Wednesday, 5 February 2014


The  Grosvenor Arms Hotel


In the 18th century  Grosvenor Arms Hotel  at Shaftesbury in Dorset is one of the finest pieces of carved furniture to be seen anywhere.  It is an enormous  Victorian  sideboard,  carved from a single block of oak in the 1860’s by Gerrard Robinson.  This fine piece depicts the events immortalised in ‘The Ballad of Chevy Chase,’ an ancient border song dealing with the rivalry between the English Earl Percy of Northumberland and the Scottish Earl Douglas.


The  Smith’s  Arms


There is not much room in  The  Smith’s  Arms  at Godmanstone in Dorset, in fact the outside dimensions of the building are just 39’ 6” by 11’6”, and  warranting a place in the Guinness Book of Records, it is a claimant for the smallest pub in England title.

It was a blacksmith’s shop back in the 17th century when Charles 11 called in to have his horse shod.  Apparently the King asked for ale and when the blacksmith told him that he had no licence for ale, the King granted him one on the spot and it has been a pub ever since.


The  Smoking  Dog  Inn


The inn sign at  The  Smoking  Dog  Inn  at Malmesbury in Wiltshire depicts a dog smoking a pipe!   So what is it all about?  Little seems to be known about the strange name of his pub but apparently the inn was so named after the owners of the building found a picture of the smoking dog in the cellar.


Cannard’s  Grave  Inn


Situated on the A37 some two miles south of Shepton Mallet in Somerset, the curiously named  Cannard’s Grave Inn,  displays a sign depicting a man hanging from a gibbet.   A simple story surrounding this is that the 18th century landlord of a previous inn on the site, Giles Cannard, was hanged for sheep stealing and buried in front of the inn.   However, there is another story that Cannard in fact hanged himself.  Either way, Cannard was undoubtedly a rogue who was involved in a variety of illegal activities, and his pub was frequented by rogues and vagabonds.   It seems to be a well known fact that several travellers who spent the night at Cannard’s pub failed to reach their destinations, whilst other guests were often persuaded to part with their possessions.  In the end it seems that Cannard became closely involved with a plan to defraud the town of its common land and when the news leaked out the furious townsfolk marched to his pub and, one way or another, Giles Cannard ended up having his neck stretched.
This pub has been refurbished and has changed its name to Cannard's Well. It is now  a modern, welcoming pub.


The  Pack  of  Cards  Inn


The curious architecture of a striking white building at Combe Martin in North Devon results from the whim of  a 17th century landowner, Squire George Ley, who apparently had a handsome win at cards.  He built this  pub with his winnings,  to resemble  a pack of cards,   and in keeping with the theme,  this unusual building has 4 floor,  13 doors  and 52 windows.




The  Ship  Inn


A culinary delight in Cornwall is  Starry Gazy  Pie  -  a fish pie, which legend has it once saved the inhabitants of the tiny fishing village of  Mousehole from starvation.  Apparently the villager’s were almost on the breadline due to bad weather and local fisherman, Tom Bawcock,  bravely went to sea in a huge storm to return with seven different types of fish, which were all baked together in a huge pie to feed the starving locals.

They still celebrate ‘Tom Bawcock’s Eve’ every year on 23rd December at  The Ship Inn at Mousehole.


The  Admiral  Benbow  Inn


As you walk down Chapel Street in Penzance in Cornwall, you will be surprised to see the figure of a smuggler on the roof of  The  Admiral  Benbow  Inn.   This fine model draws attention to a fine old nautical inn with its very interesting unspoilt interior, taking us back to a former time.





The  Logan  Rock  Inn




The inn sign at  The  Logan  Rock  Inn  at Treen near Penzance in Cornwall depicts a huge ‘rocking stone’ which is situated on the cliff top nearby.   The Logan Rock derives from the Cornish word ‘log’ = to move.

The story goes that back in 1824, an army officer, Lt Goldsmith and some of his friends, pushed this curious rock off the cliff, and such was the local outcry that the Lt. had to restore the rock to its original position on the cliff top at his own expense.  It was no mean feat considering that the rock weighed some 65 tons and apparently cost £100 to achieve, a huge amount in those days.

The rock is now in the care of The National Trust.

The Logan Rock at Treryn Dinas

Although logan stones (naturally occurring stones that can be 'rocked' by human effort alone) are found on many granite and limestone tors, this one is sufficiently famous to be named on British road atlases! This 80 ton rock was already a tourist attraction in the early 18th century, but achieved notoriety in 1824 when it was dislodged by a naval lieutenant called Goldsmith and his band of men. After a public outcry he was forced to replace it at his own expense, a task which took at least 60 men almost seven months to complete. The process of restoring the stone to its lofty perch has left various holes and slots cut into the surrounding granite, and they still didn't get it quite right as it is very difficult to rock now.

Creative Commons Licence [Some Rights Reserved]   © Copyright Jim Champion and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

I am grateful to Jim Champion for the use of his photographs and text.


The Hole in the Wall

This pub in Crockwell Street in the centre of Bodmin in Cornwall was originally a debtor’s prison (1749-1779). Families of the inmates would pass food through a hole in the wall which gives the pub its name. This unusual pub is situated in  the old courtyard and is full of memorabilia including a stuffed lion.




The First and Last Inn

Just 1 mile from Lands End this pub in the little village of Sennen dates back to 1620 and was once the haunt of smugglers and wreckers around Sennen Cove. The northern side of the pub sign declares it to be the Last Inn, whilst the southern side declares it to be the First Inn.
Secret tunnels and passages were dug around the pub and a glass covered well inside the pub is known as Annie’s Well is thought to have been one of these.
Joseph and Annie George ran the inn in the 1800’s and Annie made many enemies in the village when she gave evidence against some of the smugglers. To punish her the villagers staked her out on the beach at low tide and she was drowned. Her body was laid out in her bedroom at the pub which is said to be haunted by her spirit.




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