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Inns of the Parish

It is obvious that a history of Wincanton would be very incomplete if all reference to its public houses was omitted. Wincanton has been noted for several years as having a large number of places of worship, but it will be seen that the number of public-houses has by far exceeded the churches and chapels.

In the years 1574-7 there were but 100 Inns in the County of Somerset. Besides these were 16 Taverns and 215 tipling houses or ale-houses. The latter were for the most part kept by women, who kept open during the greater part of the night. The proprietors were required by law to have a lantern hanging at the door until 9 o'clock in the evening, at which time they were expected to close. At these houses home-brewed ale was retailed at a half-penny per gallon! Inns were for the use of travellers, who required beds for themselves and stabling for their horses. At these Inns, doctors met their patients and lawyers their clients. At some of these Inns the signs were of a gorgeous description and very costly.

In 1558, there was in this parish only one Inn mentioned by name and that was "The Hart." It was a corner house situated on the south side of the High Street, and at that time held by the heirs of Henry WILLIAMS. On the opposite side of the said High Street there was a brewhouse called"Prior's House," probably beforetime the property of the Prior of Stavordale, but at the time in question held by one John VINING, a name of which there was an unconscionable number at that time and after. It may be that where "The Hart" stood became the site of "The White Horse," it being a common occurrence to change the name.


"The Angel."

In High Street. The site now occupied by one shop of Mr G.F. BENJAFIELD. Kept in or about 1678 by Jasper STACEY.
1774 - Andrew IVY.
1792 - Angel LANE is mentioned in the accounts of the Feoffees.
1797 - James THORN.
1801 - Joseph HUTCHINGS. Census of that year.
1811 - John WAY. Census of that year.
Apparently Way was the last tenant who held a licence in this house, for the people to be "drunk on the premises." Mr MELHUISH, after this, kept a wine and spirit store here. He was followed by Mrs John GOODFELLOW, who had a ladies school. Some time in the eighteenthirties, Mr George RUSSELL, senr, opened a drapery shop, and called it "London House." After several other changes of tenants it still beared this name in 1908.

"The Bear Inn," Market Place.

1720 is the date on the sundial on the front, bearing the intials P.R.D. (Roger and Diana PERRIOR)
1745 - John WEBB's name for Poor rate stands for The Bear.
1767 - His name is still found against it. A Feoffees meeting held here in that year.
1770 - Mr and Mrs LEACH were here, and in that year both appear to have died. Then Mr James BACON, late butler to the Rev Mr SANDFORD, near Taunton, entered, and was here in 1774
In 1784, Mr OLIVER, who succeeded Mr Bacon, was then quitting.
In 1791, Mr James LINTERN, afterwards landlord of the Greyhound Hotel, was in possession. He held it till 1801, when John PERRIOR entered. His name again appears as land lord in 1811. In 1820, Diana PERRIOR, widow, entered on a new lease of 7 years. In 1824, Daniel ENGLISH again appears. It is said that he came from the ship of East Stower to The Bear, and when he left went to the Half Moon at Horsington. The same is said of Thomas GRIST, who followed him here. During Mr Grist's occupation the house was flourishing ; the coaches stopped here, a dozen or so every day, but the Railways made great havoc with the trade. In 1861, Mr William NEWMAN was here. During his time, an old quaint part of the house was taken down and modernised. After Mr Newman's death and that of Mrs Newman, there were several changes ; first Mr MILLER, then Mr YELLS in May, 1879 ; Mr FORD, now of Sturminster, (1908) came in 1884 and left in 1886. Mr Henry William ANDREWS came on 19th April, 1886, and died on April 5th, 1887. Mrs Andrews his widow, carried on the business till her death on June 1st, 1902. The licence in 1908 was held by the husband of one of her sisters, namely, Mr W. J. DYKE.
The name PERRIOR was a well known one in the parish, and Roger was a frequent christian name in the family. The last of the name lived in Church Street. Until the last few years a headstone marked his grave. It bore the following inscription: "To the memory of Roger Perrior, who died June 10th, 1825, aged 73 years."

"The Bell."

In South Street, where Stuckey's bank stands.
1608. - Left by will of Thomas EWENS, of Kingston, Yeovil, in trust for the poor of Wincanton.
1693. - Conveyed by Robert FREKE to Richard CHURCHEY and others.
1699. - Granted by Philip BENNETT and others for lives to Thomas BEACON.
1721. - In possession of Mr Wm. PLUCKNETT, who held it for lives.
1752. - Mr Henry PLUCKNETT, jeweller, took a 99 years lease of it, depending on the lives of his wife and Dr. ROSEAMZER for 30 pound in hand and 10/- per annum.
1774. - Mr HINDLEY was the holder of the lease. Land Tax Return.
1823. - Richard RING is mentioned as having held it on the life of Mrs HINDLEY, but who had recently died. About this date a new house was erected by a Mr BARRETT, to whom it was granted for three lives. The house cost Mr Barrett 500 pound to build, and he paid a ground rent of 2 pound per annum.
Stuckey's Banking Company purchased the interest of the lessees, and a few years since bought the freehold, when they greatly enlarged the house.

"The Black Lyon" or "Lyon"

Stood in the market place where Mr J. C. HINKS' shop now stands. With the exception of the shop windows it looks very as when built. "Benjamin LEWYS," or as the token issued in 1667 calls him "Ben Lewes," was living there when the token was made. There were three of the same name living in the parish at that time. Ben died in 1679. He belonged to a family of some position, himself being churchwarden in 1667.
In 1710, a Mr SMITH was landlord there.
In 1736, Bernard JAMES occupied the house, and was there in 1745.
In 1774, Mr William DAY paid Land Tax on the house.
By 1806, it had been transformed into a bank, and was occupied by Mr Thomas GARRETT.
In 1822, James LONGMAN married Mary HINE, and carried on the business of Draper. He died in 1844 when his widow succeeded him. She gave up to her son, S. H. LONGMAN, who carried on the business for many years. He died in 1886, when his widow succeeded. She retired, and disposed of the business in 1891 to Mr J. C. HINKS, who was in possession in 1908.

"The Britannia" on Rock Hill

1827. - Opened by Robert GUTCH, continued by his widow, and by Mary GUTCH his daughter till 1862, when it was closed by Mr E. CROUCH, who went there to live.

"The Crown"

Now No: 14, Market Place - Shewen's Ironmongery.
Although this has not been used as a public-house for many years, it was formerly one of the most flourishing in the town. If it does not date back as far as the White Horse, (which it probably does) it had existed long enough by 1662 to have changed its name. It can be clearly traced back to the date mentioned as "The Crown," and some time previous to that date as "The King's Arms." It was a place of some importance, inasmuch as it covered a considerable portion of ground, including the whole of Mr Shewen's present premises, from the High Street back to the end of the garden ; Mr BLAKE's, if not Mr KNIGHT's house ; and Mr EDEN's stores, in the White Horse Lane. There were several stables in connection with it, known as "The Long Stable," "The Shelf Stable," and "The Hackney Stable." In 1662, the occupier was "Gartrude BAUNTON." The surname is that of the owners of Roundhill, who succeeded the DYERS, to whom they were related. It is probable that this Gartrude was the widow of Henry BAYNTUN, who died in 1641 ; several of that surname are mentioned in the parish register as "gent." Her name does not appear in the parish register, unless she married again, in which case the entry would be made under her new name.
In 1678, it was occupied by Peter STONE, who at that time had several licensed houses, as this list shows. Here he died in 1695. One wife died before him, but he appears to have married another, who outlived him. Peter does not appear to have been the owner, the property apparently having passed in 1662 to John VINING, the owner of the White Horse, who at that time divided the buildings, granting the upper part to Walter HENDERSON, shoemaker, for 99 years.
In 1707, the lower and larger premises, namely, "The Crown," were owned by Samuel CROSS, but they were in that year transferred to Thomas GAPPER, of Suddon. Margaret WAY was the tenant. For a long period I find no trace of the owners or occupiers, nor any inkling as to when it ceased to be a licensed house.
In 1736, Samuel CROSS was carrying on the trade of a turner on the premises. In 1745, his son John had succeeded him. It appears as if the last named Cross was followed by a Mr Henry COOPER, upholsterer, who was an elderly man. On the first Sunday in August, 1794, he had been to Redlynch in a "one horse shay" and was returning, when he was thrown out, one of his legs broken, and he was otherwise injured. He died sonn after, leaving his widow in the business, which she carried on "With an assistant until she can get a purchaser." In the following year, Angel COOPER, the widow, disposed of her business to a Mr Robert DOWDING. In the census of 1801, Robert Dowding is described as a joiner.
In 1811, Harry COOPER, auctioneer, was living in the house. He was Secretary of the French Masonic Lodge, "Le paix desiree." Mrs Cooper appears to have been in business in the house in 1830. She must have been followed shortly after by Mr George CROCKER, who removed to Yeovil about 1840, when Mr Thomas RICHARDS entered and remained till his death in February, 1889. In the next month the business was divided ; Mr J. W. EDEN purchasing the house below, and Messrs. Wm. and George GILBERT taking the Ironmongery. They remained till February, 1895, when they dissolved partnership ; Mr John SHEWEN then entered and is still in possession (1908).

"The Dolphin Inn"

This house was in 1774 called the Rainbow Inn, and was kept by William HARVEY.
In 1794, it was occupied by Robert BESSANT under the name of "Daulphin." He remained till 1817, in which year he died.
In 1826, George LAPHAM was living there.
1830 - John LAPHAM's name appears in a County Directory. (Query, should he not have been described as George?)
1840 - George FORWARD was in possession.
1841 - Thomas Nimrod WHITE went there and remained till March, 1861, when he drowned himself in a water-tank!
1861 - Charles HUNT, who left the Swan Inn, now entered, and carried on a baking business as well. He died on his 51st birthday, Febraury 2nd, 1875. The house and business were then sold. A Mr PALMER occupied the premises for three years when in
1878 - Mr Charles HOWES migrated from the New Inn to the Dolphin, and for many years carried on the dual businesses. Some years ago he declined the baking in favour of farming.

"The Five Bells"

Now Mr HUTCHINGS Tailoring establishment in Market Place.
In 1774, kept under this name by Rachel, widow of William JONES. It had formerly been known as the "Hare and Hounds," and was afterwards again changed to "The Trooper."

"The Fountain"

1678 - Owned by Peter STONE. Authority, Borough Rents.

"The George"

Now owned and occupied by Mr George LOCK.
In 1671, Mr William SWANTON lived there. Hence the orchard at the back was until recent years known as "Swantons Orchard." "Spring Clos" was also called "Swanton's."
In 1678, it was kept by "Swanton's heirs," Mr Swanton having died in 1671. At another time "George de FORWEILLE" lived there.
In 1792, Thomas YEO kept the house, as an advertisement in the "salisbury and Winchester Journal" for October 15th of that year shows. The advertisement runs, viz. -
"Andrew IVEY, Wincanton deceased. To be peremptorily sold by auction by J. HODDINOTT, auctioneer, at the following lands situate in Wincanton, late the lands of Mr Andrew Ivey, deceased. The George Inn, situated near the Market Place, now rented by Thomas Yeo, & Co." A different advertisement appeared a week later with the following description: - "The George Inn being a stone built roomy house, with outhouses, large stable, garden etc: Situated near to and very convenient for the market, now rented by Thomas Yeo as tenant at will." From that time it has been used for the business of butcher. For many years, embracing three generations, the OBORN family lived there, but from 1877 it has been occupied by Mr Lock. The house was greatly enlarged about the year 1848.

"The George Inn"

At the foot of Mill Street.
In 1836-7, it was opened by William LINDSEY, carrier, (who had vacated the White Hart previous to its demolition.) He carried it on till his death. He was succeeded by his widow. Henry VINING followed, and he was succeeded by his widow.
In 1861, William HALE was in occupation, and was was followed by his widow. She was successively followed by Messrs. FOOT, HOLE, WARREN, and William REX.
On October 16th, 1897, Robert George HENNING entered and still occupied the premises in 1908.

"The Golden Lion"

1736. - William DAY.
1745. - ______ HAREBOTTLE.

"The Greyhound"

Has been for many years one of the principal Inns of the town ; probably so named in honour of the CHURCHEY family. It formerly bore the royal arms because the body of the Duke of Sussex once laid there, and Queen Victoria as a child spent a night there. On the front, too, was painted "Inland Revenue Office." 1743 is the first year that reference to it is found in the parish books.

(To be completed)



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