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The Wheatsheaf Public House Tempsford

 The Wheatsheaf about 1925 [WL800-5]
The Wheatsheaf about 1925 [WL800/5]

The Wheatsheaf Public House: 42 Church Street, Tempsford

The Wheatsheaf is an old building, listed by English Heritage in November 1986 as Grade II, of special interest. It dates from the 18th century and “apparently” contains some timber-framing, the visible exterior being colour-washed roughcast render. The roofs are composed of clay tiles and the property comprises two storeys and attics. The front block is in two parts - the right-hand part being earlier than the left, which is probably 19th century. There are a number of projecting additions at the rear of the building.

The earliest surviving reference to the Wheatsheaf is in 1807 when licensee Thomas Taylor was buried [P20/1/5]. In 1829 a survey of the Tempsford Estate was undertaken [X1/41 and WY1036/12]. At that date the Wheatsheaf was still owned by the executors of the old Lord of the Manor, Sir John Payne, so it had obviously not been sold the Stuart family along with the rest of the estate. It was occupied by “Widow Taylor” - her name was Martha.

In 1852 Augusta Payne conveyed the Wheatsheaf to Thomas Taylor. As well as the pub itself the conveyance included a cottage and barn adjoining which had “for many years past” been used by the Vicar of Tempsford, and also a close at the back of the property containing about three acres [WL1000/1/TEMP1/2].

In 1859 the licensee, Thomas Taylor, was involved in an unusual case at the Quarter Sessions [QSR1859/3/5/11]. A man named James Barnes came to the Wheatsheaf one morning asking for beer. Taylor perceived that Barnes had been drinking and refused his request.  Barnes left his house but returned after about three hours and had obviously had more beer. Barnes then went to the stable and lay there for about four hours.  He then came into the house and Mrs Taylor persuaded him to go to bed and he went back to the stable.  Taylor’s servants later came to the bottom of the stairs and said Barnes was hanging himself.  Taylor called for a knife and ran into the stable and found Barnes lying down.  Taylor’s servant Charles Read said he had seen Barnes with a halter round his neck and standing on a ladder leaning against a beam in the stable.  The boy said he had been about to fix the halter to the beam and his calling out had prevented Barnes from hanging himself. Taylor asked Barnes why he had been guilty of such an act and Barnes said he meant to destroy himself as he was afraid to face his master. Taylor gave him into custody, because suicide was a crime, and had him brought before Sir Charles Payne of Tempsford Hall who was a justice of the peace. The register of Bedford Gaol [QGV12/1] tells us that Barnes was 61 years old, had no previous convictions and was acquitted.

In 1869 Thomas Taylor sold the Wheatsheaf to Essex innkeeper Thomas Taylor Tucker who may, judging by his middle name, have been a relative [WL1000/1/TEMP1/3]. Tucker sold it to Bedford brewer Thomas Jarvis in 1874 [WL1000/1/TEMP1/5]. Jarvis’ firm continued, under the ownership of his sons, until 1917 when it was taken over by rival Bedford brewer Charles Wells.

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 Wheatsheaf [DV1/C157/105] found that the lciensee paid rent of £25 per quarter. The pub comprised a tap room, a dining room, a private sitting room, a bar and a kitchen with six bedrooms upstairs as well as two attics. Outside stood a washhouse, a barn and a coachhouse. Trade averaged half a thirty-six gallon barrel per week as well as four or five bottles of beer per day and “very little” spirits. Not surprisingly the valuer commented: “On main road. Very little trade”. The pub also still included the field at the rear as well as farm buildings including a cart lodge and a two-bay stable. The Wheatsheaf is still open at the time of writing [2017]

The Wheatsheaf February 2016
The Wheatsheaf February 2016


  • P20/1/5: burial of Thomas Taylor: 1807;
  • ST679-680: auction sale held at the Wheatsheaf: 1809;
  • CLP13: Register of Alehouse Licenses: 1822-1828;
  • X1/41 and WY1036/12: Tempsford Estate survey: 1829;
  • QSR1853/2/5/1/a: stolen goods sold to the licensee: 1853;
  • WL1000/1/TEMP1/2: conveyance: 1853;
  • QSR1859/3/5/11: licensee witness to an attempted suicide: 1859
  • WL1000/1/TEMP1/3: conveyance: 1869;
  • HF143/1: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1872-1873;
  • HF143/2: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1874-1877;
  • WL1000/1/TEMP1/5: conveyance: 1874;
  • WL1000/1/TEMP1/6: mortgage: 1874;
  • HF143/3: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1878-1881;
  • WL1000/1/TEMP1/7: transfer of mortgage: 1881;
  • HF143/4: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1882-1890;
  • WL1000/1/TEMP1/8: transfer of mortgage: 1882;
  • WL1000/1/TEM1/9: reconveyance: 1885;
  • HF143/5: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1891-1900;
  • HF143/6: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1900-1914;
  • PSBW8/1: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1903-1915;
  • WL800/5: photograph: c. 1925;
  • PSBW8/2: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1956-1972;
  • PSBW8/3: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade and North Bedfordshire Petty Sessional Divisions: 1976-1980


Licensees: note that this is not a complete list and that dates in italics are not necessarily beginning or end dates, merely the first/last date which can be confirmed from sources such as directories and deeds.

1807: Thomas Taylor, innkeeper, buried 10 May;

1807-1829: Martha Taylor;

1847-1869: Thomas Taylor (and brewer);

1872-1881: Robert Merton or Murton;

1881-1882: Harry Finch;

1882-1889: William Cox;

1891-1895: James Lorford;

1895-1908: Thomas Fisher;

1908-1909: Anne Fisher;

1909-1910: John Roberts;

1910-1913: Elizabeth Clara Roberts;

1913-1914: William Urquhart;

1914-31: John William Field;

1940: George Moore

1957-1974: James Carter;

1974: Margaret Jean Carter;

1974-1976: Peter Tony Sayers;

1976-1981: Robert George Hoxey;

1981-1982: Alan Trevor Thomas;

1982-1983: John Russell Crough;

1983-1989: David Reece Clegg;

1989-1992: Ronald Chennels;

1992-1993: Alan Edward Stafford;

1993-1994: Michael Foster Brown;

1994-1995: Kerry Gordon Sabine and Christine Ann Properjohn