The Chequers Public House Keysoe
The Chequers Inn March 2016
The Chequers is a longstanding public house, the first mention being in 1783 when a neighbouring cottage was leased [BorBL2/4/27]. The building certainly appears as if it dates from the 18th century (it looks very similar to the former White Horse) though it has been altered considerably over the years. It is of one storey with attics and has a tiled roof.
The Chequers formed part of one of the manors, either the Manor of Keysoe Bury or the Manor of Keysoe Grange, both of which were owned by the Crawley family of Stockwood Park, Luton in the 19th century. In 1878 John Crawley leased the Chequers to Bedford brewer William Pritzler Newland for seven years at a rent of £120 per annum. In 1890 Newland went into partnership with Susan Nash, widow of another Bedford brewer, the new company being called Newland and Nash, which was floated on the stock market in 1897 [GK3/1a-b]
In 1912 Francis Crawley decided to sell the family’s manorial estates in Keysoe, including the Chequers. The sale particulars [X65/74] described the pub as containing a lumber room, four bedrooms, tap room, club room, bar, scullery, cellar and pantry with “some useful outbuildings built of timber with corrugated iron or tiled roof, arranged round a good yard and comprise hen roost, coal barn, shelter hovel, barn, two pigsties, cow shed for two, stabling for six and cart shed and shelter hovel to meadow; also a good orchard and garden”. There were also two fields of pasture, one at the rear of the pub and the other being on the opposite side of the road. The Chequers was still let to Newland and Nash, the rent being £25 per annum. It is presumed that the brewers bought the pub at this time. In 1924 Newland and Nash was taken over by Biggleswade brewers Wells and Winch.
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. The valuer visiting the Chequers [DV1/C213/4] found the tenant Joseph Seth paid rent of £13 per annum to new owners Wells and Winch. He commented: “Plaster front, long frontage, tiled roof, good draw up”.
The pub comprised a tap room, a public room, a cellar, a living room, a scullery and four bedrooms. The valuer noted: “Does not do ½ barrel per week, usually 18 [gallons] in a fortnight. Does not do a bottle of spirits in a month. Small tobacco trade”. A colleague simply noted: “No trade”. Seth also rented an adjacent 3.122 acre grass field from the brewery. Wells and Winch was taken over by Suffolk brewer Greene King in 1961.
In 1989 a first floor rear extension was added [BorBTP/89/0685]. The Bedfordshire Historic Environment Record [HER] contains information on the county’s historic buildings and landscapes and summaries of each entry can now be found online as part of the Heritage Gateway website. The entry for the Chequers [HER 12020] states that the pub closed about 1990 (though it was definitely still licensed in 1995 [PSBW8/4]) and became a private house. In 2016, however, it was certainly a pub again, trading under its ancient name.
- BorBL2/4/27: lease of adjoining cottage: 1783;
- CLP13: register of alehouse licences: 1822-1828;
- QSR1839/3/5/11/b: customer involved in theft from another property: 1839;
- WG2416: auction sale at the inn: 1865;
- GA2154: auction sale at the inn: 1875;
- WG2419/1-2: auction sale at the inn: 1875;
- Z1087/1/5/1: auction sale at the inn: 1876;
- WG2420: auction sale at the inn: 1876;
- WG2421: auction sale at the inn: 1877;
- BMB4/1/4/19: lease by John Crawley to W P Newland: 1878;
- BMB4/1/5/48: inventory of the inn: 1879;
- P48/8/1: minutes on rating of the inn: 1882;
- GK3/1a: creation of Newland & Nash Limited: 1897;
- GK3/1b: trust deed to secure debenture stock: 1897;
- PSS3/1: Register of Alehouse Licences - Sharnbrook Petty Sessional Division: c.1901;
- PSS3/2: Register of Alehouse Licences - Sharnbrook Petty Sessional Division: c.1903;
- PSS3/3: Register of Alehouse Licences - Sharnbrook Petty Sessional Division: 1904-1930;
- SH55/8 and Z155/24 sale catalogue 1912;
- X65/74-75: estate survey: 1912;
- WL800/1 page 11 photograph: c.1925;
- GK297/2: conveyance of Newland & Nash to Wells & Winch: 1938;
- RDBP3/818: plans for sanitary accommodation: 1947;
- PSB9/2: Register of Alehouse Licences – Bedford Bedfordshire Petty Sessional Divisions: 1955-1995;
- BorBTP/89/0685: first floor rear extension: 1989.
List of Licensees: note that this is not a complete list. Italics indicate licensees whose beginning and/or end dates are not known:
1822-1839: John Barnet;
1847-1854 Thomas Barnet;
1862-1877: Edwin Emerton (a farmer);
1885 William Brooks (a farmer);
1890-1898: Robert Cunnington (a farmer and dealer);
1903-1930: Joseph Seth;
1930-1932: Henry George Hanbury;
1932: Edward Charles Crossley;
1936: Edward C Addley;
1940: J Morrell;
1976-1977: Anthony George Hathaway;
1977-1978: Colin James Albert Cooper and William Drew;
1978-1995: Jeffrey Richard Kearns.