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The Anchor Public House Tilsworth

The Anchor Public House March 2008
The Anchor public house March 2008

The Anchor Public House: 1 Dunstable Road, Tilsworth

A public house, unfortunately not named, is shown near the site of the present Anchor Public House in the 1804 sale particulars of the Tilsworth Estate. It was tenanted by Joseph Cooper and described thus: "A PUBLIC HOUSE, Brick Pannel, Tiled and Thatched, containing a Parlour, Kitchen, Brewhouse, Cellar, Dairy and Three Bed Chambers, a small Stable, Cowhouse, Pigsty and Woodhouse, Timber, Weatherboarded and Thatched, Croft &c.". It is possible that this public house was the half-remembered Tom and Jerry public house but, perhaps more likely, was either the Anchor or a forerunner of the Anchor.

In 1841 Edward Burr, the Dunstable brewer, mortgaged a large number of licensed premises, including the Anchor in Tilsworth, which had been conveyed to him the previous year by Henry Mawley and Anna Maria Mawley, spinster [BH407]. In 1843 the Dunstable Brewery and its licensed premises was put of for sale [BH409]. In the sale particulars the Anchor (Lot 36) is described as containing a "good" tap room, parlour, chandler's shop, scullery, cellar and three bedrooms "A Piece of Ground and small Garden in front of House, Barn and Garden at side, Orchard planted with young Fruit Trees, and Paddock with Lodge and Out-house thereon". The occupier was Richard Inwards who paid £10 per annum rent. Interestingly a note at the bottom of the entry says "The Title to this Lot shall commence with Indentures of the 9th and 10th of December, 1808" indicating that at this date the Manor of Tilsworth conveyed the premises to a private buyer, sadly no such deed is held by Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service to provide the name of the buyer.

The Anchor was later owned, successively, by the Welch Ale Company of Chelsea [Middlesex] (it is possible that they purchased it from Burr in 1843), John Parsons of Prince's Risborough [in 1891] and then the Aylesbury Brewery Company from 1904. At the time of writing [2008] it is a Greene King house and Bedfordshire & Luton Archives & Records Service has no further records relating to it except for licensing records, entries in directories and a report by a valuer in 1927.

The Rating and Valuation Act 1925 ordered that every piece of land and building in the country be assessed to determine the rates to be paid on it. Tilsworth was assessed in 1927 and the valuer visiting the Anchor [DV1/C104/28] discovered that it was owned by the Aylesbury Brewery Company Limited and occupied by S.A.Billington. It stood in 0.216 acres and rent was £10 per year (the same as that of Richard Inwards in 1843!). It comprised a tap room, a smoking room and a cellar [all "very good"], a kitchen and pantry. The valuer noted that trade was two or three barrels of beer and a gallon of spirits per month, "no bottled stuff"; the public house "used to sell Guinness four dozen bottles per month". Unusually, the valuer forgot to note the number of rooms on the first floor of the building. Outside the public house had a brick and slate two bay open cart shed, and part of "the old pub" built of brick and tile and used as a store place. There was also a brick and slate stable for six horses with a loft over. The valuer noted four 18 gallon casks in cellar: "Mrs.B. says has beer in every fortnight. Told me barrelage was about one per week"; he went on "Very smart appearance" and "Centre of village". The valuer's discovery of part of the old pub still standing confirms the opinion of the naked eye when looking at the Anchor building that it probably dates to the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, presumably the remains of the older building are that noted in 1822 and perhaps 1804.


  • BH407: recited conveyance, with others, by Henry and Anna Maria Mawley to Edward Burr: 1840;
  • BH407: mortgaged, with many other properties by Dunstable brewer Edward Burr: 1841;
  • BH409: sale catalogue of Dunstable Brewery: 1843;
  • PSW3/1: Register of Alehouse Licences - Woburn Petty Sessional Division: 1868-1949;
  • BML10/72/1: three cottages auctioned at the Anchor: 1870;
  • PSLB4/3: Register of Alehouse Licences - Leighton Buzzard Petty Sessional Division: c.1860s-1956;
  • PSW3/2: Register of Alehouse Licences - Woburn Petty Sessional Division: 1949-1953

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:

1822: Richard Inwards;
1861: Sarah Bunker;
1864: Abel Cooper, and farmer;
1877: Mary Cooper;
1877: Edward Cooper;
1894: John Billington;
1895: James Billington;
1907: Walter Thomas Billington;
1921: Sarah Ann Billington;
1944: Horace Lionel White;
1954: Ernest Frank Mead;
1982: Graham Eric Brown;
1992:Steven Banfather and Rita Banfather.