The Plough – Mk. I – Cross End, Wavendon

The original Plough Inn at Wavendon actually stood in Cross End. The building is still there, a beautiful thatched building now known as Wavendon Cottage, looking very much as it would have done, more than 250 years ago. To confirm the exact location, the inn is clearly marked on the 1838 Tithe map for Wavendon.

The first Plough, at Cross End, Wavendon. This image was taken in the early 20th century, after it had been a private residence for c.50 years.

The Bucks Alehouse Register starts in 1753 and the Plough at Wavendon is listed in it from the beginning. Although inn sign names are only appear in the Register intermittently, it is possible to trace the landlords through to the close of the Register in 1827. From 1753 to 1760 it was Russell Mathews. He was followed by John Gregory for 1761-1771. In 1772 it was not entered, but when it reappears the next year, it was under William Gregory, probably his son.

Most of the early deeds are at the Centre for Bucks Studies [CBS] at Aylesbury. These are stored under reference D 118/20. On the 15th November 1773, William Gregory and his wife mortgaged the inn to Leonard Seeley, describing the inn as “the Plow”, and on 26th February the next year, they took out another sum from Francis Shouler, for £300, calling the inn “the sign of the Plow, in occupation of William Gregory, the son of William Gregory”.

There is a lease and release for a year, at a rent of £484, taken out on 24th July 1777, then the next day, 25th July, Elizabeth Shouler assigns the mortgage to a partnership of Sheffield, Davis & Pateman, with William Gregory the younger currently in occupation. Therefore, the landlord was no longer in ownership of the inn by this point.

Rear of the old Plough, when a private residence in c.1910.

Francis Sheffield of Swanbourn left his property in his will of 27th February 1779, to his son, William Sheffield of Great Brickhill, and in turn, by his will, all his lands in Wavendon were left to a Bernard Sanders.

Meanwhile, their tenant, William Gregory, was recorded in the Alehouse Register for the years up to 1784, apart from 1775 when the whole of Wavendon seems to have been missed out of the records. In 1785, the landlady was Sarah Shouler, but it skipped the next year, before appearing under Edward Shouler for two years (1787-88). Next was William Lee, who stayed for 33 years, 1789-1822, apart from there being no entry at all for the Plough in 1798.

That happens to be the year of the Buckinghamshire Posse Comitatus, a list of men available for military service, who were not Quakers, clergymen, or already serving in a military unit. In practice, this meant most males between the ages of 15 and 60 were listed, and a William Lee appears listed under Wavendon, as a victualler. The Lee family had a hand in several pubs locally, including the Fir Tree in modern Woburn Sands and the Plough at Simpson.

While Lee was there, the Sanders family sold it to Baronet Philip Duncombe Pauncefort Duncombe, of Great Brickhill, describing the inn as “the sign of the Plough in occupation of William Gregory, now William Lee”, on 8th February 1821, and in 1825 Duncombe leased it for a year to Hugh Henry Hoare, 3rd Baronet, partner in Hoare’s Bank, and the Wavendon lord of the manor.

It was during Lee’s tenancy that the Plough appeared in the press for the first time. An auction was held at “Mr Lea’s, the Sign of the Plough, in Wavendon, in the County of Bucks.” in July 1804, which was advertised in the Northampton Mercury. A Grocer and Draper’s shop belonging to Mr Showler was sold, in the centre of Wavendon.

In 1823, the Hillyer family took over the inn, with a George appearing as landlord for 1823-26, then a John for 1827, possibly an error as ‘George’ seems to have been the name used everywhere else. The Register then ceases and we must look at other sources for information.

Back in the deeds, on 23rd December 1825, there was a large transfer of land by Indenture from Philip Duncombe Pauncefort Duncombe to Henry Hugh Hoare of Wavendon. It included “all that messuage or tenement situate standing and being in the parish of Wavendon otherwise Wandon in the said county of Buckinghamshire and commonly called or known by the name or sign of the Plough aforesaid in the tenure possession or occupation of William Gregory, later William Lee and now of or late George Hillyer.” Already leasing the inn, Hoare now took ownership of it.

A small advert appears in the Northampton Mercury of 29th August 1829, announcing that a partnership between George Hillyer and John Young of Wavendon, with John Warr of Aspley Guise, had been dissolved. Young was leaving the business, but Hillyer and Warr would carry on alone. They were “sheep jobbers and dealers in cattle”. In 1831, another listing was compiled of all men between 18 and 45 years of age who were eligible for the Bucks Militia. A George Hilyer is included for Wavendon, giving his occupation as victualler, the only man in such trade under Wavendon, with his age as 34, and that he had 3 children.

There were two auctions in 1835, advertised in the 14th March and 25th April Northampton Mercury. The first was for 166 ash & elm timber trees, and the second for 40 oak trees, both sales on a farm in the parish of Walton, but belonging to Mr. G. Hillyer of the Plough, Wavendon. Bidders were invited to meet at the inn and walk to the sale ground. He remained in charge until at least the first census to record personal details of householders in 1841. Listed under “Wavendon, Cross End” is the household comprising of:

George Hillyer, 45, Publican, born in Bucks
Elizabeth Hillyer, 50, not born in Bucks
Emily Hillyer, 17, born in Bucks
Ann Hillyer, 15, born in Bucks
George Hillyer, 11, born in Bucks
Fanny Hillyer, 6, born in Bucks
Richard Tebby, 40, Male Servant, not born in Bucks
George Goodall, 20, Male Servant, born in Bucks

The wedding of Harry Jackman & Edie Odell, outside Wavendon Cottage, as the first Plough was later known. (Revd. Philpotts centre rear in straw boater.)

The Kellys Trade Directory of 1847 lists the other three inns at Wavendon by name, but the Plough is not mentioned. By the time of the next census in 1851, there are no publicans, innkeepers or licenced victuallers listed under Cross End at all, and it appears the Plough had ceased to trade by that point. However, I found George Hillyer not far away. He was by then an inmate at the Union Workhouse in Newport Pagnell, giving his age as 56, and occupation as “Master in trade – butcher”. A sad end for him after running the inn for two decades. There are no further specific references to any inns located at Cross End. A small note in the Northants Mercury of 30th November 1861 reports that widow Mrs. George Hillyer had died aged 74.

Licensees of the Plough, Cross End
1753-1760 Russell Mathews
1761-1771 John Gregory
1773-1784 William Gregory
1785 Sarah Shouler
1787-1788 Edward Shouler
1789-1822 William Lee
1823-1826 George Hillyer
1827 John Hillyer [George?]
1835-1841 George Hillyer



The Plough – MK. II – Church End, Wavendon
As well as three named pubs in Wavendon in the 1847 Kellys, there is an entry for an Edward Bennett, as a baker and beer retailer. His name appears in the earliest deeds for the new Plough site.

A collection of old deeds stored at the CBS [D 254/5/2] cover the period 1768-1880 for the site of the newer Plough in Church End, Wavendon, which most people will remember. The 38 separate deeds and contracts detail the complicated history of the site. The King family, the local maltsters, were involved, as was the name Bennett, but also John Gregory and Thomas Hillyer, names related to the old Plough, although no clear connection between the sites can be made.

In the early 1850’s, the name Claridge appears in connection to the site, tying in with the 1851 census for Wavendon, Church End, as there is an entry for George Claridge as a Baker. Charles Claridge appears as a baker and beer retailer in an 1853 trade directory, and then in the 1854 Kellys Post Office Directory as running an inn called the Plough, and still being a baker too. Perhaps he chose the name Plough for his inn as one most locals would have remembered from the inn at Cross End.

The Bucks Herald of 25th August 1860 reported on the local annual licencing committee: “General Annual Licensing Meeting. The usual licences were signed for the public houses in the Division, and one new licence was granted to Mr. Charles Claridge, at Wavendon.” On the 1st September, the Bucks Chronicle covered it too, adding that the beerhouse was called the Plough.

I believe that the Cross End Plough had closed sometime between 1841 and 1853. Claridge had then opened his premises at Church End as an inn based in an old building he was already using as a bakehouse, and gave it the name Plough. Realising he was on to a good thing, he had the building rebuilt in 1860, and the Licencing Committee gave a new licence to that building. A very similar circumstance occurred at the Fir Tree in Woburn Sands, where, after the old building was rebuilt in 1889, the Justice’s complained about the licence being applied for as a ‘Renewal’ when it should have been a ‘New Licence’ application, as it was now a different structure.

The next year, 1861, the census occurred again and “innkeeper” had now been added to Claridge’s occupation:

Charles Claridge, 34, Baker and Innkeeper, born Leighton Buzzard
Elizabeth Claridge, 32, born Wavendon
Caroline Claridge, 9, scholar, born Wavendon
Ann Claridge, 7, scholar, born Wavendon
Sarah Claridge, 1, born Wavendon
Maria Spreckley, 26, Sister in law, born Wavendon
Barn – William Goodall, 60, widower, Agricultural Labourer, born Wavendon

(You don’t see many entries under “Barn” on the census…)

Perhaps a prominent business such as Claridge would have already been a member of the local Oddfellows Society, but even if he wasn’t, his premises became their base and the location for their annual dinner. Since 1810, and in other guises before, the Oddfellows have been a fraternity society, independent of religious or political views. They promote philanthropy and charity by collecting small fees from members to spend on those less fortunate. It was established in Wavendon in 1856 under the name of the “Sir Hugh Hoare Lodge”.

Croydon’s Weekly Standard, 1st June 1861: “WAVENDON. Fellowship. – The Sir Hugh Hoare Lodge of Odd-Fellows held their annual festival on Wednesday, May 22nd, at the Plough Inn, where a most excellent dinner was provided by Host Clayridge; about 30 sat down and were presided over by Mr. Elkinton, of Buckingham. The health of the Queen and the usual loyal toasts were drank with great delight. The excellent brass band from North Crawley was in attendance during the day and played many favourite and popular airs in good style. The evening dancing was carried on till a late hour.”

By the time of the same event in 1867, the membership had swelled to 50 members, who met at the Plough, where… “dinner was got up in the usual liberal manner by the host”, said the Bicester Herald on June 28th. Mrs Claridge was unexpectedly taken ill, so the whole party decamped to a nearby orchard for various amusements. Carts were provided by a member, so the local district could be toured, and a banner exhibited which had been made by some female friends, with the Oddfellows emblem on. It was also explained that the name of the Lodge had now been changed to “The Henry Hugh Arthur Hoare Lodge”, to honour the name of the infant son of the local squire.

Like its predecessor, the new Plough was also an auction venue. The Leighton Buzzard Observer of 3rd September 1867 carried an advert for two lots of cottages in the centre of Wavendon, with sitting tenants, to be sold.

Claridge was still there for the 1871 Census, under the “Plough Inn”:

Charles Claridge, 43, Publican, Maltster & Baker, born Leighton Buzzard
Elizabeth Claridge, 41, wife, born Brayfich, Northants
Caroline Claridge, 19, Maltsters daughter
Elizabeth Claridge, 17
Samuel Claridge, 15
Ann Claridge, 13
Sarah Claridge, 11
Mary Claridge, 9
Eliza Claridge, 7
Charles Claridge, 5

Note that his wife’s birthplace seems to have altered since the last census. All the Claridge children had been born in Wavendon.

As well as the Oddfellows events, Claridge had obtained the business of the Wavendon Cricket team, presumably by the fact they were playing on his field! In July 1872, they entertained a team from Great Brickhill, and an S. (Samuel?) Claridge was also in the team. After the game, a traditional cricket tea was served at the Plough, for players and friends. [Bicester Herald, 26th July 1872]

Claridge, along with many other inns, obtained an Occasional licence to stay open until midnight on Whit-Monday for an annual Club Feast, for the Oddfellows I presume. [Bucks Herald, 31st May 1873] Another regular event that the Plough catered for was the twice-yearly Tithe Dinner, when local tenants paid a proportion of their takings to the Church. From 1877, Rev. Philips provided a free dinner for the occasion at the Plough, and turned it into a social event. [Bucks Advertiser, 10th February 1877]

Press reports in 1878 start to refer to the inn as the Plough Tavern. At the 1879 Tithe audit, the Rector returned 10% of what was due to him as the season had been so bad for farmers. This equated to £30, so the local tithes must have been in excess of £600 a year.

I cannot find a note of Claridge leaving the inn, but at the new year Oddfellows meeting that was reported in the 31st January 1880 Croydon’s Weekly Standard, they thanked Mr Claridge, as “the late proprietor”, for being their treasurer for the last 24 years. The CBS deeds show that Claridge officially sold the inn to Percy Proctor of Leighton Buzzard on 27th February 1880. The Proctor family owned a brewery in Leighton Buzzard, but had leased it out to the Ashdown brothers, and the next month, Proctor also leased them the inn for 7¾ years. So Levi and Richard Gibson Ashdown took control of the Plough. There is a Declaration by Hugh Proctor that Percy Proctor bought the Plough in 1880 stored at Bedfordshire Archives [BARS]. This says that Percy died on 1st Feb 1884, and the Plough passed to Thomas Proctor, and his sons Hugh & Harold. Later, John Goldsmith Proctor and Jane Proctor also took a share. [BARS Z1118/1/21/50]

There was no indication of who the new landlord was. It isn’t until December the same year that we find it was Walter Harrald, and he had his own ideas of how to drum up trade for the tavern. From Croydon’s Weekly Standard, 11th December 1880:

“PIGEON SHOOTING, AT THE PLOUGH TAVERN, WAVENDON, ON THURSDAY, DEC. 17, 1880. PRIZE, – A FAT PIG, value £5. Ten Members at 10s. each. The company will assemble at Twelve, and after Luncheon proceed to the Field adjoining the Inn. – NOTE.- Five Birds, 21 yards’ rise; 100 yards’ boundary; 1¼ oz. shot; 12-bore barrel. Full particulars may be had of Mr. Walter Harrald, at the Bar of the Tavern.”

At the Tithe Rent Audit dinner, reported in the Leighton Buzzard Observer of 22nd February 1881, Harrald was thanked for putting on “a capital spread”. More details about him appeared in the next census of April 1881. Like Claridge, he too combined beer and baking, but was also sharing the premises with a boot maker and family. The “Plough Inn”, Church End, Wavendon household in the 1881 Census:

Walter Douglas Harrald, 33, Baker, born Bury St Edmunds
Harriet Harrald, 37, Baker’s wife, Holeskiss[?], Berks
John Daw, 37, Bootmaker, born Stone Cross, Sussex
Johnny Daw, 12, born Stone Cross, Sussex
Walter Daw, 8, born Stone Cross, Sussex
Emily Scott, 16, house servant, born Wavendon, Bucks
Frederick Mapley, 16, Baker’s Assistant, born Newport Pagnell
Beatrice Morris, boarder, 21, School Mistress, Denford, Northamptonshire

They oversaw the Oddfellows Feast in June 1881. The Buckingham Express, 18th June 1881:

“WAVENDON ODDFELLOWS FEAST. – On Monday last, the members of the ‘Henry Hugh Arthur Hoare’ Lodge. M.U., held their annual festival at the Plough Inn. Wavendon. Some sixty persons sat down to dinner, amongst them the farmers and landowners of the parish. The Dunstable Brass Band (Fourth Beds. Volunteers), conducted by Mr. G. Franklin attended at an early hour. The repast provided by Mr. Walter Harrald, the host, was one of unusual liberality. There was a round of beef weighing 40 pounds or more, a sirloin of beef of 29 pounds, two legs of pork (home-fed) of 18 pounds each, legs of mutton of the choicest quality, with plum puddings and pastry in extreme abundance. The meet was supplied by Mr. Benford, of Fenny Stratford, and Mr. Wm. Facer, of Wavendon. The pork was from a good fat pig killed by Mr. Bonner of the village. The sick and general fund shows a balance of £416 0s. 3d; the management fund, £47 16s. 9d.; total worth of the lodge is £488 17s. This includes £50, an absolute loan, brought forward from year to year. It would be a gracious act of the trustees if this sum were utterly obliterated from the minds of the members and their friends’, for it only by reflection mars the happiness of many associated with the club, and it must be received as an absolute loss. One member only has been made during the year, five have left by non-payment, and one by clearance. The morning was beautifully fine, but at noon a thunderstorm broke over the district and the usual visit of the members and the band to their liberal patrons was limited to a few only. All went well and happily; there was no breach of the peace. An extra hour, accorded on no previous occasion, was granted to Mr. Harrold, and amid the gratified plaudits of the villagers, the band separated from them with the good old piece of music ‘Auld Lang Syne.’ ”

Sadly, before the census year was out, Harriet Harrald had passed away, and was buried in the local churchyard on 31st December. They had married in London in 1879. I do not know how much longer Walter stayed for, but by the end of the next summer, he had left. The Plough was up for rent in August 1882, according to an advert in the Bucks Herald: “TO BE LET, THE PLOUGH INN, WAVENDON Bucks, together with an excellent BAKING BUSINESS attached, doing 8 Sacks a Week. For Particulars, &c., apply to ASHDOWN BROS., the Brewery, Leighton Buzzard.”

By the time of the February Tithe dinner in 1883, they had found a new landlord. From the Bucks Express, 17th February: “WAVENDON TITHE DINNER. — On Tuesday afternoon, the half-yearly tithe audit was held at the Plough Inn. Mr. Thomas Hall, from the offices of Mr. John Green, Woburn, attended on behalf of the Rev. Henry Burney, rector of Wavendon. Thirteen of the principal farmers and their friends sat down to a first-class dinner, well served up by the host and hostess, Mr. and Mrs. John Gregory. This model village inn has all the facilities for entertaining such local gatherings, hence they always go well. Legs of mutton and ribs of beef formed the more substantial fare. It being Shrove Tuesday a liberal supply of pancakes took the place of plum puddings; there were also mince pies and dainty pastry. On the removal of the cloth the usual loyal toasts wars proposed. Songs and recitations were given; amongst them a pathetic tale by Mr. William Tompkins, of Crab Tree Farm, founded on the story of “Faithless Nelly Gray,” caused some fun. The evening passed away merrily, the village brass band playing outside. There is an old legend that if thirteen sit to dine one will die during the year. But there’s luck in odd numbers, says Rory o’More. Rory’s idea is far the more agreeable.”

The Gregory’s had a son whilst at the inn, as recorded in the Bicester Herald in August 1883.

A lease, signed 15th September 1882 between Percy Proctor and Levi & Richard Gibson Ashdown, includes the Plough described as:
“All that messusage or Public House situate at Wavendon in the county of Buckingham. called or known by the name or sign of “the Plough” with the Brewhouse and Bakehouse adjoining thereto and the yards gardens stables buildings and ground to the said messuage belonging as the same premises are now in the occupation of the said Levi Ashdown and Richard Gibson Ashdown or their undertenant and also all landlords fixtures belonging thereto.” [BARS: Z1118/1/21/43]

The owner of the inn, Percy Proctor passed away in 1884, and the brewery firm of Orchard & Proctor was put up for auction by Mr William Orchard, along with all their estate of inns, at the Corn Exchange in Leighton Buzzard on 6th May 1884. As well as the brewery and extensive buildings in Leighton Buzzard, there was a dairy farm at Quainton and four public houses; the Buckingham Arms at Linslade, the Hare and Hounds at Ledburn, the Bull at Stewkley and the Plough at Wavendon, with bakehouse attached. This was advertised in the Leighton Buzzard Observer in March.

I had thought that Proctor’s brewery and estate of pubs was bought by his sitting tenants, the Ashdown Brothers, as CBS has an auction catalogue, thought to be from 1884 (but possibly later?) of an attempted sale, by Levi & Richard Gibson Ashdown of their brewery and inns, and this included nine public houses as well as houses, offices, shops and cottages. Four of the pubs were in Leighton Buzzard, and one each in Heath & Reach, Linslade, Ledbourne, Stewley & Wavendon. The entry for the Plough runs:

“The Plough,” Wavendon, Bucks. This Fully-licenced PUBLIC-HOUSE is Freehold, Brick-built and Slated, contains Bar, Parlour, Tap-room, Kitchen, Scullery, large Club-room upstairs, five bed-rooms, and a Store-room; also large Cellar and Brewhouse, and an excellent Bakehouse, with Flour Store-house over. There are Two Stables with Lofts over. Harness-room, and Cart Shed, in enclosed Yard; also a large entrance Yard in front of House, with a neat flower and evergreen border, and a large and productive Kitchen Garden in the rear. This property is situate at the Church End, in the populous Village of Wavendon, is bounded by the Properties of Messrs. Nash, Charles Claridge, George Spreckley and Mrs John King and must, from its situation, command a large trade, both as a licenced house and also as a Baker’s shop and Premises.” [CBS: D-WIG/2/4/13A]

However, when the Plough was later sold, the vendor was the Proctor family. So I am not sure of the exact chain of events.

Back at the Plough, in October 1887, John Gregory was called as a court witness to a bar argument that developed into a physical altercation in his premises in September. The Croydon’s Weekly Standard had almost a full column of details, which seems to be a disagreement over nothing very much, other than insulted dignities, which resulted in Joseph Crawley slapping William Crofts. Crawley was eventually fined 2s. 6. with £1. 12s. costs.

A report from the 15th June 1889 Northampton Mercury: “WAVENDON. Oddfellows. Upwards of fifty of the members and friends of the Henry Hugh Arthur Hoare Lodge supped at the Plough Inn on Tuesday night. The Wavendon Band was present, and there was dancing on the lawn. Miss Nettle Butcher as usual amused with her eccentricities. All went off quietly.”

Another use of the premises was made in September that year. The Northampton Mercury again, 28th September: “The Home Rule Van. The Home Rule van took up its position the spacious court yard of the Plough Inn of Wavendon on Wednesday evening, after passing through the hamlets of Moulsoe and Broughton distributing political leaflets. There was a large attendance of the agricultural labourers and inhabitants generally, seeking information and instruction on the great question of the day. MR. WILLIAM FACER was called to the chair, and the meeting was addressed as promised by Mr. J. C. FLYNN, M.P. for Cork, and Mr. G. M. Ball, of the National Liberal Federation. They were enthusiastically received, and listened to with most respectful attention until interrupted by a couple representing the butchering and coaling interest. The language of the former was exceedingly coarse, and at times very obscene. – The usual complimentary thanks to the Chairman and the speakers having been duly proposed and seconded, a popular gathering came a close.”

The 1891 census was taken on 5th April, and at “Church End (The Plough Inn)”, a new family had appeared:

George Lucas, 53, Licensed Victualler, born Luton
Mary Rosa Lucas, 31, born Woleworth, London
Rosa M. M. E. Lucas, 12, born Kennington, London
George H. C. W. Lucas, 9, St Lukes, London
Lillian K. C. Lucas, 8, scholar, St Lukes, London
Charles J. E. Lucas, 6, scholar, St Lukes, London
Harold R. S. Lucas, 4m, Islington, London
George H. G. H. Hardy, nephew, 20, Baker, Woleworth, London
Daisy Maud Lucas, niece, 11, scholar, born City, London

Interesting that he had a Baker in his extended family too, to make best use of the premises already on site. Yet it was the previous landlord, Gregory, who applied for the extension in opening hours for the annual Oddfellows Dinner in 1891, as reported in the 22nd May Northampton Mercury (if they had the correct name). By the time of the actual event less than a week later, he had left and, George Lucas is named in the report. He and his wife catered for over 60 members, and the write-up in the Leighton Buzzard Observer was very complimentary of their efforts.

However, before the end of the year, they had moved on too, and a late advertisement was rushed into the Beds Times 21st November 1881: “TO LET, the PLOUGH INN, WAVENDON, together with BAKIEHOUSE, doing Seven Sacks a Week. – For Particulars, apply to ASHDOWN BROS., The Brewery, Leighton Buzzard.” By the end of December, “Rent low” had had to be inserted to the advert. The adverts continued, in various papers, until 23rd February 1882. I hope they found someone, but perhaps they just pulled the advert for a while, as it was re-advertised from the end of October, with the rent listed this time. It was £65 a year, including the bakehouse.

In Levi Ashdown died in 1895, and his brother sold up two years later. Proctors Leighton Buzzard brewery was sold to Thomas Owen Pugh of St Albans. The Proctors family sold out to The Kingsbury St. Albans Brewery Co Ltd. for £16500, and included was:

No. 9: And also all that messuage or Public House called “the Plough” with the Brewhouse Bakehouse stable yard garden outbuildings and ground adjoining and belonging threreto situate in the Church end of Wavingdon [sic] in the said county of Buckingham. [BARS: Z1118/1/21/51]

…but they only held it independently for less than a year, before they were taken over by the Watford brewer, Benskins.

There is then a full decade with no press reports available; no Oddfellows, no Tithe audits; nothing. When a Mr. W. Trott had taken over, I cannot discover, but in July 1893, the licence was transferred from him to George Archer. He lasted just nine months, then transferred again to Thomas Marshall in March 1894. Again, there are surprisingly no events reported at the Plough, this time for five years, until it was back up for rent again in March 1899. “PUBLIC-HOUSE TO LET, The PLOUGH INN, with Baker’s Shop attached, Wavendon, Bucks. Fully Licensed. Rent low. Incoming moderate. – Apply, J. A. Redrup, Beskin’s Watford Brewery Stores, Woburn Sands.”

Benskins had also taken over the wine & spirits merchants, formerly Down & Needham of Woburn Sands, along with their few pubs, and mineral water works at the top of Russell Street.

The 1901 Census for the Plough Inn gives:

James Taylor, 56, Publican, born Yarmouth, Norfolk
Mary Taylor, 56, born Northants
Henry Taylor, 25, Grocer’s Assistant, born Hornsey, Middlesex

Taylor obviously was not also a Baker, as for the first time, the bakehouse was up for rent separately in July 1901: “WAVENDON – TO BE LET, the BAKEHOUSE and FLOUR LOFT adjoining the Plough Inn. For particulars, apply to J. J. Taylor.”

A ‘holdover’ licence was granted for the Plough in August 1902, which Justices usually did to cover periods between landlords, so the Plough was landlord-less yet again. The Bucks Advertiser 27th September reported the licence had been transferred, but very unhelpfully did not say who from whom, or whom to!

In late October 1904, it was reported that it had transferred from Mrs. Mary Eliza Taylor to a Mr. Lawton or Mr. Loughton or Mr. Laughton, depending on which newspaper report you read!

The view most customers would remember, looking at the Plough in from the road. Undated image, early 20th century.

Sadly, one of the first events connecting them to the inn was the death of a tramp, Alfred Adams. He had been in the Plough with another busker, Frederick Markham, quite drunk, but they were separated while walking to Fenny after leaving, and Adams was found later drowned in Col. Burney’s fish pond. Mrs Lawton had to give evidence to the Coroner, who gave “Found Drowned”.

The Lawton/Loughton’s stayed for five years before moving on. The sale of their goods at the inn in one paper gives yet another spelling of their name. “THE PLOUGH, WAVENDON. STONEBRIDGE & FOLL Will Sell by Auction, early in July, By order of Mr. Alfred Laughton, who is leaving, USEFUL HOUSEHOLD FURNITURE, Chaise, Dog Cart, Sow, Poultry, and Outside Effects.”, whilst in the Beds Times of 21st June, they went for a name completely different:
“THE PLOUGH, WAVENDON. STONEBRIDGE & FOLL Will Sell by Auction, on the premises as above on Wednesday, July 3rd, 1907, at 12 o’clock precisely, by order of Mr Alfred Naughton (who is leaving) and others,
USEFUL FURNITURE and outside Effects, harness, incubator, foster mother, fowl house, 4 wheeled CHAISE, Battlesden CAR (by Salmons), excellent Ral’i CAR (by Dunston), and a large Battlesden CAR (by Clark), both in splendid order, small DOG CART; Avery’s weighing machine, lady’s bicycle, scales and weights, black Sow, tame rabbits, 54 head of Poultry, including pure-bred Buff Orpingtons, Wyandottes, &c.,: and miscellaneous Effects. On view morning of sale. Catalogues of the Auctioneers, Woburn Sands and Toddington.”

I wonder if he only left the Plough as no-one could get his name correct! I wish we knew which version was actually correct.

The Statute Fair coming to the village would have been a highlight of the year. From the Ampthill & District News 4th September 1909: “Wavendon. The annual feast and “statty” was held on Sunday and this week. The field at the “Leather Bottell” was filled with steam motors, ostriches, swing boats, etc. Large crowds were attracted by the dancing at the “Bottell” and “Plough”.”

Whether the ostriches were real or just a showman’s carousel ride, I am not sure…

December 1911 saw the first report of a traditional pub game, a Skittle match, with the Plough team competing against one from the Weathercock in Woburn Sands.

The 1911 Census is the latest we currently have access to. “The Plough PH” Wavendon was now occupied by:

Edward Last, 45, Coach builder, born Little Paxton, Hunts
Edith Last, 41, born Stratton Audley, Oxon
Edward William, 18, Coach painter, born Aspley Guise
Dorothy May Last, 13, Scholar, born Woburn Sands
Ernest Arthur Last, 11, Scholar, born Woburn Sands
Reginald Albert Last, 7, born Woburn Sands
Kathleen Mary Last, 6, born Woburn Sands
George Edward King, visitor, Forage Merchant, born Bletchley

The 1919 Register of Electors is the earliest available that has been kept for the village. This shows Benjamin Garrett at the Plough. Originally from Milton Keynes, he had spent 25 years running the Fir Tree in Woburn Sands (1889-1913) before taking the Greyhound at Billington. After two years there and some time in Leighton Buzzard, he returned closer to home and had taken on the Plough. It seems he was keen to carry on the extra business that Last had been doing. Beds Times 14th May 1920: “TO LET: Good opening for Wheelwright, business estab’d. two years with good trade; all round work. – Garrett, The Plough, Wavendon, Woburn Sands.”

(Well, I hope a wheelwright would be used to doing “all round work” really!)

The 30th June 1923 Bucks Advertiser reported that the licence of the Plough had been transferred to Mr. John Jackman, but not from whom.

BARS holds an outline plan drawn up by Benskins, showing the layout of the pub in 1938. The old bakery is still attached on the right, with one door knocked through to the public house, and a double door garage on the left. The Public Bar and Tap Bar were quite small in comparison to the size of the building. Upstairs, five bedrooms are shown. [BARS: HN1/46/13]


Rough copies (not to scale) of the plans used in the 1938 deeds.

There is one more national database of the population we can currently access, the 1939 Registration Act, which was used to issue ID cards when war was looming. The Plough has an entry of:

Frank W. Winter, born 10th October 1891, publican
Minnie M. Winter, born 30th March 1890, Unpaid domestic duties
Frank J. Winter, born 29th December 1923, at school
One entry blanked out*
Daniel Macdonald, born 4th June 1890, a motor mechanic (retired).

(* Entries on this Register are usually blanked out when that person may still be alive.)

A 1939 Trade Directory adds a middle name of Walter for Frank Winter.

The Plough in the early 21st century, still a pub.

There was an artist living in Wavendon around this time called Ian Strang. He sketched life-like views of local scenes, and the Rochdale Advertiser of 31st October 1942 says he was exhibiting a “finely drawn” view of the Plough Inn at Wavendon at a show in Rochdale Art Gallery, the contents of which had been drawn from entrants to the Royal Academy in 1941.

The 14th January 1949 edition of the Beds Times had a private advertisement listing “FARM FLOAT for sale, strong. Apply Winter, Plough Inn Wavendon.”

Benskins brewery, the owner, was taken over by Ind Coope in 1957, along with an estate of 636 pubs and hotels. This merged with two other big brewers two years later to form Allied Breweries.

In 2007, the traditional Plough public house closed up and it became a destination restaurant under the same name. It was bought by Woburn Inns, and owners Jon Todd and Howard Bridgeman won two AA rosettes and two Foodie Awards in three years. Head Chef Grant Hawthorne specialised in locally-sourced food and it had a 300 bin wine list, but in July 2010, it finally closed down for business use and was then empty for two years.

Several planning applications for multiple houses on the site were rejected over the next couple of years, before it was converted to one residence, entailing significant internal and external refurbishment in 2012.

The closed Plough as it was advertised for residential use.

Licensees of the Plough, Church End (Dates may not be whole tenure)
1853-1880     Charles Claridge
1880-1881     Walter Harrald
1883-1891     John Gregory
1891-1891     George Lucas
????-1893     W. Trott
1893-1894    George Archer
1894-????     Thomas Marshall
1901-1902     James Taylor

1902-1904     Mary Taylor (widow of above?)
1904-1907     Loughton/Lawton/Laughton
1911                Edward Last
1915-1920     Benjamin Garrett
1923              John Jackman
1939-1949    Frank Winter
1958-1967    Jack & Ivy Inkpin
1979-1988    Ray & Jean Brook
1996-1997    Brendon Carlton


Page last updated Jan. 2022.