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The White Lion Ravensden

The White Lion, Bedford Road, Ravensden

This page was written by Trevor Stewart in association with Bedfordshire Archives

This former hostelry is constructed of lumped clay with a colour washed exterior and thatched roof. It is located at Ravensden crossroads opposite the village shop but is now a private home.

Ravensden Crossroads Z1306-93-1-1

The Crossroads, Ravensden 1905. The White Lion P.H. is on the right and the Blacksmiths P.H is on the left [Z1306/93/1/1]

In 1813 the land on which The White Lion was constructed belonged to the Duke of Bedford. Soon after that date however he sold to Sir William Long, a Bedford brewer. The property must have been constructed in 1828 or 1829 as it does not show on any maps of the village prior to that date and the first land tax for a building was paid by a Thomas Bazley in 1828. In his will dated 17th January 1837, Thomas Bazley left ‘’my freehold garden and premises called The White Lion, Ravensden in trust to my wife Elizabeth for life.’’

In October 1841 Elizabeth Bazley gave evidence at the Quarter Sessions in Bedford against Henry Smith, Jane Smith and James Parker, who were charged with stealing a half pint pewter mug worth one shilling from the White Lion. The three had shared a quart of ale at about 9.30pm and had left the public house at about 10pm. Mrs. Bazley had seen the mug a few minutes before they came in, and missed it while they were still there. While they were drinking the beer Jane and Henry Smith had left the pub for a short time. The only other person in the pub while they were there was a little girl who had come with them. After the group left Mrs. Bazley called in a neighbour to help. This was presumably Stephen Farrer, who went with Robert Mayes, the constable of Ravensden, and John Peacock, a cooper from Bedford, to the hovel (small barn) where the prisoners lay. Peacock and Mayes found the mug on Jane Smith, who said “I taken the mug, these lads had nothing at all to do with it”. The two men pretended to be asleep, though John Peacock said they had made so much noise searching Jane Smith that he did not see how they could be. When they were finally made to get up they said did not know she had taken the mug. Jane Smith was found guilty and sentenced to 6 weeks imprisonment with hard labour; the two men were acquitted.

After her first husband Thomas Bazley’s death, Elizabeth his widow remarried Thomas Ollerenshaw, the next named landlord. From 1842 the property belonged to this Thomas Renshaw [Ollerenshaw] and the licence was granted to him in 1843. Interestingly in granting this licence the justices cautioned Renshaw ‘’to keep an orderly house or he need not expect that he would get the licence renewed.’’  What had been going on before one wonders !

Bazley’s daughter, also named Elizabeth, married a George Peacock, who became the landlord after Renshaw. In 1895 the White Lion made another 'appearance' at the Quarter Sessions, when Charles Andrews was accused of inflicting grievous bodily harm on Joseph Herbert, a retired member of the Metropolitan Police Force living in Keysoe. While he was at the White Lion a whip was stolen from his cart. He had seen Andrews in the public house and followed him down Thurleigh Row. Finding Andrews had a whip under his coat, he accused the man of stealing it and tried to take it from him. There was a struggle, during which Herbert was struck on the side of his head, "taking away his senses". The two men went back the White Lion, but were asked to leave by Peacock. Once outside Herbert was again hit by Andrews, with a blow which nearly left him unconscious. He was not sure what weaon was used, but it was two feet long and wrapped in paper. He had been put into the cart and taken home, where he was in bed for two weeks and under the care of doctor Henry Arthur Hallett for five.  Hallett told the court that Herbert's skull had been fractured.

Thomas Hawkins, a farmer from Keysoe had been in the tap room at the White Lion. He saw Herbert and Andrews enter: they were both speaking loudly and holding a whip between them; Andrews also had an instrument a similar length to an umbrella, wrapped in paper. He saw Andrews strike Herbert on the head, saw both men fall to the ground and get up holding the whip between them. He had picked up Herbert's cap and put him in the cart to see him home safely.

Charles Andrews said that while travelling from Thurleigh to Bedford he and his wife had visited the White Lion. After he left he was crossing the road with his wife when she trod on a whip. She had picked it up and said she would return it to Peacock on Monday. Herbert had then come up, snatched the whip from him, accused him of stealing it and struck him on the head. He fell and was kicked by Herbert, who then pinned him down and struck him on the head. He went to leave with his wife but was attacked again. His left eye was bleeding. The jurors, presumably feeling that it was six of one and half a dozen of the other, found Andrews not guilty.

George Peacock died in 1898 and soon after this the public house was sold to the Bedford brewers Jarvis.

The White Lion continued to operate as a pub until the 1930’s with the Blacksmiths Arms on the opposite corner. However various take overs and amalgamations of the local breweries meant that the two houses eventually came under the same ownership, competing against each other. In 1941 therefore the licence was transferred to the Blacksmiths Arms and the ‘Lion’ sold off. By the time the house was sold in 1986 it had been thatched, and consisted of a lounge, dining room, study, kitchen and bathroom on the ground floor, with two bedrooms upstairs.

References of Documents held by Bedfordshire Archives:

  • Z1169/8/59/3 Plan of White Lion PH for Wells & Winch Ltd., January 1940;
  • Z471/3 Sale notice, with photograph, of the Old White Lion, Bedford Road, Ravensden, April 1986;
  • Z449/2/94 Sale particulars of The Old White Lion, Bedford Road, Ravensden, July 2008

Licencees: note that this is not a complete list and that dates in italics are not necessarily beginning or end dates, merely the first/last date which can be confirmed from sources such as directories and deeds:

  • 1828-1837: Thomas Bazley
  • 1843-1851: Thomas Ollerenshaw / Renshaw
  • 1861-1898: George Peacock;
  • 1901-1908: John Whittamore;
  • 1908-1911: Harry Reid;
  • 1911-1917: William John Wilson;
  • 1917-1920: Edward John Connor;
  • 1920-1923: Henry Greenwood;
  • 1923-1940: John Thomas Hardwicke

Public house closed 1941