Skip Navigation

Welcome to Bedford Borough Council

Home > Community Histories > Steppingley > The Horseshoes Beerhouse Steppingley

The Horseshoes Beerhouse Steppingley

The Horseshoes beerhouse is referenced in the The Bedfordshire Historic Environment Record [HER] which contains information on the county’s historic buildings and landscapes and summaries of each entry can now be found online as part of the Heritage Gateway website The entry for the Hoseshoes [HER 11471] notes that it appears on the Bedford Estates plan of 1773 occupying a position now occupied by the school and schoolhouse which were built in 1878. No doubt the old beerhouse was demolished to make way for the school. It comes as no surprise, given the name of the beerhouse, that a blacksmith’s shop adjoined the Horseshoes and presumably the two businesses were run together.

In 1790 licensee Edmund Lee made his will [ABP1795/15]. He left the Horseshoes as well as his cottage in Ridgmont to his wife Ann, and, after her death, to their daughter Mary Cooke. Oddly the will mentions neither the beerhouse nor the blacksmith’s premises, so it seems likely that he did not own them. Most of Steppingley was owned by the Duke of Bedford and no doubt the Horseshoes was no different. The will was proved in 1795.

Something of a rumpus took place at the Horseshoes in 1825 [QSR1825/324]. In his witness statement for the trial of William Short at Quarter Sessions, Daniel Man of Steppingley stated that between 9 and 10 o’clock on the evening of 29th August he was at the beerhouse as it was the Steppingley Feast. He was standing in the room looking at the dancing when William Short of Westoning, labourer, came up to him and struck him a violent blow near his left eye he having done nothing to provoke this assault. Man then, in his own defence, struck Short to make his way out of the room. Man then sent for the constable and the Short was taken into custody. This was largely corroborated by William Fordham who noted that Short had tried to provoke Man but the latter said nothing to him.

The gaol register [QGV10/1] tells us that Short was held for trial because he could not find anyone to stand surety for him (that is no one to put up money to ensure his attendance), which, in itself, telsl us something of his character. He was twenty years old and mesured five feet six inches tall, having brown hair and a "florid" complexion. At the trial it seems he was discharged without any further time in prison.


  • ABP/W1795/15: will of Edmund Lee: 1790;
  • CLP13: alehouse recognizances: 1822-1828;
  • Z937/31/8: manor court held at Horseshoes: 1829.

List of Licensees: note that this is not a complete list. Italics indicate licensees whose beginning and/or end dates are not known:

1795: Edmund Lee * will;
1822-1828: William Lee;
1847-1869: John Lee