Skip Navigation

Welcome to Bedford Borough Council

Home > Community Histories > LeightonBuzzard > The Sun Public House Leighton Buzzard

The Sun Public House Leighton Buzzard

The Sun June 2008
The Sun June 2008

The Sun Public House: 42 Lake Street, Leighton Buzzard [also Rising Sun]

The Sun public house is an old building. It was listed by the former Department of Environment in 1975 as Grade II, of special interest. The building was dated to the 18th century; it is built of a local bond of vitrified headers dressed with red bricks and has an old tiled roof with a gable on right-hand side. The first reference so far found to the site is in 1653 when John Walter surrendered his copyhold cottage in Leck End to Benedict Walter [Z1118/1/10/1]. The cottage was not a public house and one wonders whether any of it survives within the current building, or whether it was pulled down and the public house built on the site.

The first mention of the Sun is in 1720 when Thomas, brother and heir of Leonard Waters was admitted to it and ten acres of land dispersed in the common fields of the town [X288/3]. In 1771 Thomas Waters, probably the grandson of the Thomas of 1720, devised all his real estate to his son Thomas [Z1118/1/10/4]; he died that year and his son was admitted in 1774, presumably when he was of age [Z1118/1/10/5]. In 1788 Thomas Waters surrendered the Sun to John Cox [Z1118/1/21/12].

In the Northampton Mercury of 19th January 1793 licensee of the Sun, John Hopkins, 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).

In 1799 John Cox surrendered the Sun to Joshua Hopkins [Z1118/1/21/12] and in 1821 Joshua had to covenant to surrender the public house to his creditors [Z1118/1/13/10] which he duly did [Z1118/1/21/12]. The Sun was then sold to Samuel Reeve[Z1118/1/21/12] who surrendered it to the uses of his will [Z1118/1/21/13]. In 1835 the Sun was the southernmost point to which the measures of the Lighting and Watching Act were to run in the town. On Samuel Reeve's death his executors were admitted to the Sun in 1844 [Z1118/1/21/5] and had it valued - it was worth, together with its close, £1,000 and the rent £44 per annum [Z1118/1/21/16]. Mary and Charles Reeve covenanted to surrender the Sun, along with other copyhold property of Samuel Reeve to Joseph Procter when the executors sold his brewery to Procter in 1845 [Z1118/1/21/18]. Procter immediately leased the brewery and licensed houses back to Charles Reeve [Z1118/1/21/20].

The petty sessional minutes for September 1858 [PSLB1/1] record that three publicans in Leighton Buzzard had their licences suspended - Joseph Fearn, once of the Bell and Woolpack, now of the Sun, William Greening of the Cross Keys and Henry Parrott of the Bell and Woolpack.  Fearn was charged with harbouring prostitutes and with permitting music, dancing and theatrical performances - a heady mixture indeed.

In 1864 Procter leased the brewery and licensed houses to Aylesbury [Buckinghamshire] brewer Edward Terry [Z1118/1/21/36]. The Sun was described as: "Sun public house, Leck End, Leighton Buzzard, being brick and tile house with large yard enclosed by folding gates containing brick and timber washhouse, stabling for 10 horses with hay lofts over a range of brick and timber buildings with tiled rooves being 2 cart sheds, coal house, hen house, wood house and 2 piggeries with pump of water and old timber and thatch barn of large dimensions, two small brick and thatch tenements adjoining public house and paddock of pasture of 1.5 acres at back, in occupation of Jesse Simmons"

Two years later Joseph Procter was dead and his executors conveyed the brewery and licensed houses to James Procter [Z1118/1/21/38]. By the time of the countywide register of licensed premises of 1876 the owner was Percy Procter, who leased brewery and premises to Ashdown Brothers. In 1882 Procter again leased the brewery and premises to Levi and Richard Gibson Ashdown [Z1118/1/21/43]. On Procter's death brewery and licensed houses were conveyed to Hugh Procter, Harold Procter, John Goldsmith Procter and Jane Procter [Z1118/1/21/45]. In 1891 the Ashdowns were still leasing the brewery and licensed houses from Procter. In 1897 Hugh, Harold, John Goldsmith and Jane Procter conveyed brewery and licensed house to Kingsbury (St.Albans) Brewery [Z1118/1/21/51]. Kingsbury was later taken over by Benskins Watford Brewery, which later became Ind Coope. At the time of writing [2009] the Sun is owned by Courage.

 The Sun in June 2008
The Sun in June 2008


  • Z1118/1/10/1: surrender of a cottage: 1653;
  • X288/3: admission: 1720;
  • Z1118/1/10/4: will of Thomas Waters: 1771;
  • X288/7: death of Thomas Waters: 1771;
  • Z1118/1/10/5: admission: 1774;
  • Z1118/1/21/12: surrender: 1788;
  • Northampton Mercury: resolution of Leighton Buzzard publicans banning "seditious and disaffected persons" from their houses: 19 Jan 1793;
  • Z1118/1/21/12: recited surrender:1799;
  • Z1118/1/13/10: covenant to surrender: 1821;
  • Z1118/1/21/12: recited surrender: 1821;
  • Z1118/1/21/12: recited admission: 1821;
  • Z1118/1/21/13: abstracted will of Samuel Reeve: 1821-1845;
  • Z1118/1/13/11: covenant to surrender: 1822;
  • Z1118/1/21/18: recited admission: 1822;
  • CLP13: Register of alehouse licences: 1822-1828;
  • CRT130Lei5: The Sun to be the starting point for the Lighting and Watching Act enforcement in the town: 1835;
  • Z1118/1/21/5: admission: 1844;
  • Z1118/1/21/16: valuation: c.1845;
  • Z1118/1/21/27: Land Tax of 10/- attached to Sun and buildings: 1845;
  • Z1118/1/21/18: covenant to surrender: 1845;
  • Z1118/1/21/20: lease: 1845;
  • Z1118/1/21/21: admission: 1845;
  • Z1118/1/21/30: insured for £350: 1846;
  • 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;
  • Z1118/1/21/36: lease: 1864;
  • Z1118/1/21/38: conveyance: 1866;
  • Z1118/1/21/43: lease: 1882;
  • Z1118/1/21/45: conveyance: 1884;
  • Z1118/1/21/51: conveyance: 1897;
  • HN1/20-1-3: position shown on annotated Ordnance Survey maps compiled for licensing purposes: early 20th century;
  • PPSLB4/2: 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:

1720: Lucy Walton;
1771-1785: Sarah Parsons;
1788: Richard Birdsey;
1793: John Hopkins;
1799-1822: Joshua Hopkins;
1828-1847: William Simmons;
1850: John Young;
1853: Charles Adams Williamson;
1854-1858: Joseph Fearn;
1862: Charles Simmonds
1864-1883: Jesse Simmons;
1883-1886: Ann Elizabeth Simmons;
1886-1894: Charles Greening;
1894-1895: Caroline Greening;
1895-1902: Henry Yirrell;
1902-1904: Frederick William Hume;
1904-1914: Charles Henry Hills;
1914-1929: Elizabeth Jane Hills;
1929: Alice Mabel Atterton;
1929-1931: Bertie Earl;
1931-1937: Arthur Messenger;
1937-1943: Fanny Messenger;
1943-1956: Arthur Hearne;
1965: Leonard Frederick Ayres;
1968: John Kay;
1968: Harry Thomas Smith;
1971: Ivor Maurice Ellis;
1976: William Austin Armitt;
1980: John McIlwraith;
1984: Thomas George Pledger