The Crown Public House Northill
The Crown Public House in the 1960s [X758/1/28/34]
The Crown Public House: 2 Ickwell Road, Northill
The Crown public house was listed by the former Department of Environment in October 1966 as Grade II, of special interest. The department dated the property to the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. The property is partly timber-framed and partly brick, all parts of the building have a colour washed roughcast render. The roofs are made of old clay tiles. The house is in an L-plan and has two storeys. The south-west block is 17th century with 18th century additions and the front block is 19th century.
The first mention of this long established public house in any document in Bedfordshire & Luton Archives & Records Service comes in 1740 when some adjoining land was purchased by Hutchinson's Charity of Thorncote Green. The Crown belonged to the Robinson family, Lords of the Manor of Northill and was part of the estate conveyed to trustees in the marriage settlement of John Robinson in 1767. Robinson sold the place, along with the Manor and all its other appurtenances to John Harvey in 1803 [HY85-86]. The sale particulars [HY74] describe the inn thus: The Crown Public House, containing Four Bed Rooms, a Dining Room, Parlour, Bar Room, Hall, Kitchen, Cheese Room, and Two Cellars – In the Yard a Dairy, Back Kitchen and Poultry Houses”. The public house stood in one rood, ten poles of land.
The Bedfordshire Mercury of 28th January 1882 reported a fire at the Crown. The article read: “FIRE – At the Crown Inn, kept by Mr. D. Fuller, there was a narrow escape from which might have been a serious fire on Sunday last. In the afternoon a large oak beam across the tap-room fire-place was seen to be on fire, but fortunately it was put out by some men in the house, before spreading”.
Workmen in the Crown yard c.1895 [P10/28/14]
The inn remained in the Harvey family for 110 years until in 1913 John Edmund Audley Harvey sold it to the licensee Martha Marsom for £1,350 [GK141/1]. Just a year later Martha sold the Crown to Bedford brewers Newland & Nash [GK141/3]. This firm was bought out by Biggleswade brewers Wells & Winch in 1924, itself taken over by Suffolk brewers Greene King in 1961.
The Rating and Valuation Act 1925 specified that every building and piece of land in the country was to be assessed to determine its rateable value. Northill was assessed in 1927 and the valuer visiting the Crown [DV1/C/44] recorded a parlour, bar, tap room, club room, kitchen and scullery downstairs and 6 bedrooms with a bath and w. c. combined upstairs; outside were an earth closet, urinal and store room. He noted: "Near Church – does a little trade in teas". Trade consisted of 1 barrel of bitter and 1½ barrels of mild per week; 6 dozen bottles of beer per week and 2 gallons spirits per week. Total weekly takings were estimated at £30 a week. The landlord occasionally let two rooms. In conclusion the valuer noted: "Personality here".
The interior of Crown in 1937 [X758/1/12/31]
In August 2010 Greene King closed the public house and there were fears it might cease trading for good. However, the business was taken over by Doughty’s Brasserie of Hitchin [Hertfordshire].
- P10/25/14: abutting land purchased by Hutchinson's Charity in Thorncote Green: 1740;
- BS15: marriage settlement of John and Elizabeth Robinson of Manor of Northill including Crown: 1767;
- HY69-70: Crown conveyed, with Manor of Northill and other property, as part of a common recovery to assure title: 1802;
- HY74-75: sale particulars of Northill Manor estate: 1802;
- HY85-86: conveyed, with Manor of Northill and other property from William Clive, Richard Aldworth Griffin and Lord Braybrooke to John Harvey: 1803
- CLP13: register of alehouse licenses: 1822-1828;
- HY872/1-2: bills from Crown Inn: 1837;
- X870/1/15: trustees meeting of Princess Royal Lodge Friendly Society held at Crown: 1862;
- HF143/1: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1872-1873;
- HF143/2: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1874-1877;
- HF143/3: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1878-1881;
- HF5/30: inventory of property of Elizabeth Marsom: 1879;
- HF143/4: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1882-1890;
- Bedfordshire Mercury: fire at Crown Inn: 28 Jan 1882;
- X171/367: typed transcription of inventory and valuations (David Fuller deceased to Frederick Marsom 1885 and Frederick Marsom deceased 1888): 1885, 1888;
- HF143/5: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1891-1900;
- P10/28/14: group photograph in courtyard identified as Crown: c.1895;
- HF143/6: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1900-1914;
- X758/1/12/31-36: various photographs including the bar interior in 1937 and of retiring publican Jack Marsom: c.1900-1973;
- PSBW8/1: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1903-1915;
- GK141/1: contract of sale from John Edmund Audley Harvey of London to Martha Marsom, tenant of Crown: 1913
- GK141/2: conveyance from John Edmund Audley Harvey to Martha Marsom: 1913;
- GK141/3: conveyance from Martha Marsom, widow, to Newland & Nash Limited for £1,350: 1914;
- GK297/2: conveyed, with other properties, from Newland & Nash to Wells & Winch: 1938;
- Z924/page 8: photograph of men drinking outside Crown: 1947;
- PSBW8/2: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1956-1972;
- X758/1/12/44: poor copies of part of an article and photographs about a secret passage: 1959;
- PSBW8/3: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade and North Bedfordshire Petty Sessional Divisions: 1976-1980.
List of Licensees: note that this is not a complete list. Italics indicate licensees whose beginning and/or end dates are not known:
1767: Thomas Humphreys;
1822-1823: Prudence Grigg;
1824-1828: John Gillions;
1847-1854: Charles Nicholas;
1861-1864: Charles Marsom;
1869: Mrs Charles Marsom (& farmer);
1872-1878: Elizabeth Marsom;}
1878-1885: David Fuller;
1885-1888: Frederick Marsom;
1890-1914: Martha Marsom;
1914-1927: John Samuel Marsom;
1931-1940: Mrs Nellie Ada Marsom;
1957-1960: John Marsom;
1960-1962: Eric Roy Noble;
1962-1977: Robert Kenneth Williams;
1977-1980: Roy Leslie Sayles;
1980-1995: Anthony Ernest Dawson.
The Crown July 2007