The Rose & Crown, Woburn Sands? Aspley Guise?

The specific mentions of this beerhouse as Rose & Crown are limited to just four events. A census, a sale, an entry in a local authority licensees survey and an appeal for a new tenant.

In the 1871 census, taken 2nd April, no.77 on the schedule for the Woburn Sands part of Wavendon plainly reads “Rose and Crown”. At first, I thought this was an enumerators error, because as far as I knew, there had never been a pub in Woburn Sands thus named.  Then other instances of the name cropped up in old newspapers adverts when the British Newspaper Archives went online.  I thought it may have been an earlier name for the Royal Oak in Aspley Heath, but this turned out to be incorrect. Currently, I have no idea where this beerhouse was situated, but here are all the facts known about it.

The Croydon’s Weekly Standard (forerunner to the Bucks Standard, and printed at Newport Pagnell) of 11th February 1871 reported that John Goodall had transferred the licence of an unnamed beerhouse at Wavendon to John Rollin.

The 1871 census entry (taken 2nd April) gives a John Rollins as head of household at the Rose & Crown. He was 26, and described as a “Publican and Engine Driver”, originally from Fenny Stratford. His wife Ann, also 26, was from Frithsden in Hertfordshire.  They had two daughters, Fanny, 4, and Ada, 2, both born in Berkhamsted, so the family must have been based there until about 1869.  There was another person in the household, bizarrely recorded as Name: “N.K.” (Not Known), age 45, relationship to head: “N.K.”, from: “N.K.”!  How this person’s age was obtained, but no other details, is a mystery. Perhaps he was a lodger.

1871 Census for Wavendon – “The Rose & Crown”

The other houses around the entry do not have any specific addresses listed to help pin down the location of the Rose & Crown. An Annie Rollins was buried at St. Michael’s on 10 November 1870, aged just 9 weeks, and is the only ‘Rollins’ interred there, no doubt the daughter of this family. The abode was given as just “Woburn Sands”.  By January 1876, John & Ann Rollins had moved on to the Navigation Inn, in Simpson, according to news reports in the Bucks Herald, but left there in February 1877, with the licence change recorded in the Northampton Mercury.

The next mention of the Rose & Crown comes from a sale advert in the Luton Times & Advertiser of 29th June 1872, followed by another in the Leighton Buzzard Observer & Linslade Gazette of 2nd July 1872 advertising the sale, with a more detailed description. A variety of building plots and premises were being sold by W. H. Derbyshire at the Swan Inn, Woburn Sands, on 11th July 1872, including the Royal Oak in Aspley Heath and the Dukes Head in Aspley Guise. These were being sold by auction “by the direction of the proprietor” who is sadly not named, but was likely to be John Goodall, a local timber merchant. Fortunately, the Bedfordshire Archives and Records Service (BARS) has a copy of the programme from the sale (SF2/31), part of which reads:

“LOT 13. – ALL THAT Brick-Built and Slated Freehold RETAIL BEER HOUSE, situate in the HIGH ROAD, WOBURN SANDS (near the Railway Station), and known by the sign of the ROSE AND CROWN, containing Tap-room, Parlour, Sitting-room, Kitchen, Beer Stores, Wash-house, Four Bed-rooms; with Well of Water, and usual Out-Offices at the rear; now in the occupation of Mr. Edward Brown, With a BRICK-BUILT and SLATED COTTAGE adjoining, Containing Two Rooms below, Two Bedrooms, and a barn in the occupation of Mr. Mapley, and 3 BRICK-BUILT & SLATED FREEHOLD COTTAGES situate at the rear of the last mentioned property now in occupation of Mr Thomas Tansey and others.”

Newspaper advert for the sale…

The programme had a plan, but alas, this shows only the position of Lots 1 to 10. This is strange, as the Dukes Head (Lot 12) is not shown in position.  The programme is headed “Second Edition” so perhaps the three beer-houses were a late addition and the auctioneers did not stop to update the plan as everybody would know where the public houses were.

Most of the other building plots were lining a new road to be called Grove Street, laid out just west of Duke Street, and also connecting West Hill with Woodside. The public footpath still in use would have been the line of the road. Either the plots did not sell and Goodall changed his plans, or the other local households bought up the plots to extend and protect their own residences.  The area of Lots 1-4 is now “Larchfield” and grounds, 5 & 6 are houses on Woodside, 7 & 8 are garden land of other houses on West Hill, and 9 & 10 are houses to the south of Woodside.

The only mention of Lot 13 in the Conditions of Sale was to indicate that the Title for the building started with an Indenture dated 1st November 1865.

The fact that the description “near the Station” is used could be a red herring.  I have seen houses as far from the Station as Aspley Heath described thus; it was just the savvy auctioneer’s sales technique to attract more interest from buyers and does not necessarily mean it was physically close to the Station, but “High Road” would seem to indicate it was in the High Street or Station Road, although “High Road” is used on the auction plan for West Hill. Another tantalising clue is a line on the cover of the programme reading “The Public Houses are situate in a first-rate locality for trade, being close to the New Market Place, now opened at Woburn Sands.”  Where did they mean?

Brown is a much harder name to research than Rollins. However, fitting the right timeframe almost exactly, on 3rd August 1873, both Humphrey James Brown (born 1st December 1870), and Harry Samuel Brown (no birthdate given) were christened at St Michael’s, the sons of Edward & Martha Brown of Woburn Sands. This Edward was described as a Labourer, but beerhouse keepers often had more than one job. An Edward Brown is recorded as a Dairyman in Woburn Sands trade directories from 1890-1910, before he died in 1911 aged 75.

Also in 1872, a listing of all licenced houses in Buckinghamshire was taken.  Apart from the known named inns under Wavendon, there are two listed without inn-signs.  One that (allegedly) opened in 1856, run by a Thomas Brown, owned by John Goodall, of Aspley Guise and leased by R. G. Ashdown, of Leighton Buzzard. Was this Thomas Brown actually Edward? The R.G. Ashdown was Richard Gibson Ashdown, of Ashdowns Brewery. The other unnamed beerhouse had been licenced over 50 years, and was run by David Speckley, owned by Ann Cotchins, of Leighton Buzzard and leased by the landlord.

There is then no mention of the Rose & Crown for over a year, until the then owners F. T. Young & Co. of Bedford were trying to find someone to take it on, through a series of adverts which ran for six months in the Bedfordshire Mercury (25th October 1873 – 21st March 1874):

“TO BE LET, with immediate possession, a beerhouse, known as the Rose and Crown, situate at Aspley Guise, and now doing a good trade. – For more particulars, enquire of Mr F. T. Young, St. Paul’s-square, Bedford.”

New landlord required. But did they find one?

The fact that the house is now recorded under Aspley Guise is not unusual for the area of north Woburn Sands.  The parish and county boundary run a zig-zag course through the area.

Frederick Thomas Young was a manager for Bingham Newland’s St. Paul’s Brewery. In 1871 he was employing 12 men, thus making it one of the larger breweries of the town. On the death of Bingham Newland in 1873, the brewery was sold to Thomas Jarvis, owner of the recently-built Phoenix Brewery. Jarvis wanted the public houses from Newland’s business as outlets for his own brewery and always intended to sell the site of St. Paul’s Brewery.  Deprived of his job at St. Paul’s Brewery, Young decided to set up on his own. He leased an area north of the Duck Mill Lane, and built a modern brick-built steam brewery in 1873. On 1st October 1874, Young went into partnership with William Pritzler Newland (brother of his former employer Bingham Newland). However, in January 1878, Young retired and transferred his share of the business to W. P. Newland.  Given the address of St Paul’s Square in the adverts for a new licensee, it would appear the Rose & Crown had been a Newland’s house.

There is one other possibility.  In June 1867, the Beds Mercury ran a story about a court case where the defendant was accused of pulling tail feathers out of a live peacock he was transporting. One witness said he had seen the accused pull the tail feathers out “ front of Mrs Rose’s beershop at Woburn Sands”.  If Mrs Rose later gave her beershop a name, perhaps she chose Rose & Crown…

A listing of all licenced houses in Bedfordshire was taken in 1876. Under Aspley Guise is an unnamed Beerhouse, being run by Charles & James Turney, owned by an Elizabeth Turney, which had first opened in 1864.  Could this be the same establishment?

Yet there are no further instances of the name Rose & Crown in the online newspapers, records at Bedfordshire Archives or the Centre for Buckinghamshire Studies.  Did Young fail to find anyone to take it on and close it down in March 1874?  Arthur Parker’s extensive works on Woburn Sands also never mention it at all. Until further records come to light, the exact location of this beerhouse remains unknown.

1871                John Rollins
1872                Edward Brown
1873-1874      Vacant

Owners or Leaseholders
1872                John Goodall?  Ashdown’s of Leighton Buzzard?
1873/4            F. T. Young / Newlands of Bedford


Page last updated Jan. 2021.