the history of yeovil's pubs
The Angel Inn once belonged to the Chantry of the Blessed Virgin Mary Without the Church, hence its name and sign.
In 1618 an order was made that only nine licensed premises be allowed in the borough (that is the town, not that part of High Street today called the Borough) and two outside, with the rest being 'suppressed'. The Angel Inn was undoubtedly one of the nine 'allowed' premises.
The Angel Inn was an important coaching inn for both London and Bristol travellers, indeed for several centuries it was the principal coaching inn of Yeovil. It was described as a fine building with an arched entrance with a triple window over, above which stood a lead figure of an angel that now resides in Yeovil's Community Heritage Access Centre, together with the carved panel, both being illustrated below.
The inn was sold in 1791 and the sale details (see gallery below) described the inn as having ten chambers, three parlours, a barn, stabling for 40 horses and standing for 12 carriages plus "every other establishment necessary for the business of an Inn."
Few of the early licensees are known; in 1548 Alice Evered, a widow, is recorded as holding by indenture the inn or tenement called the Angel, with a close of pasture containing two acres and two pieces of meadow with three virgates of arable land, and rendered per annum 66s.8d.
The name of another licensee appears on a farthing trade token, seen at right. Most Yeovil trade tokens were issued by tradesmen following the death of Charles I in 1649 in order to overcome the lack of small change in general circulation.
No copper coinage was minted during the Commonwealth and the resulting paucity of small coinage was met by these independently-produced and completely unauthorised tokens of brass or latten (a copper alloy similar to brass). From 1672 farthings were minted again, in the reign of Charles II, with the consequent demise of trade tokens.
The farthing trade token seen here is magnified as the original is only about 12mm in diameter. It is from the Angel and dated 1652, the earliest recorded for Yeovil. It depicts an Angel in the centre of the obverse, together with the licensee's name, 'Nathaniell Carye'. On the reverse is inscribed 'of Yeavell - 1652 - C.N.A.'. Tokens usually had three initials, representing the two Christian names of the issuer and his wife plus their surname.
The Angel Inn was completely destroyed by fire, probably in the Great Fire of Yeovil in 1637, after which it was rebuilt.
In 1654 a petition was made in Yeovil against the vicar, the Reverend William Parsons "...Mr Parsons and his wife, and one Mr Jordan and his wife, of Yeavill, with one that had been a Cavalier trooper continued drinking at the Angell in Yeaville until almost seven o'clock at night and departing from thence went to the house of the said Jo: Jordan where one of them fell downe almost dead with drinkinge. That the sayd Mr Parsons with Mr Windham of Trent, Sir Thomas Mallet's sonnes and ye sonne of ye Ld. Sandys being all great Cavileers went to the Angell in Yeovill and there stayed from nine of the clock in the morning until three or fower in the afternoon drinkinge and had musick with them". (see Documentation below).
In his book of 1724 "A Tour Thro' the Whole Island of Great Britain; From London to Land's End" Daniel Defoe recalled the following tale concerning the Angel Inn "There lived a good substantial family in the town not far from the Angel Inn - a well-known house, which was then, and, I suppose, is still, the chief inn of the town.
This family had a dog which, among his other good qualities for which they kept him (for he was a rare house-dog), had this bad one - that he was a most notorious thief, but withal so cunning a dog, and managed himself so warily, that he preserved a mighty good reputation among the neighbourhood.
As the family was well beloved in the town, so was the dog. He was known to be a very useful servant to them, especially in the night (when he was fierce as a lion; but in the day the gentlest, lovingest creature that could be), and, as they said, all the neighbours had a good word for this dog. It happened that the good wife or mistress at the Angel Inn had frequently missed several pieces of meat out of the pail, as they say - or powdering-tub, as we call it - and that some were very large pieces. It is also to be observed the dog did not stay to eat what he took upon the spot, in which case some pieces or bones or fragments might be left, and so it might be discovered to be a dog; but he made cleaner work, and when he fastened upon a piece of meat he was sure to carry it quite away to such retreats as he knew he could be safe in, and so feast upon it at leisure. It happened at last, as with most thieves it does, that the inn-keeper was too cunning for him, and the poor dog was nabbed, taken in the fact, and could make no defense. Having found the thief and got him in custody, the master of the house, a good-humoured fellow, and loth to disoblige the dog's master by executing the criminal, as the dog law directs, mitigates his sentence, and handled him as follows:- First, taking out his knife, he cut off both his ears; and then, bringing him to the threshold, he chopped off his tail. And having thus effectually dishonoured the poor cur among his neighbours, he tied a string about his neck, and a piece of paper to the string, directed to his master, and with these witty West Country verses on it:-
To my honoured
master, - Esq.
Hail master a cham a' com hoam,
So cut as an ape, and tail have I noan,
For stealing of beef and pork out of the pail,
For thease they'v cut my ears, for th' wother my tail;
Nea measter, and us tell thee more nor that
And's come there again, my brains will be flat."
In 1761 Mr Forbes, licensee of the Angel Inn, was the proud owner of a celebrated 'museum' in the kitchen of the inn (for full description see Documentation below). Included among Mr Forbes' curiosities was a panel now housed in the Community Heritage Access Centre at Lufton. It is of painted and gilded gesso on oak boards.
The carved and coloured panel, photographed at left, is thought to be 17th century and was once hung up in the kitchen of the Angel Inn as part of Mr Forbes' 'museum'. It depicts Old Testament scenes of Adam and Eve in the top left corner, while the remainder is devoted to the story of Abraham and Isaac. Adam and Eve are depicted holding nine leaves in front of them while a serpent entwines the apple tree under which they stand. Eve offers an apple to Adam, who is about to accept it. On his right are a stag, a unicorn and a lion, while below his bent left knee is an elephant. In the lower part of the panel is the beginning of the Abraham and Isaac story. Abraham's 'two young men' are seen with an ass, the standing figure holds a staff while the seated figure drinks from a flagon. Towards the centre Abraham is seen carrying a fire-pot while Isaac follows carrying a faggot of firewood over his shoulder. In front of them is a small white dog. The right half of the panel shows Abraham about to sacrifice his son, Isaac, but his knife is held back by the angel above. Isaac kneels before an altar of faggots with the fire-pot, issuing flames, in front of it. In the background is seen 'the ram caught in a thicket by his horns'.
The images below, scanned from an old book, show the Borough in a painting of 1810 looking towards Middle Street. The building at right on columns is the old Market House (removed in 1849) the roof supported by columns that covered the butchers' stalls. The Market House also housed the town's stocks whose final occupant was a local man, found to be drunk on a Sunday afternoon and made to sit for hours in the stocks in 1846. (An Act of 1606 imposed a fine of five shillings or six hours in the stocks for drunkenness).
To the immediate left, in the far background at the end of High Street, is seen the Angel Inn with its projecting front bay with arched entrance at ground level and a three-light window over and what appear to be large windows either side of the projecting bay. The lead figure of the angel stood in a niche above the triple window.
The Angel was demolished at the turn of the 19th century when Whitmarsh and White opened a bank on the site in 1808. This was succeeded by Stuckey's bank on the same site in 1835 and the present Westminster bank was opened in today's building in 1919. For more information see the text three photographs down.
This photograph shows much of the centre of the original painting of 1810 and shows the Borough and, beyond the Market House, the length of High Street. The Angel is clearly seen in the distance with its archway and triple window over. The building at left with the arches was, at the time, the ironmongery and cutlery business of William Edwards, taken over around 1827 by Josiah Hannam followed by James Bazeley Petter and then Hill & Sawtell. This is the only building in the Borough that survives to this day, it is now Superdrug.
An enlargement of the previous 1810 image showing the Angel Inn at centre.
This drawing, by Leslie Brooke based on the above painting, makes clearer the Angel Inn at the far end of High Street, in Hendford, with the figure of the angel at high level.
The lead angel photographed in 1910, long before its unfortunate white and gold paint job.
This postcard of around 1925, and looking along High Street to Westminster Street, shows three pubs and the site of the Angel - at extreme left is the Fleur-de-Lys with its sign projecting over the pavement. Opposite, at right of photo, is the Mermaid Hotel with its lovely round-arched entrance and fine Venetian window. In the far distance, at the end of Westminster Street, is the tower of Seaton’s Garage (demolished and now Tesco’s car park) and immediately in front and slightly right is the Heart of Oak. Notice, at the centre of the T-junction, the traffic cop with white cuffs waiting for the rush hour traffic and behind him and the parked roadster is the large building, now a bank, that was built on the site of the Angel Inn.
owowners / tenants / licensees
1548 – Alice Evered, a widow (from indenture)
1564 – Alice Evered, a widow (from indenture)
1587 – William Trunion (Churchwardens Accounts)
1591 – William Forde (Will of William Forde) Forde was a Churchwarden (1573) and played the
part of Robin Hood (1575). He owned farmlands in Yeovil, Kingston and Pitney.
1652 – Nathaniell Carye (from a dated token)
1694 – Mrs King (Yeovil Poor Rate Book)
1761 – Edward Forbes - Landlord (see Documentation below). Forbes died in 1770 aged 70.
1774 – George Griffiths - Landlord - declared bankrupt in August 1775.
1775 – Bani John Forbes - Landlord (see report below)
Bath Chronicle & Weekly Gazette - 7 September 1775
1784 – Mr Francis - Landlord (see report below)
Bath Chronicle & Weekly Gazette - 12 August 1784
"Friday last, being market-day in Yeovil, an attempt was made upon a farmer by two sharpers who were well mounted on bay horses, and dressed genteely: One was dressed in a black coat, with his hair in curl; and the other in a light-coloured surcoat. Under pretence of having occasion to send a letter to a neighbouring clergyman, they decoyed him into the Angel inn, and succeeded in tricking him out of about £3 which through the assiduity of Mr Francis, master of the said inn, was recovered and returned."
Alice Evered, widow, holds by indenture, an Inn or
Alice Evererd, widow, by indenture an Inn or
Sale of Seats - of William Trunion of the Angel
Item I give and bequeath will and devise unto my
yf yt be
Richard Lockett of Yeovil, gent, patron of West
For that this Court is informed by the Constables,
ale is a
Extracts: That the said Mr William Parsons is a
HENFORD - Mrs King for the Angel, 1s.
This is to give Notice - That there is now at the
out of a
is of a
The Angel Inn is celebrated over this County for
[Edward] Forbes, furnish't
Note: I found a nice snippet in the Bath Chronicle & Weekly Gazette of 2 August 1770 concerning Edward Forbes - "Sunday fe'ennight died, at Yeovil in this county, in the 70th year of his age, Mr Edward Forbes, who for many years kept the Angel inn in that town; and on Saturday he was buried in a stone coffin, which he had hewn out on purpose, and kept by him for some time before he died."
Letting details of the Angel Inn, from the Bath Chronicle of 18 September 1777
The Angel Inn was
Sale details of the Angel Inn, from the Bath Chronicle of 21 April 1791.