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9 Church Walk, Kempston, Bedfordshire

The pub is credited with giving its name to the local area, namely Bell End.  There are references back to 1796, which cite Thomas Burt holding a share in the Bell with his brother Robert, but it does not specify the status of the establishment--a beer house, which sold only beer, or an inn, which would have sold beer, wines, and spirits and provided lodging.  In 1875 the pub was tied to Bedford brewer Joseph Allen Piggot, who was later bought out by Bedford brewer Charles Wells. The pub remained with Charles Wells until it closed in 1915.

From the 1881 Census: The Bell Public House, Kempston, Bedfordshire shows Amos Keep, part of the East Midlands Keeps, as the Publican and his wife Letitia as the Publican’s wife. See also Amos Keep at The Shoulder of Mutton in Kempston, and William Keep at The Chequers Newport Pagnell, below.

                                   THE BLACK LION
                                  135 High Street North, East Ham 

The Black Lion public house stood where a beer shop has existed since the early 19th Century. It was in the ownership of the Keep family from 1871 to 1925.

In 1871 Maria Keep, a widow, started operating as a Beer Seller from the premises. She was born in Bath, Somerset, around 1803.  In the 1881 Census, Charlotte Keep, aged 52 and born in Romford, is shown as a Beer Retailer, at the premises. Her grand-daughter, 6 year old Alice Keep, born in East Ham, is also shown at the address, together with Sophia Whitbread, a barmaid.

In the 1891 Census for Essex, Frederick Keep, a 38 year old widower born in East Ham, is shown as Beer House Keeper.  Frederick’s mother, Charlotte Keep, is also listed as a Beer House Keeper, together with his children:  

Alice Keep, an Assistant aged 16; Lottie Keep, an Assistant aged 15; Emily Keep, aged 12; Annie Keep, aged 10; John Keep, aged 8; and Harry Keep, aged 5. Mrs. Charlotte Keep’s name appears in the 1894, 1898, and 1899 Kelly's Directories, and the 1896 Petty Sessions’ records.

From 1902 Petty Sessions’ records to the 1925 Kelly's Directory entry, Frederick William Keep is cited as the landlord of the Black Lion

The Black Lion was located at the corner of Harrow Road, but it was demolished in about 1972 to make way for a relief road for High Street North. The site is now known as Ray Massey Way.

The Black Lion Before Being Demolished in 1972

62 York Street, St Margaret, Westminster, London


The Buckingham Arms is part of the Wells and Young’s chain, and is a Grade II listed building.  At one time in its history it was a hat shop. When it opened during the 1720s, the pub was named the Bell. In approximately 1741, it was re-named the Black Horse. The current premises was rebuilt in 1898, and the pub retained the name Black Horse, but in 1901 it was renamed the Buckingham Arms.


The current name relates to George Villiers, the first Duke of Buckingham, a royal statesman during the reign of James I and Charles I.  He was one of the most rewarded royal courtiers in all history, and the purported lover of James I.

The Duke was one of the richest men in England at the time and was notorious for his arrogance. He was assassinated on 23 August 1628 at the Greyhound Pub, Portsmouth, by John Felton, an army officer who believed he had been passed over for promotion.


Records for the establishment show that Samuel Keep was the Landlord in 1793-1799, when it was the Black Horse. 


Newport Pagnell, Buckinghamshire

In 1842, William Keep, a member of the “East Midlands Keeps,” purchased an old public house called the Chequers in Newport Pagnell.  Previously it had been called the Six Bells and became the Chequers around 1762. The premises later in turn became Odell’s hardware shop, which closed in December 1991.

The impressive bow-fronted façade still retains its original Adam doors and colonnades. The shop front was cited by Sir Nikolaus Bernhard Leon Pevsner, as a building of considerable charm and a fine example of period architecture. It stands opposite St Peter and St Paul’s Church. See also Amos Keep at The Shoulder of Mutton in Kempston, and The Bell, Kempston, above.


762 High Road, Leytonstone, London, E11

A Public House has been located here on Leytonstone High Road since the 1660s. We know this because it was cited in documents dated 1668.  Originally it stood on its neighbouring plot. The pub we know today was rebuilt in 1900, and features unusual chimneys. It stands close to a large traffic roundabout, which is known as the Green Man roundabout. Unfortunately the pub is now known as “O'Neills,” the name of the Irish pub chain that runs it. 

The Green Man lays claim to the fact that on 30 April 1737, the infamous Essex-born highwayman Dick Turpin committed a robbery outside. He also is alleged to have stayed there en route on his infamous steed Black Bess to Norwich, and eventually to his appointment with the hangman at York in 1739.

The Keeps association with the pub goes back to 1913, with reference to John Henry Keep & Harry Keep at the Petty Sessions on 5 July 1913.  In the Essex Records Office, J H & H Keep made an application for alterations to licensed premises.  There are various mentions of John Henry Keep in relation to the Green Man up to and including the Petty Sessions on 10 June 1931.


1 Russell Street, Windsor, Berkshire

Russell Street is a narrow road, but it has had a long and colourful association with Beer retailing.  It once had two beer retailers, Mr James Brightwell and John Stevens, as well as The Cross Keys pub run by Mrs Cooker. In 1834, Reeves Beer Shop in Russell Street was known either as the Tea Gardens or the Royal Tea Gardens situated. The owner, Elijah Reeves, together with his wife were arraigned before Windsor Magistrates in 1842 charged with keeping a common brothel.  After a lengthy hearing, Elijah was found guilty and fined £20.  The Magistrates had no power over his licence, which was issued by the Excise costing £1 to sell beer.

During the 1850s and 60s, the public house in Russell Street was called the Hand and Flowers.  Pigots 1852 Directory lists James Keep as the beer retailer. He also appears in the 1854 Billings Directory as the beer retailer. In the 1861 Census for Berkshire, the entry for the address appears: 

James Keep, Carpenter & Beer House Keeper, aged 61, born in Hurst, Berkshire.    His wife was Mary A Keep, aged 60, born in Upton Gret, Hampshire; his daughter, Lucy Keep, a servant aged 23, born in Clewer, Berkshire; and his grand-daughter Eliza Barrett aged 11, born in Sydenham, Kent.

The pub changed its name again in the 1870s to the Hand & Glove, before becoming a Chinese Restaurant. On 20 December 2010 the premises, a Freehold terraced house, sold at Auction for £310,000.


168 Baker Street, Enfield, Middlesex, EN1 3JS

The Jolly Butcher is a traditional Victorian London pub owned by McMullen's, the Hertfordshire Brewers. They have been brewing beer for over 180 years. Peter McMullen, a Master Cooper, started the business in 1827. He operated from the Mill Bridge Brewery. In 1891 a new Brewery was built in the centre of Hertford, and a 140ft well sunk. Later two extra wells were sunk, each down to 250ft to use in their brewing process.

The pub is associated with the “Enfield Keeps,” and William Keep, born 1786, son of Richard Keep, was shown in the 1842 census as the publican, which was also cited in a local 1841 Trade Directory. What was the length of his tenure cannot be established, but in the 1851 census William was listed as a farm bailiff.


Hastingwood Road, Hastingwood, Near Harlow, Essex


The Rainbow and Dove is the small hamlet of at Hastingwood, near Harlow, is a quintessential English Public House, which has been voted the best pub in Essex. The pub was originally a farm and is mentioned in the Domesday Survey of 1086.  It was named the Rainbow. The Dove was added to the name, because of a dove topiary in the pub’s front garden. The building is a Grade II listed building.  The building is timber framed, roughcast rendered, roofed with handmade red clay tiles. The interior is split into 3 areas that reflect a bygone era with their own old oak beams.



38 Park Street, Luton, Bedfordshire


The Cock is no longer a public house but an Italian res-taurant. The premises are a Grade II listed building of special interest, and one of the oldest remaining secular buildings in Luton. It is a two storey, 17th century or earlier, timber framed building. A secondary two storey timber framed wing was added in the late 17th century. Its current front elevation was rebuilt in red brick in the early 19th century, and an extension incorporated, which included a wagon entrance to the left of the property. The above photograph is taken from the rear so the wagon entrance can be seen on the right of the picture.

William Austin stated in his 1928 book “The History of Luton and Its Hamlets" that the earliest reference to The Cock Public House was made in 1671. The first record of the pub held by the Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service is in 1822 when it formed part of the nationwide survey of Alehouse Licences.

Charles Keep is listed as the Licensee from 1861 to 1864, during the ownership of Luton brewer Thomas Sworder.  It changed hands several times before it became part of the large national Whitbread brewing chain, until it closed.

It is located halfway between London and Cambridge, and during the 17th century it was known as the Half Way House.  Oliver Cromwell visited the pub regularly on his commute to and from Parliament.

The Rainbow and Dove has been owned and run by the Keep family for three generations. The current Landlord is Andrew Keep.

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The title of Michael Jackson’s 1976 engaging book about English Public Houses provides the best description of the institution: “The English Pub:   A unique social phenomenon.”  A pub is the focal point of the community and has its own social and cultural ambiance that differs from its foreign counterparts, i.e. cafés, bars, and beer halls, etc.  Since the Bronze Age, the British have been ale drinkers, but it was the Roman occupation and road networks that saw the advent of the first Inn or tabernae to provided refreshments for travellers.  During the Anglo-Saxons era alehouses materialized from family homes, and provided a meeting place for the local community. They developed in the early Middle-Ages to provide overnight accommodation for pilgrims and travellers.  Today the pub still remains an important hub in the community.

The owner, tenant, or manager, is known as the licensee of a public house, or more popularly "Pub Landlord."  Below, are some of the Pubs that have connections to Keeps.  If you know of any more please let us know?