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The Bull Public House Potton

Bull Public House: 8 Bull Street, Potton

8 Bull Street February 2013
8 Bull Street February 2013

A list of addresses of Potton licensed premises prepared by Potton History Society [CRT130Potton27] states that 8 Bull Street was formerly the eponymous Bull public house. The property was listed by English Heritage in May 2000 as Grade II, of special interest. It dates from the 17th or 18th century (4 Bull Street has deeds going back to the 17th century) and was re-fronted in the late 18th century. It has a red brick front and an old plain tiled roof. The rear was rebuilt in brick on the right-hand side but timber-framing covered by roughcast render and with brick infill survives on the left-hand side. Inside the walls are timber-framed with plaster infill. The property is built in an L-plan and has a carriageway with a room above it on the left-hand side at the front giving access to the yard. The property comprises two storeys with cellars and attics. One of the windows is inscribed: “J Lodge 1780” and “W J Arnold 1872 – cold November”.

The deeds to this property are held by Hertfordshire Archives Service, because it was owned by Simpson’s Baldock Brewery, and run from 1707 to 1785 [CRT110/102]. The inn must have been well established, as the street is named after it but, frustratingly, Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service has very little information on it besides licensee particulars from 1822 to 1828 [CLP13], bills for providing drink to the parish [P64/5/2/293-546] and the information given below. In 1834 the Bull belonged to Biggleswade brewers Wells and Company as it was one of the properties conveyed by the former owners to the new owners in that year [GK0/1]. Also conveyed were cottages either side, one formerly occupied by Sarah Dennis, then by a man named Giles the other formerly in the occupation of Sarah Rayment, then Jeremiah Lee.

The last mentions of the Bull as a public house in these records are in 1848 when wine was provided to the parish church [P64/5/4/546] and a witness statement made [QSR1848/2/5/9].

The statement was given to the Quarter Sessions by David Skinner, the licensee. On 16th March about 11 a.m. George Chamberlain came into the house and had some beer. Chamberlain was rather tipsy when he came in. He stayed until 1 p.m. and was very disorderly and riotous the whole time. Skinner was at dinner and Chamberlain took his food off the table! He told Chamberlain he should have no more beer and should leave. He took hold of Chamberlain gently to guide him out. Chamberlain turned round, seized him by his neckerchief, threw him down and said he would do for him if he possibly could. Skinner’s brother, John came to help and pulled Chamberlain away. The brothers got him out of the house, but Chamberlain came back in at the back and attacked Skinner’s brother. Skinner then went for the policeman who took him into custody. From what Chamberlain said, Skinner believed he “will do him some serious injury if he is not stopped” and he wanted Chamberlain bound over to keep the peace. John Skinner confirmed his brother’s account and stated that David would have been choked if he had not pulled Chamberlain off him.

The register for Bedford Gaol [QGV10/2] tells us that Chamberlain was 28 at the time of this fracas. He was 5 feet 7 inches tall, with brown hair and grey eyes. He was sallow and had a “spark of blue left side of face” presumably a small birth mark. He could read and write and was Potton born and bred. No prosecution ensued and his behaviour in the short time he was incarcerated awaiting trial was “very good”. This was not his first offence: in 1841, when he was 18, he was committed to gaol for one night awaiting trial for assault, found guilty he was ordered to serve six weeks inside or pay a fine of thirty shillings; he paid the fine. Either he kept his temper in check after the incident in the Bull or moved away because he did not spend any more time in Bedford Gaol.

The Bull is listed in Slater’s Bedfordshire Directory of 1850 but not in Graven and Company’s directory for the county of 1853, nor in any subsequent directory. This, of course, suggests that the Bull closed its doors for the last time between 1850 and 1853. In 1899 George Winch purchased Biggleswade brewers Wells and Company and their name changed to Wells and Winch. The conveyance to Winch includes a dwellinghouse in Bull Street which had formerly been the Bull with outbuildings and garden. It was then occupied by George Sharp. Also conveyed was an adjacent building in occupation of a man named Bartle, a wheelwright's shop in occupation of Wright and Sons and a dwellinghouse “on other side of gateway of yard” with outbuildings, stable and garden in occupation of T. Vincent and an adjoining dwellinghouse with yard, gardens, lands and outbuildings in occupation of S. Chiverton, which sounds like 6 to 12 Bull Street. It turns out that these properties had been acquired only the previous year because an 1898 sale catalogue for the Baldock Brewery [GK1/36] includes a dwelling house in Bull Street, Potton with the yard and buildings, an abutting wheelwright's shop and two further dwelling houses. 8 Bull Street is now a private house.


  • CRT110/102: deeds of the inn held at Hertfordshire Archives as part of the Simpson of Baldock collection: 1707-1785;
  • P64/18/7: Vestry meeting held at Bull: 1813;
  • CLP13: register of alehouse licenses: 1822-1828;
  • GK0/1: conveyance: 1834;
  • P64/5/2/293: bill for port supplied: 1838;
  • P64/5/2/290: bills for bottles of wine supplied: 1839;
  • P64/5/3/344: bill for port supplied: 1840;
  • P64/5/3/377: bill for wine supplied: 1841;
  • P64/5/3/390: bill for dinners supplied: 1841;
  • P64/5/2/399: bill for wine supplied: 1842;
  • P64/5/3/423: bill for wine supplied: 1843;
  • P64/5/3/433: bill for sinners supplied: 1843;
  • P64/5/3/441: bill for wine supplied: 1844;
  • P64/5/3/435: bill for beer for bell ringers: 1844;
  • P64/5/3/470: bill for wine supplied: 1845;
  • P64/5/4/491: bill for wine supplied: 1846;
  • P64/5/4/502: bill for dinners: 1846;
  • P64/5/4/525: bill for port: 1847;
  • P64/5/4/546: bill for wine: 1848;
  • QSR1848/2/5/9: mentioned in a deposition: 1848;
  • Z1039/34/2a: conveyance: 1899;
  • X758/1/8/118-119: photographs: c. 1920

List of Licensees: note that this is not a complete list. Italics indicate licensees whose beginning and/or end dates are not known:
1822-1830: John Plowman/Ploughman;
1834-1848: George Richardson;
1848: David Skinner;
1850: William Wyman
Public house probably closed between 1850 and 1853