The Chequers Public House Whipsnade
Chequers House January 2009
The Chequers Public House [also The Heart and Chequers]: The Green, Whipsnade
The Chequers is the only public house we have recorded in Whipsnade and the first mention of it dates from the countywide licensing register of 1822 [CLP13]. In the early 19th century the public house was owned by Edward Burr and in 1843 his Dunstable Brewery with its attendant licensed premises was put up for sale by auction. The particulars [BH409] describe the Chequers as containing a bar, a tap room, a parlour, a washhouse, a pantry, a liquor closet, an underground cellar and three bedrooms with a cow house and two wood barns outside plus a small garden, a pond and a paddock in the rear containing two acres. The tenant, Samuel Heeles, paid rent of £16 per annum.
Around the middle of the 19th century the Chequers seems temporarily to have changed its name to the Heart and Chequers, being so described in the 1861 census, for example. At this time the owner was Thomas Robert Rackstrow of Hemel Hempstead [Hertfordshire]. It is presumed that he had bought the Chequers in 1843. In 1857 Rackstrow conveyed the Chequers to Ivinghoe [Buckinghamshire] brewer Charles Meacher [RY1057]. The countywide licensing register of 1871 gives Meacher as the owner. By the time of the countywide licensing register of 1891 Meacher's business had been bought by Roberts and Wilson. This firm owned the Chequers until it was taken over by Benskin’s Watford Brewery in 1927.
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 Whipsnade, in December 1926, found the Chequers [DV1/C98/38] still owned by Roberts and Wilson and tenanted by Thomas Watson, whose rent, including nearby land, was £8 per annum.
The pub contained a tap room, a front room and a bar parlour. Private accommodation comprised a basement cellar, a combined kitchen and scullery on the ground floor and three bedrooms above. Outside stood a stable with two stalls (“used as store”), a coal barn, a fowl house, a two-bay open fronted cart shed and two pigsties. The valuer noted: “When took house over takings were supposed to be £210 at a gross profit of 25%”. Trade was one barrel of beer per month in winter (36 gallons). Three pints of bottled beer were sold in a week. Spirits sold came to less than half a gallon in three months; “Can’t tell minerals”. The valuer also commented: “Tenant only been here since September. Does not know takings. Let 2 bedrooms sometimes. Takings £215 a year”.
Benskin’s was purchased by Ind Coope in 1957 and the Watford brewery closed in 1972. Ind Coope merged with two other brewing firms to create Allied Breweries in 1959, which company merged with food group J Lyons Limited to form Allied Lyons in 1978. In 1992 the brewing arm merged with Carlsberg to form Carlsberg-Tetley. The Chequers closed some time after 1992 when the last Petty Sessional licensing register for Dunstable District held by the service ends. It had become a private house, called Chequers House, by 2009.
- CLP13: Register of alehouse licences: 1822 - 1828;
- BH407: Abstract of mortgage: 1841;
- BH409 Sale Catalogue of Dunstable Brewery: 1843;
- RY1045: Conveyance: 1857;
- PSL6A/1: Licensing register, Luton Petty Sessional District: 1901-1921;
- PSL6A/2: Licensing register, Luton Petty Sessional District: 1922-1945;
- PSL6A/3: Licensing register, Luton Petty Sessional District: 1945-1954.
- PSD2/4: Licensing register, Dunstable Petty Sessional District: 1984-1992.
Note: that this is not a complete list. Italics indicate licensees whose beginning and/or end dates are not known:
1822-1823: John Grey;
1923-1828: Thomas Birch;
1843: Samuel Heeles;
1847: Mrs. Hannah Maria Heels;
1851-1861: Abraham Batchelar;
1869-1884: George Birchmore;
1884: Ruth Birchmore;
1884-1904: Ruth Birchmore;
1904-1908: Charles Cook;
1908: Louis Cook;
1909: James Vicars;
1909-1910: Alfred Beard;
1910-1911: Albert Gibbs;
1911-1912: Walter Edwards;
1912-1925: Charles Edwards;
1925-1926: Joseph Baker;
1926-1931: Thomas Watson;
1931-1933: Ernest Hall;
1933-1940: John Grenville;
1940-1947: William Charles Bayford;
1947-1952: Peter James Kyte;
1952: John William Hardy;
1952-1955: Albert Goddard
1955: Walter J Dawson;
1984: David Richardards;
1986-1989: Christine Edgar and Peter Edgar;
1989-1990: Christine Edgar and David Simpson;
1990: George Edward Walker;
1990-1992: Roger J. Bailey.