Skip Navigation

Welcome to Bedford Borough Council

Home > Community Histories > Husborne Crawley > The Swan Inn Husborne Crawley

The Swan Inn Husborne Crawley

The Swan shown on a map of 1883
The Swan shown on a map of 1883

The Swan Inn: the corner of School Lane and Crow Lane, Husborne Crawley 

The first mention of this public house is in August 1710 when Sarah Abbott of Heath & Reach, widow gave it to John Barnwell, also of Heath & Reach, husbandman, her son [R6/29/2/1-2]. The building was described at that stage simply as a cottage and was occupied by William Barnwell.

In 1777 John Barnwell's eldest son, also called John, sold the building to Abigail Sheffard of Woburn, widow [R6/29/2/3-4]. By then it was described as a messuage known by the sign of the Swan and so was clearly a licensed premises. A small piece of pasture (a pightle) adjoined it and it is described as abutting the King's Highway and "Hollywell" to the north (the modern School Lane) and a lane leading to The Heys to the west (the modern Crow Lane). The adjoining field to the south east was known by the macabre name of Flesh Hooks.

Ten years later, in October 1787, Abigail Sheffard sold the public house to Richard Ambrose Reddall of Woburn [R6/29/2-5], who already owned three pubs in Woburn (the Bell, Royal Oak and Sun) as well as one, the Bell, in Aspley Guise. In his will of 1841 Reddall left all his property to his wife Ann [R6/29/2/8]. After Ann's death he determined that the Swan as well as the Bell, Aspley Guise, should go to his nephew Robert Reddall Williamson of Cheltenham [Gloucestershire]; the Royal Oak in Woburn to his cousins Henry Land and Henry's sister Charlotte and the Bell and Sun in Woburn to his cousin John Land.

When Ann Reddall died in 1863, aged 91, Williamson quickly sold the Swan to the Duke of Bedford, it was then described as part of a site of one rood, seventeen perches and containing a brewhouse and outbuildings as well as a garden [R6/29/2/11] so clearly the Swan brewed its own beer. The Swan appears on the first edition Ordnance Survey map, surveyed around 1880 but by the time of the second map of 1901 had been pulled down and the site left empty. The Rating and Valuation Act 1925 specified that every building and piece of land in the country was to be assessed to determine its rateable value. Husborne Crawley, like much of the county, was assessed in 1927 and the valuer visiting the site of the Swan [DV1/C54/74] found that it was still owned by the Duke of Bedford and was included in the land attached to 95 School Lane, rented by Charles Rowland.

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

before 1777: Russell Ambridge;
1777-1787: John Barnes;
1822: John Barnewell;
1828-1842: Sarah Barnewell;
before 1861: Joseph Barnwell;
1861-1877: William Grace
public house closed in the late C19th

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

  • R6/29/2/1-2: conveyance: 1710;
  • R6/29/2/3-4: conveyance; 1777;
  • R6/29/2/5: conveyance: 1787;
  • R6/29/2/8: will of Richard Ambrose Reddall: 1841, proved 1842;
  • R6/29/2/10: abstract of title: 1863;
  • R6/29/2/11: conveyance: 1863.