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The White Hart Inn Market Place Woburn

The former Nag's Head in March 2007
The former Nag's Head in March 2007

The White Hart Inn [earlier The Nag's Head]: 21 Market Place, Woburn

This inn, a copyhold property, held from the Manor of Woburn, is known from a succession of copy court rolls and in the register of dues owed to the Vicar of Woburn for premises in the parish [P118/3/1]. In 1693 John Edmunds and Mary, his wife, surrendered the inn, then called the Nags Head, to the use of his will.

The Nag's Head was on a constant 21 year lease, updated as it fell due by means of a fine paid to the Manor and a rent was paid to the manor annually. When a tenant wished to mortgage his property he "conditionally surrendered" it, when he wished to sell he "absolutely surrendered" it. Thus in 1710 John Edmunds conditionally surrendered the Nag's Head to John Ashwell [R6/63/28/2], absolutely surrendering it in 1717 [R6/63/28/3]. Ashwell did not keep the inn for very long, absolutely surrendering it in 1718 to the man living there (in effect the sub tenant!) Thomas Smith the younger of Eversholt [R6/63/28/5]. In 1722 Smith did something rather unusual, he conditionally surrendered the inn to John Wells and John Gregory [R6/63/28/6] and absolutely surrendered it on the same day to Jane Edwin also recorded as Edens [R6/63/28/7]. In effect Smith mortgaged the property then sold it with the mortgage in place.

Jane Edwin/Edens paid off the mortgage in 1733 [R6/63/28/9] and kept the inn until her death some time in or before 1748, having mortgaged it once again in 1742 [R6/63/28/11], to a Mary Keene. Her son William Ray (a child from a previous marriage or born out of wedlock) was admitted to the inn in 1748 [R6/63/28/16] and immediately absolutely surrendered it to Charles Pyne [R6/63/28/17]. The mortgage continued to run until 1762 when Mary Keene transferred it to Elizabeth Clarke [R6/63/28/19], who two years later, bought the inn from Charles Pyne [R6/63/28/22]. In 1762 the inn is referred to as "heretofore known as the Nag's Head now the White Hart".

It is still referred to as the White Hart in 1764 [R6/63/28/22] but by 1777 when Elizabeth Clarke was readmitted at the start of another 21 year lease [R6/63/28/24] it is simply referred to as the messuage in which she dwelt. This shows either that Elizabeth Clarke closed the inn on her purchase of it in 1762 and the 1764 description is out of date (as frequently happens in deeds and manorial documents) or that she closed it sometime after 1764, the former seems more likely. Elizabeth Clarke absolutely surrendered the former inn to Woburn lace buyer Henry Broughton in 1783 [R6/63/28/25] who left it to his trustees in his will, giving the instructions to sell it and use the money to fund legacies. Broughton was buried at Woburn on 29th December 1796 and his copyhold property, including the former inn, sold at auction in August 1798 [R6/63/28/33], all his property being bought by the Lord of the Manor, the Duke of Bedford. The former inn is described in the sale poster as:

Lot 3: "genteel well-built house" being 11 Market Place, Woburn comprising: hall; three parlours; kitchen; brewhouse; cellar; barn; stable; six sleeping rooms; "large and pleasant garden well fenced and planted with fine Fruit Trees"; pump in kitchen.

It fetched £375. A study of various maps including that which accompanies Thomas Evans' 1821 survey [R1/78] seems to indicate that 21 Market Place and next door 22 Market Place are the modern numbers for this ancient building.

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

  • P118/3/1: parochial dues: 1709-1796 [1722-1756];
  • R6/63/28/2: conditional surrender: 1710;
  • R6/63/28/3: absolute surrender: 1717;
  • R6/63/28/4: admission: 1717;
  • R6/63/28/5: absolute surrender: 1718;
  • R6/63/28/6: conditional surrender: 1722;
  • R6/63/28/7: absolute surrender: 1722;
  • X18/8: extracts of admissions: 1722-1888;
  • R6/63/28/8: admission: 1731;
  • R6/63/28/9: conditional surrender: 1733;
  • R6/63/28/10: admission: 1739;
  • R6/63/28/11: conditional surrender: 1742;
  • R6/63/28/13: bond: 1745;
  • R6/63/28/16-17: admission: 1748;
  • R6/63/28/19: surrender: 1762;
  • R6/63/28/20: memorandum of satisfaction: 1762;
  • R6/63/28/22: admission: 1764;
  • R6/63/28/24: admission: 1777;
  • R6/63/28/25: absolute surrender: 1783;
  • R6/63/28/31: surrender: 1792;
  • R6/63/28/32: abstract of title: 1798;
  • R6/63/28/33: auction sale particulars: 1798;
  • R6/63/28/34-39: correspondence: 1798-1799;
  • R6/63/28/40: draft absolute surrender: 1799;
  • R6/63/28/42: draft absolute surrender: 1799;
  • 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.

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

17th century: John Hick;

1693: John Edmunds;
1714: John Edmunds;
1722: Thomas Smith;
1722-1723: William Ray;
1723-1724: Thomas Cave;
1725: William Ray;
1726-1728: John Burrows;
1728-1732: Henry Causting;
1733: Jane Edwin or Edens;
1733-1734: Freeman;
1735-1737: John Geary;
1738-1740: Richard Merry or Henry Merry;
1745-1746: Joseph Eaton;
1748-1751: Stephen Perrin;
1752-1756: Joseph Harris