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The Nags Head Alehouse Cotton End

The Nag’s Head Alehouse: High Road, Cotton End

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].

The 1782 survey states that the Nag’s Head was occupied by John Whiteman, a 53 year old dissenter, that is, a nonconformist in terms of religion. He had been born in Cardington and also kept a shop at the premises. His 53 year old wife was Elizabeth, née Spoback, born in “Keasur”, i.e. Keysoe. 73 year old Simon Nicholas, from “Moulsur” i.e. Moulsoe in Buckinghamshire also lived with them but died in Cardington workhouse on 28th January 1789. The 1794 survey shows the premises owned by Edmund Morgan and occupied by John Liles [W2/6/1-3].

The Nag’s Head is not listed in the countywide alehouse register of running from 1822 to 1828. This means that the alehouse closed between 1794 and 1822. The map shows that it lay on the main road a little north of the later White Horse Beerhouse, in the vicinity of the modern 145 High Road.



  • P38/28/2: list of persons living in the parish of Cardington: 1782-1789;
  • W2/6/1-3: list of persons living in the parish of Cardington: 1794

List of Licensees:

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

1782: John Whiteman;
1794: John Liles.