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The Bell Inn Humbershoe

48 High Street, the former Bell Inn January 2010
48 High Street, the former Bell Inn January 2010

The Bell Inn: 48 High Street, Markyate

The Bell Inn, Humbershoe, must not be confused with the Bell in the village of Studham although both were in the parish of Studham until 1866 when the new Bedfordshire civil parish of Humbershoe was formed for those properties north of Buckwood Road and west of Markyate High Street from the junction with Buckwood Road north. Like its counterpart in Studham, the Bell in Humbershoe had a long history dating back to at least 1661.

Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service has a run of deeds for the Bell in Humbershoe but sadly the earliest references are very summary in nature, being a record in an abstract of title [Z172/10] simply of the type of transaction, parties and date without  description of the land or property involved. This summary list is as follows:

  • 7th December 1502: a conveyance from Peirs Maynwaring to John Morecott;
  • 22nd April 1588: a will of Richard Waller;
  • 1st July 1640: feoffment and bond from Richard and Elizabeth Wethered to John Goodman;
  • 8th November 1641: conveyance and bond from John Goodman to Godfrey Hall of London;
  • 9th November 1641: mortgage and bond from Godfrey Hall to John Goodman;
  • 27th March 1643: conveyance, defeazance and bond from John Goodman and Godfrey Hall to Henry Maddock of London;
  • July 1648: administration of the estate of Godfrey Hall granted to Elliner Hall, his widow.

On 16th October 1661 John Moore and Mary, his wife, the daughter and heir of Henry Maddock along with John, son and heir of Godfrey Hall conveyed the Bell Inn, Studham to Richard Charnocke; this being the first mention of the inn [Z172/10]. Two years later Charnocke leased the inn to George Seare, cordwainer [i. e. shoemaker] for £19 per annum [Z172/10]. In the same year Richard Charnocke made his will.

Charnocke died in 1665 and when his will was proved [X689/23] it was discovered that although he was living in the London parish of saint Mary Woollchurch, he left the Bell to his son Stephen for life and, after his death, to the churchwardens of Pennerton in Lancashire to "yearly and every year forever place out to Apprentice in London two poor boys born in Hutton in the parish of Pennerton or within some other village or place in the same parish".

Stephen Charnocke died within thirty years because in 1694 the churchwardens of Pennerton conveyed the Bell to George Seare's son, also George [X689/24]. By 1703 the inn was in the hands of John Seare, George's brother, who made his will that year and left it to his wife Elizabeth [Z172/10]. In 1705 she and her son Abell conveyed the inn to Thomas Seare of Caddington, innholder. In 1716 Daniel Seare, Thomas' son, married Ann, daughter of Richard Halsey of Church End Flamstead [Hertfordshire] [Z172/10].

Daniel made his will in 1750 leaving the Bell to his eldest son, Daniel, along with three meadows near Markyate Street in trust for sale to pay Daniel senior's debts then divide the surplus between his children John, Thomas, Ann and Mary [Z172/9].  Daniel died the following year and in 1754 Daniel junior mortgaged the Bell with and orchard and garden behind to John Tibbs of Markyate, maltster, for £180 [Z162/11]. Daniel junior made his will in 1760 leaving the Bell to his wife Alice, the will was proved in 1762 [Z172/12].

In 1774 Alice and her daughter Elizabeth Scholey conveyed the Bell to Sarah Groom of King's Langley [Hertfordshire] for £315 [Z172/14]. By 1796 the inn was held by Thomas Goodwin Groome of King's Langley, brewer, Sarah's son and he mortgaged it to Daniel Liberty of Kensworth for £200 [Z172/17]. In 1836 John Andrew Groome, Thomas' son conveyed two dwellings, formerly a single dwelling called the Bell to Cornelius Goodyear of Markyate Street, straw hat manufacturer [Z172/20]. The last known reference to the Bell is in the countywide licensing register of 1828 [CLP13], it thus appears as if the inn closed between 1828 and 1836. In 1848 it was registered as a place of nonconformist worship.

The former inn is described as abutting on the newly built Green Man Public House (which Groom retained in his ownership) next to the Sun Inn. The deed also refers to the former Bell as abutting on the Sun Inn to the south. This suggests that it also abutted on the Green Man to the south. The site of the Green Man is 50 High Street and the former Sun is at 64 High Street, meaning that the Bell lies immediately south of today's Albert Street, which lies on the site of part of the Bell. It seems likely that 48 High Street is the former Bell. The property is a lot older than it appears at first glance and was listed by the former Department of Environment in 1987 as Grade II, of special interest. The department dated the building to the 17th century "or earlier" (remember that the first reference to the Bell is in 1661). In 1987 the property was a house, flat, and shop. The department considered that the roof was reconstructed in late 17th century. The brick front to the building is early 18th century, as is the rear wing "probably replacing an earlier service wing". The parallel rear range is 19th century.

In 1897 the civil parish of Humbershoe was abolished, and combined with parts of the Bedfordshire parish of Houghton Regis, the Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire portions of Caddington and the Hertfordshire parish of Flamstead, to form the new Hertfordshire civil parish of Markyate.


  • Z172/9-20: summary abstract of title: 1502-1648;
  • Z172/10: Bell Inn conveyed: 1661;
  • Z172/10: lease of the Bell: 1663;
  • X689/23: used to endow apprenticeships in Lancashire: 1665;
  • Z172/10: conveyance to George Seare: 1694;
  • Z172/10: will of John Seare: 1703;
  • Z172/10: conveyance to Thomas Seare: 1705;
  • Z172/9: will of Daniel Seare senior: 1750, proved 1751;
  • Z172/12: will of Daniel Seare junior: 1760, proved 1762;
  • RY192-197: noted as bounding The Sun Inn: 1769-1791;
  • Z172/14: conveyance to Sarah Groome: 1774;
  • CLP13: Register of alehouse licences: 1822 - 1828
  • Z172/20: conveyance to Cornelius Goodyear: 1836.


List of Licensees: note that this is not a complete list. Italics indicate licensees whose beginning and/or end dates are not known:

1661: George Seare senior;
1694: George Seare junior;
1703: John Seare;
1705: Elizabeth Seare;
1705: Thomas Seare;
1750-1751: Daniel Seare senior;
1751-1762: Daniel Seare junior;
1762-1774: Alice Seare;
1796: Thomas Goodwin Groome;
1822-1828: George Griffiths;
1828: Thomas Fellows.
Inn closed between 1828 and 1836