The Plough Inn, Bow Brickhill

The Plough public house, which once operated from a house in Bow Brickhill, can be traced through various adverts and events recorded in the local newspapers now online from the British Newspapers Archives. Other information here comes from the catalogue of Centre for Bucks Studies (CBS) at Aylesbury, Bedfordshire Archives & Records Service (BARS) at Bedford, the Bow Brickhill History Society, Mr. C. Pattison (Munday family researcher), Betty Winkfield, local trade directories, the census and parish registers etc.

The first mention in the online newspapers comes from the Northants Mercury of 30th June 1787, when an auction was being advertised by Thomas Shaw. It was to be held on 4th July, “at Mr William Smallwood’s, the Plough, at Bow-Brickhill”. The auction was for land and cottages, which had been the property of John Cook, now deceased.  Inns were often used for these types of sales before there were parish halls.

There is a marriage of William Smallwood to Jane Goodman in Bow Brickhill in May 1771, so it appears he had been local for at least a few years, but there is then a burial in December 1787 of a William Smallwood, followed by a marriage in January 1790 of James Groves, widower of Milton Keynes, to Jane Smallwood, widow.

The next item is from CBS, who hold:

  • 15th April 1791 – Attested copy of a Conveyance between (1) Thomas Bennett of Aspley Guise, carpenter and (2) James Groves of Bow Brickhill, for Messuage lately known as the Anchor and now known as the Plough, with 13 poles of land and a further piece of land (about 20 poles), in Bow Brickhill which was being conveyed (sold) for £100. (D-X 1685/5)
The Plough stood on the left as you enter Church Road. The sign can just be seen in this postcard used in 1927.

Bennett was a brewer in Aspley Guise. I haven’t been able to find any references to an Anchor Inn in Bow Brickhill in the old newspapers, but coverage of our area for that time is limited to the Northants Mercury.  It seems a strange choice as a name for an inn so far from the sea and part-way up a steep hill!  There are no further mentions in the 18th century. The next clue is another deed at CBS.  James Groves died in May 1810 and passed the inn to his widow, Jane, (now widowed twice) who had two other interested parties, her daughter and son-in-law.

  • 21st November 1810 – Attested copy of a deed to declare the uses of a fine between (1) Jane Groves of Bow Brickhill, widow, Samuel Cook of Bow Brickhill, carpenter and Lydia Cook* his wife, and (2) Valentine Willis of Leighton Buzzard, gentleman, pertaining to Messuage formerly known as the Anchor and now known as the Plough, with 13 poles of land and a further piece of land (about 20 poles), in Bow Brickhill. (D-X 1685/7)

*Lydia Cook’s maiden name was Smallwood, she was the daughter of William & Jane, baptised 1786.

The next year, John Day & Son held an auction of cottages in London End, a spur off Church Road, opposite the Plough, where the auction was to take place on 27th May. The cottages were tenanted by Richard Perry and Emmanuel Timms. No landlord of the Plough was given. Even when it was a straight sale with no auction, the inn could garner some business, as happened in July 1811, when Mr. W. Ager, of Furnival’s Inn, Holburn, was selling a compact freehold cottage in Bow Brickhill. Interested parties were advised to apply at the Plough. The cottage for sale had its own detached Brewhouse. (both Northants Mercury)

Auction days would have been a good money-maker for an innkeeper.  People came from surrounding villages to either bid or see who was bidding, and wanted refreshments! However, the next sale recorded in the press was for the Plough itself:

“Freehold Public-House and Cottage, Bow-Brickhill, Buckinghamshire
To be SOLD by AUCTION, by ANDREW GARDNER, on Wednesday 17th Day of May 1815, on the premises, between the Hours of Three and Four o’Clock in the Afternoon, subject Conditions as will be then produced), in one Lot. ALL that substantially built well-known PUBLIC-HOUSE, called the PLOUGH in full trade, pleasantly situated on the Rising of the Hill, BOW-BRICKHILL aforesaid consisting of good Kitchen, two Parlours, three Sleeping Rooms, and Cellar; with a convenient Brewhouse, Yard, Wood-Barn, Wheelwright’s Shop, and a Well of excellent Water; now in the Occupation of Mr. John Vennel, as yearly Tenant.
Also, a COTTAGE or TENEMENT, with Wood-Bam and Garden, adjoining above Premises.
For a View of the same, apply to the Tenants and further Particulars may be known of the Auctioneer, or at the office of Mr. DAY, Solicitor, Woburn, Beds.” (Northants Mercury)

A John and Ann Vennell baptised a son, Thomas, at Fenny Stratford in June 1812. The licensee was seldom the owner of his own pub. Vinnell stayed on a few years more, but moved on in 1818 so there was an auction of his belongings. Mr. T. Wood advertised in the Northants Mercury that he was engaged as the auctioneer, on the premises, and the goods listed in the advert gives some idea of the size of the brewing operation at the Plough at that time:

“Household Furniture, seasoned iron-bound Casks, Brewing Utensils, &c. To be SOLD by AUCTION. By T. WOOD, On Thursday, October 22d. 1818, on the Premises of Mr. JOHN VINNELL, leaving the Plough Public House, BOW BRICKHILL, Bucks; COMPRISING Bedsteads with Furnitures, flock Beds and Bedding, Chest of Drawers, oak Coffers, chamber and other Chairs, dining, pillar, claw, and dressing Tables, pier Glass, kitchen Requisites in general, two plated Tankards, four ditto Pints, Earthenware, China, and Glass, corner Cupboards, deal Dresser, large kitchen Range, small Ditto and stove Grate; Fenders and fire Irons, iron oven Door, 30-hour Clock, in wainscot Case, brass washing Furnace; 100-gallon brewing Copper, 10-bushel mash Vat, two deal Coolers, nine iron-bound Tubs, hop Sieve, Jet, Funnel, water Pails, one ironbound half-hogshead Cask, one hogshead Ditto, one Pipe, three Puncheons, a Cask, drink Stands, pewter Measures; pit Saw, band Ditto, work Bench, and various Implements of Wheelwright: Wood, &c. &c. The Sale will begin at Eleven o’Clock precisely.”

[John Vennell, Bow Brickhill, is mentioned in the ‘Inventory of the Freehold Brewery, Malthouses, Dwellings & Land, Freehold, Copyhold & Leasehold, Public Houses, Stock in Trade, Plant, Utensils, Casks, Horses, Drays, and Miscellaneous Effects belonging to John & Joseph Morris Esqs., Ampthill, Also of the Mortgages, Bonds, Notes, Book Debts & Rents due to them 24 June 1827’, now stored at BARS. (Z 1043/1 p.68)]

CBS has the following deeds for the Plough around this time. Jane Groves did not die until August 1821, but does not appear again in the deeds. It appears Samuel and Lydia Cook (d.1810) had passed the inn to Daniel Cook (their son?), and he raised some money by mortgaging the inn three times:

  • 17th December 1819 – Attested copy of mortgage to secure £70 between (1) Daniel Cook of Bow Brickhill, carpenter and victualler; and (2) Thomas Day of Woburn, Bedfordshire, gentleman. For Plough public house, with yard, stable, woodbarns, carpenter’s shop and well of water (13 poles) and adjoining cottage and woodbarn recently built by Daniel Cook, in Bow Brickhill. (D-X 1685/8)
  • 26th May 1824 – Attested copy of mortgage to secure £80 between (1) Daniel Cook of Bow Brickhill, carpenter; and (2) William Charles Lever Keene of Lincoln’s Inn, Middlesex, and Thomas Waterfield of Dunstable, Bedfordshire (executors of the will of Thomas Day) For Plough public house, with yard, stable, woodbarns, carpenter’s shop and well of water (13 poles) and adjoining cottage and woodbarn, in Bow Brickhill. (D-X 1685/10)
  • 17th August 1825 – Attested copy of mortgage to secure £100 between (1) Daniel Cook of Bow Brickhill; and (2) William Charles Lever Keene of Lincoln’s Inn and Thomas Waterfield of Dunstable, Bedfordshire. For Plough public house, with yard, stable, woodbarns, carpenter’s shop and well of water (13 poles) and adjoining cottage and woodbarn, in Bow Brickhill. (D-X 1685/11)

…then he agrees to sell it to the Yates family:

  • 28th April 1826 – Memorandum of Agreement to Sell between (1) Daniel Cook of Bow Brickhill; and (2) James Yates of Bow Brickhill, victualler. For Plough public house, with adjoining cottage, stable, barn and land, in Bow Brickhill in consideration of £360. (D-X 1685/12)

…who may have already been running it, as there are two baptisms at Bow Brickhill (in February 1822 and January 1824) of children to James and Penelope Yates, with James listed as a Publican.  The Plough was later sold, but not to Yates, as it was conveyed to Nicholas Maffey.

  • 29th July 1826 – Attested copy deed of merger between (1) William Charles Lever Keene of Lincoln’s Inn and Thomas Waterfield of Dunstable, Bedford; and (2) Daniel Cook of Bow Brickhill, carpenter. For Residue of £1000 term merged to freehold. Plough public house, with yard, stable, woodbarns, carpenter’s shop and well of water (13 poles) and adjoining cottage and woodbarn, in Bow Brickhill, in consideration of £261 17s. (D-X 1685/14)
  • 4th August 1826 – Conveyance from (1) Daniel Cook of Bow Brickhill; to (2) Nicholas Maffey of Fenny Stratford, maltster, for Plough public house, with adjoining cottage, stable, barn and land, in Bow Brickhill, in consideration of £360. (D-X 1685/15)
  • 3rd August 1826 – Lease [Release missing] between (1) Daniel Cook of Bow Brickhill; and (2) Nicholas Maffey of Fenny Stratford, maltster, for Plough Inn, with small cottage at the back and adjoining yard with stable and barn, in Bow Brickhill, in consideration of 5 shillings. (D-X 1685/16)
  • 6th November 1826 – Mortgage to secure £200 between (1) Nicholas Maffey of Fenny Stratford, maltster; and (2) William Randall of Husborne Crawley, Bedfordshire, butcher, for the Plough Inn, with small cottage at the back and adjoining yard with stable and barn, in Bow Brickhill (D-X 1685/17)

Maffey and Co. ran a brewery at Fenny Stratford, from behind the Maltsters Arms from 1840’s until c.1875 when they were taken over by the Bletchley brewers, Holdoms. James Yates is still at the Plough in 1830, as he appears in the Pigot’s trade directory of that year.

There is only one Publican listed in the first census (with personal data on) in 1841 for Bow Brickhill and it is still the Yates family, but James had died in 1837, aged 51. Although it was his son, William, named in the 1839 Robson’s commercial directory, it was James’ widow listed as head of house in the 1841 census:

Penelope Yates, 45, Publican
William Yates, 25
Betsey Yates, 15
Maryann Yates, 14 (Died aged 19 in 1847)
(All born in Bucks.)

In 1845, William Yates was married Mary Maffey, and it was the Maffey family who had owned the Plough since 1826. Very shrewd!  At Stony Stratford Petty Sessions, in July, Penelope was charged with having one quart and two half-pint measure deficient and fined 10s. This was in the Banbury Guardian, but they referred to her as Mrs Penelope Gates!

The next census of 1851 is more confusing. The only instance of “Publican” (other than the Garratt family, who ran the Wheatsheaf) is Thomas Butcher, 32, and his family. He is listed as a “Publican & Cordwainer”, born in Fenny Stratford.  Sharing his household are William Porter and family, a sawyer, the type of business which we know was connected to the Plough. William Yates, son of James and Penelope, is listed elsewhere as a Butcher. He had married Ann Hammond and had moved in with her family, still in Bow Brickhill, where his father-in-law John Hammond was a pauper cordwainer.  There are two other Yates households, those John, 32, and Mary, 66, who are both shown as “Farmers”.  Penelope is not listed at all, despite not dying until May 1858.

Penelope’s grave at Bow Brickhill church.

Yet here is another puzzle. A William Yates, late victualler of Bow Brickhill was listed as an Insolvent Debtor in 1851, with a string of addresses in London. From the Bucks Herald 20th December 1851: “PURSUANT TO THE ACTS FOR THE RELIEF OF INSOLVENT DEBTORS IN ENGLAND. ON the Sixth Day of December, 1851, upon the filing of the Schedule of WILLIAM YATES, formerly of Bow Brickhill, near Fenny Stratford, Buckinghamshire, Assistant to a Licensed Victualler; afterwards of Bow Brickhill, aforesaid, Farmer; then of Bow Brickhill, aforesaid, Farmer and Licensed Victualler; afterwards of No.18, Mount Pleasant, Gray’s Inn Lane, Middlesex, Baker; then of No.39, Goswell Road, Clerkenwell, Middlesex; and late of No.57. Wynyatt Street, Goswell Road, aforesaid, Assistant to a Baker, a Prisoner in the Debtors Prison for London and Middlesex, whose Estate and Effects have been duly vested in the Provisional Assignee by Order pursuant to the Statute. IT IS ORDERED and APPOINTED that the said Prisoner shall be brought up to be dealt with according to the provisions of the said Act before the Court of WILLIAM JOHN LAW, Esquire, Commissioner, the Court House, Portugal Street, Lincoln’s Inn Fields, Middlesex, on the Second Day of January next, the Hour Ten in the Morning precisely.”  He was listed as “Discharged” in early January 1852, but was then remanded for six months from the Vesting Order” later in the same month.

Certainly, from 1847 to 1860, William Yates and his wife Mary, and later Ann (same person? Mary Ann perhaps?), are baptising their children at Bow Brickhill, with William described as a “Publican”, but there is little gap for these positions in London:

May 16th 1847 – Mary Ann Yates, of William and Mary, publican
September 20th 1857 – Emma Yates, of William and Ann, publican (born 27th December 1854)
September 20th 1857 – Elizabeth Yates, of William and Ann, publican
July 22nd 1860 – Jane Yates, of William and Ann, publican

More of the Plough sign on the side of the building can be seen in this postcard, issued in about 1906.

I thought perhaps this destitute William had been another branch of the family, but given the following, perhaps it was the same man after all. As well as being a publican and butcher, it appears the William Yates at the Plough had other money-making ideas too… From the Bucks Herald 20th June 1860:

“NEWPORT PAGNELL. Stealing Harness. At the petty sessions, held on Thursday before W. G. Duncan, Esq., J. C. Maul, Esq., and R. W. Selby Lowndes, Esq., William Daniells and William Yates were charged with stealing a set of gig harness, the property of Mr. Isaiah Lucas, of Fenny Stratford, valued at £3. It appeared from the evidence of the witnesses that the prisoner Daniells was seen at two o’clock on Sunday morning, the 24th inst., in Bow Brickhill village with some harness on his head, and it having come to the knowledge of the police that Mr. Lucas had lost some, enquiries were made which led to the application for a warrant to search the premises of the prisoner Yates, who keeps the Plough public house at Bow Brickhill, and near whose house the other prisoner was seen at the time referred to. The result of the search was, that the principal part of Mr. Lucas’s harness was found concealed on Yates’s premises, together with other articles, the loss of which had been communicated to the police by other persons. After a long examination, the prisoner Daniells was discharged and Yates was committed for trial on three separate charges – namely, stealing the harness of Mr. Lucas, stealing a saddle the property of Mr. Alfred Harris, of Fenny Stratford, and stealing part of set of harness, the property of Mr. J. Goodman, of Fenny Stratford. Yates was liberated on bail for his appearance at the Quarter Sessions, himself and two sureties in £50 in each case.”

Yates was fortunate that the Bucks Midsummer Sessions were only a few days away.  A report was duly filed by the Bucks Herald again on 7th July.  It is quite long, but as it gives a description of the Plough, as well as verbatim accounts of the trial exchanges, I think it’s quite interesting:

“STEALING HARNESS AT FENNY STRATFORD. William Yates, 38, licensed victualler, dealer, and butcher, was charged with having, on the 24th June at Fenny Stratford, stolen one set of gig harness’ the property of William Ellis; also with having on the 14th June, Fenny Stratford, stolen one riding saddle, one pair of girths, and one crupper; also with having on the 27th May, at Fenny Stratford, stolen one hack band and one pair of tugs, part of a set of gig harness, the property of John Goodman. Mr. Payne prosecuted; Mr. Mills defended.
Mr. Isaac Lucas said – l am farmer at Fenny Stratford. On the 23rd June I had a set of harness safe in my gig-house about eight o’clock. I missed it shortly afterwards, and on the 25th ult., it was shewn to me by Superintendent Bragg.
Cross-examined The prisoner keeps a public house about three miles from my house, but he has never been at my house on any previous occasion. I had had the harness nearly two years. I had no particular mark except on the saddle – there was piece of brass broken off. I can swear to the reins.
Mr. Mills – Did you sell these tugs to your father?
Witness – No.
Mr. Mills – Did your brother buy them of your father?
Witness – No.
Mr. Mills – Did your father never have them?
Witness – No.
Mr. Payne – Did your grandmother ever have them? (Laughter.)
Inspector Bragg deposed – On Monday, the 28th, I searched the prisoner’s house, the Plough, at Bow Brickhill, and found the reins produced in the pantry, which the prosecutor recognised without hesitation. In a lumber-room upstairs – which has a door opening outside without communicating with the house – l found a gig-saddle, and afterwards, in a field, the collar and trace, besides other things which are the subjects of other charges. I took the prisoner into custody, and told him the charge, but he made no reply.
Re-examined – He was at home and made no objection to the search. He did not say anything at first, but about an hour afterwards he said he did not know the things were in the loft. The staircase leading to the loft goes into the back yard. There is a broken window to the loft, perhaps seven or eight feet from the ground. There is also a window about three feet from the ground, which leads into the lower room. I know a man named Daniels. I charged him with committing this theft, and the magistrates dismissed the charge. I took him into custody the same night. There was number of other things found in the loft.
Mr. Payne – Have you discovered that these things belonged to other parties?
Mr. Mills objected, but the witness answered the question in the affirmative.
Re-examination continued – A small person might get in at the lower window, but it is hardly possible.
Inspector Sheppard said he went with the last witness into the lumber-room and examined the broken window spoken of. No one could have reached that window without a ladder. The frame of the saddle was concealed behind a partition where it was dark. A man named Daniels was taken before the magistrates, but discharged.
Cross-examined – Only the saddle belonging to Mr. Lucas was found in the loft. The bridle, collar, and traces were not found on the prisoner’s premises.
Mr. Mills having addressed the jury on the point of identity, contended that the reins had not been satisfactorily sworn to.
Mr. Morris, farmer at Bow Brickhill, who had known the prisoner for thirty years, gave him a character for honesty.
Mr. Payne – Do you not know that the Grand Jury have found two other bills against him?
Witness – I came to speak to his character up to this time, and I will give it again.
Mr. Mills – l shall be very glad if the Court will enquire if there is any attorney conducting this prosecution.
Mr. Payne – l shall treat that remark with the contempt it deserves – l shall not lower myself by replying.
Mr. Mills – You lower yourself by conducting cases without authority.
Mr. Hare, farmer, and Mr. Joshua Chappin, who had been bailiff in the neighbourhood for eighteen years, also gave the prisoner good character.
Mr. Matthew, publican and farmer, Mr. Hammond, farmer, and Mr. Joseph Wilson also stated that they gave the prisoner character for honesty, notwithstanding the other indictments.
The Rev. Mr. Jackson, incumbent of Bow Brickhill, gave the prisoner a character from twenty years’ knowledge, and said he had come to the Court on purpose to give evidence, and had done all he could to protect him from the present prosecution.
Mr. Payne – l believe you have acted as a sort of junior to learned friend.
In answer to a juror, this witness said he believed the prisoner had lodgers.
Mr. Payne, who claimed his right to reply, commented on the fact that a clergyman and seven or eight other witnesses should come to give a man character for integrity, knowing that bills had been found by a grand jury, implicating him in other acts of dishonesty.
The jury, after some hesitation, “Acquitted” the prisoner.
He was then charged on another indictment with stealing a back band and pair of tugs, the property of Mr. John Goodman, of Fenny Stratford. Mr. Payne prosecuted; Mr. Stevenson defended the prisoner.
Mr. John Goodman said – l am a baker at Fenny Stratford. On the 26th of May I had the articles named safe in an outhouse. On the following day I missed them, and they were shewn to me on the 20th of June by Super-intendant Braggs. I know them by some nails driven through the tugs instead of stitches. I know the bands by their fitting the tugs, and by some of the stitches being wanting.
Cross-examined – l never heard of nails being used in that way before. I do not know much of the prisoner’s character, and never heard anything particular about him that I could bring forward. I have lost as much as £100 worth of goods within the last fourteen years.
Inspector Bragg proved going to the prisoner’s house on the same occasion as before, and finding the articles in the pantry hanging up.
Mr. Stevenson objected, and the question was put in another form.
Mr. Payne – l am obliged to be very guarded.
Mr. Stevenson – l wish you had been.
Mr. Payne – No, I have been black-“guarded.”
Mr. Stevenson – That is language you have no right to use.
Cross-examined – The only way to the pantry is through the kitchen. There is window to the pantry, but should think almost impossible for anyone to get in there. There was another man in custody, named Daniels, but he had nothing to do with this case.
The Jury found the prisoner “Guilty,” and Mr. Payne stated that there was another indictment respecting some harness, and other property had been traced to the prisoner, making it clear that the house had been receptacle for stolen goods.
The Chairman, in passing sentence, said it was possible for man to go on for a long time trading on good character, such as the prisoner had received, so as to become a public nuisance. The sentence of the Court was, that he be imprisoned for six months, with hard labour.
This being the last case, the Chairman thanked the jury and discharged them.
[ln reference to the preceding case we may say that a little display of legal fencing, interspersed with good humoured remarks, frequently tends to enliven the dull monotony of the proceedings at our Quarter Sessions, and when conducted in a gentlemanlike manner is unobjectionable; but when the members of the long robe descend to the use of language that would be a reflection on a Billingsgate fish-fag, we think it high time for the Court to interfere and put a stop to that which tends to lessen the dignity of the Bench. Every excuse is to be made for the exuberance of feeling which gains the ascendancy of better sense on the arrival of “the bar” in Aylesbury from smoke dried London, where the license of language is from some cause or other – we won’t say what – curtailed; but we protest against the unseemly remarks of Mr. Payne and Mr. Stevenson, which should not have been permitted by the Court, and which we have no hesitation in saying would not have been indulged in before a judge of assize. We do trust that if certain members of the legal profession don’t know how to conduct themselves as gentlemen that the Chairman of our Quarter Sessions will in future remind them of the respect that is due to the Court. – Ed. B. H.] “

It is not often a newspaper criticised a court or solicitors at that time, the Editor must have been extremely angry! Maybe Yates’ family kept the inn going for a while in his absence, but by 1863, the inn had been taken by someone else. The Plough was for sale again in November 1863, and advance notice of the auction appeared in an October Croydon’s Weekly Standard.  There was to be a sale of property by Dudley & Son, comprising of property amongst which were the Maltsers’ Arms and Denbigh Hall inns and also: “An old-established Public House Known as “THE PLOUGH” with a BUTCHERS SHOP, Situate in the centre of the village of Bow Brickhill.”  More detail followed on 14th November, before the sale: “Lot 4. A brick-built and thatched PUBLIC HOUSE known as “THE PLOUGH” situate in the centre of Bow Brickhill, containing parlour, bar, taproom, kitchen, cellar, and three bedrooms, a small yard, good slated stable, and a convenient brick-built and slated butcher’s shop, in the occupation of William Howes.  Freehold.”

Perhaps it did not sell at the first asking; inns often didn’t, if the reserve price was too high.  However, we know it did sell in 1864, as the conveyance is at CBS, and it shows the man who had leant the money to the others bought it at a cheap rate:

  • 27th January 1864 – Conveyance between (1) Jonathan Adams of Fenny Stratford, innkeeper and Alfred Harris of Fenny Stratford, corn dealer; (2) John Maffey of Fenny Stratford, brewer; (3) Sarah Maffey of Bletchley, widow; (4) George Fisher of Ampthill, Bedfordshire, gentleman; (5) William Randall of Husborne Crawley, Bedfordshire, butcher. (1-4) convey to (5), who only pays a nominal sum, as he is owed £200 [see D-X 1685/17] The Plough Inn, with small cottage at the back and adjoining yard with stable and barn, in Bow Brickhill (D-X 1685/24)

…yet once he had it under his complete control, Randall quickly sold it again, probably to get his money back on his original loans:

  • 9th April 1864 – Conveyance between (1) William Randall of Husborne Crawley of Bedfordshire, butcher; and (2) John Loke of Leighton Buzzard, innholder and maltster. For Plough Inn, with small cottage at the back and adjoining yard with stable and barn, in Bow Brickhill in consideration of £190. (D-X 1685/25)

[There is a report in the Bucks Standard of 2nd February 1867 that: “David Munday, of Bow Brickhill, licensed victualler, was convicted for allowing gaming in his house on the 12th January. Fine and costs £1 14s.”, but David Munday was the licensee of the Wheatsheaf at that time.  I think someone got their pubs muddled up, and the item was picked up and reprinted by several other papers.]

The Plough just to the left. A busy traffic day in 1906!

Throughout all these changes in ownership, the Plough remained with Howes in charge day-to-day. The Bow Brickhill church registers have entries for John Howes, publican, and wife Elizabeth, later Ann, baptising children from 1867-1882:

October 6th 1867 – Charles Howes, of John and Elizabeth, publican
July 11th 1869 – William Howes, of John and Ann, publican
November 26th 1871 – Sarah Howes, of John and Ann, publican
May 4th 1879 – Harry Howes, of John and Ann, publican
August 6th (?) 1882 – John Henman Howes, of John and Ann, publican

The Leighton Buzzard Observer of 15th November 1879 reported a Coroner’s Inquest being held at the Plough, on the body of Charles White, who had fallen from a rick he was thatching on Water Eaton Common. Although he broke some ribs, he seemed to be OK, but died a few days later at home. An Accidental Death was recorded. Another, a few years later in November 1885, was held on 75-year-old Elizabeth Gilks.  She had recently applied for parish relief, but it was refused, and she declined to enter the Workhouse at Woburn.  Her Grandson saw her walk off into the woods one day in October, but presumed she was going to visit a friend. Her body was not found for almost a month. The Jury considered her grandson had been disgracefully negligent, although not criminal, and asked the Coroner to censure him, as he seemed to manifest the greatest indifference to her fate. (Leighton Buzzard Observer) A month later, there was another reported in the Bucks Advertiser, on an illegitimate male child of Harriet Munday, who had died whist being carried from Fenny to Bow Brickhill by his mother.

The Plough’s owner, John Loke died in 1877.  He had been the proprietor of the Ewe and Lamb Inn, Canal Street, Leighton Buzzard for many years.  His son, also a John, inherited his estate, including the Plough.

There was some drama in the village in November 1877, when George Munday courted John and Ann Howes’ daughter Lizzie. George was only 17 and Lizzie 18 when they went up to All Saints Church to have their Banns read for a wedding.  George’s father David attended and stood up to object on the grounds that his son was not yet of age, so the rector quickly abandoned plans for a wedding. However, young George and Lizzie eloped and went to Bedford where they found a compliant vicar and willing witnesses!  They returned to the village as man and wife and lived happily ever after.

Lizzie (nee Howes) and George William Munday went on to have six children.

Strangely, the 1881 census entry for the Howes makes no mention of any public house business.  Howes is just listed as a bricklayer. His wife Ann (nee Hammond) and all their children were born in Bow Brickhill:

John Howes, 50 , Bricklayer, born Duncote, Northants
Ann Howes, wife, 41
George Howes, son, 17, Bricklayer
Charles Howes, son, 14 , Agricultural Labourer
Mary Ann Howes, daughter, 11, Scholar
Sarah Howes, daughter , 10, Scholar
Emma Howes, daughter, 8, Scholar
Jane Howes, daughter, 6, Scholar
Harry Howes, son, 3, Scholar

Ten years after inheriting it, John Loke jnr. sold the Plough in 1887, and it left private hands for the first time and went into the world of large breweries:

  • 1887 – Abstract of Title of John Loke, junior [son of John Loke] to the Plough Inn, Bow Brickhill. Reciting deeds 1864-1878. (D-X 1685/26)
  • 13th December 1887 – Conveyance between (1) John Loke of Leighton Buzzard, innkeeper and maltster; and (2) P. Phipps and Company (Northampton & Towcester Breweries) Ltd. For the Plough Inn with adjoining land where a small cottage formerly stood, and adjoining yard with stable and barn, in Bow Brickhill [includes plan] in consideration of £300. (D-X 1685/27)

Phipps had started as a brewery in 1801 in Towcester, but moved to Northampton to expand in 1817. Howes came from just north of Towcester.

Howes was taken to court in July 1889. It seems a neighbour had informed the police of illicit Sunday liquor sales at the Plough, and the local policeman was sent to keep watch…

“John Howes, landlord of the Plough Inn, Bow Brickhill, was charged with keeping his house open for the sale of intoxicating liquors, contrary to the Act, on Sunday, the 16th of June.
Police-constable Lorton said, from information he had received he watched the defendant’s premise on the day in question, and about half-past one o’clock he saw two men come up from the direction of Wavendon. They stood in front of the house for about five minutes and then went round the corner to the back door. At the side of this door is a window, and also a cellar under the window. He saw a pint mug handed to the men out of the window, and also saw a man named Jackson drink out of the mug. When he spoke to the men, they said they had some beer which had been paid for the previous evening. He afterwards saw Mrs. Howes and her daughter in the house, and they repeated the story about the beer having been paid for the previous evening, adding that the beer had been paid for by Mr. Norman. The back door was open.
Caroline Norman deposed that she saw two men go up to defendant’s house, and also saw a pint mug handed through the window at the back of the house and one of the men drink out of the mug.
Cross-examined: She had had a few words with the defendant. She asked the policeman to come to her house for a visit, but it had nothing to do with Howes. Questioned again, she said the constable was there for the purpose of catching Howes, and was not there on a visit.
John Howes said he had lived at the Plough Inn for 29 years and had not had any complaint against his house. He remembered that on the evening of the 15th of June he served all the beer out, leaving none in tap that night. About twenty minutes or a quarter to one o’clock on Sunday he tapped a barrel. On that day Police-constable Lorton told him he had caught two men on his premises drinking out of a pint mug.
Ann Howes, wife of defendant, said she remembered two mm, Jackson and Wildman, coming to her house on the 16th of June, and asking if Norman had taken out three pints of beer the previous night. She replied that he had not. It was about ten when they came. Jackson said ” I suppose we cannot have it this morning,” and she told than they could not and therefore did not draw any. She gave Jackson a drink of some stout which she was having for luncheon. She would swear she had no beer in tap, nor did she take any money from the men. Police-constable Lorton accused her of having drawn beer for the men. She asked him if he would go into the bar and see if there was any beer in tap, but he would not go. The Magistrates thought the police were justified in taking up the case, but did not consider the evidence sufficient to warrant conviction, and therefore they dismissed it, but cautioned defendant as to his future conduct.
William Wildman and George Jackson were then charged with being on licensed premises, the Plough Inn, Bow Brickhill, on the 16th of June, but the case was withdrawn.” (Croydon’s Weekly Standard)

Seeing as the witnesses were so contradictory, I’m very surprised they got off! If Howes had indeed lived at the Plough for 29 years, then he must have taken over directly from Yates in 1860.

At the next census of 1891, the Plough is listed by name, although John’s birthplace had altered slightly:

Plough Inn
John Howes, 62, Bricklayer, born Greens Norton, Northants
Ann Howes, wife, 50
Jane Howes, daughter, 16
John Howes, son, 9

The Northampton Chronicle of 14th December 1891 reported that William Cook, of Little Brickhill, was summonsed for being drunk at the Plough at Bow Brickhill on the 11th of that month. He was fined 5s. and 13s. 6d. costs or seven days. In the autumn of 1898, John Howes died and his widow Ann took on the Plough license. In August 1900, she had some trouble removing a drunken lady from the Plough. “Caroline Gee, Bow Brickhill, was charged by Ann Howes with having been drunk and refusing to quit the licensed premises of the Plough at Bow Brickhill on Aug 25th. Mr. J. D. Douglas, Northampton, appeared for the defence. The Bench dismissed the case.” (Northants Mercury) It was very unusual for a lady to be so charged and equally unusual for the publican to do the charging, as if the defendant was found guilty, the publican would be open to charges of allowing drunkenness on their premises. Gee was the wife of the ex-landlord of the Wheatsheaf, who served there for most of the 1880’s before taking a grocers shop in Bow Brickhill instead.  An inch below that article is another for Caroline Gee. She applied for, and obtained, a separation order from her husband, on grounds of “cruelty and misconduct”.  She was awarded 2s. 6d. a week, and custody of her daughter.

John Howes died in the summer of 1898, aged 73, and the Plough was taken by his widow, Ann, with help from their children.

In better news for the Plough, at the end of the year, it was granted an hour’s extension on the occasion of a Conservative supper, which was duly reported by the Buckingham Advertiser, 3rd November 1900: “Conservative Supper. On Tuesday evening a supper took place at The Plough, Bow Brickhill, in celebration of the Conservative victory in North Bucks. This is perhaps the first time Bow Brickhill has ever been the scene of such a function, and the attendance was very large. Over sixty were present, including a strong contingent from Fenny Stratford. The resources of The Plough were severely taxed, but Mrs. Howes, the landlady, and her family, succeeded in fully satisfying everybody. After supper a smoking concert was held until eleven o’clock, which is an hour later than Bow Brickhill usually stops up. Mr. Harley Gates had charge of most of the organising of the affair, which was carried through most successfully, forming an unique event in the history of this small village.”

The 1901 census listed the Plough by name, and showed Ann still in charge, with two of her children to help her.

Plough Inn
Ann Howes, widow, 59, Publican
Emma Howes, daughter, 27, Barmaid
John Howes, son, 19, Bricklayer

Another drunk was brought up and fined in July 1901. “James Goode, Bow Brickhill, was fined 10s. and costs 11s. 6d. or fourteen days for being drunk and refusing to quit the Plough Inn on June 19th.” (Leighton Buzzard Observer) Apart from that, the next ten years were fairly quiet, apart from Ann trying to rent out some local accommodation in the Beds Times in March 1909: “A NICE COTTAGE to Let, unfurnished, at Bow Brickhill, close to the woods, suit couple, moderate rent. Apply Mrs. Howes, Plough Inn, Bow Brickhill near Bletchley.”

By the time of the 1911 census, two of her daughters had brought their own families to live at the Plough, and had some grandchildren living there too.

Plough Inn
Ann Howes, 70, widow, Inn Keeper Phipps [but “Phipps” crossed through]
Mrs. S. Hill, daughter, 40, Laundress (was Miss Sarah Howes)
Mrs. E. Hartupp, daughter, 38, Assisting at the Inn (was Miss Emma Howes)
Mr. A. Hartupp, Son in law, 26, Moulder (Iron), Fenny Stratford
Violet Hill, grand-daughter 2, Stony Stratford
Ernest Hill, grand-son, 3, Stony Stratford

The same view up Bow Brickhill hill again. I have never seen a view of the front of the Plough.

Ann Howes died in the autumn of 1911, aged 71, (notable as having appeared in all eight censuses.) Despite the Howes having run the Plough for 51 years, it seems her passing was overlooked in the local newspapers of the day, apart from the changeover in licence in a couple of the Bucks newspapers: “The Plough, Bow Brickhill was granted from the Exors. of the late Mrs Howes.” to a Mr. Russell in October. (although the Buckingham Express said it was Mr. Sanders?) A John Frederick Russell had run the Wheatsheaf nearby from c.1900-1909, I don’t know if it was the same Russell. Russell must have been the correct name as “Mr. Russell from the Plough” bought three cottages in Bow Brickhill for £155 in May 1912.

There are no stories about the pub in this period, but a severe storm in July 1915 was described as the worst in the last 20 years, since the time that bushels of potatoes were washed away from the Plough! (Bucks Advertiser)

Russell only stayed five years, then the Bucks Advertiser of 7th October 1916 stated the Plough had transferred from Mr. Russell to Mr. Chamberlain. It was now deep into the First World War, and there were likely to be few customers with any spare money for beer. Taking over at the Plough after running the local shop, Thomas and Sarah Chamberlain appear in the Register of Electors at the Plough from 1918 to 1924, when sadly Thomas Chamberlain committed suicide in the spring, aged 65. Sarah Chamberlain appears alone in the Registers until 1928.

There was a fire at the Plough in May 1927, though thankfully put out quickly by neighbours. The Bucks Standard: “BOW BRICKHILL PUBLIC HOUSE FIRE. During the absence of the tenants of the Plough Inn, Box Brickhill, on Wednesday, May 25th, there was an outbreak of fire which but of the prompt and very willing help of the villagers, might have been attended with much more disastrous consequences. The fire is attributed to an oil stove which was left burning by the licensee of the house, Mrs. Chamberlain, and her brother, Mr. J. T. Judd, when they left the premises for a short time. Neighbours saw smoke coming from a small outhouse and thought at fist that the chimney was on fire. When it was learned that the household was absent, an alarm was given at once. In the meantime Mr. Felce of Bletchley, who chance to be near, burst open the door of the scullery and found it blazing furiously. Plenty of willing helpers were soon fighting the flames, and a human chain was formed by which buckets of water were poured on the fire. By persistent effort the fire was prevented from spreading to the remainder of the house, but the scullery was completely gutted.  The Fenny Stratford Fire Brigade received a call to attend but the fire was got under control so completely that the call was cancelled. Mrs Chamberlain says it is due to the splendid work of her village friends that the inn was not completely destroyed.”

Sarah Chamberlain died in January 1929, and was replaced by John & Sarah Baron, who appeared in the Registers for 1929-1932, then the online series stops. There was exciting news that the Plough joined the North Bucks Dart League as newcomers in September 1931. When John Foulkes and Alice Frogley wed in 1932 in Bow Brickhill, he was described as a bricklayer, but they took the Plough over in 1933.

An extra census taken in 1939, which heralded the Second World War. This was to collect information for ID cards. At the Plough are listed:

John Foulkes, 56, Bricklayer
Alice E. A. Foulkes, 38, Unpaid domestic duties

The Plough Darts team had some success, coming top of their league in 1940, and going to the finals at the Yeomanry Hall, Bletchley in April.  They played against the other regional champions, the Three Cups, Buckingham; Ye Old Swan, Far Bletchley and the New Inn, Bletchley, but lost in the semi-finals. The Plough team consisted of F. Odell, J. Carter, J. Smith, W. Parker, F. West, C. South and D. Waite.

In December 1941, a large court case took place. A night-watchman from Woburn Sands, who was employed at the Tetley tea factory in Bletchley, helped himself to over 100lbs. of the national British beverage which was by then rationed. He made himself some money by selling it around the district.  The authorities caught up with him and he swiftly confessed the names of those who had bought it from him.  This included the landlords of both the Wheatsheaf and Plough pubs in Bow Brickhill. The thief got three months, but the authorities also decided to charge the 14 people who had bought tea from him. The two Bow Brickhill landlords were fined a total of £13 12s. each.

The last deed at CBS is a tax form, which at least confirms the Plough was still open in 1950.

  • 14th July 1950 – Certificate of land tax redemption for the Plough Inn, Bow Brickhill. (D-X 1685/28)

There is very sparse coverage of this area on the online newspapers for after the War, and hardly any mentions of the Plough can be found. Property auctions were still happening in pubs as late as this. The Beds Times in November 1951 carried an advert for a sale at the Swan, Woburn Sands, for properties in Bow Brickhill, including three cottages described as “opposite the Plough, Bow Brickhill”.  BARS holds a number of Liquor Licence Traders Survey Forms, compiled by the Bletchley Office of Customs & Excise, concerning premises of persons licensed to sell beer, wines and spirits.  There is one for the Plough from 1953. (Z1105/1)

I am indebted to Betty Winkfield for her memories of being brought up in the Plough, as the daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Foulkes:

“My maternal grandfather Walter Frogley retired as a police officer with Hertfordshire police and moved to Shenley to become landlord of the Plough public house there. I’m not sure how long he stayed but eventually he and the family moved to Bow Brickhill to take the licence of the Plough.
It was here that my Mum, Nell Frogley, met my Dad, Jack Foulkes, they were married in 1933 and at that point the licence was transferred to them. The inside of the house comprised of four bedrooms and downstairs a living room and kitchen for their use at the back. The two downstairs front rooms were for public use a bar and what was then called a smoke room. The beer was drawn up through pumps from the cellar below.  The house at that time had no bathroom although it had electric but no means of heating water. The beer was delivered by dray and rolled down through a hatch to the cellar it was later delivered by truck. I was born there in 1935 in one of the bedrooms. My earliest memories are standing in the living room looking through the window into the bar, where all the customers used to wave to me. It was as I remember a happy and pretty uneventful time until 1939 and the outbreak of the Second World War. It didn’t have any major impact on the village apart from rationing and blackouts. Eventually the army arrived and I believe a fair amount of ammunition which was tucked away in the woods the army camp however was set up in what was then known as the Camp field and the dining and mess room was in the village hall, situated next door to the plough. Between the hall and the pub, they built a cookhouse, so the odd tasty morsel found its way through a window of our cellar. As you can imagine these were much appreciated and earned the cook a pint or two. The village maidens loved having the army on their doorstep, and several romances developed. I, of course was too young and innocent at that time. I do remember well the incident of the purloined tea, in which both my Dad the landlord of the Wheatsheaf and several other worthies were involved. It was the talk of the village for weeks, but luckily it didn’t harm the pub trade, much to Dads relief.
Big celebrations were held at the end of hostilities street parties for us kids and dancing for the adults. Eventually the soldiers were demobbed and the camp broken up village hall restored to its usual self and all quiet on the western front Life went on very much in the village as before the war. As you already mentioned we had a pretty successful darts team. I always wanted to join I was a fairly good player then, but of course no girls were allowed. I met my future husband and was married from the Plough in 1954, my parents stayed on until 1957 and when they gave notice to the brewery, it was decided to close it. So ended an era.”

Owners Phipps’ merged with the Northampton Brewery Co. Ltd. in 1957 to became Phipps Northampton Brewery Co. Ltd. They were bought out by Watney Mann Ltd. 1960 with 1,171 houses and the name was changed over to Watney Mann in 1964.

Ted Enever’s book, Changing Faces, Changing Places, mentions the Plough’s first private residents were Mr. & Mrs. Trotman from Burrows Close, in Woburn Sands. Mr. Trotman was a union man and Robert Maxwell, the Labour M.P. for Buckingham, was a visitor to the house.

The ex-Plough public house is still standing and has retained the name “Plough House” as a private residence today.


-1787                William Smallwood
1787-1790         Jane Smallwood (widow of the above)
1790-1810         James Groves (married Jane Smallwood)
1810-                Jane Groves (widow of above); Samuel and Lydia Cook
-1815-1818        John Vennel
-1822-1830-       James Yates
-1841-1858        Penelope Yates (widow of the above)
1858-1860         William Yates (son of the above)
1860-1888         William Howes
1888-1898         John Howes (son of the above)
1898-1911         Ann Howes (widow of the above)
1911-1916         Mr. Russell
1916-1924         Thomas Chamberlain
1924-1929         Sarah Chamberlain (widow of the above)
1929-1932         John Baron
1932-1933         Walter Frogley
1933-1957         John Foulkes (son-in-law of the above)
1957                 Closed

-1791                Thomas Bennett (brewer of Aspley Guise)
1815                 Sold at Auction?
-1819-1826        Daniel Cook
1826-1864         Nicholas Maffey
1864-1864         William Randall
1864-1877         John Loke snr.
1877-1887         John Loke jnr. (son of above)
1887-close?      P. Phipps & Co.

Page last updated May 2020.