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The Bell Public House Wyboston

The Bell about 1925 [WL800/1]
The Bell about 1925 [WL800/1]

The Bell Public House: Great North Road, Little End, Eaton Socon [Cambridgeshire]

Most of the deeds to this public house are at Hertfordshire Archive Service as it was formerly owned by Baldock brewer Simpson's Breweries Limited. The Bell is no longer in Wyboston as in 1991 the parish and county boundaries were altered and it is now in Eaton Socon and thus in Cambridgeshire. At the time of writing [March 2007] the Bell is closed with major renovations taking place.

The first mention of the property in any deed in Bedfordshire & Luton Archives & Records Service is in 1799 when the building is shown on the Eaton Socon inclosure award map [MA20], the corresponding award document shows it owned by Saint Neots [Hintingdonshire] brewer William Fowler. In 1814 it was sold, along with the brewery and other licensed houses by the executors of William Fowler to Bedford brewer John Day.

It was one of the fifty houses sold by Day in 1840. The sale particulars refer to a "recently erected house" which contained a parlour, kitchen, washhouse, cellar and four bedrooms. A six horse stable with a loft over stood outside along with a cart shed and open shed. The yard was enclosed by folding gates. Water came from a well.

The countywide licensing register for 1876 states that the Bell was first licensed in 1842, which seems at odds with known facts. The answer seems to lie in a contract for sale of 1854 [CRT130Rox6]. This contract was between the executors of Luke Addington and Samuel Darrington. The agreement was to sell a number of cottages, one of which was a "messuage or tenement situate at Little End ... heretofore called or known by the name of the Bell Inn ... now called or known by the name of Bell Farm". Thus it appears that the original Bell Inn was the 18th century building today known as Bell Farmhouse and the public house only moved to the present buildings, "newly erected" in around 1840, hence the need for a new licence which, perhaps, was not forthcoming until 1842.

Bell Farmhouse March 2010
Bell Farmhouse March 2010

The countywide licensing register for 1876 gives the owner as Simpson and Company of Baldock. The countywide register for 1891 still lists Simpson as owner. By the time of the register for 1903, however, Bedford brewer Charles Wells was owner, as it was for the rest of the century. The register comments: "Good, clean, apparently sanitary".

RDBP1-531 planned alterations to Bell 
Plan and elevation for alterations in 1934 [RDBP1/531] - to see a larger version, please click on the image

The Bell was valued in 1927 under the 1925 Rating Valuation Act, at which time the valuer recorded: a brick and tile construction with a tap room, living room and kitchen with a cellar beneath and, above 4 bedrooms there was also a wash house, chaff barn, calf pen, pig sty, three bay cart shed ("old"), rickyard and stable for three horses ("old"). The public house also had 1.340 acres of arable land. Trade was hardly booking and amounted to 18 gallons of beer and 1 quart of spirits per month

The former Bell Wyboston Mar 2007 
The former Bell in March 2007


  • CRT110/102: list of Simpson's of Baldock deeds at Hertfordshire Archives;
  • WG331-332: conveyance: 1814;
  • CLP13: recognizances of alehouses: 1822-1828;
  • WG2526: sale catalogue of properties of Day & Son: 1840;
  • WG2030: conveyance: 1841;
  • WG2957: will of Luke Addington: 1843, proved 1847;
  • CRT130ROX6: contract for conveyance: 1854;
  • PSB9/1: register of licenses: 1903-1935;
  • WL800/1, page19: photograph: c.1925;
  • WL801/99: negative of above: c.1925;
  • RDBP2/531: rebuilding plans: 1934;
  • PSB9/2: register of licenses: c.1955-1995;
  • PCRoxton9/3: transfer of licence: 1979;
  • WL722/32: "Pint Pot" in-house magazine of Charles Wells with photograph of public house: 1981;
  • WL722/39: "Pint Pot" in-house magazine of Charles Wells with note of improvements to public house: 1983 

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

1822-1826: Jane Banks;
1826-1831: John Case;
1831-1834: Ann Case;
1847: Luke Addington;
1853: Thomas Serjent;
1854: John Sergant (pig dealer);
1861-1876: Thomas Sargeant (pig dealer);
1877: Mrs.Sargent;
1885-1894: Charles Goodes (machinist);
1903: Alfred Nash;
1903-1904: William Canning Vaisey;
1904-1907: Thomas Charles Hawkins;
1907-1919: William Boddington;
1919-1932: Jane Boddington;
1936: Harry John Turney;
1940: Reginald V.D.Black;
1945-1966: Alfred Ruse;
1966-1968: David Abberley;
1968-1979: Charles R.Day;
1979-1986: Peter Gregory Murphy;
1986-1991: Brian Walker;
1991-1998: John E.Crisp