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The Dog and Duck Public House Stagsden

WL800-2 p15 Dog and Duck Stagsden
The Dog and Duck about 1925 [WL800/2 page 15]

Dog and Duck Public House: 38-40 High Street, Stagsden

The former Dog & Duck is an old building. It was listed by Department of Environment as of special interest and they considered it to be 17th or 18th century, describing it as a small terrace and "altered". It is of rough-cast construction over a timber frame and set on a plinth; the upper part of the wall is hung with fish-scale tiles; it has a clay roof, and was originally a single storey with attics above.

This date is supported by the deeds to the property, the first of which, of 1729 refers to a newly built cottage and a pightle of land. The term "newly built" can refer back some years as it is still used in a deed of 1735. In 1729 the cottage was sold by Mary Allen and her son John to Richard Osborne and John Clare. They, in their turn, sold it to Francis Hoight in 1735. Francis was evidently dead by 1741 when James Hoight devised the cottage, now divided into three tenements (which must have been one or two room dwellings) to his granddaughter Elizabeth White.

Elizabeth White married William Wheaton and in 1771 they conveyed the cottage to William Lavender, whose family were to live there for over fifty years. Lavender immediately took out a mortgage with Anne Belsham of Bedford and, after her death her son William assigned the mortgage to Henry and James Whittingstall and William Long in 1783. It is not certain when the cottage became a public house but it would certainly have been one in 1783 as the Whittingstalls and William Long were brewers in Bedford. It may have been a public house as early as 1771, however, because William Belsham was also a Bedford brewer, having a brewery in St.Paul's Square which he later leased to James and Henry Whittingstall and William Long. The property is first called the Dog & Duck in a tenancy agreement of 1783 when Mary Lavender became tenant of the Whittingstalls and Long. Five years later Mary's son Thomas gave the Dog & Duck to Whittingstall & long as he was unable to redeem the mortgage on it; he stayed on as publican for another 45 years.

William Belsham sold his brewery to William Long in 1800 and three years later Long bought out James Whittingstall (Henry having died) to become sole owner of the brewery and its houses. William Long was Mayor of Bedford four times and was knighted in 1814. On his death his business passed to his son-in-law Robert Newland who later passed it to his son Bingham. On Bingham Newland's death in 1873 his business was bought by Thomas Jarvis. In the sale catalogue the Dog & Duck is described as having a Grocer’s Shop attached…with stabling, yard and garden, and in the occupation of Abel Slater at the yearly rent of £18. In 1910 Jarvis' brewery and business was bought by Charles Wells.

In 1890 the Dog and Duck burned down and the landlord was bought before the quarter sessions charged with arson. The case is set out on a linked page.

This part of Bedfordshire was valued in 1926 under the terms of the Rating Valuation Act of 1925; every piece of land and building was inspected to determine the rates to be paid on it. The valuer visiting the Dog & Duck [DV1/C36/58] noted its rough-cast and tiled construction and that it comprised; a private room, club room ("large"), bar ("sm[all] and dark"), tap room ("fair") and kitchen ("poor") on the ground floor, a cellar down five steps, (with one barrel of 18 gallons tapped and a similar one untapped) and four bedrooms above; outside were an earth closet and barn and a stone shed. Trade  was reasonably steady at barrel and two dozen bottles of beer per week, two bottles of spirits and half a bottle of wine in the same period. It was, the valuer considered a: "Good looking place".

The last reference to the Dog & Duck at Bedfordshire & Luton Archives & Records Service is in 1953 when it was visited by Customs & Excise officials as part of the liquor licence traders survey. A register of licensed premises kept by Bedford Magistrates and beginning in 1955 does not mention the public house and so it seems reasonable to suppose it closed between the two dates. It is now a private house numbered 38-40 High Street.

Dog and Duck December 2007
The former Dog and Duck in December 2007


  • WL482: newly built cottage and pightle of land conveyed by Mary Allen and John Allen her son to Richard Osborn and John Clare: 1729;
  • WL483-484: new built cottage and pightle conveyed by Robert and Susan Redbond and Richard Osborne and John Clare to Francis Hoight: 1735;
  • WL485: will of James Hoight devising a cottage in Stagsden divided into three tenements to his granddaughter Elizabeth White: 1741, proved 1742;
  • WL489-490: cottage and pightle conveyed by William Wheaton and Elizabeth his wife [formerly Elizabeth White] to William Lavender: 1771;
  • WL491: mortgage of cottage by William Lavender to Anne Belsham of Bedford, widow: 1771;
  • Bedfordshire Parish Registers Volume 63: William Lavender, tailor & aleman, buried 15 Sept 1783;
  • WL493: assignment of mortgage on cottage and pightle and a tenement built on it by William Belsham, son of Anne, to Henry and James Whittingstall and William Long: 1783;
  • WL494: tenancy agreement in which Mary Lavender paid £3/10/- per annum to Whittingstall & Long for the lease of the Dog & Duck: 1783;
  • WL495-496: cottage and pightle conveyed by Thomas Lavender of Stagsden, victualler, son of William and unable to redeem the mortgage to Henry and James Whittingstall and William Long: 1788;
  • BD815-816 and WL553: conveyance of his share in a number of licensed premises from James Whittingstall of Shillington to William Long of Kempston House, brewer: 1803;
  • CLP13: register of alehouses licenses: 1822-1828;
  • PSB1/1: alehouse licences in Bedford Petty Sessions minutes: 1829-1834;
  • ABP/W1834/40: will of Robert Toms: 1834;
  • GA487 Sale of the St Pauls Brewery Estate (purchaser Thomas Jarvis): 1873;
  • WL647: Documents, mainly relating to the firm in general, from the death of Sir Wm. Long to the sale of the firm to Jarvis: 1874;
  • PSB9/1: Register of Alehouse Licences, Bedford Petty Sessional Division: 1903-1935;
  • RDBP1/322: plans for rebuilding scullery: 1915;
  • WL800/2: photograph: c.1925;
  • Z1105/1: Liquor Licence Traders Survey Forms: 1953 

List of Licensees: note that this is not a complete list. Italics indicate licensees whose beginning and/or end dates are not known:
1783: William Lavender;
1783: Mary Lavender;
1788-1828: Thomas Lavender;
1829-1833: Robert Toms;
1834: Ann Toms;
1869-1873: Abel Slater;
1890: William Smith;
1903: Albert Freeman;
1903-1904: Frank Henry Norman;
1904-1919: Jeremiah Riddy;
1919-1922: Fanny Riddy;
1922-1933: William Riddy;
1933-1940: John Andrew Neal