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The Old Bell Public House Greenfield

The Old Bell in the 1960s [WBFlow4/5/Gre/OB1]
The Old Bell in the 1960s [WBFlow4/5/Gre/OB1]

The Old Bell Public House: 52 High Street, Greenfield

52 High Street stands on the south side of the road. This means that it was in the civil parish of Pulloxhill until 1984. At that date the buildings on the south side of the High Street were transferred to the new civil parish of Flitton and Greenfield.

The earliest reference to the Bell was in the will of William Burges senior made in January 1775 and proved in October 1777. In it he devised the Bell, described as in Greenfield and with eight acres of land called the Brade, to his daughter Elizabeth [L5/802].

By 1827 the Bell was owned by Ampthill brewers John and Joseph Morris. An inventory of the firm taken in that year [Z1043/1] included: "The Bell, freehold public house, occupied by John Cook, with a yard, garden, wood barn, small stable, and a piece of pasture land containing about 2 acres; outgoings - Land Tax 14s. 5d."

The countywide register of alehouse licences of 1901 noted: "slight repairs needed, but clean; the property had a front and a back door". In 1926 Morris & Company (Ampthill) limited, as John and Joseph Morris' firm had become, was taken over by Luton brewer J. W. Green Limited [CCE5304/1]. The Bell was still part of the firm's assets at that date and so changed hands with it.

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 Bell in 1926 [DV1/C234/120] noted that the landlord Joseph Jones paid £29 per annum tied rent to J. W. Green; this included farm buildings and the rent of adjoining land.

The valuer commented: "Fairly good front". The property comprised a tap room ("fair"), a bar ("very small"), a smoke room, a living room and five bedrooms above. Outside stood a brick and slate earth closet, a corrugated iron urinal and a weather-boarded and corrugated iron washhouse. Overall the valuer commented: "Must be slightly more than Compasses, better position".

Trade was not more than 1½ barrels a week, "probably less, never was above two, less this last year". A gallon of spirits was sold per week along with ten dozen bottles of beer. The landlord: "Doesn't know Takings. Paying Brewers £60 per month" [for beer and spirits provided in other words].

Jones also rented 4.747 acres or grass and market gardening land with a "few young trees". Farm buildings included: a weather-boarded and corrugated iron shed and adjoining garage with a loft over all; a weather-boarded and corrugated iron two bay cart shed; a corrugated iron urinal used as stores, a weather-boarded and corrugated iron earth closet; a weather-boarded shed opening onto a paddock and containing two compartments; brick, corrugated iron and slate pigsties for three pigs; a weather-boarded henhouse; a brick and slate stable for three horses, one stall of which was used as a store; a loose box; a weather-boarded and corrugated iron tool shed; a weather-boarded and corrugated iron store shed; a weather-boarded and corrugated iron open shed and a weather-boarded and corrugated iron shed.

A brick and slate fastening place, a slaughter house and a "small" brick and slate shop on the site were occupied by W. Taylor. He paid J. W. Green rent of four shillings per week.

J. W. Green Limited merged with Midlands brewer Flowers in 1954, the new firm retaining the Flowers name. In 1962 Flowers was taken over by Whitbread. The property was sold to licensee Derek John Farley in the 1980s and was then sold to successive new licensees [PSA5/5]. The Old Bell was still open in 1995 but by the time of writing [2011] had closed and turned from a public house into a private one.

52 High Street - formerly The Old Bell February 2011
52 High Street - formerly the Old Bell February 2011


  • L5/802: will of William Burges: 1775, proved 1777;
  • CLP13: register of alehouse licences: 1822-1828;
  • Z1043/1: inventory of John and Joseph Morris of Ampthill, brewers: 1827;
  • WB/M/4/1/VP1: mortgage by John Morris to Mary Ann, Jane and Catherine Morris: 1831;
  • SF19/1: auction sale held at the Bell: 1857;
  • PSA5/1: Register of Alehouse Licences - Ampthill Petty Sessional Division: 1872-1927;
  • WB/M/4/1/VP2: mortgage by John Thomas Green to Susannah, Mary Jane and Sophia Morris: 1882;
  • Z55/1/36: photograph: c. 1900;
  • Z55/1/42: photograph: c. 1900;
  • CCE5304/1: conveyed to Morris & Company (Ampthill) Limited: 1907;
  • WB/M/4/2/2: particulars of Morris & Company (Ampthill) Limited licensed properties: 1926;
  • List of properties of Morris & Company (Ampthill) Limited: c. 1926;
  • WB/M/4/1/VP8: abstract of title of Morris & Company (Ampthill) Limited: 1926;
  • CCE5304/1: conveyed to J. W. Green Limited: 1926;
  • WB/Green4/2/2: J. W. Green Limited payments to then Duke of Bedford regarding the Old Bell: 1927-1953;
  • PSA5/2: Register of Alehouse Licences - Ampthill Petty Sessional Division: 1934-1959;
  • WB/Green6/4/1: J. W. Green Limited trade analysis ledger: 1936-1947;
  • WB/Green4/2/4: certificate of title of J. W. Green Limited to all licensed premises: 1936-1952;
  • PSA5/4: list of licensed premises in Ampthill Petty Sessional Division: c.1950s
  • WB/Green4/2/5: certificate of title of J. W. Green to all licensed premises: c. 1952;
  • WB/Green4/2/16: letter as to J. W. Green Limited title: 1952;
  • WB/Green4/2/17: trust deed to raise debenture stock: 1952-1972;
  • WB/Green4/2/19: schedule of deeds: c.1954;
  • WB/Flow4/5/Gre/OB1: photograph: 1960s;
  • PSA5/5: list of licensed premises in Ampthill Petty Sessional Division: 1968-1995
  • WB/W4/5/Gre/OB1: photograph: 1972;
  • PL/P/MB77/593D: proposed alterations: 1977.

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

1822-1831: John Cook(e);
1839: John Minards;
1869: Samuel Palmer;
1876-1905: Edward Wildman;
1905-1936: Joseph Jones;
1936-1949: Wilfred Taylor;
1949-1951: Julia Edith Taylor;
1951-1959: Winifred Elizabeth S. Taylor;
1963-1976: Rex George Welch;
1976-1984: John Anthony Read;
1984-1986: Derek John Farley and Sheila Ann Goodwin;
1986-1990: Allan Wallace Taylor and Betty Marie Taylor;
1990-1991: Richard John Green;
1991-1992: Norman Woodcraft;
1992: Howard John Sutton;
1992-1993: Colin John Chantler and Patricia McClements;
1993: Juan Vidler;
1993: Thomas Peter Gutteridge and Colin Geoffrey Garrett;
1993-1994: Argenido Guiseppe Ciampa and Colin Geoffrey Garrett;
1994-1995: Michael John Sullivan and Daniel Ronald Sullivan