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The Bell Inn Woburn

In the 18th century an inn called The Bell stood in the North End of Woburn. This seems not to have been today's Bell but a different establishment altogether, as the deeds to the property [R6/63/2] make clear. It was also different to le Belles as that was a copyhold property whereas The Bell was freehold.

The deeds begin in 1709 [R6/63/2/1] when it is described as a messuage in the North End of Woburn known by sign of Bell in occupation of Job Townesend. At this date it was being granted by Simon Taylor to his son of the same name. With the Bell he also granted an adjoining close of pasture of two acres and a cottage and pightle of pasture, also of two acres.

In 1713 The Bell was conveyed, along with the Red Lion, Woburn, to trustees as part of a marriage settlement between Simon Taylor and his second wife Diana (née Gregory) [R6/63/1/18-19]. Diana and Simon's children Simon (son by his first marriage to Mary) and Catherine (daughter of his second marriage to Diana) conveyed the Bell and adjoining cottage and land to Richard Circuit of Woburn, yeoman for £200 in March 1742 [R6/63/2/3].

In his will of 1743 (proved in 1746) Circuit devised the Bell and adjoining cottage and land to his wife, Sarah, to then go to their son Joseph after her death [R6/63/2/4]. This evidently happened because Joseph mortgaged the place in 1748 for £100 [R6/63/2/5]. Circuit died in 1758 and in his will of that year devised all his property in Woburn to two trustees for sale and division of the proceeds between his three sons Richard, John and Tom when they reached 21 (his wife Sarah had died at the end of the previous year) [R6/63/2/9]. The trustees did not sell the property of Joseph Circuit until 1777 (by which time Tom had died - in 1760, aged just four). The buyers were Gertrude, Duchess of Bedford and her trustee Robert Palmer [R6/63/2/10-11]. Interestingly in the deed of 1777 recital is made of the mortgage of 1748 though the property was then (1777) referred to as "then known as the Bell", indicating that at some time between 1748 and 1777 the property had ceased to be a public house.


  • R6/63/2/1: grant: 1709;
  • P118/3/1: parochial dues register: 1709-1796;
  • P6/63/1/18-19 and W981-982: conveyance: 1713;
  • R6/63/2/3: conveyance: 1742;
  • R6/63/2/4: devised in a will: 1743;
  • R6/63/2/5: mortgage: 1748;
  • R6/63/2/9: devised in a will: 1758;
  • R6/63/2/10-11: conveyance: 1777.

List of Licensees: note that this is not a complete list. Italics indicate licensees whose beginning and/or end dates are not known:

1709-1713: Job Townsend;
1742-1751: Richard Clark[e].