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The Greyhound Public House Woburn

The Greyhound shown on a map in 1891 [R6/63/6/30]
The Greyhound shown on a map of 1891 [R6/63/6/30]

The Greyhound Public House: 3 Leighton Street

Bedfordshire & Luton Archives & Records Service has a series deeds in the archive of the Dukes of Bedford [R6/63/6] running from 1742 to 1891. They reveal that the property was actually two tenements and in copyhold tenure, held from the Manor of Woburn.

In 1742 a cottage in the West End of Woburn, together with an acre of land called Home Field, bordering Caswell Lane to the north and a malthouse was sold by Simon Taylor of Colworth, Sharnbrook to John Ireland of Woburn, horsecourser (jockey) [R6/63/6/1]. Ireland's son, also John, inherited in 1758 [R6/63/6/2]. John the younger died in 1770 and devised all his real estate to trustees to be sold and the money divided between his three sisters Catherine Durrant, Mary Coles and Susannah Timms [R6/63/6/5]. The property was sold to Stephen Hawkes of Abington [Northamptonshire], grazier. He then sold to a Francis Moore who was admitted to the property in 1786 [R6/63/6/6] and it is at this date in the deeds that it is first referred to as a public house called the Greyhound. This is despite having included a malthouse for at least the last 44 years, and confirmation that the place was a public house much earlier comes from the list of vicarial dues which notes the inn by name in 1742 [P118/3/1], showing that this is the likely opening date, obviously the jockey John Ireland also enjoyed dog racing. Moore soon sold the pub and land, in 1789, to William Osborn of Woburn, grocer [R6/63/6/7].

William Osborn sold the pub, buildings and land in 1820 to Thomas Fowler of Toddington, baker for £1,300 [R6/63/6/9]. In 1822 a minor crime took place outside the Greyhound [QSR1822/357, 359]. Elizabeth Farr of Woburn gave evidence that she was standing in the doorway of the Greyhound when George Low of Flitton "forcibly took a light coloured Cotton Shawl from my shoulders". He closed it tightly in his hands and ran off. She ran after him for about twenty yards. She stated: "then George Low came back towards me walking - George Low then said to me "He is gone with it as hard as he can run" I says "You are the Man" Then George Low ran away down the Street passing the Greyhound - I had made a general sort of alarm among my friends in pursuing George Low [and] at last a young man help'd me, and we got hold of and held George Low fast. Then my Cousin - Capp, came to our assistance, and also my brother, and after that, by the help of the Watchman he (George Low) was put into the Cage". Thomas Heighington, Woburn’s constable confirmed that Elizabeth Farr asked him to take a man who was in the cage before a magistrate. He recognised the man as someone he had seen earlier in the day wearing a straw hat. Asked where his straw hat was, for he was then wearing a black one, he replied that someone had taken it out of a public house of which he knew not the name or the landlord. The Bedford Gaol register [QGV10/1] tells us that Low was 24, five feet six inches hall, with dark brown hair. He was described as living in Woburn, not Flitton. He was sentenced to seven years transportation and despatched to the prison hulk Justitia.

Thomas Fowler sold the Greyhound and land, which now also included a brewhouse as well as a malthouse, to Daniel Skinner of Woburn, innholder in 1825 [R6/63/6/13]. Skinner's widow Elizabeth inherited the property in 1831 and, at her death in 1854 the inn went to her sister Ann Tye [R6/63/6/17]. It should be noted that in a directory of 1839 the public house is listed as the Hare and Hounds, though by 1847 it had reverted to being the Greyhound. On Ann Tye’s death Elizabeth Skinner had stated in her will that the inn should go to their nephew Samuel Salisbury. However, he died out in Ballarat, Australia, eighteen days after his aunt Ann and the property passed to his cousin Angelina Townsend of Snenton [Nottinghamshire] and her husband, Samuel [R6/63/6/22]. On Angelina's death in 1887 the Greyhound, adjoining cottage (now used as an office by William Henry Smith, solicitor), Home Field, malthouse and brewhouse passed to a relative Arthur Henry Woodford of Leicester, commercial clerk, who sold the premises and land to the Duke of Bedford in 1891 [R6/63/6/30] by which time it was reported that "the premises are old and dilapidated and the trade gone" - the price was £850. It may seem odd to sell the property to the Duke because he was already technically the owner as Lord of the Manor. However, any tenant could pay a small sum to the duke and enfranchise the property, that is, convert it from copyhold into freehold. This sale made sure that the property stayed in the duke’s ownership.

Today the building on the site of the Greyhound is 3 Leighton Street (interestingly the same address as that given in the early nineteenth century rating book). It is a very much smaller building, to judge by the their respective sizes on Ordnance Survey maps suggesting either that the premises were substantially altered or demolished and a new property built on the site. The date stone on the building of 1897 suggests the latter.

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. Woburn, like much of the county was valued in 1927. the valuer visiting 3 Leighton Street found that, forty years on, William Henry Smith was still using it as an office and renting from the Duke of Bedford and it consisted of two rooms and a W.C.

2 and 3 Leighton Street May 2012
2 and 3 Leighton Street May 2012

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

1742-1758: John Ireland
1785-1796: Samuel Turvey;
1802: William Lawrence;
1806-1807: William Brandon [Brandom];
1808: Joseph Proctor;
1809-1816: Gregory Osborne;
1817: John Osborn;
1818: Benjamin Foxley;
1820: James Fowler;
1822-1825: Thomas Burt;
1847-1862: Mrs.Ann Burtt;
1864-1869: Thomas Chappell;
1876: George Chappell;
1877: Thomas Chappell;
1885: George Chappell (and shopkeeper);
1890: George Chappell.
Public House closed about 1891

List of Sources:

  • P118/3/1: parochial dues: 1709-1796 [1785-1796];
  • R6/63/6/1: admission: 1742;
  • R6/63/6/2: admission: 1758;
  • R6/63/6/5: admission: 1770;
  • R6/63/6/6: admission: 1786;
  • R6/63/6/7: admission: 1789;
  • P118/28/2: parochial assessment book: 1802-1833;
  • R6/63/6/9: admission: 1820;
  • R1/78: Thomas Evans' map accompanying R2/69: 1821
  • R2/69: Detailed survey of Woburn made by Thomas Evans for the Duke of Bedford: 1822;
  • R6/63/6/13: admission: 1825;
  • R6/63/6/17: admission: 1855;
  • R6/63/6/22: admission: 1862;
  • R6/63/2/25-27: admission: 1879;
  • R6/63/6/29: Inland revenue form regarding succession: 1888;
  • R6/63/6/30: agreement for sale: 1891