The Manor of Leighton Buzzard alias Grovebury was the principal landowner in the town before the 19th century. Bedfordshire & Luton Archives & Records Service has a full run of court rolls from 1393 to 1727 [KK619-715] and another full run from 1704 to 1867 [X288/1-23]. The service also has court rolls for other manor to own land in the town, the Prebendal Manor, from 1448 to 1459, 1588 to 1591, 1611 to 1622, 1627 and 1631 [KK792-1798]. Detailed study of these would be bound to produce quite full histories for most licensed premises in the town. Unfortunately such study would take a very long time. Thus the histories of licensed premises in these web pages are quite summary and not necessarily the full story.
Maureen Brown, June Masters and Tom Lawson wrote a book called The Old Pubs of Leighton Buzzard and Linslade which was published by Leighton Linslade Local History Research Group in 1994. In producing the book they used sources at Bedfordshire & Luton Archives & Records Service, Buckinghamshire Record Office, Northamptonshire Record Office as well as a number of published sources.
The Angel Inn, which stood on the site of today's 6 Lake Street, and was previously known as the Catherine or Katherine Wheel and, later, the new Bell and Woolpack. It is first mentioned in records held by Bedfordshire & Luton Archives & Records Service in 1664 when Phillipp Clarke was noted as owing two shillings and nine pence quit rent on the Catterne Wheele to the Manor of Leighton Buzzard alias Grovebury [KK780]. Clarke died in 1670 or 1671 and his heirs surrendered the Katherine Wheel to John Clarke, along with eight and a half acres of land in a place called Rackley Hooks, in 1705 [X288/1].
In 1714 the Katherine Wheele was mortgaged to another Phillip Clarke, citizen and distiller of London [X288/2]. The mortgage was redeemed two years later [X288/2]. That same year a cottage occupied by Bartholomew Dymock as a bakery was sold to him by John and Elizabeth Clarke. This cottage is described as having the Rose and Crown immediately north-west and a "messuagium sive hospicium inhabitat John Clark", a messuage or inn occupied by John Clark, surely the Katherine Wheel, immediately south-east [X288/2]. This suggests that Dymock's bakery might have occupied the site of 4 Lake Street and the Rose and Crown 2 Lake Street. However, it may not be quite as clear cut as that - 2 and 4 Lake Street comprise an 18th century house (the exact date being unknown but, quite likely, it is later than 1716) whereas 6 Lake Street is early 19th century so it is probably truer to say that all three buildings occupied sites somewhere in the vicinity of 2 to 6 Lake Street. At the end of 1716 John and Elizabeth Clark sold the Catherine Wheele, then occupied by Edmund Bostock, to Michael Burton of Battlesden [X288/2].
In 1722 Burton sold the Catherine Wheele to Mark Fountain [X288/3], who was steadily buying up a reasonable portfolio of land around the town [see, for example, the Anchor]. In 1745 Mark and Ellen Fountain sold the New Bell and Woolpack, formerly the Catherine Wheel, then described as being in the Corn Market of Leighton Buzzard, to victualler Edward Reddall [X288/5]. This name is interesting as it clearly implies that there had formerly been another Bell and Woolpack somewhere in the town. Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service has no reference to this establishment but does to a later Bell and Woolpack, first mentioned in the countywide licensing register of 1822 - this premises was at 47 Lake Street.
In 1767 Edward Reddall made his will and devised the inn, then called the Angel and Crown to his wife Mary and eldest daughter Ann. By the time of his death and the admission of the two women in 1773 [X288/7] the inn was simply known as the Angel [X288/7]. In the Northampton Mercury of 19th January 1793 licensee of the Angel, William Saunders subscribed to a resolution of Leighton Buzzard publicans banning "seditious and disaffected persons" from their houses. This presumably was in reaction to the events across the Channel in France (four days previously King Louis XVI had been sentenced to death and two days later he went to the guillotine).
The present 6 and 6a Lake Street was built in the early 19th century, presumably after the closure of the Angel. It was listed by the former Department of Environment in 1975.
Under the terms of the Rating and Valuation Act 1925 every piece of land and building in the country was assessed to determine the rates to be paid on them. Leighton Buzzard was assessed in 1927 and the valuer visiting 6 Lake Street [DV1/R80/9-10] noted that the owner/occupier was O. B. Ryland Limited and that rent had formerly been £150 per annum. At that time the building was a milliner's shop and the building comprised the following accommodation:
- basement: warehouses measuring 20 feet by 18 feet 6 inches and 20 feet by 10 feet and a larder;
- ground floor: milliners' shops measuring 32 feet 6 inches by 15 feet and 32 feet 6 inches by 24 feet; an arcade entrance (including a show window measuring 3 feet by 15 feet) 8 feet by 30 feet; a passage showroom measuring 8 feet 6 inches by 27 feet 6 inches; an office measuring 16 feet by 12 feet; a dining room measuring 11 feet by 17 feet 6 inches; a kitchen measuring 10 feet 6 inches by 17 feet; a scullery measuring 10 feet by 16 feet;
- first floor: millinery departments measuring 8 feet 6 inches by 22 feet and 13 feet 6 inches by 23 feet; a costume department measuring 9 feet by 20 feet; a fitting room measuring 10 feet by 20 feet; a warehouse measuring 11 feet by 77 feet; a stock room measuring 13 feet by 11 feet; a drawing room measuring 22 feet by 15 feet bedrooms measuring 12 feet 6 inches by 14 feet and 11 feet 6 inches by 10 feet; a W.C.;
- second floor: six bedrooms measuring 12 feet by 11 feet, 11 feet 6 inches by 18 feet, 12 feet by 13 feet, 15 feet by 14 feet, 10 feet by 7 feet and 11 feet by 15 feet; a stockroom "poor, little used" measuring 11 feet by 77 feet;
- a brick and tile old two storey building: ground floor stock room measuring 15 feet by 16 feet; a cycle house measuring 15 feet by 9 feet; a W.C.; an engine house measuring 15 feet by 12 feet; a small gas engine rated at 4 horsepower; a store measuring 15 feet square; first floor workrooms measuring 16 feet by 21 feet and 16 feet by 25 feet;
- a brick and tile coal and coke store measuring 20 feet by 16 feet;
- an old brick and tile coachhouse and two loose boxes used as a washhouse and hen house.
In the late 20th century the building became a licensed premises called Renoir's Bar which closed early in the 21st century.
- KK780: Manor of Leighton Buzzard quit rental: 1664;
- X288/1: surrender of the Katherine Wheel to John Clarke: 1705;
- X288/2: conditional surrender of the Katherine Wheele: 1714;
- X288/2: surrender of the Katherine Wheele: 1716;
- X288/2: surrender of a cottage in occupation of Bartholomew Dymock with bakehouse, oven, wellhouse and gatehouse to Bartholomew Dymock: 1716;
- X288/2: surrender of the Catherine Wheele: 1716;
- X288/2: admission of Michael Burton to the Catherine Wheel: 1717;
- X288/3: surrender of the Catherine Wheele: 1722;
- X288/5: surrender of the New Bell and Woolpack, formerly the Catherine Wheel in the Corn Market: 1745;
- X288/7: admission of Mary Reddall alias Redding, widow and Ann Reddall, spinster on the death of Edward Reddall to the Catherine Wheel, then the New Bell and Woolpack, then the Angel and Crown, now the Angel under the 1767 will of Edward Reddall: 1773;
- Northampton Mercury: resolution of Leighton Buzzard publicans banning "seditious and disaffected persons" from their houses including William Saunders of the Angel: 19 Jan 1793;
List of Licensees: note that this is not a complete list; entries in italics refer to licensees where either beginning or end, or both, dates are not known:
1714: John Clarke;
1716: Edmund Bostock;
before 1745: Mark Fountain;
1745: Thomas Stanbridge;
1767: Edward Reddall;
1793: William Saunders