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The Bull Public House Husborne Crawley

The Bull Public House in Turnpike Road about 1900 [X21/756/14] 
The Bull Public House in Turnpike Road about 1900 [X21/756/14]

The Bull Public House: 31 Turnpike Road, Husborne Crawley [also The Bull and Bitch Public House and The Old Bull Public House]

The first mention of this site is in a conveyance of 2nd October 1693 by Thomas Emerton of Lidlington, yeoman to Thomas Brotherton of Husborne Crawley, cordwainer. This comes in a packet of deeds for the building found in the archive of R. Hobourn of Woburn, solicitor [HN]. The building is not noted as an inn or public house in 1693. A Thomas Brotherton of Husborne Crawley, cordwainer (perhaps son of the Thomas of 1693) willed the property to his wife Susannah in 1744 and, after her death, to their children Thomas, James, John, Ann and Mary. The will was proved in 1759.

Thomas Brotherton's surviving children James of Husborne Crawley, cordwainer; Ann and her husband Francis Sadler of Husborne Crawley, labourer; and Mary Gurney of Husborne Crawley, widow conveyed the place to John of Husborne Crawley, cordwainer, their eldest brother in May 1759. John devised it in his will of 1802 to his wife Elizabeth and, after her, their son John and it is at this point that the property is first described as a public house, called The Bull.

In June 1814 John Brotherton had run into financial difficulties, owing £439/15/9 to three creditors, Moses Eagle of Ridgmont, maltster, James Readman of Ridgmont, farmer and John Masser. He conveyed the public house, now called the Old Bull, to Eagle and Readman as trustees for his creditors, who promptly sold it to Joseph Morris, the Ampthill brewer in August of that year for £191. In documents of Morris & Company between 1876 and 1880 the pub is called the Bull & Bitch, though by 1891 it is, once again, the Bull. By 1903 it was described as "in bad repair and kept dirty".

In 1926 Morris & Company (Ampthill) Limited was bought out by J.W.Green Limited, the Luton brewer. In 1927 the pub was assessed for rates and was described as a "poor looking place" [DV1/C53/36]. It then contained a kitchen and two living rooms downstairs and four bedrooms upstairs In addition to a small tap room and small bar downstairs with an underground cellar. Takings averaged £1 per day and about 36 barrels of beer were consumed each year. Spirits sales averaged one bottle per week. Water came from a well and lamps, rather than electricity, provided lighting. The pub sold confectionary in addition and the landlord, then Austin Samuel Willis, was also a carter. Outside there were a storeroom, a two bay open hovel, a stable for three horses, a pighouse, barn and two pigstyes as well as two earth closets and a garage. The landlord paid a rent of £15 per annum (the same as in 1914)

Bull Public House in the 1950s [WB/Green4/5/HuC/B1]
Bull Public House in the 1950s [WB/Green4/5/HuC/B1]

J.W.Green acquired various breweries thereafter including Flowers in 1954 and, although Greens were the principal partners the Flowers name was that chosen to describe the new merged companies. Flowers were, in turn, bought out by Whitbread in 1962. The public house closed in the 1960s and is now [2011] a private house.

The property was listed by the former Department of Environment in February 1987 and dated to the 17th century in origin, as could be guessed from the deeds quoted above. It is built of colourwashed render over a timber frame and has a clay tiled roof, half-hipped towards the road. In 2011 the render was renewed on the left hand wall and left in its natural colour. The main block has two storeys and a later one storey and attics block projects from the north-east elevation.  

References of Documents held by Bedfordshire & Luton Archives & Records Service

  • HNBox121 catalogue: includes summary of deeds relating to The Bull
  • HNBox121: conveyance: 1693;
  • HNBox121: will of Thomas Brotherton: 1744, proved 1759;
  • HNBox121: conveyance: 1759;
  • HNBox121: will of John Brotherton:1802;
  • HNBox121: conveyances: 1814;
  • CLP13: Register of Alehouse Licences: 1822-1828;
  • WB/M/4/1/VP1: Mortgage for £30,000 from John Morris to Mary and Catherine Morris of various properties including Old Bull: 28 Dec 1831;
  • PSLB4/1: Register of Licences – Leighton Buzzard Petty Sessional Division: 1860s-1949
  • SF32/3/1: sale poster for auction sale held at Bull: 22 Mar 1861;
  • PSW3/1: Register of Licences – Woburn Petty Sessional Division: 1868-1949
  • WB/M/4/1/VP2: Mortgage from John Thomas Green to Susanna, Mary Jane and Sophia Morris of a number of properties including Old Bull: 16 Jun 1882;
  • WB/M/4/1/VP8: Abstract of Title of Morris & Company (Ampthill) Limited to various properties including Bull, butcher's shop and close of 0a 1r 26p, tenant in 1907 Henry John Norman: 1900-1926;
  • CCE5034/1: conveyed, with other properties, to Morris & Company (Ampthill) Limited: 1907;
  • X21/756/14: postcard: c.1910;
  • WB/M/4/2/1: mentioned on list of properties of Morris & Company (Ampthill) Limited: c.1926;
  • WB/M/4/2/2: mentioned on list of properties of Morris & Company (Ampthill) Limited (licensee A.S.Willis): Jun 1926;
  • WB/Green4/2/5: list of properties of J.W.Green Limited, tenant: F.J.Pearce: c.1936;
  • WB/Green/6/4/1: J.W.Green Limited trade analysis ledger for various properties: 1936-1947;
  • WB/Green4/2/4: Certificate of title of J.W.Green Limited to various properties: 1936-1952;
  • PSW3/2: Register of Licences – Woburn Petty Sessional Division: 1949-1953
  • WB/Green4/2/12: schedule of deeds of various J.W.Green Limited properties: 1952;
  • WB/Green4/2/16: list pf properties owned by J.W.Green Limited: 24 Jul 1952;
  • WB/Green4/2/17: Second schedule of trust deed showing properties owned by J.W.Green Limited: 1952;
  • WB/Green4/2/19: lists of properties owned by J.W.Green Limited: 1954;
  • WB/Green4/5/HuC/B/1: photograph taken for J.W.Green Limited: 1950s;
  • Z1105/1: Liquor Licence Traders Survey Form: 1961;
  • WB/Flow4/5/HuC/B/1: photograph taken for Flowers Limited: 1960s.

31 Turnpike Road - formerly The Bull - January 2011
31 Turnpike Road - formerly The Bull - January 2011

Licencees: note that this is not a complete list and that dates in italics are not necessarily beginning or end dates, merely the first/last date which can be confirmed from sources such as directories and deeds:

1802-1814: John Brotherton;
1822-1854: George Negus (also butcher);
1861-1893: George Denton (also butcher);
1893-1896: Daniel Askew;
1896-1898: Albert Edward Denton;
1898-1901: Austin Carley;
1901-1903: Harry Sinfield;
1903-1905: George Geathard Ball;
1905-1906: George William Theodore Underwood
1906-1908: Henry John Norman;
1908-1918: Austin Samuel Willis;
1918-1920: Lula Maud Willis;
1920-1940: Austin Samuel Willis;
1940-1950: Harry William Edward Mitchell;
1950-1953: Frederick James Pearle;
1953-1959: John Arthur Abbey