The Rose and Crown Leighton Buzzard
2-4 Lake Street June 2008
The Rose & Crown Inn: 2 Lake Street, Leighton Buzzard [earlier the Crown]
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.
The first mention of the Crown Inn so far found is in 1621 when Edward Wilckes paid a quitrent to the Manor of Leighton Buzzard alias Grovebury of three shillings, showing that the property was by then freehold. Wilckes also owned the Talbot and Eagle and Child [KK775]. He was still paying the quitrent in 1626 [KK776] and 1627 [KK777].
In 1658 Mathew Wilkes of Lillingstone Dayrell [Buckinghamshire] and Frances, his wife, Richard Nicholls of North Mimms [Hertfordshire] and Joan, his wife and Thomas Jenkins of Leighton Buzzard, blacksmith and Elizabeth, his wife undertook to levy a fine to John Ashwell of Leighton Buzzard, blacksmith [NC330]. It looks as if the heirs of Edward Wilkes had been devised the property, now for the first time called the Rose and Crown, and decided to sell it.
In 1683 a suspected thief was apprehended at the Rose and Crown [HSA1684/W/65]. The document used as evidence at the Assizes reads as follows [note the archaic spellings]: "The Information of John Goodsoale of Laighton Bussard in the County of Bedford collarmaker, taken upon oath the 8th day of February Anno Domini 1683  before Saint John Thomson Esquire, one of his Majestie's Justices of the peace for the said County, as followeth: This Informant saith that on Tuesday morninge beinge the 9th day of September last, one Richard Fletcher beinge suspected to have stoalen, eleven poundes and Tenne shillings, and sixe shillinges in brasse money, from one Robert Simons, and this Informant went to finde him out, and found him in the Roase & Crowne yard in Laighton aforesaid, where hee did see the said Fletcher, take the money from the ground, (where hee had hid it) and put it in his pockett, and this informant came to him, and told him, that it was Robert Simons his money, and tooke it from him, and the said Fletcher replied hee was goeinge to carry it to Robert Simons againe, for hee tooke it, when hee was drunke, and did not know what to doe with soe much money, when hee had it, and thereupon this informant gave the money to the said Robert Simons again, and further saith not John Goodsoale". There is no record of what happened to Fletcher.
In 1716 a cottage in occupation of Bartholomew Dymock, with a bakehouse, oven, wellhouse and gatehouse was surrendered to its tenant [X288/2]. This property is important in trying to fix the location of the Rose and Crown as the 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,] immediately south-east. We know from other sources that this inn occupied by John Clark was the Katherine Wheel, later called the Angel at 6 Lake Street. This suggests that Dymock's bakery might have occupied the site of 4 Lake Street and the Rose and Crown 2 Lake Street.
In the Leighton Buzzard manor quitrent ledger of 1749 Edward Ashwell paid two shillings and eleven pence [KK783]. Then in 1749 another property adjoining the Rose and Crown was conveyed which, at first sight, suggests a slightly different location to that suggested by the document of 1716! The cottage was described as abutting west on the Bell and east on the Rose and Crown [X561/1-2]. The Bell, now the Top Bell, is at 10 Market Square, suggesting the Rose and Crown was at 14 Market Square. However, one should probably not get too worried about current houses on the site (14 and 16 Market Square and 6 Lake Street both post date the Rose and Crown) which may occupy a different footprint to their predecessors. Overall the evidence confirms that the Rose and Crown stood around the spot where today the Market Square joins Lake Street and there is one surviving building from that period - 2-4 Lake Street. As will be seen below it is likely that the inn occupied today's Number 2 Lake Street. The building was listed by the former Department of Environment in 1954 as Grade II, of special interest. It dates from the 18th century and is a brick house in a local bond front of vitrified headers dressed with red bricks; the roof is composed of tiles with brick cornice moulding. The blocked ground floor central elliptical arch has a keystone.
In 1755 Edward Ashwell was still paying his quitrent for the Rose and Crown [KK784]. 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. He mentions the Rose and Crown just once, when his club, the Civil Society, met there on 1st November 1759.
In 1772 Widow Ashwell was paying the two shillings and eleven pence quitrent for the Rose and Crown [KK785] and that is the last reference to the establishment as a working inn. The Northampton Mercury
of 19th January carried resolution of Leighton Buzzard publicans banning "seditious and disaffected persons" from their houses. The publicans of thirty two houses signed the petition but the Rose and Crown is not represented. Either the publican did not subscribe or there was, by that stage no inn. Certainly in 1812 a right of way is described as running "through the gateway to the messuage formerly called the Rose and Crown, now the property of Joseph Tillcock". The implication is that the inn probably closed on the death of Widow Ashwell and was then sold. Joseph Tillcock still owned, and occupied, 2 Lake Street
in 1821 when it is shown on Benjamin Bevan's map
- KK775: Manor of Leighton Buzzard quit rental - "Edward Wilckes for the Crowne" three shillings [also for the Talbot]: 1621;
- KK776: Manor of Leighton Buzzard quit rental - "Edward Wilkes for the Crowne" [also the Talbot gatehouse and the Eagle and Child] three shillings: 1626;
- KK777: Manor of Leighton Buzzard quit rental - "Edward Wilkes for the Crowne" three shillings [also for the Eagle and Child and the Talbot gatehouse]: 1627;
- NC330: 1658;
- HSA1684/W/65: suspected thief apprehended at Rose and Crown where he had secreted the stolen goods: 1684;
- X288/2: surrender of a cottage in occupation of Bartholomew Dymock with bakehouse, oven, wellhouse and gatehouse to Bartholomew Dymock: 1716;
- X288/4: Rose and Crown noted as abutting north-west on Bartholomew Dymoke's bakery: 1738;
- X288/5: noted as an abuttal: 1739;
- KK783: Manor of Leighton Buzzard quit rental - Ashwell, Edward for the Rose and Crown Inn" two shillings eleven pence: 1749;
- X561/1-2: conveyance of a messuage which abutted west on the Bell and east on the Rose and Crown: 1749;
- KK784: Manor of Leighton Buzzard quit rental - "Ashwell, Edward, for the Rose and Crown Inn" two shillings eleven pence: 1755;
- KK785: Manor of Leighton Buzzard quit rental - Widow Ashwell "for the Rose and Crown and others" two shillings eleven pence1772;
- X561/4-5: 1810;
- X561/10: 1812