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The Crown Public House Leighton Buzzard

The Crown Leighton Buzzard about 1925
The Crown Leighton Buzzard about 1925 [WL800/2]

The Crown Public House: 72 North Street, Leighton Buzzard

Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service has a series of countywide licensing registers from 1822 to 1828 [CLP13] and the Crown first makes its appearance in that for 1824, licensed by Thomas Turnham, leading one to presume that this is the date it opened. Thomas Turnham was succeeded as licensee, to judge by directory entries, by Richard Harris, who was a currier and tanner and whose business was in North Street. The last directory to list the Crown is 1847, the 1853 directory listing Harris simply as a tanner and currier.

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. In notes lent to Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service by Maureen Brown is a photocopied abstract of title to the Crown at 72 North Street. This begins with the recited admission in 1809 of James Sanders and Sarah, his wife, to copyhold premises in North Street.

In his will of 1857 Sanders devised all his copyhold estates to trustees for sale. He died later that year and the executors put up his property for sale by auction at which Elizabeth and Elizabeth Margaret Pettit were the highest bidders. At that date the Crown was described as: "that cottage or dwelling house situate and being in the North End of leighton Buzzard aforesaid with the Gateway and Loft over the same, Yard, garden and all appurtenances thereto belonging including part of a newly erected Brick Wall at the westward end of the said Garden commencing at the end of 22 feet from the corner of a Warehouse belonging to and occupied by Edward Hall which part of the said Wall to the extent of 22 feet belonged to and was the property of the said Edward Hall who also had a right of eavesdrop to such part of the said Wall all which said messuages and premises were then late in the occupation of the said James Sanders deceased and then of the said Sarah Sanders. Secondly all those two cottages or dwelling houses adjoining the lastly described hereditaments and premises with the Gardens, Shed, Outbuildings and appurtenances then in the occupation of Widow Roberts and John Hall". In none of this is there a mention of any of the properties being a public house. Thus the earlier Crown must either have been on the premises but closed or was at different premises altogether. Without more evidence it is impossible to say, but the latter seems more likely.

Elizabeth Margaret Pettit married Rev. Dale John Welburn of Eaton Socon in 1865 and died in 1901 intestate leaving only her son Charles Matthew Welburn as her heir and he was admitted to the Crown in 1901 which he enfranchised, that is converted into freehold, later that year. He died in 1913 with Margaret Emily Welburn as his heir.

Oddly, in the 1860s [PSLB4/1] Henry Pettit of Leighton Buzzard is stated to be the owner of the Crown. By 1876 the owner was Charlotte Pettit and by 1891 Henry Pettit. The owner from 1913, presumably after a sale, was Charles Gotzheim, the licensee. Henry Pettit clearly owned the public house in 1880 as he tried to sell it in that year, along with a number of other properties. The Crown was then described as a "brick and tiled fully-licensed public house known as the Crown, situate in North Street, Leighton Buzzard, and let to Mr. Thomas Sear, the occupier, at an annual rent of £26. It contains Bar, Bar-parlour, Tap-room, and Kitchen, with Three Bed-rooms and large Attic over, and a cool and roomy Beer-cellar, with Yard and useful Out-buildings; Pump and Well of excellent Water and a large Plot of Garden Ground in the rear…The new occupation road now staked out for use of this and the two following lots leading to Lammas Close Lane, will belong to this Lot". The Crown was not sold [BML10/42/60].

Clearly the abstract of title (which definitely states that it is to the Crown) does not tie up with the owners stated in licensing records. The answer is that the Pettits shown are likely to be trustees of the marriage settlement of Elizabeth and Dale Welburn - the original trustees for the settlement of 1865 being Charles and Henry Pettit who were admitted as tenants in trust to pay the rents and profit arising out of the properties to Elizabeth Margaret Welburn for her own separate use.

The Newport Pagnell Brewery Company was bought out by Bedford brewers Charles Wells but by 1936 the Crown was leased to Luton brewers J.W.Green Limited. This firm merged with Flowers Breweries in 1954 and took the Flowers name before being taken over by Whitbread in 1962. A fire at the Crown in 1991 saw the inn close for a number of years. At the time of writing 2009, the Crown is, once more, a public house. It is now a free house.

 The Crown June 2008
The Crown June 2008


  • CLP13: register of Alehouse Licenses: 1824-1828;
  • 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;
  • X733/165: reference in deed: 1865;
  • BML10/42/60: sale particulars of Crown and other licensed premises: 1880;
  • HN1/20-1-3: position shown on annotated Ordnance Survey maps compiled for licensing purposes: early 20th century;
  • PSLB4/2: Register of Alehouse Licences - Leighton Buzzard Petty Sessional Division: 1922-1948;
  • WL801/175: glass plate negative: c.1925;
  • WB/Green6/4/1: trade analysis ledger: 1936-1947;
  • BML10/42/429: trading, profit and loss account of Victor Lambert: 1938-1939;
  • Z1105/1: Liquor Licence Traders Survey Form: 1959;
  • WB/FLow4/5/LB/C1-2: exterior photographs: 1960s

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:

1824: Thomas Turnham;
1847: Richard Harris, currier and tanner;
1864: Thomas Woodman;
1876: Thomas Sear;
1881: Phillip John Ellis;
1881: James Buckingham;
1882: Sydney Hicks;
1886: Augustine Gotzheim;
1890: Margaret Gotzheim [convicted of contravening Spirits Order 13 Apr 1920; fined £10 (2 cases)];
1922: Fred Pearse;
1935: Victor Arthur Thomas Lambert;
1953: Harry Gotzheim;
1954: Douglas Cosby;
1959: Frederick Sharpe;
1972: Ronald Frank Cowell and Howell Jones;
1973: Keith Gibbon Scott-Farnie and Olaf Mordaunt Abel;
1975: Edward Richard Browning;
1988: Geoffrey John Reeve;
1989: David Richard Finn.

 The Crown in June 2008
The Crown in June 2008