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The Ragged Staff Inn Silsoe

The Ragged Staff in 1718 shown in red [X1/97/5]
The Ragged Staff in 1718 shown in red [X1/97/5]

The Ragged Staff Inn, Silsoe High Street is first mentioned in the 17th century and last mentioned in the 18th. It seems to have stood on the corner of the High Street and Church Road in the area today occupied by 31 High Street and 2 and 4 Church Road. It took its name from part of the coat of arms of the Earls of Kent.

On 24th October 1635 some land in Silsoe was leased by Henry, 10th Earl of Kent to Elizabeth Newman of Silsoe, widow for twenty one years at £7 per annum. As well as the land the lease included "a messuage called the Ragged Staff" [L5/1103].

On 1st June 1655 the Ragged Staff Inn with an orchard and pightle (small close of land) and a further seven acres dispersed in the common fields of Silsoe was leased by Amabell, Countess Dowager of Kent to Richard Alline (or Allen) of Silsoe, brewer, at £7 per annum for ten years [L5/1107]. The Flitton and Silsoe parish registers show that Philip Allen "of the Ragged Staffe, Silsoe" was buried on 11th December 1679. In 1681 the local petty sessions (forerunners of the magistrates' courts of today) were held at the Ragged Staff [HSA1681/S/14]. Australian researcher Bon Allen has uncovered a few more references to the Allen family in the 17th and 18th centuries as follows:

  • in 1699 Daniel, son of John, innkeeper, was baptised and later in the year, also buried [P12/1/3];
  • in 1700 Mary, daughter of John Allen, innkeeper, was baptised [P12/1/3];
  • in 1716 John Allen senior, innkeeper, was buried [P12/1/3].

We do not know whether this John Allen was innkeeper at the Ragged Staff but it seems a reasonable guess that he might have been, in succession to the Philip Allen who died in 1679.

The final piece of evidence for the Ragged Staff is the thing that shows us where it was. In 1719 "a messuage with Barns, Stable &c. called the Ragged Staffe with a Homestead Adjoyning" of 1 acre, 1 rood, 30 poles was leased by the Duke of Kent. The tenant was Thomas Cox who paid rent of £2/5/- for this and nine parcels of land in various fields amounting to 5 acres, 1 rood, 13 poles of arable. A note in the margin reads: "N. B. the Toll of the Fair is not included in the aforesaid Rent". After this there is no further mention of the Ragged Staff in documents held by Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service.


  • L5/1103: lease from Henry, Earl of Kent to Elizabeth Newman of Silsoe, widow and her son Richard Allin: 1635;
  • L5/1107: lease from Amabell, Countess Dowager of Kent to Richard Alline: 1655;
  • P12/1/3: burial of Phillip Allen of the Ragged Staff: 1679;
  • HSA1681/S/14: petty sessions held at the Ragged Staff: 1681;
  • P12/1/3: baptism and burial of a child of John Allen: 1699;
  • P12/1/3: baptism of a child of John Allen: 1700;
  • P12/1/3: burial of John Allen: 1716;
  • L33/286/folio 11: rental: 1719

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

1635-1655: Richard Allin or Allen;
1699-1716: John Allen?

1679: Philip Allen;
1719: Thomas Cox