The Fountain Beerhouse Eaton Bray
The Fountain about 1900 [Z1306/39
The Fountain (also Fountaine) Beerhouse: High Street, Eaton Bray.
The Fountain or Fountaine Beerhouse stood on the north side of the High Street, just south-east of Poplar Farm in an area of what is now  modern housing. There was a family called Fountain in the village, associated indeed with other licensed premises (licensees of The Chequers from at least 1812 to at least 1828, The Hope and Anchor from at least 1853 to at least 1886, The Victoria Arms in 1894 and 1895 and The Volunteer in 1897 and 1898) but none of them ever appears as licensee of the Fountain(e) Arms except briefly in the early 1880s. Nevertheless the family may have been the original owners of the property or had some connection with it – the coincidence between the family name and the beerhouse name seems too great otherwise.
The countywide licensing register of 1876 states that it was first licensed in 1845 and by 1876 the owner was Woburn brewer Henry Fowler. Fowler’s brewery and its licensed premises was put up for sale by auction in 1881. The sale particulars [WL1000/10/1/1] describe the Fountaine Lot 17, as comprising a tap room and “upland” cellar (in other words a storage room for beer on the ground floor), a parlour and a washhouse with three bedrooms upstairs. There was a yard with a slated cart lodge and a garden. There was also a “small tenement adjoining”. The rent was £7 per annum.
The countywide register of 1891, which, oddly, describes the Fountaine as being in Bower Lane, gives the owner as “Gurney’s Executors” of Slapton [Buckinghamshire]. They leased the beerhouse to Ivinghoe [Buckinghamshire] brewers Roberts and Wilson and the rent was now £9/17/6 per annum.
The countywide register of 1903 gives Miss Gurney of Slapton as the owner, she still leased the beerhouse to Roberts and Wilson. The rent to the sub-tenant, Amos Gray, was now £10 per annum. The house was “Fairly good repair, not very clean” and was 59 yards from the nearest licensed premises (The Bedford Arms). The Fountain had one front and two back doors.
The licensing register kept by the Leighton Buzzard Petty Sessional Division reveals that the Fountaine closed for the last time on 22nd December 1914 [PSLB4/1]. Two unsuccessful attempts were made to sell the property, in 1916 [BML10/22/42] and 1917 [BML10/22/46]. On both occasions the particulars read as follows:
“THE FOUNTAINE INN”
comprising brick and half timber and thatched
Containing Living Room, Parlour, Kitchen, cellar and three Bedrooms, with OUT-BUILDINGS and GARDEN.
It is in the tenancy of Mr. Hugh McIntyre, a monthly tenant, at 8s. per month.
Adjoining is a two-roomed
In the tenancy of Mark Rollings.
The Drainage connection has been made. The adjoining owners are Mr. W. E. Wallace and Mrs. E. Batchelar.
Hugh McIntyre had been landlord of The Bedford Arms until 1915. 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. Eaton Bray, like most of the county, was assessed in 1927 and the valuer visiting the former beerhouse [DV1/C202/99] found that it had finally sold and was now a private house owned and occupied by T. J. Devrell.
The brick and thatched semi-detached building comprised two living rooms, a kitchen, two sculleries and a washhouse downstairs with three bedrooms and a store room above. The valuer commented: “Rambling place” and “Was 2 cottages”. Outside stood a brick and slated WC, a weather-boarded and slated store shed and open shed and a “Large shed – owner makes and packs self raising flour”.
- PSLB4/1: Register of Alehouse Licences - Leighton Buzzard Petty Sessional Division: c.1860s-1949;
- PSLB4/3: Register of Alehouse Licences - Leighton Buzzard Petty Sessional Division: c. 1860s-1956;
- X796/30: correspondence regarding the sale by Richard Fountain to Woburn Brewery: 1874-1876;
- WL1000/10/1/1: sale particulars: 1881;
- P91/28/21: closure mentioned in a report: 1915;
- BML10/22/42: sale book: 1916;
- BML10/22/46: sale book: 1917.
Licensees: note that this is not a complete list and that dates in italics are not necessarily beginning or end dates, merely the first/last date which can be confirmed from sources such as directories and deeds:
1869-1881: Joseph Hemley;
1881-1883: Richard Fountain;
1883-1884: William Gott;
1884: Henry Turner;
1884-1885: James Fountaine;
1885: Jane Fountaine;
1891: Jane Ellingham;
1892: David Ellingham;
1892-1893: Jane Ellingham;
1893-1894: Alfred Holt;
1894: Albert John Archer;
1899: Edward Turner;
1899: William Lovegrove;
1899-1901: Horace Bone;
1901-1905: Amos Gray;
1905-1910: Albert Gibbs;
1910-1914: George Brooks.
Beerhouse closed 22nd December 1914