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george inn (1)

High Street

 

The George Inn (marked 'E' on the map below) was an inn during the 16th and 17th centuries situated in High Street, but not to be confused with the more well-known George Hotel in Middle Street which was, at this time, known as the Three Cups Inn.

The George Inn under discussion here was mentioned as early as 1568 in the Churchwarden's Accounts of St John the Baptist, later in the 1664 Rate Book and again in the Portreeve's Accounts for 1669. It is not known how long the George Inn of High Street traded for but was probably closed by the end of the 18th century and it is likely that the Three Cups Inn in Middle Street was renamed the George some time afterwards. The building shown in the photographs below was probably not the original George Inn building, but may have been a later rebuild of the inn or a rebuild as a completely new retail building.

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 George was undoubtedly one of the nine 'allowed' premises.

During the latter part of the eighteenth century the George Inn was one of a group of licensed premises along the short stretch of High Street. Then, of course there was the Angel Inn and the seven clustered at the western end of South Street as seen in the map above, as well as four in Silver Street and at least five in Grope Lane (Wine Street). I wonder if anyone ever made the grand tour and managed to venture into the pubs in Middle Street afterwards?

John Goodchild, in his book 'The Borough of Yeovil' recalls that in 1654 a petition was made in Yeovil against the vicar, the Reverend William Parsons "...,that one Parson Townsende (and the said Mr Parsons) having been drinkinge att the George in Yeoville about 2 years since were both distempered with beere for so much that the sayd Mr Townsende was helpen up out of the dirt in ye streete...". However, respectable drunkenness was very much a part of seventeenth and eighteenth century life and the vicar's drunkenness would more often have been viewed with hilarity rather than any sense of disapproval or reproach.

The site of the George Inn, possibly the original building of the George Inn itself, was occupied by Denner and Stiby's ironmongery business until 1892 and then by Llewellyn's greengrocery and florist premises. This building had rooms over an archway that was the entrance to George Court. The site, including the adjacent Borough House (the former Bell Inn), was demolished for the construction of municipal offices and King George Street, completed by 1928.

 

map

 

 

gallery

 

This painting, of around 1830, looks down High Street from its junction with Hendford / Princes Street. On the left the Mermaid with its familiar archway and large overhanging sign is clearly seen. On the opposite side of the road, just right of centre, the white three storey building with the two-storey projecting bay is the Kings Head Inn. It is likely that the two storey building next to the Kings Head Inn is the building that held the former George Inn.

 

This photograph (clearly 'touched up' by the photographer) was taken around 1860. The large building at centre is the Town Hall that was built in 1849. Note that the Town Hall lacks the clock tower seen in the next photograph as this was only added in 1864. The two-storey building to its left stands on the site of the George Inn (possibly even the original George Inn building) with its first floor projecting over the alleyway known as George Court between the George Inn and the Town Hall. To the left of the George Inn building the gap is the garden area of the Bell Inn, later filled with a tall tree.

 

The site of, or possibly even the building of, the George Inn by this time housing Denner & Stiby's shop. Photographed in 1883, probably by Henry Stiby who was a keen amateur photographer and left a good record of photographs of Yeovil. Note under the right of the three first floor windows, is the entrance to the less-than-savoury George Court.

 

This postcard of the Borough dates to about 1905 and shows the former George Inn, or at least its site, at centre, between the tree and the Town Hall. The shop to the left of the tree was the grocery shop of Walter Sawtell. To its left was the shop of Robert Damon and at far left was that of Edmund Damon.

 

This photograph of about 1915 shows the former George Inn, or at least its site, at centre, with the former Bell Inn, at left, set well back from High Street. By the time of this photograph the building was called Borough House and was used as municipal offices. The tree and shop at centre are in the position of where King George Street now joins High Street and the tall building at right is the old Town Hall (built in 1849) with its tower and gas-illuminated clock, installed in 1912. The Town Hall was destroyed in 1935 by a fire believed to have been caused by paper rubbish blowing into the tower and ignited by the gas jets illuminating the clock.

 

owners / tenants / licensees

 

1664 – Mr Thomas Phellps (poor Rate Extracts) Burrow, 3s 0d for the George and Crown (ie the
            George Inn and the Crown Inn)
1664 – Mr John Cary (Poor Rate Book) 3s 0d at the George, listed in the Burrow
1677 – James arkes
1679 – Saml. Prowse (Poor Rate Book) 2s 0d at ye George, Burrow
1689 – Mr Prowse (Poor Rate Book) 9d for the George
1694 – Samuel Prowse (Poor Rate Book) listed as the George, orrough
1735 – Jno. King (Poor Rate Book) listed as ye George, Borough
1759 – Samuel Kitson (Insurance Policy)
1770 – Samuel Kitson, Humphrey Spry, Matthew Edmonds, Mary Lacy and Thomas Paine - see
            Documentation below.

 

Documentation

 

1568

A peale on all ye Bells ye 24th daye of October givinge by Master Penye at ye George - xijd. (12d.)  (Churchwardens' Accounts)

1664

Burrow - Mr John Cary att George, 3s. (Poor Rate Book)

1669

Rec. of Frauncis Keymer for his Fyne upon an Estate in a plott of ground lyinge next the George Inn called Hacker's plott - £5.0.0. (Portreeve's Accounts)

1669

Itm. Recd. of Frauncis Keymer for the rent of his tenement there - £0.16.0. (Rents of Assize in High Street)

1679

'Burrow' - Saml. Prowseat ye George - 2s. (Poor Rate Book)

1689

'Borough' - Mr Prowse for the George, Henry Lavor for the Crown - 2s. (Poor Rate Book)

1694

'Borrough' - Samuel Prowse for the George - 9d. (Poor Rate Book)

1735

Borough - Jno. King of ye George 2½d. (Poor Rate Book)

1759

Thomas Atkins, late Lang - Notes of LC HaywardPolicy dated 30 July 1759 - £300 insurance transferred to Samuel Kitson. (Sun Fire Office, London)

1770

Mortgage - £85.5s.6d. - 24 November 1770 - Samuel Tomes of Yeovil, farrier, and Samuel Kitson of Yeovil, maltster, Dwellinghouse or inn called the George Inn or alehouse with garden and backside in the Hog Market (Princes Street) now in the posssession of  Humphrey Spry, Matthew Edmonds the younger, Mary Lacy and Thomas Paine.