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The Swan Inn

1796 Enclosure Map shows the Swan Public House as No. 167
1796 Enclosure Map

The 'Swan' is listed in the Universal British Directory (published between 1790 and 1798), with Joseph Slayter named as Victualler. The 'Swan Public House' is also shown on the 1796 Enclosure map as plot 167. Its owner then was Thomas Meacher.

Thomas Meacher is also recorded as the owner of the 'Rose and Crown public house', plot 27. This was only a few yards away from the Swan at the corner of Water Lane where Virginia House Stores is located today (which was not built until 1857). Next door but one to that, Plot 25 on the map, is the 'Crown and Castle' building, but this is simply recorded as 'Cottage and garden' (owned by Thomas Odell) on the 1796 map, rather than a public house. However, by the time of the 1830-1 Pigot Directory the 'Crown and Castle' was competing with the Swan and the 'Rose and Crown' is not listed. It is not known when the 'Rose and Crown' first opened or when it closed. Perhaps the business simply moved two doors away at some point. It is also not known if Thomas Meacher was the actual publican at either of his two pubs - he may have been an absentee landlord. However, he was allotted a small field further up the High Street (Plot 10) as a result of the enclosures.

1790 - 1939

The trade directories published between 1790 and 1939, together with the censuses from 1851 to 1901, provide some details of the Swan's publicans and their families over this period.

PublicanDate (Data source)Notes
Joseph Slayter1790-8 (Universal British),1790-8: Joseph Slayter is named as Victualler.
The St Laud's Marriage Register records a Joseph Slatyer marrying Elis. Baxter on 12 December 1774. The St Laud's Burials Record lists an Elizabeth Slayter (born in Newport Pagnell) being buried on 22 June 1823 aged 79. There are various Slaters, Slayters and Slatyers in the cenuses and parish registers.
James Middleton1830 (Pigot) to
1854 (Post Office),
    1851 (Census)
1851 Census: age 67, born Orlingbury, Northants
Wife: Jane, age 53, born Wolverton
1854 Post Office directory also records him as a Brewer
1861 Census: James (retired victualler, 77, born Adingbury, Northants) and Jane (retired victualler's wife, 65, born Wolverton) are living in Calves End,
Their niece Martha White (15, born Denton) is living with them
1871 Census: Jane (72, Houses and independent means) is listed as a widow and living in the High Street with another niece, Mary White (17, born Emberton)
It appears the Middletons were related to the Whites who took over running the Crown and Castle about the time the Middletons left the Swan
Emmens Jackman1861 (Census),
1864 (Post Office),
1869 (Kelly)
1861 Census: age 42, born Newport Pagnell
Wife: Mary, age 41, born Little Linford
Son: Joseph 15, draper, born Newport Pagnell
Daughters: Mary Ann (13) and Julia (10) both scholars and born in Newport Pagnell,
Susan (8), scholar born in Great Linford
Edith (3) and Leah (1), born in Sherington
Visitors: Joseph Judge (14, scholar, born Middlesex) and William Judge (12, scholar, born White Horse St., Middlesex)
Robert Green Alger1871 (Census),
1876 (Harrod) to
1887 (Kelly),
    1881 (Census)
1871 Census: age 47, born Islington, Middlesex
Wife: Charlotte: age 48, born Portsea, Hants
Daughter: Maria (23, Governess, born in Lambeth, Surrey)
He appears to have re-married before the 1881 Census
1881 Census: age 57, born Clerkenwell, Middlesex
Wife: Mary: age 39, born Sidmouth, Devon
James Spencer, grandson (3, born Emberton) is living with them
Mrs Mary Downing1891 (Kelly)
1895 (Kelly)
1891 Census: age 42, widow, born Sherington
Son: Tom, (22, Gardener, born Sherington)
Daughter: Lilian (6, scholar, born Sherington)
George Sharman1899 (Kelly)In the 1891 Census, George Sharman, age 37, born Turvey (with wife Alice age 26 born Newton Abbot, Jersey, daughter Alice age 4 born Kempston, and son George age 2 born Turvey) is recorded at the Royal Oak.
In 1895 (Kelly) he is listed as a Beer Retailer.
They appear to have moved from the Royal Oak to the Swan after that date, but he died before the 1901 census, leaving his widow.
Alice Rosa Sharman1901 (Census)1901 Census: age 36, widow, born Exeter, Jersey, Channel Islands
Son: George Frederick (12, Mineral water worker, born Turvey)
Daughters: Alice Maria (14, Dressmaker apprentice, born Kempston)
Edith Annie (7, born Sherington)
Son: Percy John Keech (16, Butcher's assistant, born Bedford), (His surname Keech, rather than Sharman, suggests Alice Rosa had re-married after his birth but before Alice Maria was born)
Walter Powell1903 (Kelly)
Mrs Harriet Markie1907 (Kelly)died 1924 (cross in St Lauds)
Arthur Cowley1911 (Kelly)
George Higgins1915 (Kelly)
Victor Green1920 (Kelly)
1924 (Kelly)
George Moppett1928 (Kelly)
Percy Slater1931 (Kelly)
John Thirsk Sharman Nobbs1935 (Kelly)
1939 (Kelly)

Note: there are some inconsistencies in the census data. At present, it is not known if some of these may just be transcription errors, due to difficulties in reading the handwriting, or if they were in the original.


The Land Tax Redemption certificate dated 15 July 1940 shows that Charles Wells were the owners and John Thirsk Sharman Nobbs was the occupier at that time. The 'Rental or Annual Value Assessed' was 21 15s 0d. The 'Sum assessed and not Exonerated', i.e. the Land Tax, was 1 1s 9d.

1940 document from the Inland Revenue relating to Land Tax for the Swan Inn

1960's Re-furbishment

Swan Inn in 1926 Swan Inn in 1997

During the late 1960's the building was re-furbished by Charles Wells. A major change was the new roof which resulted in the removal of the third storey and the dormer windows, which are clearly seen in all the older photos (e.g. that on the left which dates from 1926). The photo on the right was taken in October 1997.

Seat in memory of Bill Norton - click here to read
Bill Norton

Bill Norton ran the Swan with his wife Pip for 10 years. He was also chairman of The Licensed Victuallers Association. His regulars clubbed together to buy a seat in his memory. Click on the thumbnail on the right to read the local newspaper article.


Charles Wells closed the Swan at the end of business on Sunday 8 February 2009. A campaign was launched by villagers to 'Save The Swan'. In December 2009, the Swan re-opened under new management as a Free House. However, it was not financialy viable and it closed again in November 2010. Milton Keynes Council granted planning permission in May 2011 for conversion to a private residence.

Archive Photos

Click on the thumbnails to see larger size copies of the photos. The first photo shows the Swan in 1926. The second shows a group of carol-singers outside the Swan, possibly in the 1960's. The Swan is also visible in some of the archive photos showing general views of the High Street.

Swan Inn 1926  Carol Singers outside the The Swan, circa 1960's


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Latest Revision: 19 December 2011