The Old Village Inns & Innkeepers

 

Choose one of the Inns from the menu below or keep reading to find out more about our old Inns & their Innkeepers...

 

 

 

There 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.

These 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.

In 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.

The 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.

Sometimes 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."

As 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.

The 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 were responsible.

Where 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.

It 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.

The following notes are derived from the various sources described above, and are dealt with under the heading of the inns concerned:

 

The Royal Oak

In 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 registers:

1614-1639 Peter Melmouth occurs in the first rate list and probably held the property for several years before that date.

1639-1642 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.

1654- 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.

1657-1674 Maud Joyner, widow, continued after her husband's death, presumably until her own death in 1674.

1678- 1680 William Joyner occurs in the rates, and probably commenced his tenancy in 1674.

1681 Barnabas Joyner succeeded his brother William.

1682-1699 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 present name.

1699-1709 John Sargent appears as an innkeeper in the accounts from 1699 and paid the rates from 1706 until 1709.

From 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.

1714 Richard Hardy

1715-1722 Robert Hardy

1722- 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.

1737-1754 David Chappell was the innkeeper although Margaret Hardy continued to pay the rate.

1755-1757 Margaret Hardy re-occurs as licensee, and died in 1758.

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.

In 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:

1830-1844 John Casher

1846-1855 Sarah Hillier

1859- 1880 Joseph Knowles

1885-1903 William George

1903-1911 William Hobbs

1911-1923 Samuel Matthews

1923-1935 William Holladay

1936-1946 Victor Lock

1947- 1951 George Kerton

1951-1957 Ernest Garner

1957-1959 John McDonald

1959- 1976 Desmond Powell

1976 Fraute Cottrell

The Drax Arms (Kings Head)

As 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 rates.

Before 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.

The 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:

1611 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.

1656-1685 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 several commodities.

1685-1714 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.

1715- 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.

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."

1738-1743 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.

1745-1747 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.

1749-1750 Peter Phippard occurs in the alehouse registers.

1750-1762 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.

1763- 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.

1770-1776 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.

1777-1830 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.

In 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:-

1842 - 1844 John Vivian

1846-1852 James Vincent

1855-1865 John Vallis

1867 Mrs. Cresdee

1871 Samuel Strickland

1875 Matilda Strickland

1880-1902 James Arnold

1902-1925 Richard Kellaway

1925- 1939 Silvester Corbin

1939-1950 Alfred Playford

1950-1951 Margaret Playford

1951 -1953 Clifford Kirk

1953- 1955 John Carter

1955-1966 Ronald Boulton

1966-1967 Anthony Kircher -Smith

1967 Peter Phillips

The Kings Arms

From 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 rates:

1624-1654 Tobias Norris occurs in the rating lists and as an innkeeper in the churchwardens accounts.

1655-1657 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.

1678-1717 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.

1717-1734 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.

1735-1749 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.

From 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.

1754-1770 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.

 

The Crown

Again 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 map
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:

1614-1664 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 1632.

1678-1690 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.

1699-1719 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.

1727-1734 Hanna Brabant occurs in the alehouse registers and may possibly have been licensee of the Crown.

1735-1777 James Chipp occurs in the rate lists from 1741 and in the alehouse registers as licensee of the Crown. He died in June 1777.

1778 Samuel Simmons occurs in the rate list in place of James Chipp in 1778, the last year for which 18th century parish rates exist.

John 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.

 

The New Inn

In 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:

1614-1631 William Penny occurs in the rates "for the new Inn." He died in May 1631.

1632-1657 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.

1662-1664 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,

1678-1690 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.

1691-1703 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.

1717-1723 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.

1727-1728 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.

1733- 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.

The 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.

 

The Greyhound

This 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:

1717-1722 William Stagg occurs in the alehouse registers for 1718 and 1719,
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.

1723- 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.

 

Inn 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:

1715- 1723 Christopher Kerley

1727 - 1733 Mary Kerley, widow

1736- 1738 William Day

1742 - 1743 Edward Moores

The following innkeepers occur in the alehouse registers and could have been licensees of the Shitterton inn.

1745- 1746 Elianor Lockyer

1748 Samuel Cuff

1749- 1750 James Seare

The 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

1752- 1756 George Samways occurs as licensee of the Duke William.

1759 Robert Talbot occurs in the alehouse registers and cannot be assigned
to any other inn.


The Sailor or Taphouse

It 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:

"Memorandum 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."

 

The Horse and Jockey

Bere 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.

 

Return to the Village History Page

© Bere Regis Village Website 2004 - Site by Chola Design