21 July 2022

The Crown and the lost
pubs on Market Square
in Stony Stratford

The Crown is the last remaining pub on Market Square, Stony Stratford (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

Patrick Comerford

Stony Stratford has been called ‘the jewel of Milton Keynes’ and is a busy market town with shops, banks, restaurants, a health centre, a library and historic public houses. The town rejoices in being a ‘historic coaching town’ – a reputation enhanced by the survival of the Cock and the Bull on High Street, which I can see from my front window.

But, apart from the coaching inns, the town had many historic public houses in the past, as Bryan Dunleavy, Ken Daniels and Andy Powell reveal in their very comprehensive and richly illustrated Inns of Stony Stratford.

From the terrace behind my flat, I can see the roofs of many of the house on Market Square. At one time, as Dunleavy, Daniels and Powell show in their research, the sides of Market Square were lined by at least nine public houses or inns, although the only one to have survived the economic and social changes over the centuries is the Crown at 9 Market Square.

The name of ‘The Crown’ may have been suggested in a flush of enthusiasm after the restoration of the crown in 1660 (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

The Crown is the last remaining pub on Market Square, and dates from 1666 if not earlier, giving it a continuous history over 350 years. Indeed, it may have existed long before with another name before ‘The Crown’ was suggested in a flush of enthusiasm after the end of the Civil War and restoration of Charles II in 1660.

In their painstakingly researched history, Dunleavy, Daniels and Powell ask whether the Crown was once a coaching inn, suggesting this is indicated by the central doorway.

If the Crown was once a coaching inn, then only the Cock and the Bull on High Street are older among the surviving pubs and inns in Stony Stratford.

The Plough and the White Lion stood at 2 Market Square, behind the yard of the George (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

The Plough at 2 Market Square is first referred to in 1753. The house had a brewhouse and a small paddock at the back. The Plough was licensed to Edward Salter until the 1760s, and had backed onto the George Yard.

The Plough was renamed the White Lion by Thomas Honeybone in 1765. The last licensee was Edward Knight in 1783, but the brewhouse may have continued to the used by the George into the early 19th century.

The Green Dragon was on the south side of the square at 5 or 6 Market Square (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

The Green Dragon was on the south side of the square at 5 or 6 Market Square. It was first referred to in 1619, and stayed open in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.

The property has since been demolished, and replaced with modern offices and medical facilities.

The White Hart may have been at 8 Market Square from 1625 or earlier (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

The White Hart, once at 8 Market Square, may have been there from 1625 or earlier. It remained on Market Square until it was taken over by Stony Stratford Working Men’s Club in 1895.

The club was first established on the High Street, and moved to the former White Hart in 1895. It stayed there until 1948, when the club moved to London Road. It closed in 2009.

The Crown at No 9 stood between the former White Hart at No 8 and the former Barley Mow at No 10 Market Square.

The former Barley Mow is a 400-year-old building dating back to at least the 17th century (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

The former Barley Mow is a 400-year-old building. It was first recorded at No 10 Market Square in 1753, but dates back to at least the 17th century. When No 10 was on the market recently, it was said it had been built as the town’s court room and that over time the pub in theses premises had been known as the Barley Mow and Queen’s Head.

The Barley Mow was a substantial premises, with its own brewhouse at the back, stables, several outbuildings and two acres of pasture in a field that extended back into the present Cofferidge Close.

At one time, the leasehold was held from Lord Salisbury, who sold the property in 1802 to relieve himself of the Land Tax.

The Barley Mow closed as a pub in 1819, and since then has been used a shop, a private residence, and an exhibition area. More recently, No 10 was offices for Wolverton Urban District Offices.

The house was converted into a residential property in 2011 and was on the market with an asking price of £950,000. A Grade II listed building, it was described as an ‘historic home’ and a ‘grand property’ with three reception rooms, five double bedrooms, three bathrooms and a courtyard garden.

The Old King’s Head at 11 Market Square may have dated from the late mediaeval period (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

Across the street from the Barley Mow, the King’s Head, was at 11 Market Square, close to the junction with Silver Street, and may have been there from 1640 or earlier, perhaps dating back to the mediaeval period.

If so, then the name of the King’s Head predates the execution of Charles I in 1649. Perhaps its name complimented the name of the Queen’s Head, which survived briefly at No 10.

Nos 12 and 13 Market Square form an interesting 17th century stone house (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

Nos 12 and 13 Market Square forms an interesting, later 17th century two-storey stone house, once to the Malpas family, who gave their name to an hotel next door.

The stones forming the heads of windows on the ground floor have sloping sides and curved tops which, with a raised keystone, give the forms of a crown. The doorway has a good moulded eared architrave, with a carving of long leaves spreading out and down from a boss with a head of a putti above a carved keystone.

Above the front door and resting on the band is a rectangular plaque with the letters ‘IAM’ above an heraldic shield and the date 1790. The letters IAM may refer to Joseph and Amelia Malpas.

The Malpas Hotel, later the Commercial Hotel, stood at Nos 14 and 15 Market Square (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

The name of the former Fighting Cocks is recalled in an image still seen on the three-storey façade of 14 Market Square, dated 1770.

The house may have been first built in the 16th century, and may have survived Stony Stratford’s devastating fire in 1736.

This was a shop, with a workshop in the area behind it, but may have been rebuilt in part after the fire, and it became a pub in 1760. It was sold in 1794.

Perhaps the Malpas family gave their name to the Malpas Hotel, later the Commercial Hotel, at Nos 14 and 15 Market Square. Today, No 14 houses the Alliance Française de Milton Keynes.

No 16 Market Square, now an estate agent’s office, was once the Bell (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

No 16 Market Square is now an estate agent’s shopfront and offices.

But in the 18th century this building was known as the Bell, trading as a public house from at least 1713, if not earlier, until about 1780.

The name of the Sun and Moon is recalled in ‘Sun and Moon House’ on the north side of Market Square (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

The Sun and Moon stood on the north side of Market Square from the 1660s. Later, it was known as the Crooked Billet, which traded from about 1684 until about 1821. It was said to have a very seedy reputation, and to have been the ‘haunt of tramps, hucksters, vagabonds and soldiers.’

The Crooked Billet was sold off in 1821, and the building which also had a frontage onto the south side of Church Street, was demolished in 1937.

But the earlier name is recalled in ‘Sun and Moon House’ on the north side of Market Square.

The name of the former Fighting Cocks is recalled in an image on the façade of 14 Market Square (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

Further reading:

Bryan Dunleavy, Ken Daniels, Andy Powell, Inns of Stony Stratford (Southampton: Magic Flute, 2014/2018)

Praying with the Psalms in Ordinary Time:
21 July 2022 (Psalm 148)

‘Praise him, sun and moon; praise him, all you shing stars’ (Psalm 148: 3) … in the Vandeleur Walled Gardens in Kilrush, Co Clare (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2020)

Patrick Comerford

In the Calendar of the Church, we are in Ordinary Time. Before today begins, I am taking some time this morning to continue my reflections drawing on the Psalms.

In my blog, I am reflecting each morning in this Prayer Diary in these ways:

1, Short reflections on a psalm or psalms;

2, reading the psalm or psalms;

3, a prayer from the USPG prayer diary.

Psalm 148:

Psalm 148 is the third of the five final concluding praise Psalms in the Book of Psalms (Psalm 146 to Psalm 150). In Latin, Psalm 148 is known as ‘Laudate Dominum de caelis.’

Psalms 146 to 150 form the culmination or crescendo of the Book of Psalms as a whole. These six psalms correspond to the six days of creation. These psalms are not attributed to David. In the Septuagint, Psalms 145 to 148 are given the title ‘of Haggai and Zechariah.’

Psalms 148, like all five ‘hallelujah’ closing or final psalms, exhorts us to praise the Lord. Psalm 148 is a creation psalm. The entire universe sings a song of praise to God.

The first half of the psalm is about the heavens, the second half about the earth.

The heavens – including the Sun and Moon – shall praise God for creating them.

All created things – from the lowest in the form of sea monsters, to the highest, in the form of humans – shall praise God. The wind or ruah – which could also mean the Spirit or God’s will – does God’s will.

Each is a voice in the choral symphony of creation, in which all that exists testifies to its Maker.

Whatever our experiences in the past have been, whatever our expectations of the future may be, the praise of God remains our shared, common, constant call, introducing us to the prospect of a covenant with God and with one another.

The Midrash Tehillim identifies the entities to which the opening verses are addressed. ‘Praise the Lord from the heavens; praise him in the heights!’ (verse 1) is addressing the ministering angels; ‘praise him, all his host!’ (verse 2) is addressed to those who fulfil God’s will. ‘Praise him, sun and moon’ (v. 3) refers to the Biblical Patriarchs and Matriarchs who are likened to the sun and moon in Joseph’s dream (see Genesis 37: 9). ‘Praise him, all you shining stars!’ (verse 3) refers to righteous individuals, as Daniel said, ‘Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever’ (Daniel 12: 3).

The Midrash adds, ‘From this you learn that every [righteous individual] has his own star in heaven, and that his star shines according to his deeds.’

The American composer Leonard Bernstein adapted the text for his Psalm 148, a setting for voice and piano and dated in 1935, his earliest surviving composition.

‘Praise the Lord from the earth, you sea monsters and all deeps’ (Psalm 148: 7) … a fresco in the Monastery of Vatopedi on Mount Athos (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Psalm 148 (NRSVA):

1 Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord from the heavens;
praise him in the heights!
2 Praise him, all his angels;
praise him, all his host!

3 Praise him, sun and moon;
praise him, all you shining stars!
4 Praise him, you highest heavens,
and you waters above the heavens!

5 Let them praise the name of the Lord,
for he commanded and they were created.
6 He established them for ever and ever;
he fixed their bounds, which cannot be passed.

7 Praise the Lord from the earth,
you sea monsters and all deeps,
8 fire and hail, snow and frost,
stormy wind fulfilling his command!

9 Mountains and all hills,
fruit trees and all cedars!
10 Wild animals and all cattle,
creeping things and flying birds!

11 Kings of the earth and all peoples,
princes and all rulers of the earth!
12 Young men and women alike,
old and young together!

13 Let them praise the name of the Lord,
for his name alone is exalted;
his glory is above earth and heaven.
14 He has raised up a horn for his people,
praise for all his faithful,
for the people of Israel who are close to him.
Praise the Lord!

Today’s Prayer:

The theme in the prayer diary of the Anglican mission agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel) this week is ‘Turning Point,’ looking at the work of the Diocese of Kurunegala in the Church of Ceylon in Sri Lanka. This theme was introduced on Sunday.

Thursday 21 July 2022:

The USPG Prayer Diary invites us to pray today in these words:

Let us pray for the children in the Diocese of Kurunegala, and across the Church of Ceylon.

Yesterday’s reflection

Continued tomorrow

Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition copyright © 1989, 1995, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org