Skip Navigation

Welcome to Bedford Borough Council

Home > Community Histories > Swineshead > The Three Horseshoes Public House Swineshead

The Three Horseshoes Public House Swineshead

The Three Horesehoes about 1925
The Three Horesehoes about 1925 [WL800/5]

Three Horseshoes Public House: High Street, Swineshead

The first mention of the Three Horseshoes in any document held by Bedfordshire & Luton Archives & Records Service is in 1814 when the business of St.Neots [Huntingdonshire] brewers George and William Fowler was conveyed to John Day [WG331-332]. In the description of the Three Horseshoes it is also called Hewitt's Cottage and noted that it had been previously part of the estate of Henry and Hannah Baker.

This indicates that the public house had previously been a cottage, hinting at quite a long history. In fact, in 1952, the building was listed by the former Department of Environment as Grade II, of special interest. It dates to the 17th century, though it also has later additions. The ground floor is made of brick whilst the first floor is rough cast over a timber frame. The building has an old clay roof.  The dwelling is L-shaped with a central red brick double chimney stack, rebuilt in the style of the 17th century serving a back-to-back hearth as was common in houses of the period. The single storey brick extension to the east is 19th century and a single storey lean-to at the rear and a two storey extension to the north gable end are 20th.

Days' brewery was sold at auction in 1919 and the Three Horseshoes seems to have been bought by Bedford brewer Charles Wells as it appears in an album of Wells houses put together about 1925 [WL800]. The sale particulars [GK175/2] note that the Three Horseshoes was fully licensed and comprised a tap room, sitting room, kitchen, cellar and general shop with three bedrooms and a box room above. A brick and tiled closet, timber a thatched barn, hay place, stable, brick and tiled coal place and timber and tiled coach-house with a loft over stood outside. It was let to Mrs.Manfield "who has been in occupation of 29 years" for £8/10/0. This means that Selina Manfield first went to the public house in 1890, which ties in with the fact that we know John Manfield, presumably her husband, was there in 1891.

In 1927 Swineshead was valued under the terms of the Rating and Valuation Act 1925; every piece of land and building in the country was assessed to determine the rates to be paid on it. The valuer visiting the Three Horseshoes [DV1/C/151] noted that it was a fully licensed public house, rented for £14 per annum. The valuer remarked that it was an old house and comprised a tap room, parlour, living room, kitchen, cellar with three bedrooms on the first floor. The outbuildings were in good condition ("just been done up") and consisted of a cart shed with a loft over, a barn, a stable for two horses and a coal barn. The valuer remarked: "Does very little trade – relies on land for living". This trade was about nine gallons of beer per week and about half a gallon of spirits per month. It also sold about half a pound of tobacco per week. There were "No accounts".

The former Three Horesehoes in 1961
The former Three Horseshoes in 1961 [Z53/120/4]

The public house must have closed at some time between 1940, when it is mentioned in the last directory held by Bedfordshire & Luton Archives & Records Service and 1976 as it is not mentioned in a list of licensed premises beginning in that year. Undeed a photograph of 1961 seems to show a dwelling rather than a pub. The former public house is now a private house and Swineshead no longer has any public houses.


  • WG331-332: conveyed, with others, by trustees of will of William Fowler junior and trustees of will of George Fowler, both of St.Neots, brewers, to John Day of Bedford: 1814;
  • PSS3/1: Register of Alehouse Licences - Sharnbrook Petty Sessional Division: c.1901;
  • PSS3/2: Register of Alehouse Licences - Sharnbrook Petty Sessional Division: c.1903;
  • PSS3/3: Register of Alehouse Licences - Sharnbrook Petty Sessional Division: 1904-1930;
  • GK175/2: in sale catalogue (Days Brewery): 1919;
  • WL800/5 pg 24: photograph: c.1925;
  • WL801/120: glass plate negative of above: c.1925;
  • DV1/C/151: rating valuation: 1927  

Three Horseshoes Cottage May 2008
Three Horseshoes Cottage May 2008

List of Licensees: note that this is not a complete list; entries in italics refer to licensees where either beginning or end, or both, dates are not known:

1814: Thomas Atkins;
1851 Thomas Poole;
1861 Walter Poole;
1871 John Richard Parnel;
1877: George Waite;
1881: William Fletcher;
1885: Mrs Eliza Fletcher;
1891-1914: John Manfield;
1914-1920: Selina Manfield;
1920-1939: James Manfield;
1940: Frank Manyweathers
Closed between 1940 and 1976