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The Black Horse Public House Woburn

The Black Horse in 1961 [Z50/135/1]
The Black Horse in 1961 [Z50/135/1]

Black Horse Public House: 1 Bedford Street, Woburn

The Black Horse was listed by the former Ministry of Works in January 1961 as Grade II, of special interest. The building dates from the early 18th century, being a reworking of an earlier structure. This suggests that the Black Horse may have been one of the properties damaged by the fire of 1724. The property is built of vitrified bricks with red brick dressings which seems to enclose some timber-framing. the roof is of 20th century tiles. The main block has two storeys and attics and other blocks project to the rear; these have one or two storeys.

The first reference to this public house in a document held by Bedfordshire & Luton Archives & Records Service is in a list of dues owed to the Vicar from 1709 to 1796 where Widow Clark is identified as being at the Black Horse in 1743. It is possible that this is when the inn opened.

The public house was owned by Morris & Company (Ampthill) Limited from at least 1827 until they sold out to J. W. Green Limited of Luton in 1927. Green merged with Flowers Breweries in 1954 and the new company adopted the Flowers name; Flowers were then bought by Whitbread in 1962. Whitbread sold off its brewing business and public houses in 2001. At the time of writing [2006] the Black Horse remains a public house and restaurant.

In 1852 the Black Horse was caught up in a felony when William Marriott was accused of stealing £1/7/7 [QSR1852/3/5/30]. William Jenkins stated that he and Marriott bothlived in Aspley Guise and were labouring men. They had known each other for many years. Both had been working together on William Goodman's farm at Eversholt, draining for the Duke of Bedford. On 29th May they attended the office at Park Farm to receive their wages. Jenkins received nineteen shillings and sixpence, and he also had a shilling and sixpence in his pocket, and seven pennyworth of halfpennies. He put the silver all together in a purse.

After receiving their wages Jenkins, Marriott and other men went to a beerhouse in Woburn were they had some beer. The prisoner and Jenkins then went on to the Wheatsheaf where they took more beer. Jenkins fell asleep in the company of Marriott. On waking, he asked one of the serving girls in the Wheatsheaf it all the beer was paid for and she told him it was. Marriott was then not in the room. Jenkins went to Steer's butcher shop in Woburn to pay his bill and found his purse missing. He went to enquire of his mates and the serving girl at the Wheatsheaf, who said she thought one of his mates had taken something from his pocket whilst he was asleep.

Jenkins found Marriott at the Black Horse and asked him to go with him to the Wheatsheaf, which he did without hesitation. Marriott was identified by the serving girl and Jenkins asked Marriott for his money. Marriott said he did not have the money and went to leave, Jenkins collared him, and Marriott struck him in the face. A man who was there took hold of Marriott and called the police.

Frances Tear, a cook at the Wheatsheaf, stated in evidence that Marriott and Jenkins came to the tap room alone and appeared to have been drinking. They had some beer and Jenkins fell asleep. She saw the prisoner take some halfpennies out of Jenkins hand and pay for the beer with it. She then saw the prisoner put his hand in Jenkins' pocket and take something out and put it in his own pocket. Marriott remained a further ten minutes before leaving. Ann Cannard, a housemaid at the Wheatsheaf said she saw Marriott and Jenkins come into the tap room and they had two pints of beer together. Marriott paid her for it. She saw him take something from Jenkin's pocket and put it in his own. Marriott left Jenkins asleep.

Constable John Quilty took Marriott into custody and found twenty shillings worth of silver and seven pence in coppers on him. He asked him if he had 'any money away' and he said he had given a shilling to Jack Page. A register of Bedford Gaol [QGV10/3] reveals that Marriott was convicted and sentenced to three months hard labour. He was 46 years old, five feet nine inches tall with light hair and grey eyes.

In 1927 the Black Horse was valued for rates under the 1925 Rating and Valuation Act. At that time J. W. Green Limited had just taken over ownership and the rent was £20 per annum. The valuer found that the pub was: "old but fairly good front". It consisted of a smoke room ("good"), bar ("fair 3 pulls"), parlour ("small and dark"), kitchen and scullery on the ground floor - with no cellar. Upstairs were two bedrooms on the first floor and three attics on the second. Outside were a stable for nine horses with a loft above, a cow byre, trap house, cart hovel (all described as "old and very little used") and 2 W. C.'s. Trade was a barrel and three dozen bottles of beer in a week and half a dozen bottles of spirits in a month.

The Black Horse May 2012
The Black Horse May 2012

List of Sources Held at Bedfordshire & Luton Archives & Records Service:

  • P118/3/1: parochial dues register: 1709-1796 [1743-1796];
  • P118/28/2: parochial assessment book: 1802-1833;
  • R1/78: Thomas Evans' map accompanying R2/691821;
  • R2/69: Detailed survey of Woburn made by Thomas Evans for the Duke of Bedford: 1822;
  • Z1043/1: inventory of John and Joseph Morris of Ampthill, brewers: 1827;
  • X21/629: conveyance: 1828;
  • WB/M/4/1/VP1: Mortgage: 1831;
  • QSR1842/4/5/34: involved in a felony: 1842;
  • QSR1852/3/5/30: involved in a felony: 1852;
  • SF75/10: auction sale held at the Black Horse: 1878;
  • WB/M/4/1/VP2: Mortgage: 1882;
  • SF51/28: auction sale held at the Black Horse: 1883
  • WB/M/4/1/VP8: Abstract of Title of Morris & Company (Ampthill) Limited to various properties including Black Horse: 1900-1926;
  • WB/Green4/2/20: list of J.W.Green Limited properties of special historic interest: C20;
  • X21/760/1: postcard: 1906;
  • CCE5304/1: surrender and admission of Morris & Company (Ampthill) Limited: 1907;
  • CCE5304/3: conveyed, with other properties to J.W.Green Limited: 1926;
  • WB/M/4/2/1: mentioned on list of properties of Morris & Company (Ampthill) Limited: c.1926;
  • WB/M/4/2/2: mentioned on list of properties of Morris & Company (Ampthill) Limited: Jun 1926;
  • WB/Green4/2/2: payments by J.W.Green Limited to landlords of various properties for premises, wayleaves etc.: 1927-1953
  • WB/Green/6/4/1: J.W.Green Limited trade analysis ledger for various properties: 1936-1947;
  • WB/Green4/2/5: list of properties of J.W.Green Limited: c.1936;
  • WB/Green4/2/4: Certificate of title of J.W.Green Limited to various properties: 1936-1952;
  • WB/Green4/2/9: Schedule of deeds of properties owned by J.W.Green Limited: 1949;
  • WB/Green4/2/16: list of properties owned by J.W.Green Limited: 24 Jul 1952;
  • WB/Green4/2/17: Second schedule of trust deed showing properties owned by J.W.Green Limited: 1952;
  • Z1105/1: Liquor Licence Traders Survey Form: 1953;
  • WB/Green4/2/19: lists of properties owned by J.W.Green Limited: 1954;
  • WB/Flow4/5/Woburn/BH1-2: photographs taken for Flowers Breweries Limited: 1960s;
  • Z53/135/1: photograph: 1961;
  • Hi/PH5: photograph of pavement outside: 1966;
  • Z50/135/42: transparency: 1973;
  • PCWoburn30/2: transfer of license: 1989;
  • PCWoburn30/3 and 5: transfers of license: 1989;
  • PCWoburn30/22: transfer of license: 1989;
  • PCWoburn18/2/2: planning permission, plans and elevations: 1992-1997;
  • PCWoburn30/21-22: transfers of license: 1994;
  • PCWoburn30/30: transfer of licence: 1996

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

1743: Widow Clark;
1785: William Goodman;
1795: James Parratt;
1808-1818: Ann Parratt, widow;
1820: Thomas Pheasant;
1830: Edward Pheasant;
1847: John Reddall;
1861 (listed as Higb Street): Mrs.Mary Buckett;
1864: (listed as Bedford Street): Mrs.Mary Buckett;
1869: James Button;
1876: Peter Smith;
1878-1881: George Archer;
1881-1890: William Clark;
1890-1893: William Beasley;
1893-1895: Job Stanbridge;
1895: Elizabeth Anne Stanbridge;
1895-1940: Frederick Hall;
1940: Alexander Maude Gilby;
1940-1949: Albert Lionel George;
1949: Richard James Gooch;
1949: Sidney Pratt;
1953: George James Merrick
1965-1967: Victor Dunton;
1967: Kenneth Herbert Moores;
1967-1968: Colin Anthony Doyle;
1968-1969: John Francis Allen;
1969-1975: Arthur Victor Hollands;
1975: Ernest Albert Raymond Mole;
1975-1988: Thomas Aldous;
1988-1989: Peter Stewart Mackie and John Campbell;
1989-1994: Peter Stewart Mackie and Edwin Cheeseman;
1994: James Campbell and Edwin Cheeseman;
1994-1996: Stephen John Baker, James Campbell, Marion McNaboe;
1996: James Campbell, Nicholas Owen Lancaster.