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The Butchers Arms Public House Harrold

Harrold Butchers 108 High Street July 2008
Harrold Butchers, 108 High Street in July 2008

Butchers Arms Beerhouse: possibly 108 High Street, Harrold [possibly formerly the Queen's Head]

The only certain records of this beerhouse held by Bedfordshire & Luton Archives & Records Service are references in directories from 1839 to 1854 when William, then Stephen Stevens are licensees, also butchers. The next directory held by the Service after 1854 is one for 1861 and from this directory onwards Stephen Stevens is listed purely as a butcher, presumably his beerhouse sideline was not profitable enough.

Where the beerhouse was cannot be said for sure but it may have been 108 High Street. The reasoning behind this is somewhat circumstantial: Stephen Stevens is last mentioned as a butcher in a directory of 1885. Caleb le Fevre was the other butcher in Harrold at the time. By the time of the next directory held by Bedfordshire & Luton Archives & Records Service, 1890, le Fevre is still a butcher but the only other one in the village is Samuel Charles Smith. Given that a butcher's shop would have included not just the shop but the necessary outbuildings such as an abattoir it seems a reasonable guess that Smith bought Stevens' premises.

Interestingly a small packet of deeds to a close in Harrold mentions the former Queen's Head. This was, by 1795, no longer a beerhouse, but a butcher's shop, occupied by Dudley French [ST1691/1]. In 1842 Robert French, to whom Dudley had devised the property in his will, conveyed the property to William Fairey of Harrold, farmer [ST1691/1]. William Fairey devised some land to his brother Thomas in 1850 [ST1691/2]. Five years later Thomas Fairey left a legacy of £100 to his daughter Mary Ann, wife of Stephen Stevens.

It is not exactly certain what happened to the former Queen's Head, but a note on the conveyance of 1842 from Robert French to William Fairey reads: "Oct 1851 This Deed is covenanted to be produced to Mr.Stephen Stevens". This strongly suggests that Stevens bought part of the property and, as he was a butcher, it would make most sense if he bought the butcher's shop, formerly the Queen's Head. Interestingly it is in that year that Stevens first appears in a directory as a beer seller and butcher

In 1928 there were still two butchers in Harrold - John le Fevre (whose premises was at 1 The Green) and Samuel Charles Smith. In 1927 property in Harrold was valued under the Rating Valuation Act of 1925; every piece of land and building in the country had to be valued to determine the rates to be paid upon it. The valuer visiting 108 High Street [DV1/C70/94-95] noted that it was owned and occupied by S.C.Smith. It was a brick and slate semi-detached premises with two reception rooms, a kitchen and scullery downstairs and five bedrooms and a bathroom above. There was also a shop measuring 14 feet by 13½ feet. Outside were: two store rooms "by the house"; a brick and tile coal shed; a stone and tile wood shed; a wood and tile sausage room with a small engine, shafting and copper; two small stone and slate fasting pens; two large brick and tile fasting pens; a brick and tile chaff house; a brick and tile trap shed; a brick and tile paved slaughterhouse measuring 13 feet by 15 feet, with two fasting pens attached; a brick and tile harness room; a brick and tile two stall nag stable; a stone and tile refrigerator house and motor shed. The valuer remarked: "Modern House. Shop Fair (1 other butcher in village). Buildings not good. Converted from old farmyard retain road frontage. Good position for shop". The fact that it was a modern house indicates that it was probably not the old Butchers Arms building, but may have been built on the site. The premises is still a butcher's shop at the time of writing [2008]. 

108 High Street July 2008
108 High Street in July 2008

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:

1839-1851: William Stevens, butcher;
1853-1854: Stephen Stevens, butcher