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Exhibition Public House Upper Shelton

Exhibition Inn Z1598-1-1

Exhibition Inn c.1910 [Z1598/1/1]

A series of deeds shed light on the history of the Exhibition beerhouse, as it was at that time, in the 19th century.  In 1843 a cottage in Shelton used as a licensed beerhouse was mortgaged by beerhouse keeper Richard Timms to James Price Coles, maltster and brewer of Newport Pagnell for £60. By 1847 Timms still owed the £60 with interest, together with a further £35 for unpaid goods (presumably beer) and the property was handed over to James Price Coles as repayment for the debt. In 1850 the beerhouse was sold by Coles to Reverend Maurice Farrell of Cardington, who in 1864 gave it to his son, Maurice Foster Farrell of Brownlow Street, Middlesex. In 1878 the Exhibition beerhouse came into the hands of brewer Charles Wells for the first time, when it was leased to him by Maurice Foster Farrell for 14 years at a rent of £14 per annum [reference WL1000/1/SHE(M)/1-7]. At some point after this Charles Wells bought the freehold of the premises.  

The Exhibition was operating as a beerhouse at least as early as 1831, as it is mentioned in a settlement case relating to Elizabeth Line (also known as Wharton), the daughter of a former landlord. When the parish of St. Pancras applied in 1878 to have her removed from its workhouse back to her home parish of Marston Moretaine, evidence was given that her father Thomas Line had been the tenant of the Sugar Loaf at Marston Moretaine for two years from around 1826, and then of the Exhibition Inn from around 1831 for five years, paying £10 rent per annum. Elizabeth Line’s brother-in-law Edward Douglas, said in a statement that Elizabeth had lived with a Mr Robinson at Kensington and had three children by him. About six years ago she had lived with himself and his wife (her older sister), but her habits were “so loose” that they sent her away. They then saw little of her until three years previously, by which time she was an “indoor pauper” (in other words, an inmate of the workhouse). His wife believed that Elizabeth had been born at the Sugar Loaf. She recalled living with her parents at a little public house in Bedford for 2 or 3 years, then they had returned to the Exhibition at Marston, where her father had died and her mother had remarried [reference PUAV41/45].  

In 1871 the landlord of the Exhibition, William Faulkner, was convicted of permitting drunkenness at the premises. The following year his wife, Sarah Faulkner, appeared at the Quarter Sessions in Bedford as a witness in a case against a local man, George Cook, who was charged with breaking and entering his cousin’s house and stealing a quarter of a pound of tobacco and four nutmegs [reference QSR1872/4/5/10] 

Under the terms of the Rating and Valuation Act 1925 every piece of land and building in the country was assessed to determine the rates to be paid on them. When Marston Moretaine was assessed in 1927 [reference DV1/C79] the owner of the Exhibition was Charles Wells Limited and the occupier William Smith. It was described as a brick and tile detached building, with a tap room, parlour, cellar, kitchen and a further cellar downstairs, and three bedrooms upstairs. Outside was a brick and tile barn, a timber stable and a pail closet. The rent of £10 per annum was thought by the valuer to be too low. Beer sales amounted to ¾ barrel per week.  

On 14th February 1952 the Exhibition, which was still owned by Charles Wells Ltd, was granted a full license as a public house. The Exhibition is still open at the time of writing, and is now a free house.  

Licensees: 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: 

1831-1836: Thomas Line 

1851-1871: James Smith 

1871-1895: William Faulkner 

1895-1898: Albert Benjamin Knight; 

1898-1902: Charles Wooding; 

1902-1904: John Rainbow; 

1904-1939: William Smith; 

1939-1941: Charles William Thompson; 

1940: William Smith; 

1941-1947: John Purcell; 

1947-1954: Harold Arthur Garrett; 

1954-1955: Walter Caves; 

1955-1956: Dora Beatrice Edward; 

1956-1958: Sidney Edmondson; 

1958-1976: Walter George Hall; 

1976-1978: Terence Arthur Bradford; 

1978-1995: Ian Reay Mackay 


  • PUAV41/45: Settlement papers for Elizabeth Wharton (Line), daughter of former landlord Thomas Line, 1878; 

  • QSR1872/4/5/10: Depositions in case against George Cook, 1872; 

  • WL73: Sale catalogue for Horne Lane Brewery, 1873; 

  • WL1000/1/SHE(M)/1-7: Various documents relating to Exhibition PH, 1843-1878; 

  • WL722/96: Issue of Charles Wells magazine “Pint Pot” includes mention of Exhibition PH, 1998; 

  • WL800/2: Photograph of Exhibition Inn, c.1925; 

  • Z1105/1: Liquor license traders survey forms, 1959; 

  • Z1598/1/1: Photograph of Exhibition Inn, c.1910