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The Cock Inn Wootton

Cock Wootton July 2007
The Cock Inn July 2007

The Cock Inn: 2 Bedford Road, Wootton

The Cock is an older public house than may appear at first sight. It looks like a Victorian building but its history is a least a century longer, presumably it has undergone extensive remodelling in the past or was, perhaps, pulled down and entirely rebuilt.

The land on which the Cock stands was once called Breach Furlong, in East Field and was sold by John Ashton and William and Mary Clerke to Andrew Ashby in 1682 [WL452]. The land is first referred to as having a building on it in 1714 when George Walker devised it in his will to his wife Martha, who later married John Shaw [WL457].

The Cock is not mentioned by name in any of the deeds relating to it until 1764 when it is described as an alehouse and blacksmith's forge and was sold by John Shaw, blacksmith, to Bedford brewer William Franklyn or Franklin [WL462-463]. The deeds suggest that Shaw may have been the man to open the alehouse as in 1763 , when mortgaged by his father Matthew, it was simply described as half an acre of land with a tenement thereon [WL460-461].

In 1785 Mary Franklin, daughter of William sold the Cock to Bedford brewers Henry and James Whittingstall [WL465-466] and ten years later the Cock is first mentioned as a place from which auction sales were conducted [GK92/1]. Bedfordshire & Luton Archives & Records Service has half a dozen auction sales of properties in Wootton held at the Cock in subsequent years.

In 1803, with Henry Whittingstall dead, William Long bought out the surviving brother, with whom he had previously been in partnership. Long was a prominent local businessman, being Lord of the Manor of Kempston and four times Mayor of Bedford, he was knighted in 1814. On his death he left his business to his son-in-law Robert Newland of Kempston who, in turn, left it to his son, Bingham. Bingham Newland sold the business to Bedford brewer Thomas Jarvis in 1873 and in 1910 Jarvis was bought out by Bedford rival Charles Wells. The Cock remains a Charles Wells house at the time of writing [2007].

On 30th August 1851 the Bedfordshire Times reported a case at the Bedford Petty Sessions (predecessor of the Magistrates Court): " Short Measures – Thomas Church, publican of Wootton, was summoned for having one quart and three pint measures deficient in his possession. The quart was more than a gill, and the pints about half a gill each deficient. The superintendent stated that he had always found defendant’s measures correct before, and that Mrs Church had accounted for the possession of the above from having received an additional stock recently; but was not aware they were short measure. The Bench thereupon imposed a small fine of 5s and 7s 6d costs". The verdict had no effect on Church's licence as he was still licensee in 1865.

The countywide licensing register of 1903 described the inn as in good repair, clean and apparently sanitary. It was 124 yards from the nearest licensed premises (The Fox and Duck) and had both a front and a back door as well as a side gate.

In 1927 Bedfordshire was valued under the Rating Valuation Act 1925; every piece of land and building was surveyed to determine the rates to be paid on it. The valuer visiting the Cock [DV1/C50/42] noted that the brick and tile premises comprised a tap room, smoke room, cellar (three steps down) and spirit cupboard and larder downstairs with three bedrooms and a box room above; outside was a barn and earth closet, a brick and slate barn, stable for two horses, lean-to hovel and an old granary. Trade was 1¼ barrels of beer and six dozen bottles of beer per week, a bottle of spirits and a bottle wine per week. The valuer noted: "Very good house, I think trade underestimated. Very nice man".

The Cock Inn March 2012
The Cock Inn March 2012


  • WL 452: feoffment of land: 1682;
  • WL453: recited mortgage: 1687;
  • WL454: assignment of mortgage: 1704;
  • WL455: assignment of mortgage: 1704;
  • WL457: will of George Walker: 1714;
  • WL459: deed to lead to the uses of a fine: 1723;
  • WL460-461: mortgage: 1763;
  • WL462-463: conveyance of alehouse: 1764;
  • WL465-466: conveyance of The Cock: 1785;
  • GK92/1: details of sale of land available from Mr.Haynes at Cock: 1795;
  • BD815-816 and WL533: conveyance of his share in a number of licensed premises from James Whittingstall of Shillington to William Long of Kempston House, brewer: 1803;
  • CLP13: Register of Alehouse Recognizances: 1822-1828;
  • PSB1/1: register of alehouse licences: 1829 - 1834;
  • Z972/8 Notice on inclosure mentioning house called the Cock: 1836;
  • Bedfordshire Times: Thomas Church charged with short measures: 1851;
  • SF77/18: auction sale of cottages at Cock: 1870
  • GA487 Sale of the St Pauls Brewery Estate (purchaser Thomas Jarvis): 1873;
  • WL647: noted in report as forming part of estate of former business of Sir William Long: 1874;
  • SF77/23: auction sale of property at Cock: 1881;
  • SF77/27: auction sale of dwellinghouse held at Cock: 1882;
  • SF77/26: auction sale of arable land held at Cock: 1883;
  • SF77/28: auction sale of cottage held at Cock: 1885;
  • SF77/31: auction of cottages in Bot End at Cock: 1887;
  • PSB9/1: Register of Alehouse Licences, Bedford Petty Sessional Division: 1903-1935;
  • Z50/136/4: postcard of Bedford Road and the Cock: c.1919;
  • RDBP1/1039: plans of portable theatre to be erected: 1926;
  • Z1105/1: noted in liquor licence trader survey form: 1950;
  • PSB9/2: Register of Alehouse Licences, Bedford Petty Sessional Division: c.1955-1995;
  • PSBW8/3: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade and North Bedfordshire Petty Sessional Divisions: 1976-1980.

List of Licensees: note that this is not a complete list; italics indicate licensees whose beginning and/or end dates are not known:
1763: Matthew Shaw;
1795-1803: Henry Haynes;
1822: John Williams;
1823: William Haines;

1824-1836: William Harris;
1836-1837: Josiah Leverett;
1841-1865 Thomas Eyles Church;
1869: Joseph Haynes;
1871: Titus Hancock;
1873: Mrs Hancock;
1876-1877: Samuel Redman;
1890-1891: Thomas H. E. May;
1894-1924: Frank Smith;
1924-1940 Frederick James Dawson;
1949-1950: Arthur Ernest Facey;
1963-1967: Karl Stubley;
1967-1976: Frank Edward Cripps;
1976-1978: Peter Joseph Mellor;
1978-1992: James Alan Plester;
1992-1993: John Adam North;
1993-1995: George James McLeod