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The Cross Keys Public House Kempston House

The Cross Keys March 2012
The Cross Keys March 2012

The Cross Keys Public House: corner of Wood End Road and Wood End Lane, Wood End, Kempston Rural

The countywide Licensing Register of 1876 states that the Cross Keys beerhouse was first licensed in 1836. It was sold by William Boyce to the oddly-named West Lilley in 1840, who mortgaged it to Ebenezer Burr in 1859 [GK132/18]. West Lilley was a brother of Matthew and William Lilley who were hanged for attempted murder of a gamekeeper in 1829. The mortgage was redeemed in 1874 when Lilly sold the premises to Bedford brewer Frederick Thomas Young [GK133/18]. Young, in partnership with William Pritzler Newland, also owned the Shoulder of Mutton in Green End and the Smith's Arms in what is now Margetts Road, in Up End. He mortgaged them to Charles Mitchell in 1874 [GK132/20] and to William George Carter Mitchell in 1875 [GK160/1].

Young must have sold out to Newland in 1877 as in that year Newland mortgaged various licensed properties including the Cross Keys to Charles William Powell [GK160/4]. He redeemed the mortgage with Charles Mitchell in 1883 [GK132/20] and re-mortgaged with Henry Raynes and George Race [GK132/21], that mortgage being transferred to Susan Milburn Mitchell in 1889 [GK132/22]. In 1890 Newland merged his business with that of Bedford brewer William Joseph Nash's widow Susan to form Newland and Nash, which became a public limited company in 1897. Newland and Nash was taken over by Biggleswade brewers Wells and Winch in 1924, though the Newland and Nash properties were not conveyed to Wells and Winch until 1948 [GK297/2]. Wells and Winch were themselves taken over by Suffolk brewers Greene King in 1961. The Cross Keys had become a fully licensed public house just before this on 10th March 1960.

In 1927 Kempston Rural was valued under the Rating Valuation Act 1925; each piece of land and building was valued to determine the rates to be paid on it. The valuer at the Cross Keys [DV1/C35/53] found a brick and slate building with accommodation comprising a tap room ["fair"], cellar, kitchen, living room and front room downstairs with three bedrooms above; outside were three small barns and an earth closet. Overall he found a: "Nice little house but trade poor". This weekly trade consisted of 1½ barrels and 3½ dozen bottles of beer - the problem was that there was: "No one to Buy Beer". However, the establishment survived and at the time of writing remains a public house though now with a restaurant - Tre Fratelli Ristorante Italiano - attached.


  • GK132/18: recited conveyance: 1840;
  • GK132/18: recited mortgage: 1859, redeemed 1874;
  • GK132/17: valuation: 1874;
  • GK132/18: conveyance: 1874;
  • GK132/20: mortgage: 1874;
  • GK160/1: mortgage: 1875;
  • GK160/4: mortgage: 1877;
  • GK132/20: reconveyance: 1883;
  • GK132/21: mortgage: 1883;
  • GK132/22: transfer of mortgage: 1889;
  • GK132/23: reconveyance: 1897;
  • GK3/1a: conveyance: 1897;
  • GK3/1b: trust deed: 1897; Z1169/8/41/7/1: plans: 1902;
  • PSB9/1: register of licenses: 1903-1935;
  • GK297/2: conveyance: 1948;
  • PSB9/2: register of licenses: c.1955-1995;
  • Z1105/1: Liquor Licence Trader Survey Form: 1961;
  • PSBW8/3: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade and North Bedfordshire Petty Sessional Divisions: 1976-1980;

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

1861: Joseph Benson;
1869-1891: William Farrer;
1891-1901 George Hebbs
1901: George J. Hebbes
1903-1922: Thomas John Tory;
1922-1929: Mary Tory;
1929-1946: Jonathan R. Allen;
1947: Alfred Smith;
1960-1961: Kenneth Walter Field;
1965-1967: Horace Frederick Dawson;
1967-1971: Kenneth Jackson;
1971-1976: Geoffrey Charles Davis;
1976-1983: Sidney Wilfred Hounsell;
1983-1984: Matilda Ann Hounsell;
1984-1989: Barry Anthony Carter;
1989-1990: Dennis Mitchell;
1990-1992: James Adam Kerr;
1992-1994: David Owen Hallworth;
1994-1996: Kevin Frank le Page and Jacqueline Ann le Page;
1996: Sarah Louise Bosley and Anthony Farrer Cooper