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The Star and Garter Public House Silsoe

The Star and Garter in 1961 [Z53/104/2]
The Star and Garter in 1961 [Z53/104/2]

The Star and Garter Public House: High Street, Silsoe

The Star and Garter Public House was listed by the former Department of Environment in January 1961 as Grade II, of special interest. The department dated the property to the 18th century, noting that it was reworked in the 19th century. It is built of colour-washed render encasing a timber-framed structure. It has a 20th century tiled roof over a main block with a two-room plan comprising two storeys and attics, with a two storey and a one storeyed block projecting from rear forming an L-plan.

The map made for the Duke of Kent in 1817 [L33/264] does not show the Star and Garter in its current form but does show a building of some sort occupying the site, describing it as a cottage leased to Hester Whithead for four shillings per annum. So clearly the site was part of the Wrest Park Estate.

The first mention of the public house is in 1781. The date is referred to in a conveyance of 1828 [X21/629]. In 1781 John Morris, the Ampthill brewer, bought the public house, which was then known as the Duke of Kent's Arms from Henry Sharp for the unexpired portion of a lease of 950 years. This later gave rise to confusion that the brewers, in effect, held the freehold (see below).

In 1801 an auction sale was held on the premises which by then was known as the Star and Garter [L5/991-992]. The fact that more auctions were held at the Star and Garter than at the George at this time suggests that, as the old George, which stood a little further south of the Star and Garter and on the same side of the road fell into disrepair so its northern neighbour acquired more business. In 1838 a new George was built on its present site.

In 1827 Ampthill brewers John and Joseph Morris made an inventory of all their properties, including those they leased [Z1043/1] The Star and Garter, was described as a public house, occupied by John Haytread, with a stable for six horses, granary, cart shed, four stalled stable, two stables for two horses each, yard and a well planted garden.  The property was leasehold for the term of 950 years "it is therefore considered equal to freehold". The description also noted: "An Allotment of about ¾ of an acre of pasture land belongs to this house, situated about ¼ mile from the house". The tenant also had 12 acres, 2 roods, 19 poles of freehold arable land with two tenements on it situated at Flitton.

The countywide licensing register of 1903 estimates the gross rental of the Star and Garter as being £25 per annum. Rateable value was £20. It was a tied house to Morris & Company (Ampthill) Limited "in good repair and clean" and had both front and back doors.

It seems as if Morris & Company must have recognised that they did not, in effect, own the freehold to the pub because in 1915 Auberon Thomas Herbert, 9th Baron Lucas of Crudwell leased the Star and Garter to them for fourteen years [WB/Green4/1/VP11]. He was killed in action with the Royal Flying Corps on the Western Front in December 1916 and his successor, his sister Nan Ino, 10th Baroness Lucas decided to break up and sell the estate. A number of properties were sold to their tenants and one such was the Star and Garter. In order to clear up any doubts as to ownership a statutory declaration was sworn to the effect that the Wrest Park Estate owned the premises, quoting the 1915 lease as evidence for this [L23/349].

In 1927 Morris and Company (Ampthill) Limited were taken over by Luton brewer J. W. Green Limited. 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 the Star and Garter in 1927 [DV1/C248/5] found it owned by J. W. Green Limited and occupied by Frank Agar ("came here August 4th 1927"). His gross takings were £520 per annum.

The building comprised a tap room or bar ("small"), a smoke room with two beer pulls ("fair"), a larder and a "good cellar". Four bedrooms lay upstairs with two attics above them. A roughcast and tiled range comprising a coal house ("good") and a washhouse lay outside along with a garage and a club room ("seldom used"). A range of farm buildings were let separately to a man named Caton and comprised a stable for three horses, a henhouse, an open hovel and a cart shed. A "good" but "very rarely used" range of farm buildings also lay outside but the entry has been crossed out, suggesting they were later demolished. There was a brick and tiled stable block for eight horses and an "old thatched building" comprising room for four cows, an open cart shed, a fowl house and a wood shed.

Trade comprised: a dozen bottles of wine per annum; 1¾ barrels of beer per week, two dozen bottles of beer per week; seventy gallons of spirits per annum but a note says: "Agar says not quite 2 bottles and 1 gallon spirits plus 4 to 5 dozen bottles", so clearly there was a dispute as to the quantity of trade. The landlord and brewery appealed against the valuation reached and a later hand has noted in red ink:

"Sir T [Trustram Eve] saw Greens:

  • 82 barrels;
  • 64 spirits;
  • T. R.

The figures must be annual and T. R. presumably stands for "Tied Rent", it stood at £20. J. W. Green merged with Midlands brewers Flowers in 1954 and although Greens were the senior partner the new firm took the Flowers name. The new firm was taken over by Whitbread (London) Limited in 1962. Whitbread divested itself of all its public houses and its breweries in 2001 at which time the tenant purchased the property. At the time of writing [2011] the Star and Garter continues as a public house in the ownership of the same family.

The Star and Garter Public House March 2011
The Star and Garter Public House March 2011


  • L5/991-992: auction sale held at the Star and Garter: 1801;
  • L5/760: auction sale held at the Star and Garter: 1804;
  • WE68: auction sale held at the Star and Garter: 1811;
  • CLP13: register of alehouse licenses: 1822-1828;
  • Z1043/1: listed in an inventory of John and Joseph Morris of Ampthill: 1827;
  • X21/629: conveyance of a half share in the Star and Garter, once the Duke of Kent's Arms from Joseph to John Morris: 1828;
  • WB/M/4/1/VP1: mortgage from Mary, Jane and Catherine Morris to John Morris on his licensed premises: 1831;
  • SF57/1: auction sale held at the Star and Garter: 1856;
  • PSA5/1: Register of Alehouse Licences - Ampthill Petty Sessional Division: 1872-1927;
  • Z50/104/45: postcard: c. 1910;
  • WB/Green4/1/VP11: lease from 9th Baron Lucas of Crudwell to Morris & Company (Ampthill) Limited: 1915;
  • L23/349: statutory declaration concerning the Star and Garter: 1918;
  • WB/M/4/2/1: list of properties owned by Morris & Sons (Ampthill) Limited: 1925;
  • WB/Green4/1/VP11: assignment of lease from Morris & Company (Ampthill) Limited to J. W. Green Limited: 1926;
  • WB/Green4/2/2: payment to landlords etc.: 1927;
  • WB/M/4/2/2: list of properties owned by Morris & Sons (Ampthill) Limited: 1926;
  • PSA5/2: Register of Alehouse Licences - Ampthill Petty Sessional Division: 1934-1959;
  • WB/Green6/4/1: J. W. Green Limited trade analysis ledger: 1936-1947;
  • WB/Green4/2/4: certificate of title of J. W. Green Limited: 1936-1952;
  • WB/Green4/2/9: schedule of deeds and documents: c. 1949;
  • WB/Green4/2/20: list of J. W. Green Limited properties of historical interest: c. 1950s;
  • PSA5/4: list of licensed premises in Ampthill Petty Sessional Division: c.1950s;
  • WB/Green4/2/17: schedule of trust deed by J. W. Green Limited to raise debenture stock: 1951;
  • WB/Green4/2/5: list of J. W. Green Limited licensed houses: 1952;
  • WB/Green4/2/16: letter as to J. W. Green Limited's title: 1952;
  • WB/Green4/2/19: schedule of deeds and documents: c. 1954;
  • WB/Flow4/5/Si/SG1-2: exterior photographs: 1960s;
  • Z53/103/2: photograph: 1961;
  • PSA5/5: list of licensed premises in Ampthill Petty Sessional Division: 1968-1995;
  • Z923/7/22: poster for club meeting at the public house: 1996.  

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

1781: John Sharp;
after 1781: Mary Sharp;
1822-1850: John Haytread;
1854: Mary Haytread;
1862-1871: Thomas William Jeeves;
1872-1877: George William Horn;
1876: Henry Bailey;
1885-1893: John Barker;
1893-1896: Ann Barker;
1896-1904: John Barker;
1904-1909: Joseph Lowe;
1909-1915: Thomas Lancaster;
1915-1916: Richard Gander;
1916-1919: Robert Bassil;
1919-1927: Thomas Miller;
1927-1956: Frank Agar;
1956-1969: Thomas Scott Mackey;
1969-1970: Eleanor Joan Mackey;
1971-1974: Ronald Lawson;
1974-1979: Gerald Frederick John Windsor;
1979-1981: Alan Edward Wicker;
1981-1990: Robin Walter Dunford;
1990-1991: Robert Arthur Henry Hoar;
1991: Paul Ivan Avory Hibbins and Roland George Cooke;
1991: Alexander Penman Maxwell and Frank Kane;
1991-1995: Mark Russell Hewitson