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The Red Lion Public House Heath and Reach

 The Red Lion Public House about 1960
The Red Lion Public House about 1960 [WB/Flow4/5/HR/RL1]

The Red Lion Public House: Woburn Road, Heath and Reach

The Red Lion public house was of some long standing. Maureen Brown in Transactions of Leighton Buzzard and District Archaeological and Historical Society Number 3 (2009) noted that in July 1780 it was insured by William Bates, son of John bates of the Sandhouse. Bates insured the Red Lion for £65 and it was described as brick and timber pannelled with brick and plaster (presumably infill) and thatched. In 1799 Ampthill brewers John and Joseph Morris bought it from James Ellis of Heath and Reach, victualler and Joseph Impey of Aylesbury [Buckinghamshire], innholder [X21/629]. In the inventory of the Morris brothers of 1827 it was described as a freehold public house, occupied by Thomas Belgrave (maureen Brown notes that he had been licensee since at least 1806), with a butcher's shop, large yard, stabling for 25 horses and an extensive garden containing nearly an acre.  Adjoining the house were two closes of meadow and arable land, one containing 5 acres 3 roods 1 pole and the other 2 acres 3 roods 13 poles, making together 8 acres 2 roods 14 poles.

The Red Lion was run by the Belgrove family for over a hundred years and continued to be held by Morris and Company (Ampthill), as it became known, until the firm sold out to Luton brewers J.W.Green Limited in 1926. J.W.Green merged with Flowers Breweries in 1954 and, although J.W.Green was the dominant partner, the new company took the Flowers name. This company was, in turn, taken over by Whitbread and Company in 1962.

The Rating and Valuation Act 1925 ordered every piece of land and building in the country to be assessed to determine the rates to be paid on it. Heath and Reach was assessed in 1927 and the valuer visiting the Red Lion [DV1/C233/82] noted that it stood in 0.332 of an acre. The tenant paid a rent of £25 per annum rent, which had been fixed in 1913. Weekly trade was two barrels, two dozen pint bottles of beer two and a half dozen half pint bottles of beer and a gallon of spirits. Weekly takings averaged £7 or £8.

The valuer commented: "Very good brick and tile building modern & large". This shows that the pub was not in the same premises as those of 1799, indeed it had something of the look of a late Victorian or Edwardian railway station about it. It had, presumably, been demolished and rebuilt. Accommodation comprised a public bar ("3 pulls"; "fair"), a tap room ("good"), a smoke room ("fair"); a drawing room ("good") partitioned into two rooms, a kitchen and a scullery downstairs with four bedrooms and a box room above; no bathroom. The valuer further commented: "in very good repair". Outside stood a wood and slate coal barn, a W.C., a large barn and two sheds, one used for car, all in good condition.

There was also a 0.85 acre field with a wood and slate cowshed for four beasts and a loose box and three brick and tile pigsties "all in good condition" and "useful". A further grass field of 3.163 acres was also "included in rent". In 2004 the Red Lion closed. It was partially demolished and the extensive site was redeveloped as private flats.

 The site of the Red Lion April 2008
The site of the Red Lion April 2008


  • X21/629: recited purchase by John and Joseph Morris from James Ellis of Heath & Reach, victualler and Joseph Impey of Aylesbury, innholder: 1799;
  • Z1043/1: inventory of John & Joseph Morris, brewers of Ampthill: 1827;
  • X21/629: conveyance of his half of brewery and licensed premises by Joseph Morris to Mary Ann and Jane Morris: 1828;
  • WB/M/4/1/VP1: Appointment, Release and Assignment and Covenant to Surrender by way of Mortgage - John & Joseph Morris properties: 1831;
  • WB/M/4/1/VP2: Morris & Company mortgage: 1882;
  • BML10/30/18: auction sale held at Red Lion: 1897;
  • CCE5304/1: conveyed with brewery and other licensed premises to Morris & Company (Ampthill) LImited: 1907;
  • BML10/30/52: auction sale held at Red Lion: 1925;
  • WB/M/4/2/2: particulars of Morris & Company (Ampthill) Limited properties: 1926;
  • WB/M/4/1/VP8: abstract of title of Morris & Company (Ampthill) Limited to licensed properties: 1926;
  • WB/M/4/2/1: list of Morris & Company (Ampthill) Limited properties: c.1926;
  • CCE5304/3: conveyed with brewery and other licensed premises to J.W.Green Limited: 1926;
  • WB/Green6/4/1: trade analysis ledger: 1936-1947;
  • WB/Green4/2/4: certificate of title of J.W.Green to licensed properties: 1936-1954;
  • WB/Green4/2/10: schedule of deeds to J.W.Green properties: c.1949;
  • WB/Green4/2/16: letter as to title of various J.W.Green properties: 1952;
  • WB/Green4/2/17: J.W.Green Limited schedule trust deed: 1952;
  • WB/Green4/2/18: certificate of title to J.W.Green properties: 1954;
  • WB/Green4/2/19: schedule of deeds to J.W.Green properties: c.1954;
  • WB/Green4/2/5: list of J.W.Green properties: c.1954;
  • WB/Flow4/5/HR/RL1: exterior photograph: 1960s  

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:

1780: WIlliam Bates;
1799: James Ellis;
1806: Thomas Belgrove;
1828: Robert Belgrove;
1872: Ann Belgrove;
1876: Thomas Robert Belgrove;
1908: Joseph Clark;
1909: John Palmer;
1912: Frederick Stone;
1939: Frederick Robert Stone;
1965: Gordon Loremore Strange;
1987: Jane Quelch;
1987: Jane Quelch and Peter Barrett Kelly;
1988: Jane Quelch and John William Dennis;
1989: Neville Snell and Norma King;
1990: Neville Snell and Philip Dixon;
1990: Anthony Howard Mears and Philip Dixon;
1991: Anthony Howard Mears and Kerry Owen Boyd;
1992: Martin Peter Darby and Kerry Owen Boyd;
1993: Hazel Patricia Bowen;
1993: Hazel Patricia Bowen and Susan Patricia Walsh.