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The Old Sun, Sundon Road, Harlington

Formerly the Sun and the Rising Sun 

Z97-14 Rising Sun 

The Heritage Environment Record describes the Old Sun Public House in Sundon Road as an early 17th century house with later 17th and 18th century alterations. The Old Sun was listed by the Department of the Environment in 1989 as Grade II, of special interest. Its construction is render over a timber frame, with a gabled old plain tile roof with 20th century concrete tiles to the rear and brick ridge chimney stacks. There is a three-unit lobby entry with a canted tile hood over a 20th century door. The windows have segmental and flat arches over late 19th and 20th century casements with horizontal glazing bars. There is a mid-20th century flat roofed extension. Inside the room to the left has a 17th century chamfered beam and wood bressummer over an open fireplace, stop-chamfered beams, and the roof is noted as having original side-purlin trusses. The property appears on a 1722-39 map [HER3498]. 

The property has been used as an inn since at least 1785, when it was purchased by John Morris from John Robinson of Ampthill for the residue of a term of 756 years. A mortgage of 1859 indicates that this 756 year lease (which was considered equivalent to freehold) began in 1723.  In 1827 it was described as a freehold public house belonging to John & Joseph Morris, brewer of Ampthill, occupied by William Lovell, with a small yard and garden, stable and woodbarn.  

At the January 1866 Bedford Quarter Sessions a man named John Smith was tried on a charge of stealing a gun from the Rising Sun, the name by which the Sun was known during the later part of the 19th century and until at least the 1950s. In October 1865 Solomon Denton, a labourer living at Toddington, was given a gun to clean by Thomas Turney, a Harlington farmer. He took the gun to the Rising Sun and put it down at his side in the tap room while he had some beer only to realise soon afterwards that it was missing. John Smith had been in the pub, and at one point had picked up the gun to take a look at it, but Denton had not noticed whether or not he put it back down as he was busy talking to someone else. When he noticed the gun was missing, he realised Smith had also gone. Denton left the pub and found Smith, who denied having anything to do with it, although he had been seen leaving the Rising Sun with it in his hand by another man, William Harris. He was also spotted with it nearby by the local policeman, PC James Busby, who saw him going towards a shrubbery. Challenged again by William Harris, Smith led him towards the shrubbery, but then ran away. After some searching, the gun was found hidden in some ivy; Smith was found lying in a hedge nearby. He told the court he was very sorry and had had too much to drink. He said he did not mean to steal the gun, and would have returned it if he could. Smith was found guilty and sentenced to three weeks imprisonment.  

Under the terms of the Rating and Valuation Act 1925 every piece of land and building in the country was assessed to determine the rates to be paid on them. When Harlington was assessed in 1927 the Rising Sun was owned by J. W. Green Limited, who had bought the Morris Brewery in 1926, and occupied by Miss E. Cleaver. It was described as a brick and tile detached property with the following layout: 

Downstairs: Bar; Tap room; Parlour; Lounge (private) 

Basement: Cellar, down 3 or 4 steps  

Upstairs: Three bedrooms, with a “nasty” beam; Garret which could not be used 

Outside: Weatherboard and tile store shed; Brick and tile earth closet 

At the time the pub’s trade amounted to one barrel of beer, two dozen half pint bottles of Guinness, and one and a half dozen pint bottles of beer a week on average. It sold hardly any spirits. 

In 1954 J. W. Green Limited merged with the Flowers Brewery and adopted the Flowers name. The merged company was taken over by Whitbread in 1962. In the later 20th century the name was changed to The Old Sun. At the time of writing (2020) the Old Sun was owned by Admiral Taverns which was advertising for a new tenant.  


  • X21/629: Deed relating to property of Morris Brewery, 1828, refers to purchase of The Sun by John Morris in 1785;  

  • Z1043/1: Inventory of property of John & Joseph Morris, 1827; 

  • WB/M/4/1/VP1: mortgage of property of Ampthill brewery, including Sun, 1831 with later endorsements dated 1859, 1868, 1890, 1907; 

  • QSR1866/1/5/4: depositions regarding stolen gun at Rising Sun, 1866; 

  • WB/M/4/1/VP2: mortgage of property of Morris brewery, 1882; 

  • Z97/14: Photograph of postcard of Sundon Road with Rising Sun on left, c.1900; 

  • WB/M/4/2/VP8: abstract of title to property of Morris Brewery, 1926; 

  • WV/M/4/2/1: list of Morris Brewery premises, 1926; 

  • DV1/C251/2: Valuation record, 1927; 

  • WB/Green4/2/9: documents relating to title to land at rear of Rising Sun, c.1949; 

  • WB/Green4/2/10: schedule of deeds and documents held by J W Green, c.1949;   

  • WB/Green4/2/5: list of J W Green licensed houses showing A Bonner as licensee, c.1952;  

  • WB/Green4/2/16: letter re brewery titles including Harlington Arms, 1952;  

  • WB/Green4/2/17: J W Green trust deed, 1952; 

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:  

  • 1822 - 1831: William Lovell  

  • 1862: Jesse Horspool 

  • 1876 John Pinkard 

  • 1890: Arthur Cox 

  • 1898-1921: John Cleaver 

  • 1921-1930: Emma Cleaver, widow 

  • 1930-1937: Arthur Percy Giles 

  • 1937-1943: Robert Stopps Maidment 

  • 1943-1953: Horace William Hartup 

  • 1953-1958: Aubrey George Odell 

  • 1958-1959: Arthur Thomas Lay 

  • 1959: Herbert Gange; 

  • 1985: Caroline Hobbs and Leslie Robert Fowler; 

  • 1986: Richard Peter Motion; 

  • 1986: Richard Peter Motion and Alfred Thomas Carlson; 

  • 1987: Stuart Greville Russell and Jennifer Anne Davidson; 

  • 1988: Trevor Vincent Hartard.