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The Marquis of Granby Public House Shillington

15 Marquis Hill April 2015
15 Marquis Hill  April 2015

The Marquis of Granby Public House: 15 Marquis Hill, Shillington

15 Marquis Hill used to be the Marquis of Granby public house. The building was listed by the former Department of Environment in July 1973 as Grade II, of special interest. It dates from the 17th century and was "probably altered in the 18th century", that is when it became a public house. The building is of timber-framed construction with roughcast render, the ground floor having been encased or rebuilt in brick. The roof is composed of 20th century tiles. The building is in a T-shape and has two storeys, the cross-wing being "apparently later", again it may have been added when the place became a pub.

The Marquis of Granby was an old Shillington public house. Sadly the deeds are with Hertfordshire Archive Service and date back to 1740 [CRT110/102]. The most famous Marquis of Granby was John Manners (1721-1770). The title was borne by the heir to the Dukedom of Rutland and John was the eldest son of the 3rd Duke, also named John. The Marquis died before his father and so never became duke. He was famous for his military exploits. During the Seven Years War (1756-1763) Britain was, as usual, on the opposite side to the French and at the Battle of Minden in 1759 he served as commander of the second line of Allied cavalry (the battle being fought by a combined British and German troops from the states of Hanover, Hesse-Kassel, Brunswick and Schaumburg-Lippe against an army of French and Saxons). It was the Battle of Wartburg in the following year that underlined his military ability, however and made him famous. He also served with distinction in further battles during the war. Given this it seems likely that the building may have become a public house in the mid-18th century, acquiring its name in or shortly after 1760. Certainly for the road to be named after the public house shows that the establishment was on some age.

In 1843 David Simkins, the Marquis of Granby's owner made his will, leaving his property to his wife Sarah. His will was proved in 1847 [ABP/W1847/39]. Curiously the Marquis of Granby does not appear in directories for the 1860s, making one wonder if it lost its full licence and became a beerhouse or even closed altogether for a while. By the time of the countywide licensing register of 1876 the building had been acquired by Baldock [Hertfordshire] brewers Thomas and George Simpson who had bought a brewery belonging to Morris and John Pryor in 1853.

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. The valuer, visiting in 1926 [DV1/C75/78], found that the tenant, Charles Cross, paid rent of £12 per annum to Simpson and Company, set in 1925 the previous rent having been £8/10/-.

The valuer commented: "Lays back from road". Accommodation comprised a tap room and beer parlour (both "fair"), a cellar, a living room and kitchen combined and three bedrooms. Outside lay two wood and tiled barns and a weather-boarded and corrugated iron lean-to store shed. Trade consisted of one 36 gallon barrel of beer per week, four dozen bottles of beer per week and one gallon spirits per month. Takings were about £8 per week, though the licensee was "very vague". He also rented an adjoining grass field of 2.26 acres.

In 1935 Simpson and Company became a limited company under the name Simpson's Brewery Limited. The last entry in licensing registers for the Marquis is in 1959 [PSA5/2]. The register which follows on immediately [PSA5/5] has no reference to the pub indicating that it ceased trading in or shortly after that year. Simpson's Brewery had been taken over by Suffolk brewers Greene King in 1954. Today the former pub is an attractive private house.


  • CRT110/102: deeds of Baldock Brewery: 1740-1898;
  • Award Book L: 1802;
  • CLP13: 1822-1828;
  • ABP/W1847/39: will of David Simkins: 1847;
  • PSA5/1: Register of Alehouse Licences - Ampthill Petty Sessional Division: 1872-1927;
  • PSA5/2: Register of Alehouse Licences - Ampthill Petty Sessional Division: 1934-1959;
  • PSA5/4: list of licensed premises in Ampthill Petty Sessional Division: c.1950s;
  • PSA5/5: list of licensed premises in Ampthill Petty Sessional Division: 1968-1995.

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

1822-1828: David Simkins;
1847-1854: Lot Richardson, also plumber and glazier;
1876-1896: William Cooper;
1896-1909: Elijah Cooper;
1909-1927: Mary Cooper;
1927-1934: Charles W. Cross;
1934-1939: Francis William Johnson;
1939-1949: Harry Bunker;
1949-1959: Ronald Gordon Bunker.