The Pub’s History

The bedfordshire.gov.uk website has this to say about The Queen’s Head

“The Queen’s Head is one of Sandy’s oldest public houses and is probably the oldest surviving establishment, the first reference to it being in 1759 at the latest, when it was called the Maidenhead. The public house was listed by the former Department of Environment in December 1979 as Grade II, of special interest. The department dated the property to the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries stating that it began life as a row of cottages. The central section is 17th century and built of roughcast with one storey and attics under an old clay tile roof. The right hand side of the building is 18th century in an L-shape. It is also roughcast but has two storeys and attics. The left hand side is 19th century, of mottled red and yellow brick, with two storeys under a clay tile roof.

There are two documents in Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service referring to the Maidenhead Inn at Sandy. The first of these is a will of 1720 in which George Pedly devised a number of licensed premises in Potton and Sandy to his son George. One of these was a cottage in Sandy called the Maidenhead in the occupation of  William Randall. The will was proved the same year [WG88].

The other reference is in the will of 1759 of William Randall himself. In it he devised a “newly built” cottage in Sandy called the Maidenhead, “lately purchased of John Richardson” to his wife Ann [PM755]. The will was proved in 1763. This raises two possibilities: either that Pedly sold the Maidenhead to Richardson who sold it to Randall, possibly after rebuilding it. Alternatively Richardson may have built the Maidenhead, naming it after an inn which had closed following the death of George Pedly the elder. The reference to the inn being new built would satisfy either possibility. If the inn was newly built in 1759 it suggests that originally only the right hand side of the current building, which is 18th century as noted above, was occupied as an inn. The 17th century element of the building may have been incorporated later.

It seems a reasonable guess that the Maidenhead of 1759 is the Queen’s Head of 1816 when another William Randall’s will was proved [ABP/W1816/25]. He devised the Queen’s Head to his son Joseph, together with a newly built shoemaker’s shop adjoining the public house (this may be the 19th century element of the current public house). He left all his ready money to his wife Edith, who succeeded him as licensee and left a will which was proved in 1834 [ABP/W1834/26].

The deeds to the Queen’s Head are preserved in the Greene King archive [GK]. They begin in 1836 when Joseph Randall of Waresley [Huntingdonshire], victualler, William and Edith’s son, and his wife Elizabeth Overall Randall devised the shoemaker’s shop adjoining the Queen’s Head to William Randall of Biggleswade, victualler for nineteen guineas [GK31/1]. William was probably Joseph’s brother.

In 1847 William and Joseph conveyed the Queen’s Head, with a blacksmith’s shop, dovehouse, barns and stables, two cottages (formerly a barn) adjoining the public house and the shoemaker’s shop to the partners in the Biggleswade brewery of Wells and Company for £700 [GK31/2]. The two cottages may be the 17th century element of the modern building.

In 1898 Wells and Company was put up for sale by auction [GK1/36] and sold to Kent businessman George Winch who bought it and its licensed houses for his son Edward Bluett Winch. The business was conveyed to a new company called Wells and Winch Limited the following year [Z1039/34/2a].The countywide register of alehouse licences of 1903 reveals that  the nearest licensed house was 72 yards away, that the state of repair of the Queen’s Head was good and that it had two front doors and one back door.

The Rating and Valuation Act 1925 specified that every building and piece of land in the country was to be assessed to determine its rateable value. The valuer visiting the Queen’s Head [DV1/C147/33] found it still owned by Wells and Winch and occupied by Frederick Simms who paid rent of four shillings per week, fixed seven years before, a significant decrease on the £18 per annum which had been charged before World War One.

The brick, lath, plaster and tiled detached premises comprised a bar, tap room (annotated to read “now Sitting Room” by another hand), living room, kitchen and cellar with three bedrooms on the first floor. A public urinal and w. c., a private w. c. and a coal shed stood outside. Also outside was a wood and tiled two bay shed (annotated “enlarged part now garage”), a brick and tiled store shed, an old brick, wood and tiled stable and sheds and three manger stable with a loft over (“let to Council 5/- per week).

A large advertisement painted on the wall measured 27 feet by 15 feet. About 1½ barrels of beer and “barely” a half gallon of spirits were sold in a week, takings being £15 to £16 in that time. Simms sublet an adjoining cottage comprising a living room and two bedrooms above with a w. c., wood and corrugated iron addition used as a washhouse and wood and tiled barn. In 1927 this was vacant but a later hand has annotated the entry with “F. Swift”.

In 1961 Wells and Winch was taken over by Suffolk brewers Greene King. At the time of writing [2010] the Queen’s Head remains a Greene King public house.”