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The Bear Inn Leighton Buzzard

The Bear Inn: 24 High Street, Leighton Buzzard

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 Bear was not included in the book but Maureen Brown did some research on it, the notes of which she kindly lent to Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Office.

She read through the deeds to the Co-op building in the High Street and discovered that in 1676 Francis Seayer sold a cottage to Joane Martin who sold it to John Deane junior of Leighton Buzzard, tailor, in 1695. By 1703 the cottage was known as the Bear and was occupied by John Deane, who married Sarah Wright in 1725 and in the marriage settlement the Bear was described as "situate and being upon the Prebendal Fee".

In 1747 Darah, only daughter of John and Sarah Deane, inherited the premises and leased it to Michael Yates of Leighton Buzzard, carpenter. The inn was described as occupied by John Deane, then Edward Wright, blacksmith and that it was formerly known as the Bear. This suggests that the inn ceased to trade about the time of the death of John Deane giving it a period of less than half a century as an inn.

A project called Our High Street Revisited 1819-2000 by Leighton-Linslade Local History Research Group [CRT130Lei58] aimed to use directories and census records to try to establish as full a history of use of the building in the High Street as possible. The results for Number 24 were as follows:

  • 1821: W. Samuel;
  • 1841: owner Charles Pettit; occupier James Elmes;
  • 1841: John Bishop, saddler;
  • 1851: William Shepperd, biscuit maker;
  • 1861: Deborah Mitton, confectioner;
  • 1871: Deborah Parsons, confectioner and pastry cook;
  • 1881: William Maultby, master baker;
  • 1891-1914: James Travell, baker;
  • 1924: Henry Holmes, baker;
  • 1936: Walter Charles Protheroe, milliner;
  • 1940: Mrs. Ida G. Protheroe, ladies underwear;
  • 1972: Sketchley Dry Cleaners;
  • 1986: Sketchley Dry Cleaners and Glass Centre;
  • 2000; Sketchley Dry Cleaners and Anne McGuigan, hairdesser

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:

1703: John Deane