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The Red Lion Public House Toddington

The Red Lion about 1960 [WB/Flow4/5/Todd/RL2]
The Red Lion about 1960 [WB/Flow4/5/Todd/RL2]

The Red Lion Public House, 22 Market Square, Toddington (formerly Waggon & Horses, later Ritzy Bar)

The Red Lion occupied premises on Market Square which until the later 19th century had been as the Waggon and Horses (this is specifically stated in remarks made by a solicitor in 1897 [X95/346a]). The property is listed by the former Department of the Environment as Grade II, of special interest. The listing describes the property as of 18th century origins (however, see below), of whitewashed brick with an old clay tile roof, hipped to the right. There are three casement windows with glazing bars and three ground floor canted bays with lattice.

The Red Lion (or Waggon and Horses) was not a licensed establishment of long standing, as it does not appear in the countywide licensing registers of 1822 to 1828 [CLP13]. In 1850 the Waggon and Horses beerhouse at Toddington appears as Lot 13 in the sale particulars of the Newport Pagnell Brewery. The title to the lot was said to commence with an indenture of 16 October 1802 between John Bennett and David Willis on the one part, and William Badley on the other. The beerhouse was described as "containing Tap-Room, Parlour, Washhouse, Cellar underground, and four small Bed-chambers. Stable, and the use of a Pump of Water. Also an undivided third part of the Yard in the rear, with a right of way over the other two-thirds, but subject to a right of way in favour of the two adjoining Tenements over the said undivided third." The house was occupied by Daniel Potts at an annual rent of £10 [GK82/7]. Potts is listed as a beer seller in Toddington in directories from 1847 to 1869.

The earlier history occurs in a conveyance of 1867 in which the property is described as "A messuage in the Manor of Toddington formerly in occupation of John Parsons now converted into several dwellings in occupation of John Wildman, John Fowler, Stephen Bunker, Daniel Hart junior and others". This seems to pre-date 1867 by some years (as is not uncommon in deeds) before the property was used as a beerhouse [X95/333a]. The property was enfranchised, that is converted from copyhold to freehold, in 1892 [X95/333a].

The former Waggon and Horses was known as the Red Lion by 1871, when it was owned by the Luton Brewery of Thomas Sworder and Company (as tenants of the Manor of Toddington). It was among fifty-eight licensed premises included in the sale of the Thomas Sworder's brewery in 1897, when the sale particulars stated that the property consisted of a bar, a sitting room with cupboards, a private entrance, tap room, kitchen, small scullery with sink, larder, washhouse with copper, cellar, four bedrooms and a room over the kitchen. Outside there were a goods yard with double gates, a loose box, open cart shed, pig sty and stable, manure pit, two closets, a urinal and a pump. The tenant was Mr. W. Evans, and the rent was £12 per annum [X95/314]. Sworder's business was purchased by rival Luton brewer J W Green.

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. At this time the Red Lion had a bar, a tap room, a smoke room, a living room, a kitchen and a cellar downstairs, with five bedrooms above. Outbuildings consisted of a brick and slate stable; a brick, timber and slate stable; and a cart hovel. The Red Lion sold 1½ barrels (36 gallons) of beer and three dozen bottle of spirits per week. The valued described it as "miserable" with good bars but low pitched. It was held by Charles Evans from J.W. Green at a "fair" tied rent of £10 per annum, reduced from a pre-war rent of £16 per annum [DV1/C85/56].

The Red Lion was granted a full licence as the Red Lion public house on 8th February 1952. In 1954 J W Green merged with Midlands brewer Flowers, taking the latter's name. This company was taken over by Whitbread in 1964. In 2002 Whitbread sold all its public houses and the Red Lion was bought by Discovery Inns. It became the Ritzy Bar in 2011 and closed in 2014.

the son of former landlord Charlie Bray contacted Bedfordshire Archives in 2017 mentioning that he saw the inside of the building while it was undergoing major renovations and that the upstairs turned out to be lath and plaster, believed to date back to the 17th century. He also said that former owners had deeds suggesting it was built in 1665. This cannot be verified by anything held by Bedfordshire Archives but is entirely plausible given the location of the building; dates given in listed building descriptions (see the top of the page) are often generalised estimates rather than based on fact.

22 Market Square March 2016
22 Market Square March 2016


  • GK82/7, WG2533 and GA486: sale catalogue of Newport Pagnell Brewery, 1850;
  • QSR1863/3/5/4,5: suspected sheep stealer drinking in the Red Lion: 1863;
  • X95/304: rent in barrels of public houses belonging to Luton Brewery, 1867;
  • WB/Green5/5/1: register of successive tenants: 1887-1926;
  • X95/333a: abstract of title of Thomas Sworder and Company properties: 1897;
  • X95/312: site plans of properties for sale by Thomas Sworder, 1897;
  • X95/314 and WB/S4/1/1/5: sale catalogue of Thomas Sworder and Company: 1897;
  • X95/346a: Opinion on Title by T. R. Colquhoun Dill of Lincolns Inn as to title of Thomas Sworder: 1897;
  • WB/Green4/1/VP1: conveyance of Thomas Sworder and Company to J W Green: 1897;
  • WB/Green1/1/1: list of J W Green licensed premises: 1897-1936;
  • WB/Green6/4/1: trade analysis ledger of licensed premises, 1936-1947;
  • WB/Green4/2/4: certificates of title to properties belonging to J. W. Green Ltd, 1936-1952;
  • WB/Green4/2/10: schedule of deeds and documents relating to J W Green Limited properties: c. 1949;
  • WB/Green4/2/5: list of J W Green Limited licensed premises: c. 1952;
  • WB/Green4/2/16: letter regarding titles of J W Green Limited properties: c. 1952;
  • WB/Green4/2/17: J W Green Limited trust deed: 1952-1972;
  • WB/W4/5/Neg1: negative of the premises: c. 1954;
  • WB/Green4/2/19: loose schedules of deeds and documents relating to various licensed premises, c.1954;
  • WB/Flow4/5/Tod/RL1-2: photographs: 1960s

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:

1847-1869 Daniel Potts;
1881: Jane Bavister;
1881-1885: George Potts;
1885-1898: William Evans;
1898-1905: Frederick Rowe;
1905: Elizabeth Ann Rowe;
1905: Robert Thomas Smith;
1905-1913: Harry Ayres;
1913-1914: Horace Edgar Harper;
1914-1937: Charles Evans;
1937-1940: Cyril Kingham;
1940-1956: Arthur Henry Saunders;
1956-1958: Henry Roberts Oughton;
1958-1967: Charlie Bray;
1967-1977: Bert Gange;
1977: Charles Fraser;
1989: Laurence John Wilson.