the history of yeovil's pubs
79 Park Street / 96 Park Street
The Golden Lion was the symbol of Henry I (1086-1135).
Park Street was built between 1825 and 1830 by Peter Daniell in the grounds of his Penn House, so the Golden Lion Inn dates from after this time, and certainly by 1850, but the building itself was probably built by 1831 as most of the western side of Park Street appears to have buildings shown on Watts' map of Yeovil dated 1831.
Another of the Park Street pubs (few of which appear to have been photographed) the Golden Lion was recorded as such for nearly a hundred years.
It clearly began life as a beerhouse and is described as such in the early records below but, very unusually, it actually had a name from almost the very beginning.
A public house license may have been obtained for the establishment but, confusingly, the licensees were often described as beer retailers during the nineteenth century whether it was a beerhouse, public house or simply a shop with off-sales. In September 1862 the first known landlord, John Hambridge, applied for a license and it was noted that he "had kept a beer-house for thirteen years very properly." This would mean that, assuming he was always in the same property (which he owned), the Golden Lion would have started around 1849.
In July 1890 the Western Gazette noted that "The Golden Lion Outing Club, to the number of about twenty, enjoyed their annual excursion on Saturday. The place selected being Weymouth, to which place they were conveyed in a break drawn by four horses."
During the 1890s (at least) the Golden Lion was a tied house of the Somerton Brewery and was referred to as the 'Golden Lion Beerhouse and Shop'.
It was still called a beerhouse in the 1901 census and a small beer house in the 1911 census. In February 1908 the renewal of the Golden Lion's license was objected to (amongst others) at the Borough Petty Sessions as the Bench deemed it was "very desirable that a further reduction be made" in the number of Yeovil's public houses.
The license was considered at the Petty Sessions the following month when Police Sergeant Boobyer gave evidence that "The Golden Lion, Park Street, was a general shop and bar combined, and there was a lodger's kitchen and a smoking room. There was stabling for two horses with a loft over, and a back yard with a side entrance. The Swan was 103 yards away, the Rifleman's Arms 185 yards and the Globe 251 yards off. The house was used by lodgers, and there was a certain amount of bottle trade."
In any case, the Golden Lion continued into the 1950s.
The following is from a cutting from the Western Gazette of some twenty years ago (for the full article click here). "Mr Arthur Holt... used to play football in the Swan pub's football team over at New Walk which is now the children's play area at Nine Springs. Every Easter Monday the Swan's team used to play against The Golden Lion. Mr Edward Jeans remembered one of the matches, which took place after the pubs turned out. One of the landlords was a goalkeeper and after the match the teams threw the referee in the river because they did not agree with his decisions. "They were nearly all boozed before they even went out" said Mr Jeans."
The first listed licensee, John Hambridge, was born about 1810 in Yeovil. In the 1841 census he was listed living in South Street with his wife, Mary, and their two children. John's occupation was listed as glover. By 1850 he was listed as a beer retailer in Belmont and by the time of the 1851 census the family now included seven children. Both John and Mary as well as four of their children (including a 9-year old) were working as glovers but John and Mary were clearly running the Golden Lion between them. In 1861 John's family was listed in Park Street although this is most likely the same house since the distinction between Belmont and Park Street always seems to have been vague. John was listed as a grocer and beer house keeper at the Lion Beer House. In September 1862 John applied to the Borough Petty Sessions for a license and as part of his application it was said that he "had kept a beer-house for thirteen years very properly. He asked for a license for the house of which he was the owner." The application was refused, along with most of the other applications, because the Bench decided ".... there was ample provision in the town." John died in the autumn of 1865.
His wife, Mary, was born in Yeovil around 1815. After the death of her husband Mary assumed the license of the Golden Lion Inn and in the 1871 census is listed as grocer and beer house keeper. The building she occupied with her children; cabinetmaker Herbert aged 27, 21-year old Emily and 17-year old draper's assistant William, was specifically called a beer house in the census' address column, which was extremely unusual for the time. Mary died in the autumn of 1877, aged about 62.
Sarah Stockey was born about 1839 at Sparkford, eight miles northeast of Yeovil. In the 1881 census Sarah, unmarried and aged 42, was living on her own at the Golden Lion Inn and listed as its innkeeper. I could find no further mention of Sarah in the records either before or after 1881.
Frederick George Dodge was born in Yeovil in June 1852, the son of glover and leather dresser Elisha Dodge and his wife, Jemima, née Culliford, a dressmaker. In the 1861 and 1871 censuses the family, including Frederick's three siblings, were listed as living in Belmont. In September of that year Frederick married Anna Maria Dade in Yeovil. In the 1881 census Frederick was listed as a glove cutter and he, Anna and their three children were living at 63 Park Street, next door to Frederick's parents. In 1891 Frederick was listed as the publican of the Golden Lion Inn at 79 Park Street where he was living with Anna, their three children and Anna's widowed mother, Alice Dade. Frederick was listed as licensee in Kelly's Directory of 1895 but the family seem to vanish from the records after that.
Charles Abbott was born in Yeovil in September 1849 the son of Leah Abbott. In the 1851 census, Leah is listed as married (but her husband isn't listed) and living as a pauper glover in Deans Court off Middle Street. Deans Court was slum housing for the very poorest, where typhoid was quite common since the eight dwellings in the court shared one privy. The privy was so close to the well (from which occupants of Deans Court obtained their drinking water) that the privy actually drained into the well. In the 1901 census Charles was living at the Golden Lion (although it was not named and only listed as a public house) with his wife, Sarah, and their four daughters. His occupation was described as mason's labourer. It transpires that Sarah was Charles' second wife and they were married in Yeovil in April 1899 - it is difficult to establish his first wife as there were more than one Charles Abbott living in Yeovil at this time however in the 1911 census his daughter, Bessie, has an annotation 'daughter of the first wife'. The census also lists Charles' occupation as small beer house keeper at 96 Park Street. Charles died in March 1912 and the license of the Golden Lion was taken on by Sarah at least until 1914 when she was listed as a beer retailer and shopkeeper in Kelly's Directory of that year although she had been known as the landlady of the Golden Lion at least since 1901 as seen in the following newspaper report -
Western Gazette - 190 July 1901
Following Sarah Abbott's departure, the Golden Lion was briefly run by Eustace Pierce in the early 1920’s and then for more than fifteen years by his widow, Minnie, from the 1930’s to the early 1950’s.
1850 – John
Hambridge – Beer
Retailer (Hunt &
1861 – John Hambridge – Grocer & Beer House Keeper (1861 census) as Lion Beer House
1861 – John Hambridge – Beer Retailer and Shopkeeper (Kelly's 1861 Directory)
1862 – John Hambridge – License refused (Borough Petty Sessions)
1871 – Maria Hambridge – Grocer & Beer House Keeper (1871 census) listed as Beer House
1878 – Sale of belongings of deceased Mrs Hambridge (Western Gazette, December)
1881 – Sarah Stockey – Inn Keeper (1881 census) listed as the Golden Lion Beer House
1887 – Sarah Stockey – license transfer (Petty Sessions, May) as Golden Lion
1887 – Frederick Dodge – license transferred (Petty Sessions, May)
1888 – Mr C [sic] Dodge – landlord (Western Gazette, 14 Sept) as Golden Lion Inn
1891 – Frederick Dodge – Publican (1891 census) listed as Golden Lion Inn
1895 – Frederick Dodge – Beer Retailer (Kelly’s 1895 Directory) pub not named
1897 – Frederick Bugler – Beer Retailer (Kelly’s 1897 Directory) listed as Golden Lion
1901 – family of Charles Abbott, Mason’s Labourer, in residence (1901 census) as Beer House
1908 – Messrs Ord, Battiscombe & Elwes of Somerton Brewery – owners (Petty Sessions)
1911 – Charles Abbott – small beer house keeper (1911 census) listed as Public House
1913 – Fred Gapper - license transfer from Mrs Abbott (Petty Sessions)
1914 – Sarah Abbott – Beer Retailer & Shopkeeper (Kelly’s 1914 Directory) pub not named
1923 – Eustace Pierce – Beer Retailer (Kelly’s 1923 Directory) pub not named
1936 – MH Pierce (1936 Yeovil Directory) listed as Golden Lion
1939 – Minnie Pierce (Kelly’s 1939 Directory) listed as Golden Lion PH
1947 – MH Pierce (1947 Yeovil Directory) listed as Golden Lion
1949 – MH Pierce (Kelly’s 1949 Directory) listed as Golden Lion
1951 – MH Pierce (1951 Yeovil Directory) listed as Golden Lion
1954 – FG Millard (1954 Yeovil Directory) listed as Golden Lion