Maulden’s Old Pubs and Inns

Inns and Pubs: gone but not forgotten

Over on the Maulden Voice FB Group, people have been sharing their memories of village pubs. Pubs, whether you drink alcohol or not, are a vital part of village life, and the loss of any one is a great blow to a village.

Maulden used to support 7 pubs, and the reasons are not hard to see when you consider the factors that influence pub trade:

One factor that many other pub guides do not consider is the area where a pub is based. This can be of the utmost importance. Therefore, we have taken the opportunity to interpret the latest Indices of Deprivation, issued in December 2007. As this public house is located in Maulden and Clophill ward, we inform you that an overall interpretation of the statistics for this area is that the ward appears to be exceptionally positive. This evaluation may be broken down as follows: The employment situation might be exceptionally affirmative. Health is exceptionally assentive. The educational stance is excellent. Moreover, the environment itself is exceptionally acquiescent. Housing seems to be lacking. One might interpret the situation on reported crime as fairly positive. Meanwhile, income appears to be exceptionally affirmative. On another note, the postal area is outstandingly residential.

So, without the motor car taking us all far and wide, and without the recent recession, we can hope that the village will continue to support a variety of pubs for a long time to come.

Meanwhile, here are the “ghost” pubs and some memories associated with them:

The Black Horse

Title photo of this post. A landmark pub, it used to stand alone on Snow Hill but is now [2013/14] converted into houses.

A longer post will deal with stories from the Black Horse when we have collected them.

A proper drinking pub, with strong following for sports events on TV, it was loved and frequented by a wide range of people.

It even had its own Facebook page, and we hope that, even though it is gone, people will continue to “like” the Facebook page in appreciation of the pub.

The George

The George closed most recently and has the most people remember it.

We’ve known many landlords at the George during our time here, seen it pass through phases from “Posh Food” with silver service waiting to “Pie n Chips” plonked in front of you.

A C16th to C19th building, with recent additions, most of the building is Grade II listed sine 1991. It stands in the Maulden Conservation Area and is well regarded as an important feature of the village. This area is beautifully described with lots of historic facts in that document [linked to: Maulden Conservation Area –  use Adobe Acrobat to read ]

The George was an important staging post for people travelling from London, via Luton, to Bedford, as shown in Cary’s New Itinerary  of 1810.

Roy Summerfield has some recent historic photos on his website.

Owned by a chain of landlords, then by Enterprise Inns.

The site is in development, with plans on the pub door, and information on the developer’s website at Kingshall Estates as it becomes available.  It was sold by auction for £295,000 when it had stood empty for a while.

There has been a vigorous campaign to ensure the pub reopens as a pub, and one hopes that this will translate into sales and profits for this wonderful village asset in future years.

Phil Allen, who is leading the battle with fellow campaigner Philip Davies, said: “The pub was a real hub of the village. It was a great place to meet and have a drink in a safe environment and pass the time of day or evening.

The Commander In Chief

Remembered as “an interesting pub”  before it closed in about 2002.  It had a strong social life, and was a way mark in the village.

The pub is recorded in the Bedfordshire Archives with a long and interesting history:

The countywide licensing register of 1876 states that the Commander in Chief opened as a beerhouse in 1868. By 1876 the owner was James Davis of Bedford and he leased the house to Baldock [Hertfordshire] brewer John Steed. It is interesting that Steed had two other licensed premises called the Commander in Chief – in Sawston [Cambridgeshire] and in Shillington – he must have liked the name.

Steed died in 1877 and the firm was taken over by his son Oliver who died in 1888 when the firm was purchased by Charles Morley on behalf of William Pickering of Burton-on-Trent [Staffordshire]. The firm became known as Morley and Company, later being renamed Wilson and Company, still brewing at Baldock.

By the time of the countywide register of 1891 the Commander in Chief was still owned by James Davis. The beerhouse included a brewhouse, premises and garden and the lease had been made by James Grant Davis to Oliver Steed on 2nd February 1885, rent being £22 per annum [GK165/12]. When the Baldock Brewery was put up for sale in 1898 the Commander-in-Chief was one of the houses with its lease included in the sale [GK1/36].

The countywide licensing register of 1903 states that the owner was Bedford brewer, Charles Wells, which, unusually, continued to lease the place to Wilson & Company. The following year the lease was assigned to Biggleswade brewers Wells and Winch [GK165/17]. The 1903 register notes: “repairs fairly good and clean”. The beerhouse stood 230 yards from the nearest licensed premises and had public doors both front and back. The establishment was rebuilt by Charles Wells in 1907.

Rebuilt around 1907, it was very much a fixture of the village, as Jack Bourgoine’s memory shows in his family history.

It stayed in business under Charles Wells for decades before it finally closed and is now a private house, it can been seen in this photo from 1940 when it was quite literally a “way point” used by people navigating locally.

[The] Easter Pram Race was rum from the C in C pub to the Albion Ampthill. Residents used all sorts of prams or converted anything that looked like a ‘pram’, added wheels, dressed up and one or two ‘pushers’ ran with or without an occupant in the pram. So many people turned out come rain or shine to line the streets to wish them well and donate. It was a great tradition which I for one, sadly miss. There must be records of when and why this event took place and possibly pictures too.

There is a delightful VIDEO of the 2000 Pram Race from the Commander in Chief on Ampthill TV for those who enjoy seeing people laugh.

Rated as “6.0/10.0” and mainly for the beer, the pub is unlikely to come back into use.

The Anchor

The Anchor was a key feature of the village, as described on this major UK history website:

Most of the cottages are built of brick with thatch or tile roofs, though daub and wattle and half-timber construction is not uncommon among the older buildings, many of which are built upon a base of ironstone. The charm of this otherwise delightful village has been somewhat spoilt by the erection of many modern cottages not in keeping with their surroundings. The ‘Anchor,’ an old half-timber and thatch inn, stands picturesquely on the south of the main road at the west end of the village opposite the road from Haynes, while at the other end of the village is the White Hart Inn, an old thatched building having its walls covered with plaster.

Although it closed a while back, it is still remembered

When we moved into Maulden 31 years ago would you believe there were FIVE pubs up & running serving less than 1000 residents! The first to go was the one in Hall End, sorry to say I can’t even remember its name now.

The Anchor was around and quite well known in the C17th Century, and it was old then, as shown in the Barrett Family Archives

In 1646, they were living in the parish of Maulden, Bedfordshire.  The River Flitt forms the southern boundary of the parish of Maulden (which Skeat takes to be a Mael or cross marking a dun) and the village lies on slightly rising ground disposed about the Shefford-Ampthill road A502, the church stands apart on a hillock.  Maulden Church, St. Mary the Virgin, was rebuilt in the middle of the 19th century, though there is genuine 14th century work in the lower part of the tower.  South of the church stands the stump of the old churchyard cross.  Both inns, the Anchor and the White Hart, are of respectable antiquity.

The pub continued in use, and is seen in one old historic photo from 1867  (sadly requires a log in to to see it) and was associated with William Inskip Fisher (born 1867)

It was still very much part of village life in living memory, before becoming a private house.

My granddad used to drink in The Anchor in George Street. It’s the little white cottage opposite the bungalows on the hill. … Lots of memories in there for me

The Maulden History Society collects information and photos of village life, and we hope they learn more about the Anchor and can share it widely.

Also the cellar at the Anchor was memorable for serving wet crisps:

My brother can remember having crisps from there that were wet. The Anchor was still open when I used to walk back from Maulden School in the 50’s.

At the Fete last year on the village green there was a stall run by some local historians showing lots of Maulden history and they not only named all the present and past Public houses but even had pictures of them.

The Ship – A Ghost Pub?

[edit: 03 Feb] [edit 05 Feb] We received this message in response to the first posting of this article:

there used to be another pub in George Street between the George and the Anchor.  I can’t remember what it was called though, but someone else might remember.  If you are walking up George Street from the George you come to the path up to the church on the right hand side.  Just past there, there is an older detached house after the modern ones again on the right.  It’s opposite a row of cottages before you get to the bungalows on the left and the Old Anchor.

It turns out that it is remembered:

the other pub was the Ship. I’m not sure how long it was open for as I can’t remember it myself, but I know it existed as my Aunt used to live right opposite, and my dad also spoke about it.

Google does not know it this pub, so we are reliant on people’s memories or searching paper archives to learn more. Does anyone have recollection, stories or photos? Was it real, or just a figment?

It might be listed on some geneology sites, if anyone has access to them, and we know that there are people who have reviewed the family records for people living in George Street in the 1860’s which would cover the origins of The Ship.

Update: Maulden History Society came up with this for us

The Ship Inn was originally a tied house owned by Allfrey & Lovell, a Northampton brewer with a Newport Pagnell brewery. It was licensed to sell beer only.

1860 The Ship is described in the licensing returns as being “in poor condition with 2 offences of drunken behaviour for which it was fined 5 shillings”

“The Kirby family, began with William Kirby who for many years combined a baker’s business with that of innkeeper at the Ship & market gardening”

“Son Thomas Kirby sold market garden produce in Northampton, followed by sons Frederick & John. F.E. & Stanley Kirby are both market gardeners”.

 2-6-1905 the local paper recorded the death of Thomas Kirby, a “well known market gardener & Councillor who had resided at the Ship for 23 years”.

31-12-1909 “the Ship Inn which has been a public house for more than 50 years has closed”.

Census 1901 for the ship inn maulden
Census 1901 for the ship inn maulden


  • 1871 John Halsey beer retailer
  • 1877 Deborah Halsey Shopkeeper & Beer Retailer
  • 1890 Thomas Kirby Market gardener & Beer Retailer
  • 1905 Frederick Kirby

In closing

So, to all our past pubs, the stories they held, the community they created: we raise a glass and salute you!


[edit: 11 Feb – include more on Black Horse]

5 thoughts on “Maulden’s Old Pubs and Inns”

  1. Why no mention of the Black Horse? When I moved to the village in 1976 this was the best pub in the village so why has it been left out here?

    1. I’d like to say “we are saving it for a post all of its own”.

      It was very important to the village, and really deserves a special piece about it, hence the photo at the top of the article.

      Can you – or someone you know – share a story of 100 words or so about why it was so special? (Contact form gets to all of us, and is easy to use)

      Meanwhile, I will edit to ensure it is mentioned and put a lead on that to a following piece.

  2. I’m feeling like a total NUMPTY having just realised that I have been saying “The Brache” wrong for 17 years. It is not “bray-sha”, but “bree-cha”. On maps until 1883 it is clearly marked as “The BREACH” because it represented a gap in the Greensand Hill.

  3. Fine article David, you’ve made good use of the comments on MV.
    Bring back the pram race!

Comments are closed.