Tuesday, 4 February 2014


Ye  Old  Fighting  Cocks  Inn


If you take the footpath leading down from the cathedral at St Albans in Hertfordshire to the River Ver, you will find there on the riverside,  Ye  Old  Fighting  Cocks  Inn,  said to be the oldest licensed pub in England.  The octagonal timber-framed building, which has monastic origins, may have started life as a pigeon cote, and a place where cock fighting took place – hence its name.   Before becoming a fully licensed pub it was a medieval fishing lodge.



The  Half  Moon  Inn


The Half Moon Inn  at Wilstone in Hertfordshire was the scene of an unusual Coroner’s Inquest back in 1751, it was held to inquire into the death of an alleged witch.    Ruth Osborn had been accused of witchcraft following an incident whilst she was begging for food at Gubblecote, her subsequent mutterings being interpreted as a curse.  Notices were posted that she and her husband would be publicly ducked at Wilstone on 21st April 1751.   Despite resistance, they were dragged from their place of refuge in the church vestry by a mob said to number some 4,000 people.  They were repeatedly ducked in the pond at Wilstone, which resulted in the death of Ruth Osborn who had been physically held under the water by the village chimney sweep, Luke Colley.  Colley was subsequently convicted of murder and was hanged at Hertford Gaol on 24th August 1751 and his body was hung in chains at Gubblecote.




The Hole in the Wall

There are several pubs with this name. This one, situated at Balkerne Gate in Colchester, Essex, was actually built alongside the Roman wall which once surrounded the town. This is the oldest part of the wall where once stood a triumphal arch which was raised in honour of Roman Emperor Claudius in AD 43 when Colchester was known as Camulodunum and the capital of Roman Britain. The scant remains of the gate are the earliest and most complete Roman gateway in the country

This pub was originally called The King’s Head, but in 1843, when the railway came to Colchester, the landlord of this ancient pub saw the opportunity to increase business by removing part of the wall to open up a view from the new railway. Quite amazingly he removed not only part of the wall but part of the old gateway. Thus the pub became known as The Hole in the Wall, a name which was officially adopted in the 1960’s.




The Playhouse

This pub in St John’s Street, Colchester in Essex is another innovative Wetherspoon conversion.  Originally opened as The Playhouse Theatre in 1929, it became a cinema in 1981 and subsequently a bingo hall before remaining empty until 1994 having retained its original interior. It was tastefully turned into a pub where the circle and boxes are preserved with models audience without being used. The stage is also still intact where one can enjoy a pint at one of the tables overlooking the auditorium wherein other tables are around a circular bar.



The  Royal  Huts  Hotel


Five paintings in  The Devil's Punch Bowl Hotel, formerly The Royal Huts Hotel, at Hindhead in Surrey tell a story of brigandage in the 18th century,  

© Copyright Colin Smith and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

To whom Iam grateful for the use of his Geograph photograph. 

A memorial on  Gibbet Hill marks the spot where a sailor was murdered and where three  villains were hanged in chains, which are also preserved at the hotel.   The full story is also told on the gravestone of the unidentified victim who was buried in the churchyard at  nearby Thursley :

‘ In memory of a generous but unfortunate sailor

who was barbarously murdered on Hindhead

on September 24th 1786 by three villains

after he had treated them liberally and promised them

further assistance on the road to Portsmouth.’


The  Bat  and  Ball


The old Bat and Ball Inn, once used as the clubhouse for an ancient cricket club stands alongside the ground on Halfpenny Down north east of the village of Hambledon in Hampshire.  This is the spiritual home of cricket where Hambledon Cricket Club, founded in 1760, gradually developed the laws of the modern game.   A granite monument in a corner of the cricket ground marks the hallowed site.


Hambledon Cricket Ground
The  Trusty  Servant  Inn


This village inn at Minstead in the New Forest has a curious name, the origin of which lies in a picture at Winchester College,    The Trusty  Servant  embodies a pig which will eat any scraps;  a padlock which shows that he will tell no tales; stag’s feet for swiftness; and a laden hand for hard work.  A useful fellow to employ.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is buried in the nearby churchyard.


The  Sir  Walter  Tyrrell  Inn


This New Forest inn,  The Sir Walter Tyrrell,  gives its name to the man  thought to be responsible for the death of King William 11.   The Rufus Stone, which can be seen in a clearing nearby at the side of an unclassified road north of the A31, recalls the death of King William 11 (1056 – 1100).  It was erected in 1745 to replace a tree which had marked the original spot where William Rufus was killed by an arrow whilst hunting in the New Forest.   But was the death an accident ?   Called Rufus supposedly because of his ruddy appearance, William was a man, so it is said, who was ill tempered and small both in body and in mind.  He was loathed by his people and few tears were shed when he was killed, and indeed the clergy at Winchester Cathedral refused religious rites to his remains.

Whilst his death was probably an accident,  Tyrrell has  by tradition been suspected of being responsible.   Was it an accident or was it regicide?  We will never know.    The Sir Walter Tyrrell Inn  can be found nearby.  
© Copyright Jonathan Kington and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.
To whom I am grateful for ther use of his Geograph photograph.
The former forge at nearby Avon is where, according to legend, Sir William stopped before fording the river, and made the blacksmith reverse his horse’s shoes in order to mislead his pursuers, whilst fleeing the scene.
The Forge at Avon

The  Crown  Inn


Back in the 12th century, King John,  another unloved King,  had occasion to spend the night at the  Crown Inn  at Kingsclere in Hampshire and spent a very uncomfortable night being severely bitten by bed bugs.  The King had been following his favourite pursuit of hunting in the area when a thick fog had prevented him from returning to the Royal apartment and hasty arrangements had been made for his accommodation at The Crown..    The story goes that as a result of this unfortunate experience, the King ordered that an effigy of a bed bug be displayed on the church tower,  and so a rather regal bed bug weathervane is to be seen on the church tower to this day.


The  Snakecatcher  Inn


The Snakecatcher Inn at Brockenhurst, also in the New Forest tells a quite different story about an interesting local character who died in 1905 at the age of 67 years.   Harry Mills, who was better known as Brusher Mills, lived in an illegal shack in the forest for almost 30 years,   actually the shack burned down just one day before the 30 years required to claim the home and land upon which it stood under ancient forest law.   He was known as Brusher simply because of the meticulous way in which he brushed the village cricket pitch.   His main occupation however, was that of snake catcher  and he is credited with having killed a total of 3,186 New Forest adders, which he sold to London Zoo as live feed for the larger snakes.
Mills was buried in the old churchyard just outside the village where a very fine marble stone marks his grave.  The stone depicts a carving of  Mills

The Hare and Hounds

The Hare & Hounds is a thatched pub in Downend Road at Arreton on the Isle of Wight and has a micabre connection to a local murder.   Close by is the curiously named Burnt House Lane and also a Bronze Age barrow known as Morey’s Hump.
In 1736, an elderly woodcutter called Michael Morey lived in an old cottage, in what is now called Burnt House Lane, with his grandson James who was 14 years of age. In June of that year, the boy’s dismembered body was found concealed in leather bags in nearby woods together with a billhook and bloodstained gloves.  Morey had set fire to his cottage and absconded. He was subsequently arrested and convicted of the murder at Winchester and executed. His body was hung in chains from a gibbet which was erected on the barrow at Arreton.
The gibbet cost the parish £6 and it was later sold to the landlord of the Hare & Hounds to recover some of the cost. The 22 foot upright was used as a beam in the pub tap room.

Hare and Hounds public house

© Copyright Chris Allen and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.
To whom I am grateful for ther use of his Geograph photograph.

Burnt House Lane

The Pilot Boat Inn

As seen in the photograph, this pub at Bembridge, Isle of Wight, is partly built in the shape of a boat.

© Copyright Ian S and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.
To whom I am grateful for the use of his Geograph photograph.

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