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The Curriers Arms Leighton Buzzard

The Curriers Arms in the 1920s
The Curriers Arms in the 1920s

The Curriers Arms Public House: 31 Market Square, Leighton Buzzard

The Curriers Arms was the easternmost of three licensed premises in Middle Row - the Boot adjoined it to the west with the Cross Keys west of that. In 1960 Bedfordshire Historical Records Society published a volume, its fortieth, dedicated to diaries. County Archivist Joyce Godber edited and published the diary of Leighton Buzzard Justice of the Peace John Salusbury (1713-1787) written between the years 1757 and 1759. Salusbury mentions the Curriers Arms twice on 1st September 1757 and 25th January 1759, both times because his club, the Civil Society, was meeting there at a member's nomination. He said of the second visit: "A full club and the ale good, so that we stayed a penny apiece over". This is the first known mention of the inn. The building was listed by the former Department of Environment in 1975 and was described as late 16th or early 17th century building with a stucco front and an old tiled roof. The countywide register of licensed premises of 1876 noted the first licensing of the Curriers Arms as 1780 which shows that similar dates for other establishments are likely to be unreliable.

Bedfordshire & Luton Archives & Records Service has a formulary and notebook kept by 18th century attorney Benjamin Pyne which contains a list of twelve licensed properties in the town in 1761. Each inn also has a name beside it which appears to be the name of the licensee (who may both, of course, also have been the owner in some cases) is not stated. The Curriers Arms is linked with the name of Richard Flemons.

In the Northampton Mercury of 19th January 1793 licensee of the Curriers Arms, John Anthony 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 Curriers Arms was put up for sale by auction by its owner Mrs. Marlton in 1881, when it was described [BML10/42/64] as "a free and fully licensed freehold public house known as the Curriers Arms. The House which is substantially built of Brick and Tile, contains, front and back Parlours, Tap Room, and Kitchen on the ground floor, good Cellar in the basement, and three Bedrooms on the upper floor, with covered stall to front of the House facing the Market Place; at the rear is Stabling for 6 horses, with loft over, Brew-house and Coalhouse, all brick and timber built, and tiled; with a back entrance to the House and Buildings from Eagle Street [the northern part of the Market Square behind Middle Row now simply addressed as part of the Market Square]. The House has been in the occupation of the late Mr. John Marlton for 70 years and upwards, and is one of the best conducted and lucrative Houses in the Town". A look at the list of licensees will show that John Marlton had not been licensee for seventy years but his family may well have been. The sale particulars are annotated in pencil: "One of the old Lucas Houses [presumably the brewers W. and S. Lucas of Hitchin [Hertfordshire], established in 1709]. Most substantially built although not imposing … the most business part of the Town as can been [sic] seen on any Tuesday. The reason for selling [sadly not elaborated upon]. Adjoining House Copyhold [£]760. The Ostler Jones of the Swan is willing to become Tenant".

The buyer was a Mr. Gurney, for £880. Later owners are shown in licensing registers as a Mrs. Sarah Giles of Woburn Sands [Buckinghamshire] and Charles Elliott of Watford [Hertfordshire] and Ann Bunker of Tilsworth. The lease was taken by Northampton brewers P. Phipps and Company, later the Northampton Brewery Company Limited and records of the establishment are presumably held by Northamptonshire Record Office.

The 18th October 1884 edition of the Bedfordshire Mercury carried a story about a fire breaking out in the hay loft above a large stable at the rear of the Curriers Arms and semi-detached from the house. The stabling was completely destroyed. The fire brigade were able to save the public house itself, which was just as well because the licensee, Alfred Cooke, was also fire brigade superintendent! Damage was estimated at between £100 and £150.

The Curriers Arms closed in the latter part of the 20th century. At the time of writing [2009] it is a shop called Smooth.

 31 Market Square June 2008
31 Market Square June 2008


  • X171/206: name of landlord noted: 1761;
  • Northampton Mercury: resolution of Leighton Buzzard publicans banning "seditious and disaffected persons" from their houses: 19 Jan 1793;
  • CLP13: Register of alehouse licences: 1822-1828;
  • 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;
  • BML10/42/64: auction sale particulars: 1881;
  • Bedfordshire Mercury; fire at the Curriers Arms: 18 Oct 1884;
  • HN1/20-1-3: position shown on annotated Ordnance Survey maps compiled for licensing purposes: early 20th century;
  • P91/28/48: indicated as having been at 31 Market Square in notes compiled on Leighton Buzzard public houses: early 20th century;
  • BML10/42/332: valuation: 1904
  • PSLB4/2: Register of Alehouse Licences - Leighton Buzzard Petty Sessional Division: 1922-1948  

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:

1761: Richard Flemons;
1780: Matthew Rutley;
1793: John Anthony;
1822-1823: Robert Marlton;
1828-1862: Ann Marlton;
1864-1881: John Marlton;
1881: Sarah Marlton;
1884-1887: Alfred Cook;
1887-1893: Mary Ann Isabella Cook;
1893-1895: Dennis Guteridge;
1895-1910: Mary Ann Isabella Gutteridge;
1910-1920: William Collins [convicted 13 Apr 1920 of contravening Spirits  Order; fined £9 (2 cases)];
1920-1921: Alfred William Inglehurst;
1921-1949: George Francis Attwood;
1949-1953: Kenneth George William Hailey;
1953-1955: Herbrand Franklin Turney