Kings Head to Close

Our local pub the Kings Head is to close at the end of this week. Like many local pubs its fortunes have been stormy since the clamp down on drinking and driving and the ban on smoking in public places, but it has survived until now. Who knows what the future holds. In the meantime I thought I would take a look at the pub’s past.

kings head interior

The first reference to an inn here comes from the 18th century when the inn was part of the Chitterne estate owned by a series of wealthy landowning families. The George Inn burnt down in Chitterne St Mary when Thomas Bennet was the tenant and the Paulet family were the owners. James Wheeler took on the tenancy in 1742 and presumably changed the inn’s name because the Wheeler family were still there in 1826 when another James Wheeler was the copyholder of the “King’s Head Inn, outbuildings, garden, yard etc.” which he held for the lives of Mary Huntley 62, Mary Wheeler 32, and William Huntley Wheeler 10 (mother-in-law, wife and son). By then the owners were the Methuen family who had bought the Chitterne estate from the Paulets in the 1770s. Wheeler and Huntley memorials are still visible on the outside walls of the chancel.

The Long family bought the Chitterne estate from the Methuens in 1830. The Wallis family of Chitterne St Mary Manor were their tenants and William Wallis’s mother-in-law Ann White was the innkeeper. The Wallis family continued to be associated with the inn until they gave up malting their own barley around 1910. In 1896 the Longs auctioned the estate and the inn sold for £1350 to ‘Marjant? Bladworth’ (pencilled none too clearly alongside the inn details on the auction catalogue) who could be agents for a brewer. Bartletts brewery in Warminster were supplying the inn with beer in the early 20thC before they went bust in 1920.

Landlords of the inn changed frequently after Ann White. Henry Hull 1841; John Whatley 1851; William Compton, saddler and innkeeper in 1861 and 1871. Then the 3 Bs: James Burr 1880-1887, William Beak 1888-1894, George Brown 1895-1897. By 1901 Sidney and Alice Daniels were landlords followed by another B, George Burgess during World War 1.

kings head burgess
The Kings Head flanked by shop and store with George Burgess standing outside

Ushers Brewery of Trowbridge acquired the inn after the demise of Bartletts brewery. Joseph and Kate Robberts ran the pub in 1925, George Turner in 1927 and Thomas Burbidge 1928-1932. William and Florence Jones in wartime and in 1945 Mick and Winifred Benson took over and stayed until 1954. Their daughter Jeanne married Ernie George, a Chitterne lad, and settled in Townsend. Ernie made a drawing of the pub yard as it looked in 1948.

kings head yard
Kings Head Inn yard 1948, the skittle alley top left, carport, and stables on the right.

Cecil and Doris Newton took over as innkeepers from the Bensons in 1954 and stayed until Cecil’s sudden death in 1980. The other pub in the village, the White Hart Inn closed permanently in the mid-1950s, so that gave Cecil and Doris a boost and they made the most of it. During their time the pub Cribbage team won the league in 1974 and the darts team played in the Till Darts League in 1977, winning against the Royal Oak at Shrewton, but then losing to the Catherine Wheel 10-9.

kings head newton
The Kings Head 1950/60s, Doris Newton talking to Vic Diaper with Clifford Mould and Peter Newton near the bike.

The Kings Head was still an Ushers pub in 1980, but before 1990 it was up for sale and brewers Gibbs Mew bought it.

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The pub decked in Gibbs Mew black and gold livery around 1988

After the Newtons 26 year tenure landlords came and went with alarming frequency, none staying more than four years despite the pub winning the Bulmers and Gibbs Mew competition for the best display of flowers in 1995. From 1980 to 2002 the pub had eleven different landlords and then changed owners once again.

kings head gibbs mew 2
Gibbs Mew blue livery in later years

Gibbs Mew sold the pub around 2002 to Enterprise Inns. The new owners revamped the bar area considerably, replacing the optics with shelves and updating the floor surface and eating area. The pub re-opened on the 29th November 2002, but despite these efforts the pub’s fortunes didn’t improve, the final straw was the closure of the road outside the pub for bridge works, which lasted several months in 2005.

Four more landlords came and went, the optics came back, and closures in 2008 and 2009 led to Enterprise Inns offering the pub for sale in September 2010. They were heading to auction in February 2011, but at the last moment agreed to sell to the current landlord. The pub opened as a Free House on 1st April 2011, and has been open now for eight and a half years, the longest serving landlord since the Newtons.

Now Saturday night will see the pub close once again. What will the future bring?

 

Kings Head to Close

The Malthouse and Clump Farm

Some old photographs of Chitterne have arrived from Wylye Valley Post Cards so I’m taking a break from the Maria Cockrell letters for a while. I was searching for an old photo of the bottom of Bidden Lane showing Maria’s mother’s home when I came across a site selling copies of photos I hadn’t seen. Sadly not what I was looking for, but worth sharing with you.

Here is the first, a view of Chitterne from the top of the hill behind the Old Malthouse. It dates from the early years of the 20th century when malting was still happening there.

malthouse view
View of Chitterne with Pine Cottage (Old Malthouse) and the malthouse buildings alongside

How I wish I’d had this photo when I wrote the blog on malting last year Malting Barley in Chitterne, early 1900s because it shows clearly the separate malthouse building alongside the house we know now as Old Malthouse, which was then called Pine Cottage. The malthouse building was probably demolished before 1938 and the site is now Old Malthouse driveway and garage complex.

Clump Farmhouse is just visible between the trees on the right. The first photo also shows, centre left, the extent of the Clump Farm buildings at that time on the opposite side of the road to the farmhouse. Clump House still exists but the farm buildings have been replaced by St Mary’s Close. Which leads nicely onto the second photo of the back of Clump Farmhouse.

clump stable view
View of Clump Farmhouse and stable from the back

Half of Clump farmhouse is visible on the left and the stable building, with an open door, is to the right of it. Depending on when the photo was taken either Charles Bazell was the tenant farmer or, after 1913, Clump Farm had been bought by William Robinson, father of the WW1 victim Harold Robinson.

The twin-roofed house just visible behind the stable is 96 Chitterne. 96 sits on a site known historically as Clear Spring and may have been built to house the bailiff of Clump Farm. The house was known as Bailiff’s Cottage in 1911 when James Churchill lived there. From 1916 to 1935 it was named Laurel Cottage by new owners Edward Polden and his wife Edith Mary Burgess. Since then it has had various names. It was 96 Chitterne under Evelyn and Marabini Feltham, Clear Spring House next, then Pear Tree Cottage.

Beyond 96 is the thatched White Hart Inn, dating from 1651. George Henry Livings was the tenant beer retailer from the early 1900s to 1928. Several landlords came and went until Charlie and Florence Mould took over in 1941 and stayed until 1955. The Moulds were the last innkeeper tenants. The Withers and Newton families who followed were carriers and ran a coach business from White Hart House until the 1970s when the house became a private residence.

Ironically Maria’s mother’s house is probably hidden behind those two trees on the right…

It’s thanks to Julian Frost of Wylye Valley Postcards, who collected and preserved these interesting old photos, that we are able to see them today.

 

 

The Malthouse and Clump Farm

1896 Sale of Chitterne Properties: part 1

Following on from my last blog here are the details of the properties that were offered for sale by Walter Hume Long in 1896 from a copy of the auction particulars found at 98 Chitterne. Most of the properties were in St Mary’s parish, apart from a couple in All  Saints. Some were sold, some were not, and some were withdrawn from the sale.

Lot number 1: The White Hart Inn.

white hart inn sale 1896
The inn is now White Hart House

The tenant at the time was William Poolman, a member of the very large Poolman family that had lived in Chitterne since at least 1737. He is usually known as William Meade Poolman to distinguish him from other Williams in the family. In 1865 he married Sarah George, niece of Thomas George previous tenant of the inn, and ran the White Hart Inn from then until Sarah died in 1906. He was a carrier and landlord of cottages as well as an innkeeper and owned quite a few cottages scattered around the village. He has appeared in my blogs before as landlord of 8 cottages in Bidden Lane. As the village carrier he ran a regular service to the local towns and markets.

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The White Hart Inn under William Poolman’s tenancy, note his name above the door

The inn was purchased at auction for £2000 by Margant Bladworth (or Margan & Bladworth, it is not clear) according to the pencilled note on the excerpt above. I have not been able to find out who that was. It may have been an agent for a brewery as the same person/s also purchased the King’s Head Inn.

Lot number 2: The King’s Head Inn.

kings head sale 1896
Part of the King’s Head’s ground is a part of the St Mary’s graveyard and 101 Chiiterne

The tenant of the King’s Head in 1896 was George Brown. I have very little idea who he was. His name appears in the Pig Club ledger for providing a Pig Club supper in 1895, 1896 and 1897, but not in any parish records, neither does he appear to be related to the Browns who taught at the school at that time.

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The King’s Head at the turn of the century

The King’s Head was purchased for £1350 at auction by the same person/s who bought the White Hart Inn, Margant Bladworth or Margan & Bladworth, possibly agents for a brewery.

Lot number 3: Bridge Cottage.

bridge cottage sale 1896

The sitting tenant, Miss Annie Compton, purchased Bridge Cottage for £55 at auction. She had been living there since before 1891, and stayed until her death in 1931. She was one of the first women in the country to be elected to serve on a council. In 1894 she was elected to the Rural District Council representing Chitterne, and remained so for almost 40 years. She was also a member of the Board of Guardians of Warminster Workhouse until she was 90 years old.

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Bridge Cottage is centre behind the horse and cart

Bridge Cottage is named for the bridge over the Chitterne Brook, which it fronts. The bridge was always known as Compton’s Bridge by the locals in those days. It was hump-backed until the second World War, when it was flattened to allow for easier movement of military transport. American troops who were billeted in Chitterne made use of the Bridge Café run by Henry Slater and Lily Poolman at Bridge Cottage during the war.

 

 

1896 Sale of Chitterne Properties: part 1

Admiral Napier’s Gift

Admiral Charles Lionel Napier of Chitterne House was leaving the village and, as president of the Hut committee, wanted to give something to the Hut as a momento of the happy time he and his wife had spent in the village. He offered, on 3rd September 1926 if the committee was agreeable, to have a wireless set installed in the Hut for the use of the villagers.

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The Village Hut by Ernie George

For newcomers to the village, the Village Hut was an ex- army World War One wooden hut that was erected by the villagers in 1921-22 for use as a Village Hall. It stood in Bidden Lane behind the White Hart Inn on what is now part of Well Cottage garden.

 

The committee accepted the offer gratefully and by 15th October had an agreement with Ushers Brewery Limited (who owned the White Hart) to erect an aerial in their field, at a fee of sixpence a year, (this was probably the field where Clockhouse Cottages now stand), with the proviso that the pole was to be removed at seven days notice from the brewery.

1926-12-01-The Wireless World
An example of a wireless set of 1926

The committee also decided that: “Two members were to be on duty each week to facilitate the use of the wireless by the villagers. At least two performances to be open to the general public and one for children each week. Members on duty to arrange the programme to be given.” Wireless terminology had yet to catch up with the science!

“One of the days should be Sunday for the religious service, and the Men’s Club should have the use of the set when not otherwise required on condition that they provide light and heat on the occasions when used by the public.” By the following year the conditions were more relaxed: “any person wishing to listen to any particular item at any time should make application to the member on duty.”

All this extra footfall at the hut meant that the cleaner was to be paid 1 shilling per week during the winter months for the extra work caused by the use of the wireless. “It was decided to hold a Whist Drive and Dance at an early date to provide funds for the upkeep of the wireless and other hut expenses.”

accumulator
Accumulator 1926

“Members of the committee reported that the wireless was become faint, and it was thought that a new H.T. Battery was required.” This was in December 1926 and the secretary was asked to look into the matter and purchase another if needed. The Men’s Club took the matter into their own hands and purchased an Exide H.T. accumulator for the wireless.

Power for the wireless came at first from dry H.T. batteries, but these needed replacing every 2 months at athe cost of £1. Later on the committee realised that accumulators would be cheaper as they could be re-charged every 3 months at a cost of 2 shillings and 6 pence (12½p) . An accumulator was an early type of battery containing acid. These needed to be transported very carefully and charged very slowly or dire results would ensue. The accumulators were taken to the Warminster Motor Company for charging at first but that soon proved too difficult and by 1928 they were being re-charged in Wylye.

In 1927 the wireless was  “not very satisfactory” and the Warminster Motor Company were asked to put it in order. The following year 1928 the set had broken down and been examined and repaired by Mr. H. Down. It was not working again in 1929 and the committee must have been wondering if they had been offered a poisoned chalice! A sub-committee was formed to consider the question of having the set rebuilt.This was done and the set was re-installed in March 1929 and “appeared to be satisfactory.” But the “bills in respect of same had not yet been received.” The treasurer reported that the balance in the kitty was 18 shillings and 2 pence. It was decided to hold a Whist Drive and Dance at an early date in aid of the funds.

After renewing the wireless licence in 1930 there is no mention in the Village Hut Committee Minute Book of  Admiral Napier’s gift until 1934, when it was decided not to renew the licence, and to notify Ushers Brewery Limited that the aerial pole would be removed.

 

 

Admiral Napier’s Gift