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The Ashwell Arms Leighton Buzzard

The Ashwell Arms about 1925
The Ashwell Arms about 1925 [WL800/1]

The Ashwell Arms Public House: 12 Ashwell Street, Leighton Buzzard. 

In the countywide Return of Licensed Premises of 1876 the occupier of the Ashwell Arms is given as Alfred Grace, the owner as James Pettit of Leighton Buzzard and the leaseholders J. & T. Parrott of Aylesbury [Buckinghamshire]. The return states that the premises was first licensed in 1864. Bedfordshire & Luton Archives & Records Service holds the deeds to the public house and the first of these, dated 1867, is merely a conveyance of the site, along with 54 other plots in Ashwell Street, Mill Road, Gig Lane (now Queen Street) and Edward Street.

The plot on which the Ashwell Arms would be built was conveyed by Theodore Harris of Leighton Buzzard, banker and Samuel Taverner (appropriately) of Linslade, grocer to James Pettit of Leighton Buzzard, wine and spirit merchant for £148. Clearly this date of 1867 contradicts that of 1864 meaning either that the 1864 date is wrong or that the conveyance of 1867 was retrospective and by the time it was made the house had already been built (if it was built in 1864 it would then have been owned by Edward Ashwell, see below). The deed [WL1000/1/LB1/1] describes the land conveyed as two plots in Leighton Buzzard containing together 829 square yards with a frontage to the new street intended to be called Ashwell Street of 88 feet bounded north by land of David Cook, east by land used as a new road (The Wood), south by Ashwell Street and west by land sold to James Gibbs.

In May 1868 David Cook conveyed 310 square yards of land to James Pettit for £40. The land had a frontage to Ashwell Street of 15 feet and bounded the site of the Ashwell Arms on the south [WL1000/1/LB1/4]. In 1877 Pettit conveyed the Ashwell Arms to Newport Pagnell [Buckinghamshire] brewers Francis Allfrey and William George Lovell for £625 [WL1000/1/LB1/6]. It was then described as the Ashwell Arms beerhouse with brewhouse and other outbuildings on a site containing 1,130 square yards.

Immediately before this purchase, solicitors constructed an abstract of title of James Pettit to the property which shows the earlier history of the land and how the street got its name - the story is a little complicated [WL1000/1/LB1/5]. In 1792 the land was owned by Edward Ashwell and in that year he left the land to his wife Ann in his will, after her death it was to go to trustees on behalf of their son Charles. Edward Ashwell died in 1795, his wife Ann surviving him by forty years. Meanwhile their son Charles died in 1798 without issue and his brother Edward inherited their father's estates on their mother's death. On Ann's death John Ashwell, Charles' and Edward's other brother made a will in which he declared he was entitled to his brother Edward's estates by default of male heirs and leaving this and his own estates to his son Edward. John died in 1842 and his son Edward duly made a will, in 1861, leaving his real estate (following his uncle Edward's death) to trustees for sale. When he died the following year. Edward, son of John died in 1862 and his uncle Edward, John's brother, in 1865. John's wife Catherine then inherited the estates and released them to trustees in 1866. These trustees then sold the land in 1867 to Theodore Harris, Samuel Taverner and James Pettit for £1,047/10/-. The land was then described as Frog Hall farmhouse and Lamsey Close containing 4 acres 2 roods 23 poles of land occupied by William Hopkins. No buildings are mentioned, reinforcing the idea that the 1864 date for licensing the Ashwell Arms is wrong, however, deeds did not always reflect the current picture on the ground and a description of the land which was a few years old may have been used, though the weight of evidence does suggest that the 1864 date is simply wrong and that the public house was not built until 1868 or slightly later.

By 1885 the Ashwell Arms was being listed as a public house in directories. Allfrey & Lovell became the Newport Pagnell Brewery Company Limited in 1900. Charles Wells bought the company and its houses, including the Ashwell Arms, in 1926 and remains the owner at the time of writing [2009]. 

The Ashwell Arms June 2008
The Ashwell Arms June 2008


  • PSLB4/1: Register of Alehouse Licences - Leighton Buzzard Petty Sessional Division: c.1860s-1949;
  • PSLB4/3: Register of Alehouse Licences - Leighton Buzzard Petty Sessional Division: c.1860s-1956
  • WL1000/1/LB1/5: conveyance of site by executors of John Ashwell to Theodore Harris, James Pettit and Samuel Taverner: 1867;
  • WL1000/1/LB1/1: conveyance of part of site from Theodore Harris and Samuel Taverner to James Pettit: 1867;
  • WL1000/1/LB1/3-4: conveyance of part of site from David Cook to James Pettit: 1868;
  • WL1000/1/LB1/6: agreement by James Pettit to convey Ashwell Arms to Francis Allfrey and William George Lovell: 1877;
  • WL1000/1/LB1/7: letter to Allfrey & Lovell from their solicitors noting completion of conveyance and enclosing deeds: 1877
  • PSLB4/2: Register of Alehouse Licences - Leighton Buzzard Petty Sessional Division: 1922-1948;
  • WL800/1 page 5: photograph: c.1925;
  • WL801/173: negative of above: c.1925;
  • Z1105/1: Liquor Licence Traders Survey Form: 1963;
  • WL722/21: photograph to Charles Wells in-house magazine Pint Pot: 1977;
  • WL722/87: article of refurbishment in Pint Pot: 1996;
  • Z1309/1/11: drawing of Ashwell Arms: 2000  

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:

1876-1878: Alfred Grace;
1878-1879: John Stears;
1879-1890: John Robinson;
1890-1932: Matthew Underwood;
1932-1937: Charles Underwood;
1937-1941: Charles Ernest Hazzledine;
1941-1942: Lily Hazzledine;
1942: Charles Ernest Hazzledine;
1942-1945: John White;
1945-1947: Albert Edward Piggott;
1947-1950: Stanley Bierton;
1950-1954: John Alfred Hutson;
1954-1955: Leonard Hilton;
1955: Bert George Weavers;
1955-1956: Dennis James Allen;
1963: Roland William Manchett;
1967: John George William Tubby;
1970: Brian Denis Treadway;
1973: David George Clement;
1975: Eric Ernest Kelman;
1982: Albert James Jameson;
1988: Paul Smith;
1989: George Burgoyne.