: photograph of Old Vicarage also showing Horse and Groom: 1971;
  • BorBTP/88/179/LB: alterations and extensions: 1988

List of Licensees: note that this is not a complete list ; entries in italics refer to licensees where either beginning or end, or both, dates are not known:

1812-1813: William Eling;
1822-1831: John Bazely;
1833: William Skinner;
1834-36: John Allen;
1837-1844 ; James Crisp;
1847-1848: Clement Francis;
1848-1850: Esau Jackson;
185-1857: William Ivett;
1858-1859: John Buck;
1859: Frederick Ross;
1864-1869: Alfred Ross (a butcher);
1876 W. Bandey;
1876-1877: Sam Mann;
1885: Frederick Draper;
1890-1891: William Denton;
1903-1907: James Home;
1907-1925: Richard Cooper Rogers;
1925-1940: Annie Naomi Rogers;
1990: Jack Thomas Fortnum;
1990-1991: Annie Mary Macmillan;
1991-1992: Wendy Brown;
1992-1993: Thomas Rowan and David Poole;
1993-1995: Roy Frederick Barrett and Carole Ann Barrett