Old Village Inns & Innkeepers
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is some peculiar fascination about the study of old inns, particularly
in cases where they have subsequently undergone a change of
use, or where they have disappeared altogether. This is possibly
due to their having been in former days the scene of village
life in, as it were, concentrated form, such gatherings having
taken place in what may now be an ordinary cottage or nothing
more than a gap in the village street. The 17th and 18th century
public houses were of varying sorts and sizes, from the larger
inns catering for travelers and visitors, to the more humble
alehouses catering almost exclusively for local custom.
latter establishments were usually no more than ordinary dwellings
licensed to sell beer, where the patrons would simply sit and
drink around the kitchen or living room table. As they were
primarily for local custom, stabling accommodation, signs or
other distinguishing features were unnecessary, and
hence in such buildings which have subsequently reverted to
private dwellings there are no visible features to indicate
their former use. The larger inns, however, are recognisable
by their basic plan form, being usually located on a corner
site with a yard and stabling accommodation at the rear, such
as is still evident at the present Royal Oak and Drax Arms.
the 18th century there were at least seven public houses in
Bere Regis; the Royal Oak, Kings Arms, Kings Head, Crown, New
Inn, Duke William and Greyhound-and information concerning them
is obtainable from a number of sources. Firstly, the Dorset
Alehouse Registers cover the period 1714-1770. Before 1753 the
names of the licensees only are given, but after that date the
names of the inns are frequently given also, providing a complete
picture for the years 1753-1770. With this latter period as
a starting point it then becomes possible to trace the inns
further by means of the churchwardens and overseers accounts,
particularly the rate assessment lists.
parish rate lists go back to 1614, and although they are incomplete
for a large part of the 17th century, they exist for each year
from 1678 to 1778. When the churchwardens or overseers drew
up the list of ratepayers for a particular year they naturally
made use of the previous year's list as a basis, and consequently
the names of the ratepayers occur in the same order year by
year. A change of tenant can therefore be easily spotted by
this means alone, but in addition this is sometimes confirmed
by a reference to the previous tenant, e.g. "Stephen Masters
for Norrices late," which occurs in the rates for 1735-38.
when a property lay vacant the lord of the manor was required
to pay the rate, and in such cases the name of the property
is often mentioned, for example in 1724 and 1725 this item occurs
in the rate: "Major Duckett & his Lady's Sistrs for
ye Kings Arms."
this latter item occupies the same position in the list as the
previous item concerning Stephen Masters and Richard Norris,
both of whom are known to have been innkeepers from entries
in the expenditure section of the churchwardens accounts, their
association with the Kings Arms is therefore established.
expenditure section of the churchwardens accounts gives clear
indications of the names of innkeepers by items in which they
are nominated as receiving payments for beer for the ringers,
for beer consumed at church meetings (which
incidentally appear to have taken place at the various inns
in turn, in order presumably to avoid unfair patronage) and
for the accommodation of passing travelers for whom the churchwardens
the name of the tenant is known, the 1662-64 hearth tax returns
can give an indication of the size of an inn at that period,
and show whether or not an innkeeper was living at a time not
covered by either church rates or parish register transcripts.
The register transcripts themselves are useful in clarifying
otherwise mysterious successions when the property passed to
a son-in-law or where a widow may have remarried.
is fortunate that the rate lists, extending to 1778, go just
far enough to be read in conjunction with the 1777 Isaac Taylor
map, enabling some of the old inns to be located with near certainty,
and in the same way the 1844 tithe map can be read in conjunction
with the 19th century trade directories and census returns.
following notes are derived from the various sources described
above, and are dealt with under the heading of the inns concerned:
spite of a sign in the entrance hall claiming that the Royal
Oak was established in 1720, it can in fact be traced back to
at least 1614, and is referred to by name in 1712. The present
building probably dates from just after the fire of 1788, but
its predecessor appears from the 1777 map to have been of approximately
the same size and shape, and in 1662 it contained 5 hearths,
denoting a fairly large building by 17th century village standards.
The following innkeepers have been traced from entries in the
churchwardens accounts and rate lists, and from the Dorset alehouse
Peter Melmouth occurs in the first rate list and probably held
the property for several years before that date.
Luce Melmouth, widow, continued as tenant after her husband's
death, at least until 1642 and probably beyond, but it is not
possible to ascertain the precise date due to a lack of both
rate lists and register transcripts for this period. Neither
is it possible to say with certainty that the Melmouths were
innkeepers, as in the early churchwardens accounts, individual
innkeepers were not named, such items being dealt with collectively
for a whole year.
1656 Thomas Joyner succeeded Luce Melmouth at some time between
1642 and 1654 as the item in the rate list reads "Thomas
Joyner for Melmouths", and he is known to have been an
innkeeper from items in the accounts for 1654 and 1656.
Maud Joyner, widow, continued after her husband's death, presumably
until her own death in 1674.
1680 William Joyner occurs in the rates, and probably commenced
his tenancy in 1674.
Barnabas Joyner succeeded his brother William.
Widow Joyner, presumably Barnabas's widow, appears to have moved
to London in 1699, but continued to pay the rate until 1705.
Owing to its long association with this family the property
seems generally to have been known as "Joyners" at
least until 1712 when it is referred to in the rates by its
John Sargent appears as an innkeeper in the accounts from 1699
and paid the rates from 1706 until 1709.
1710 until about 1740 the rates on most of the village inns
were paid by someone other than the licensee, possibly due to
the inns having been sold to private owners, or to some government
legislation requiring inns to be in the hands of a responsible
citizen, in the case of the Royal Oak a certain Mr. Martin who
later became Dr. Martin. As a result of this the name of the
licensee is uncertain from 1710 until the alehouse registers
commence in 1714.
1736 Margaret Hardy, widow succeeded Robert Hardy after his
death. As a matter of interest she is referred to as Margaret
Sargent by one of the churchwardens in 1732, suggesting that
this might have been her maiden name. This would account for
the association of Sargents and Hardys with the property, as
it was quite common for tenancies to remain in the same family.
David Chappell was the innkeeper although Margaret Hardy continued
to pay the rate.
Margaret Hardy re-occurs as licensee, and died in 1758.
1777 John Sargent probably a relative of Margaret Hardy and
descendant of the earlier John Sargent. He is paying rate on
his stock of beer until 1774 after which he is succeeded by
Robert Burgess, although the 1777 map shows John Sargent to
be still tenant at that date. He died in November 1777.
the following list of Royal Oak innkeepers the dates before
1885 are from trade directories which appeared at infrequent
intervals and are therefore approximate only. The later dates
have been obtained from electoral lists and information kindly
supplied by brewers Strong and Co. of Romsey:
1880 Joseph Knowles
1951 George Kerton
1976 Desmond Powell
Drax Arms (Kings Head)
previously mentioned this inn is of the usual pattern for one
of the larger establishments and suggests that it has been so
from at least the 17th century, but it could not have acquired
its present name until after Henry Drax had bought the Bere
Regis estate from the surviving Turbervilles in 1733. It does
not therefore appear by this name in the alehouse registers
even in 1770 when they end, but by 1777 it is referred to as
the Drax's Arms on the 1777 map with the tenant named as James
Kitcatt. On referring to the overseers rate lists it can be
determined that James Kitcatt succeeded William Scott who is
known to have been the licensee of the Kings Head in 1770 from
the alehouse register of that year, indicating therefore that
the name was changed from the Kings Head to the Drax Arms at
some time between 1770 and 1777. This then enables the property
to be traced with certainty back to the early 18th century by
means of a combination of the alehouse registers and parish
1715 however, the names of the licensees are uncertain. For
rating purposes the property was known as 'Meerings" at
least until 1763, and as such can be traced back to William
Meering who occurs in the 1662 hearth tax returns, and possibly
to Henry Meeren who occurs in the 1641 protestation returns.
William Meering held the property until his death in 1685 after
which he was succeeded by his widow until 1692. Richard Meering
was ratepayer in 1693, but the property passed to Edward Barnes
or Barons in 1694 who was in turn succeeded by his widow from
1702 to 1704. In 1700 & 1701 Edward Barnes is described
in the rate list as "of Corfe Castle". From this time
onwards the property generally occurs in the rate as "Owners
or occupiers of the tenent, called Meerings," although
"Robt. Burgess or other tenent. of ye tenent. called Meerings"
occurs in 1705 and 1710,
and "Eliz. Meering or tennt." occurs in 1711.
rate list entries quoted indicate that during this period the
ratepayers were not necessarily occupiers or licensees, and
this is confirmed by the fact that the names Meenng or Barnes
do not figure among the innkeepers appearing in the churchwardens
accounts. As the Drax Arms/Kings Head was one of the larger
establishments capable of accommodating travelers, the licensees
could be expected to occur as such in the accounts, and as the
innkeepers of the other
larger inns during this period can be accounted for, the possible
tenants of this inn can be arrived at by a process of elimination.
In the following list of innkeepers those before John Hewitt
are therefore conjectural, although the dates tally well:
Thomas Gold (or Gould) appears in the account for 1611 as being
paid for the accommodation of a soldier and "Thomas Gold
mercer" occurs in the rate for 1614.
John Gold (or Gould) occurs in the accounts as an innkeeper,
being paid for beer on a number of occasions. He was also a
baker and probably a descendant and successor of the earlier
Thomas Gold, whose designation 'mercer' indicated a dealer in
Benjamin Phippard was an innkeeper, being paid for beer and
the accommodation of travelers on many occasions between 1685
and 1711. He died in October 1714.
1732 John Hewitt occurs in the alehouse registers and in the
churchwardens accounts as an innkeeper. He appears to have been
a Dorchester man, as when he was married to Elizabeth Bartlett
of this parish on 17 February 1711 he was described as "John
Hewytt of Dorchester." He was one of the churchwardens
in 1727 and his account is written in beautiful 'copper-plate'
writing. He died in 1732.
1737 Elizabeth Hewitt, widow of John Hewitt again occurs in
both the alehouse registers and churchwardens accounts. In the
rate lists she appears as paying rate "for Meerings Late."
Thomas Burt occurs in the alehouse registers which do not at
this time give the names of the inns. He is presumed to have
been licensee of this inn as all the others in the register
can be accounted for.
Elizabeth Strattord occurs in the alehouse registers and is
the former Elizabeth Hewitt, widow. She was remarried in December
1737, to Francis Stratford, and her retirement from an active
part in the business at that time would account for Thomas Burt
becoming licensee. She died a widow in 1757.
Peter Phippard occurs in the alehouse registers.
William Jones occurs in the alehouse registers as licensee of
the Kings Head. In the rate lists from 1758 to 1763 he is given
as paying rate sometimes for
"Meerings" and sometimes for "Stratfords"
and this Meering - Hewitt - Stratford - Jones relationship in
the rates enables the licensees from John Hewitt onwards
to be definitely established.
1769 Peter Phippard occurs in the alehouse registers as licensee
of the Kings Head, and could be the same Peter Phippard who
occurs in 1749-50.
William Scott occurs as licensee of the Kings Head in the last
alehouse register of 1770, and in the rate lists is paying Id.
rate on his stock of beer until 1776.
James Kitcatt replaces William Scott in the rate list for 1777,
and on the Isaac Taylor map of that year is shown as tenant
of the Drax Arms. 53 years later James Kitcatt appears as licensee
in the trade directory for 1830, but this could have been a
son and namesake.
the following list of later Drax Arms innkeepers the dates before
1885 are from trade directories which appeared at infrequent
intervals and are therefore approximate only. The later dates
have been obtained from electoral lists and information kindly
supplied by Messrs Hall and Woodhouse Ltd. of Blandford:-
- 1844 John Vivian
1939 Silvester Corbin
-1953 Clifford Kirk
1955 John Carter
Anthony Kircher -Smith
entries in the churchwardens accounts this appears to have been
one of the larger inns, and would be expected to have occupied
a corner site with yard and outbuildings at the rear. The rating
lists indicate that it ceased to function as an inn in1770 or
1775, the entries in the rate lists from 1775 until 1778 reading
"James Burgess Junr. late Kings Arms." According to
the 1777 map James Burgess was holding (in addition to two small
cottages in West Street and Butt Lane) what is now no. 17 North
Street, adjoining the corner shop. This latter property which
in 1777 was described as "House &c garden Shop
&c" occupied a corner site with a yard and outbuildings
at the rear, and is therefore most likely to have been the Kings
Arms, particularly as Blind Street would formerly have been
one of the main easterly routes out of the village by way of
Woodbury Hill. The following list
of innkeepers is traced from the alehouse registers and parish
Tobias Norris occurs in the rating lists and as an innkeeper
in the churchwardens accounts.
William Norris occurs in the rates and was the son of Tobias,
having been baptised on 19 March 1614. He probably continued
as innkeeper well beyond 1657.
Richard Norris occurs in the rate lists and as an inn-keeper
in the accounts at various times between 1685 and 1711. He was
probably the son of William Norris taking over as licensee at
some time between 1657 and 1678. He died in May 1717.
Abraham Lovelace occurs as an innkeeper in the churchwardens
accounts and in the alehouse registers. He cannot be definitely
assigned to this inn, as the rate payer for this period is not
nominated, but he conveniently fits the dates and cannot be
assigned to any of the other known inns.
Stephen Masters occurs in the alehouse registers, and in the
rates for 1735 - 1738 the items read "Stephen Masters for
Norrices late." In the rates for 1724 and 1725 the property
is named as "ye Kings Arms", thereby establishing
the relationship with the Norrises and Stephen Masters.
1750 to 1753 no licensee which can be assigned to this inn occurs
in the alehouse registers, although the rate was being paid
by Joy Burgess (a man) from 1750 until 1774.
Henry Bartlett occurs in the alehouse registers as licensee
of the Kings Arms, and is paying Id. rate on his stock of beer
1764-1767 and 1775-1777.
The date when the Kings Arms ceased to be an inn is therefore
uncertain. The relevant items in the rates for 1771-1774 read
"Joy Burgess Late (Kings Arms)," and it is apparent
that the word late refers to the property rather than the ratepayer,
as Joy Burgess was paying rate on his stock of malt until 1774
and died in February 1775.
this was one of the larger inns. According to the rates for
1777 the tenant was James Chipp and Isaac Taylor's map of that
year shows him to have been occupying a building situated upon
what is now a lawn between no.'s 88 and 89 West Street. The
present drive immediately west of no. 89 gave access to the
rear yard and outbuildings, the remains of which still exist,
showing it to have been on the usual corner site pattern. The
fire of 1788 actually started in the Crown so that it was completely
destroyed, but it was afterwards rebuilt, as the 1844 tithe
shows a building on the site described as "House and garden"
occupied by William Woolfrey, and a still existing Victorian
photograph shows it to have been subsequently used as a post
office. Part of the doorstep of this building can still be seem
at the side of the footpath. The following list of innkeepers
has been traced by means of the alehouse registers, parish rates
and churchwardens accounts:
Robert Sexey occurs in the rates until 1657 and in the 1662-4
hearth tax returns he was required to pay tax on 4 hearths,
indicating a sizeable building by 17th century village standards.
The period was probably covered by a father and son of the same
name as "Robert son of Robert Sexey" was baptised
on 7 April 1619, and two Robert Sexey's, senior and junior,
occur in the 1641 protestation returns. The 1614 rate entry
reads "Robert Sexey for John Dawe his tenement" and
could refer to the John Daw who occurs in the 1542 muster roll
and whose name is carved as a churchwarden on one of the church
pews. Robert Sexey is named as an innkeeper in the account for
Andrew Sexey, presumably a son of Robert, occurs in the rates,
and as an innkeeper in the accounts, and succeeded as licensee
at some time between 1664 and 1678. It is significant that in
those years when the Crown is referred to by name, Andrew Sexey
is not, and vice versa.1691-1698 Elizabeth Sexey, widow occurs
as ratepayer and as an innkeeper in the accounts.
George Sargent occurs as ratepayer for 1699, and in the alehouse
registers for 1718 and 1719. The alehouse registers are incomplete
for 1720-22 and the rate lists do not name the tenants from
1700 to 1740.
Hanna Brabant occurs in the alehouse registers and may possibly
have been licensee of the Crown.
James Chipp occurs in the rate lists from 1741 and in the alehouse
registers as licensee of the Crown. He died in June 1777.
Samuel Simmons occurs in the rate list in place of James Chipp
in 1778, the last year for which 18th century parish rates exist.
Purchase occurs as ratepayer for an isolated surviving rate
list of 1820, but this item could refer to the Crown Inn at
Milborne Stileham which then formed part of this parish. The
Bere Regis 'Crown' was not functioning as an inn in 1630 when
the first trade directory appeared.
spite of its name this was one of the oldest of the village
inns and contained 3 hearths in 1662. It does not figure by
name in the alehouse registers which give the names of the other
inns after 1753, and is therefore more difficult to trace after
about 1700 when the names of occupying tenants are not named
in the rates. Although it seems to have ceased to be an inn
before 1753 the property was still called the New Inn for rating
purposes until 1820 and was also so called on the 1844 tithe
map, which shows it to have been situated on the north side
of West Street, at the far west end on the site of the present
no. 45 and extending somewhat beyond the end of the present
terrace of cottages. In 1777 the property was held by "S.
Gould & Whennel," and in 1844 by Sarah Gould at which
time it is described as "New Inn Garden Yards & Buildings."
It is not named as a public house in the trade directories which
commence in 1830, but in 1842 Sansom Gould is described as a
beer retailer, and Mrs. Sarah Gould occurs as a beer retailer
in the directories for 1846, 1851 and 1853, as does also Mrs.
Elizabeth Gould in 1859 and Thomas Gould in 1865. In the following
list of innkeepers the later ones are conjectural:
William Penny occurs in the rates "for the new Inn."
He died in May 1631.
William Wilcox occurs in the rates, and in the account for 1653
he received payments for the accommodation of travellers, but
this could have been in his capacity of constable which post
he then held.
Elizabeth Wilcox, presumably a widow, occurs in hearth tax returns.
She could have been William Wilcox's widow, although a William
Wilcox died in 1671,
Henry Trew occurs as ratepayer. A "Henery Trim" occurs
as an innkeeper in the churchwardens account for 1687, and could
be the same name. In 17 century writing there are many variations
of spelling, when i's and e's were often transposed and m's
and w's looked very much alike.
Elizabeth Trew, widow occurs in the rates, but from 1704 onwards,
in common with the other inns, the rates are paid by persons
other than the licensees.
Thomas Fry appears in the alehouse registers and seems to be
associated in the rates with George Chaldecott who was one of
the ratepayers for the New Inn from 1735-1742.
Mary Brine, widow, occurs in the alehouse register in1727 and
in the churchwardens accounts in 1728, and could possibly have
been licensee of this inn.1732 William Galton occurs in the
alehouse register and could possibly have been licensee.
1736 John Whinnel occurs in the alehouse registers and could
possibly have been licensee of this inn, particularly as a Whennel
is named as one of the tenants in 1777.
lack of further licensees in the alehouse registers suggest
that the property ceased to be a licensed inn as such from this
date, and to have become premises for retail trade only.
was one of the smaller alehouses, and from the 1777 map appears
to have been situated in what is now a very small gap between
numbers 83 & 84 West Street. It does not appear to have
been an alehouse before 1717 and ceased to function as such
in 1766. Although earlier tenants can be traced through the
rates they do not appear to have been innkeepers, and of the
two following innkeepers only the second is known definitely
to have been licensee of this inn:
William Stagg occurs in the alehouse registers for 1718 and
and occurs as an innkeeper in the churchwardens accounts for
1717, 1718, 1721 and 1722. He was also parish clerk, and died
in 1722. He could possibly have been
licensee of the Greyhound.
1766 Richard Satchell occurs in the alehouse registers as licensee
of the Greyhound, and in the churchwardens accounts as an innkeeper.
He stopped paying 1d rate on his stock of beer after 1766 and
no longer appeared in the alehouse register. He continued to
payrate on the property until at least 1778 when the rates end,
and a Richard Satchell, presumably a son or even a grandson
was still occupying a house in West Street in 1836.
at Shitterton (possibly the Duke William)
There are no recognisable references to this inn or its tenants
in any of the parish rates, and the property is naturally not
included in the 1777 map of Henry Drax's estate. However, no.
12 Shitterton, a cottage adjoining Dairy Cottage, is traditionally
believed to have been an inn, and may thus have been the one
in question. In the alehouse registers up to1743 the Shitterton
innkeepers are clearly referred to as such:
1723 Christopher Kerley
- 1733 Mary Kerley, widow
1738 William Day
- 1743 Edward Moores
following innkeepers occur in the alehouse registers and could
have been licensees of the Shitterton inn.
1746 Elianor Lockyer
1750 James Seare
Duke William is named in the alehouse registers in 1753 and
1754, and as it cannot be identified elsewhere, could well have
been the name of the Shitterton Inn
1756 George Samways occurs as licensee of the Duke William.
Robert Talbot occurs in the alehouse registers and cannot be
to any other inn.
Sailor or Taphouse
is known that an inn of some sort was situated on Woodbury Hill,
and indeed it would be surprising if it had been otherwise in
view of the number of potential patrons always available during
the week of the fair. Some cottagers on the hill are
said to have taken out special licences to sell beer for the
week of the fair only, and it would seem that this was also
the case for the inn which does not figure in the alehouse registers.
It can be imagined that an inn so situated would have had more
trade in the one week than some of the others during the whole
year. The building of this inn is recorded in the Gould family
notebook and its construction appears to have been as rapid
as its sales of liquor must have been:
ye salor or taphouse was builded in ye yeare 1746 in July at
woodberyhill ye burges (Burgesses, a local building firm) builded
it in 7 days wee had 11 bushels of Lime ye side walls was about
10 foot high & ye end is about 13 foot high."
Horse and Jockey
Heath farmhouse was at one time an inn or alehouse, but this
use was of comparatively short duration. It occurs as such in
the trade directory for 1875-"Haggett, Thomas, Horse
& Jockey"-but not in those for 1871 or 1880. It is
said to have been forcibly closed as a result of a certain amount
of unruly behaviour in the neighbourhood for which the inn was
considered responsible. Presumably a long walk back from one
of the village inns was thought to have a sufficiently sobering
effect. The signboard of this inn is said to have survived with
the Haggett family until relatively recent years.
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