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The Inn at Woburn

 The Inn at Woburn, February 2007
The Inn at Woburn, February 2007

The Inn at Woburn [previously The Saint George and The George then The Bedford Arms]: 1 to 3 George Street, Woburn.

The Bedford Arms was originally known as the George (hence George Street in which it stands) and is now [2006] called the Inn at Woburn. Whatever the name it has been Woburn's most important inn/hotel throughout its history. The main building was Grade II Listed by the former Ministry of Works in 1961 and is considered to be early eighteenth century. There are, however, mentions of the building, then a hospice or hospital (meaninga place of hospitality for guests at the Abbey rather than the more modern meanings), by the name of Saint George or George in the early sixteenth century and the George in the seventeenth century.

In an account of the property of Woburn Abbey, drawn up at its dissolution by the Court of Augmentations in 1539 [CRt100/32] the inn is referred to as "a hospice called St. George on the alley leading towards the Monastery" [Park Street]. There was also a farm called the George as this reference demonstrates: "a farm of one messuage in Woburn called le George with appurtenances and one garden adjacent"; the farm's tenant was Thomas Style. The court book of the Manor of Woburn Abbotts records admission of a tenant to a tenement to the south of "hospicii vocat le George" on 10th November 1576.

In Sir Jonas Moore's survey of the Woburn Estate of 1661 it is referred to as "an antient Inn of many roomes with three stables brewhouse three barnes orchard garden and other easements" it contained 3 roods 12 perches of ground and was tenanted by "Mr.fflaxmore". The building underwent extensive repairs between 1695 and 1696 and may account for the date ascribed by the Department of Environment [R5/79/7].

The entrance to the Bedford Arms, with Thomas Puddephatt - 1890s [Z50/135/65]
The entrance to the Bedford Arms, with Thomas Puddephatt - 1890s [Z50/135/65]

As a large coaching inn the building was frequently host to local sittings of the Quarter Sessions and frequently served as a temporary billet for the baggage of regiments moving about the country in the early eighteenth century as the lists of sources below make clear. Thre were barrack buildings in the inn yard for the Bedfordshire militia and these were resurrected during the First World War for use by soldiers at the Duke of Bedford's training camp at Ampthill as the Leighton Buzzard Observer for 25th January 1916 reveals: "The barracks in the "Bedford Arms" yard, which are being used for the first time in many years, have been converted, both upstairs and down, into sleeping apartments. Every man has a comfortable bed, with pillows and blankets; the apartments being lighted with gas and heated with hot water ... Breakfast and supper is served at the Town Hall, which is admirably adapted for the purpose".

The building has been owned by the Dukes of Bedford, as the 1661 survey shows, from early times and so it was appropriate that around 1840 the name changed to the Bedford Arms. At some point, probably 1911 [HN351/Morris5] the Dukes of Bedford leased the inn to Morris & Company (Ampthill) Limited as it appears on an inventory of theirs, compiled just before their takeover by J. W. Green Limited of Luton in 1927 [WB/M4/2/1]. It seems likely that the lease was ended soon after as Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service has no mention of the inn in the Green archive [WB/Green].

In 1927 the buildings were valued for rates under the 1925 Rating and Valuation Act. Given the size of the site and number of buildings the entry runs into five notebook pages where usually only one suffices. At that stage Morris and Company were still leasing the premises, sub-leasing them to the landlord Robert Thomas Hammond. The rental was £65 per annum, not an extraordinary sum given the size of the premises and prosperity of the business. The main building contained:

  • downstairs: a coffee room; a kitchen; a scullery and pantry; a gents' lavatory; a bar; a living room; an office; a dining room; a taproom and two lounges;
  • upstairs: ten bedrooms (nine for letting); two maids' bedrooms; a lavatory [in the sense of  a place to wash] and a bathroom;
  • outside: a boot shed; a piggery; a wood shed; two lock up garages; stabling for nine horses; a coal barn and two bar stores

The business was worth about £1,500 per annum "but could do more". It got through two and a half barrels of beer per week, twelve dozen bottles of Bass and Guinness in the same period and 105 gallons of spirits per year. 

Bedford Arms yard about 1900 [Z50/136/61a]
Bedford Arms yard about 1900 [Z50/136/61a]

The survey notes a number of businesses operating in the yard as follows:

  • a further public house, leased by Hammond to H. C. Dracup. This contained a tap room, a bar, a lounge and kitchen on the ground floor and three bedrooms upstairs; outside were an earth closet and coal barn. It sold about one barrel, two dozen bottles of beer and one bottle of spirits per week;
  • a garage business occupied by Ames and Sons and consisting of six lockup garages ("was a coachhouse"), an office, a lock up workshop and engine room with a loft over, a petrol store, a lumber store and two petrol pumps with two 250 gallon tanks;
  • a drill hall occupied by the 5th Battalion, Bedfordshire & Hertfordshire Regiment consisting of a shooting range (25 feet by 16½ feet), an armoury and licensed club room. The valuer added a comment: "Note. The Cottage Hospital has a Loose Box for Coal Store at the back of this. Neglect".
  • a coal and fodder business leased by Frank Tompkins consisting of a cart hovel, a two bay large store, a coachhouse, two loose boxes, stabling for six horses, an engine house and straw barn, all ,except the cart hovel, with a loft over. The valuer noted: "Engine neglected. Not Farm. Coal and Fodder".

The Bedford Arms 1961 [Z50/135/11]
The Bedford Arms in 1961 [Z50/131/11]

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

  • CRT100/32: survey of property of newly dissolved Woburn Abbey: 1539;
  • RBox 237: Manor Court Book: 1571-1587;
  • X1/33/1-3: survey of Duke of Bedford's properties by Jonas Moore: 1661;
  • R5/79/4: repairs mentioned: 1692-1693;
  • R5/79/7: extensive repairs mentioned: 1695-1696;
  • QSM various: Quarter Sessions held at inn: 1715-1754;
  • QSR1725/8: baggage of Lord Cobham's regiment to be conveyed from inn: 1725;
  • QSR1726/11 and 24: baggage of Lord Londonderry's Regiment to be conveyed from inn: 1726;
  • QSR1726/14-15: baggage of Princess of Wales' Horse to be conveyed from inn: 1726;
  • QSR1727/85 and 96: Baggage of General Goar's Dragoons to be conveyed from inn: 1727;
  • QSR1728/40-41: baggage of Edward Montague's Regiment to be conveyed from inn: 1728;
  • QSR1728/60 and 62-67: baggage of King's Own Dragoons to be conveyed from inn: 1728;
  • QSR1729/26-27: baggage of Duke of Bolton's Regiment to be conveyed from inn: 1729;
  • P118/1/3: burial of William Pain, cook at inn: 31st July 1743;
  • P118/1/3: burial of John Butler, a gentleman's servant who died at inn: 9th May 1745;
  • P118/1/3: burial of Jane Barnard, a gentlewoman who died at inn: 14th December 1746;
  • R3/105/2: dinner at inn for jury deciding Duke of Bedford's right to hold a market in Woburn: 13th December 1761;
  • P118/1/3: burial of Robert Wykes, a coachman who died at the inn: 5th May 1765;
  • X171/190: catalogue of auction sale to be held at inn: 1769;
  • R4/842-843: loss of custom of death of 4th Duke of Bedford: 1770-1771;
  • R3/141/69: man sent to bridewell for stealing hay from Martin "who keeps the George": 1772;
  • M10/4/205: chaise to pick up someone from the inn: 1773;
  • P118/28/2: parochial assessment book: 1802-1833
  • R3/2114/526: list of repairs: 1803;
  • 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;
  • R3/3666: application for tenancy by George Baker: 1831;
  • R3/3683: plans: 1831;
  • R3/3684: repairs to roof: 1831;
  • R3/3687: agreement to tenancy of George Baker: 1831;
  • R3/3725: estimates for new buildings: 1832;
  • R3/3753: windows at: 1833;
  • R3/3940: pulling down old stables: 1836;
  • R3/4098: railway had changed posting at: 1839;
  • R3/4370: "GIlbert has given notice to quit…now let to Attwood": 1841;
  • R3/4433: theft of £80-100 from cashbox: 1841;
  • GA2125: auction sale held at the inn: 1865;
  • GA2130: auction sale held at the inn: 1866;
  • BML10/30/3: auction sale held at the inn: 1866;
  • GA2139-2140: auction sales held at the inn: 1868;
  • SG2/23/1-3: auction sale held at inn: 1869;
  • X171/236: auction of sadler's premises held at the inn: 1879;
  • HN10/274/Hopkins3: auction sale of premises including White Bear held at the inn: 1879;
  • Z655/1-2: auction sale of land in Bedford Street held at the inn: 1884;
  • HN10/276/Puddephatt1: draft will of landlord Thomas Puddephatt: 1888;
  • HN10/270/Green4: inn a creditor of John Green's estate: 1889;
  • HN10/276/Puddephatt3: draft will of landlord Thomas Puddephatt: 1896;
  • HN10/371/Tanqueray8: invoice: c.1899;
  • Z50/135/65: photograph: late C19/early C20;
  • Z50/135/61a-b: men rolling courtyard: late C19/early C20;
  • HN10/351/Morris4: copy management accounts: 1911;
  • HN10/351/Morris5: draft lease to Morris and Company: 1911;
  • WB/M/4/2/1: mentioned on list of properties of Morris & Company (Ampthill) Limited: c.1926;
  • X21/718: photograph: 1920s-1930s;
  • WW2/AR/C/2/233: garage for three civil defence vehicles at rear: 1944;
  • WW2/AR/C/2/253: civil defence damage to yard: 1945;
  • Z53/135/11: photograph: 1961;
  • Z1105/1: Liquor Licence Traders Survey Form: 1962;
  • Hi/PH5: photograph of pavement outside: 1966;
  • Z1091/3/1: menu card of official opening: 3 Sep 1971;
  • PL/P/MB79/114A/LB: plans for proposed hotel: 1979;
  • Hi/PH12/10: colour photograph of hotel illuminated: 1984;
  • PCWoburn18/3/1: plans, elevations and photographs, interior and exterior: 1987-1995;
  • PCWoburn35/2: complaints about condition of cottages: 1990.

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

1576: Stephen Ball;
1661: Flaxmore;
1710: Crichly;
1712: Roger Brooks;
1738: Brook Shefford;
1743: Mrs.Shefford;
1751: John Shefford;
1757: Thomas Hassall;
1772: Martin;
1785: Robert Martin;
1792: Green;
1802: James Martin;
1807: George Bull;
1811-1818: Daniel Skinner;
1831: George William Baker;
1839: John Gilbert:
1841: George Attwood;
1861: John Barr;
1869: Thomas Puddephatt (family and commercial hotel and posting house);
1902-1909: James Croxton Walker (hotel, posting house and farmer);
1909-1913: William John Narborough (hotel and agent for LNWR); 1911-1913: Frederick Hart;
1913-1929: Robert Thomas Hammond [died Feb 1929 aged 80];
1929-1931: Beatrice Emma Hammond;
1931: John Brown Phillimore Willis Fleming;
1935: George Frank Burn;
1964: Roy Campbell Tydor Hughes;
1970: A. Giardino;
1970-1973: David Newling-Ward;
1973-1975: Eric Maurice Marsh;
1975: Ronald John Cunningham;
1975-1977: Ronald John Cunningham and Peter John Anthony Hazlerigg;
1977-1980: Peter John Anthony Hazlerigg and Rowland Stephen Williams;
1980-1984: Peter John Anthony Hazlerigg and Stephen Paul Cowdrill;
1984-1985: Stephen Paul Cowdrill and Alan Sharpe;
1985: Stephen Paul Cowdrill and Peter Hazelrigg;
1985: Paul Follows;
1985-1986: Paul Follows and Peter Hazelrigg;
1986-1987: Natale Canzio and Peter Hazelrigg;
1987-1991: Natale Canzio and Norbert Paul Gottfried Petersen;
1991: Natale Canzio and Allan Eric Slater