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The Mother Redcap Public House Luton

The Mother Redcap June 2010
The Mother Redcap 2010 

The Mother Redcap Public House: 80 Latimer Road, Luton [previously The Red Cap]

The Red Cap was built in Langley Road [later renamed Latimer Road] by Simpsons’ Brewery of Baldock, probably in 1855. Deeds for the property dating from 1836 to 1855 are held by Hertfordshire Record Office. During its early days the Red Cap was a beerhouse. Its license was suspended on several occasions for offences such as keeping a disorderly house and selling alcoholic drink after hours.

In June 1864 the Red Cap beerhouse was mentioned at the Bedford Quarter Sessions, where a certain Henry Johnston was accused of stealing two pairs of shoes from the shop of Luton shoemaker Joseph Bush at 2 Upper Bute Street. John Pratt, the keeper of the Robin Hood public house told the Court that on 12th June 1863 Johnston had come into the Robin Hood with a pair of boots and had asked him to buy them. He refused, but lent Johnston five shillings, taking the boots as security. The next day Pratt returned with another man, William Dumpleton, who repaid the five shillings and  left with the boots. Dumpleton said he had been at Peach’s beerhouse in New Town when Johnston asked if he wanted to buy a pair of boots. He went with Johnston to the Robin Hood and bought them for six shillings and a pint of beer. Later the same day he sold the boots at the Red Cap beerhouse to Joseph Wright for eight shillings and sixpence. Wright, who kept the Prince Albert beerhouse, wore the boots for two or three days before handing them to Police Constable James Haynes. Johnston was arrested by PC Haynes, though the policeman had to wait until April 1864 when the suspect, who was serving time in Northampton Gaol, was released. The prisoner said he knew nothing about the boots and although the shoemaker’s wife identified the boots shown to her by PC Haynes as one of the stolen pairs, he was found not guilty.

 The Mother Redcap three quarter view June 2010
The Mother Redcap three-quarter view 2010

In 1935 the original Mother Redcap building was demolished and replaced with a new Tudor style public house. It was acquired with the rest of Simpsons’ Brewery by Greene King in 1965. At the time of writing [2016] the Mother Redcap is still open as a public house.

The possible origins of the relatively common public house name ‘Mother Redcap’ are intriguing. Stuart Smith in his book on Luton public houses and breweries, Pubs and Pints, gives two suggestions: that it comes from Moll Cutpurse, a female highway robber of the 1650s connected with the Mother Red Cap inn at Camden; or that it is linked with sixteenth century ale-wife Eleanor Rumming, memorialised in John Skelton’s poem ‘The Tunning of Eleanor Rumming’. Other, perhaps more likely suggestions, are that the name is a folklore archetype attached both to witches in general and specifically to one Jinney Bingham, the ‘Crone of Camden’; or that a red cap may at one time have been a badge of office for female brewers.


  • CRT110/102: deeds in Hertfordshire Record Office: 1836-1855
  • QSR1864/3/5/2: depositions in case of Henry Johnston, charged with theft of shoes, 1864

Licensees: Note that this is not a complete list; italics indicate licensees whose beginning and/or end dates are not known

1872-1875: Frances Tennant;
1875-1876: George Tennant;
1885-1890: George Foote;
1894: Mrs Louisa Foote;
1898: George Martin;
1903: Charles Ivins;
1906: John C Perkins;
1910: William Burrell;
1914-1920: Charles George Poole;
1924: William Taylor;
1928: Charles R Tomes;
1929-1941: Charles Richard Jones;
1941: Reginald Albert Hudson;
1958: Winifred Hudson;
1977: Michael William George Bourne;
1988: Charles Morris;
1988: Martin Buckley;
1990: Stuart Vincent Porteous;
1990: Michael John Campbell;
1991: William Young Louder;
1993: William Young Louder and Elizabeth Jane Adams.