the history of yeovil's pubs
Hendford / Waterloo Lane / 11 West Hendford
The Oxford Inn (marked 'A' on the map) was originally cottages at the junction of Waterloo Lane, running north, and West Hendford, running west. West Hendford at the time was called Horsey Lane, named for the Horsey family of Clifton Maybank. The name transferred to the present Horsey Lane during the late 19th century.
In 1845 the Town Commissioners proposed converting the Oxford Inn into a Watch House and Superintendent's house but the plans came to nothing and the pub traded until after the Second World War. The following extract from the Town Commissioners Minute Book of 13 May 1845 explains the proposals in greater detail "Resolved that Mr JR Mayo, Mr F Greenham, and Mr Tucker be a Committee to treat for the purchase of the Oxford Inn and premises adjoining for the purpose of providing a Watch-house and a Residence for the Superintendent, with Stables, and the Buildings and yards necessary for the deposit of Road materials and other articles belonging to the Commissioners."
The 1846 Tithe Apportionment recorded that the "Inn & Garden" (Parcel 331) was owned by Edwin Bullock Watts and the occupier was wealthy glove manufacturer and future mayor of Yeovil, William Bide (who clearly sub-let the inn).
In the 1850s the Oxford Inn, as well as at least five other licensed houses, was owned by William Bide
In 1875 and 1878 the Post Office Directory noted that Mr Sly ran a carrier service to Martock from the Oxford Inn every Tuesday and Friday. At this time the Oxford Inn was owned by brewer Joseph Brutton who wrote to the Corporation in April 1878 suggesting he might demolish the inn to widen the road should the Improvement Committee care to purchase the property and its land. Nothing came of the offer.
The Oxford Inn stopped trading in the late 1940's and later became the offices of the Petter & Warren architectural practice before being demolished in the early 1970s.
The Ministry of Town & Country Planning's Provisional List of Buildings of Architectural or Historic Interest of July 1948 described the building as follows "Waterloo Lane - No 1 and adjoining house - Grade III. Stone block containing two houses, one of them [the former Oxford Inn] being Messrs Petter & Warren's office on the corner of Waterloo Lane and West Hendford. Probably 17th century. Steeply pitched roof with modern plaintiles. Tudor doorway and windows to front are probably restored, the drip-mould above them appears to be original. First-floor has five two-light wood casements. North gable end has round window pierced in single stone. South gable end, facing West Hendford, has now-illegible tablet with mould above. Below on this side are three oval windows pierced in single stones."
I could find little, well, actually no information on the first two licensees; William Evans and William Bide.
Charles Eaton Pottle was born about 1809 in Yeovil and is first recorded in the 1841 census with his wife, Elizabeth née Russ, and their three children. They were living in Rotten Row (today's Market Street), so called from horses being paraded there, especially at times of the fairs. Rotten Row was named after the broad track in Hyde Park, London, still reserved for the exercise of horses. Clearly by the following year Charles was licensee of the Case is Altered in Wine Street. Although he was still licensee of the Case is Altered in 1850, by 1851 Charles Pottle, described as a builder and innkeeper in the 1851 census, was listed as running a beerhouse in Wellington Lane - in fact the Oxford Inn in Waterloo Lane. Charles died in 1867.
George Brooks was born in Ilchester, Somerset, about 1814, and I first found him in the records in the 1861 census where he was listed as the innkeeper of the Oxford Inn. He was living there with his wife, Ann, and nine boarders. George was still listed as licensee of the Oxford Inn in the 1866 Post Office Directory. By 1871 George and Ann were living in Queen Street but George did not specify his occupation. This was repeated in 1881 although Ann, now aged 71, was listed as a laundress. George was 62. I found no further trace of George or Ann.
George Chiverton was born in Lopen, near Ilminster, about 1825. In the 1841 census he was living on his own in Ilminster but in 1851 he was living there with his mother, Martha, a 60-year old laundress originally from East Coker, near Yeovil. At this time George was employed as a carpenter. By 1861 George was married to Mary and they had two children, Maryann and George junior. George was still a carpenter but he and Mary were also running the New Inn at Misterton, Somerset. By 1871 the census listed George as the innkeeper of the Oxford Inn where he lived with Mary, the children and a lodger.
Western Gazette - 7 June 1872
George was still at the Oxford Inn in 1875 but by 1891 George was aged 68, widowed and working as a carpenter again in Hardington Mandeville. He died in the summer of 1895.
Amelia Ann Watts was the next licensee. She was born in Weymouth, Dorset, about 1833 but without her maiden name I couldn't trace her early life. In the 1881 census she was a 48-year old widow running the Oxford Inn on her own. Because there were so many women of the same name I couldn't trace her with certainty after 1882.
Caroline Sibley was born in Ashington, just north of Yeovil, in the spring of 1848 the daughter of agricultural labourer Thomas Sibley and his school mistress wife Dinah, née Butt. In the 1851 census Caroline was living at Ashington with her parents and two siblings, which by 1861 had increased to seven siblings. By 1871 her father had died and Caroline, an unemployed servant, lived with her mother and eight younger siblings at Ashington. She married in July 1878 but I couldn't find her or her husband in the 1881 census and by the time of the 1891 census Caroline, now Caroline Skinner, was a 44-year old widow and inn keeper of the Oxford Inn where she lived with her two sons, two daughters and her sister, Mary, and her niece, Flora, who worked as a barmaid. By 1901 Caroline was working as a charwoman and living with three of her children in South Street. She died in 1917.
Henry Spearing was licensee of the Oxford Inn for over thirty years. He was born in Hardington Mandeville, five miles southwest of Yeovil, the son of farm labourer Henry Spearing and his glover wife, Harriett. In 1871 Henry was living with his parents and five siblings in Barry Lane, Hardington, and the only thing that changed in the next ten years was that the family moved to Hill End, Hardington. In July 1890 Henry married Elizabeth Carletta Hawker of Odcombe and in the 1891 census Henry and Elizabeth were running the Dolphin Inn in Park Street. 24-year old Henry was employed as a gardener and, presumably, ran the pub in the evenings while Elizabeth managed it during the day. At this time they also had four lodgers. In 1895 Kelly's Directory listed Henry as licensee of the Oxford Inn where he lived with Elizabeth, their two daughters; Lily and Ivy, and baby son Reginald. Henry appeared as licensee in a range of trade directories through the following years and was still licensee when he died on 16 January 1927 aged 63. Probate was granted to Elizabeth with the effects totaling £798-14s-4d.
It is likely that Henry's son, Reginald, took over the license on his father's death. Reginald was listed as licensee of the Oxford Inn in Kelly's Directory of 1935 but the following year Reginald Spearing became licensee of the Picketty Witch that he was to run until the mid-1950's. The 1938 Yeovil Directory lists E Spearing as licensee - I thought at first that this was Henry's widow, Elizabeth, but she died in 1931. I then thought it might be Reginald's widow but he married Priscilla and didn't die until 1972, so the last licensee is a mystery.
A notice of intention to let the Oxford Inn placed in the 4 January 1853 edition of the Western Flying Post by its then-owner William Bide.
In 1878 it was clearly someone's intention to demolish the Oxford Inn as shown in this notice of tender placed in the Western Gazette's edition of 3 May 1878.
An interesting snippet from the Western Gazette's edition of 18 June 1897.
Notice of sale of the Oxford Inn and adjoining properties in the Western Gazette's edition of 26 June 1936. The Oxford Inn became the offices of architectural practice Petter & Warren.
The Oxford Inn, at left in this photograph, was offices of Petter & Warren's architectural practice from the late 1940s. Waterloo Lane runs off to right of centre between the Oxford Inn and the Cottage Cafe, while the narrow entrance to West Hendford runs off left between the Oxford Inn and the Three Chough Hotel's garage buildings at extreme left.
This photograph, taken around 1960, shows the very narrow entrance to West Hendford running alongside the Oxford Inn. Note that the Three Coughs Hotel (standing immediately behind the photographer) had a garage for patrons. This was the former livery stables of the Three Choughs Hotel.
Photographed by Doug Keyse, courtesy of Andy Keyse
The St George's Day parade of 1968 passes the whitewashed building that had been the Oxford Inn on the corner of Waterloo Lane, at left, and the Cottage Cafe.
Courtesy of Colin Haine
By the time of this 1984 photograph the Oxford Inn had gone and the former stables and garage had been converted to a nightclub - initially called the Camelot Suite in the early 1970s, then Oliver's in the late 1970s and finally the Electric Studios, or simply the Studios, in the early 1980s.
Again taken around 1960, the quaint roundabout with the traffic light had gone by the early 1970's - in fact when I moved to Yeovil in 1973 there were no traffic lights in the town whatsoever. Those were the days!
Seen in 2012, the Cottage Cafe from the previous photo now has bow windows otherwise the scene is completely changed.
A 1928 aerial view of the western end of South Street, running from centre bottom towards centre left with the Oxford Inn clearly visible towards the top left corner of the photograph at the junction of Hendford, West Hendford, Waterloo Lane and South Street. The large building taking up most of the centre of the photograph is, of course, the Three Coughs Hotel. Notice the old glove factory in Waterloo Lane at top centre - one of the few remaining glove factory buildings in Yeovil.
Taken in the 1960's, this photograph shows just how narrow South Street was at its junction with Hendford before Moffat Marine and Chudleigh's Seed Merchants on the corner opposite the Choughs were demolished - and it's even two-way traffic! The Oxford Inn is seen straight ahead with the Three Choughs Hotel at right.
...and if you can't remember it, this is how narrow West Hendford was at its junction with Hendford. At the end of the road, beyond the van, is the Three Choughs Hotel. At the end of West Hendford, on the left just before the van is the Oxford Inn and all along the right hand side are the former livery stables and later garaging of the Three Choughs Hotel. Everything, apart from the Three Choughs, is now gone - including the van.
1835 – Licensee
1840 – William Evans (1840 Somerset Gazette Directory) listed as Oxford, Hendford
1846 – Edwin Bullock Watts, owner - William Bide, occupier (1846 Tithe Apportionment - 331,
Inn and Garden, Waterloo Lane)
1851 – Charles Pottle – Builder & Innkeeper (1851 census) pub not named and listed in
Wellington [sic] Lane
1852 – Charles Pottle – Retailer of Beer (Slater's 1852/3 Directory)
1861 – George Brooks – Beer Retailer (Kelly's 1861 Directory) listed in Hendford
1861 – George Brooks – Innkeeper (1861 census) listed as Oxford Inn, Waterloo Lane
1866 – George Brooks – Beer Retailer (1866 Post Office Directory) listed as West Hendford
1866 – George Brooks – Beer Retailer (Kelly's 1866 Directory)
1871 – George Chiverton – Inn Keeper (1871 census)
1872 – George Cheverton – Beer Retailer (Kelly's 1872 Directory)
1875 – George Cheverton – Beer Retailer (Kelly's 1875 Directory)
1881 – Amelia Watts (48 year old widow) – Inn Keeper (1881 census) listed as Oxford Inn
1882 – Mrs Amelia Ann Watts (Whitby's 1882 Yeovil Almanack Advertiser) listed as Oxford Inn,
1885 – Richard (Joe) Skinner - moved from Rusty Well (Notice in Western Gazette, October)
1885 – John Martin - License transfer (Borough Petty Sessions, November)
1885 – Richard Skinner - License transferred (Borough Petty Sessions, November)
1887 – License transferred from the late 'Joe' Skinner to his widow (Petty Sessions, March)
1888 – Caroline Skinner - Landlady of Oxford Inn - gloves stolen (Petty Sessions, March)
1889 – Mrs C Skinner – Beer Retailer (1889 Kelly’s Directory)
1891 – Caroline Skinner (44 year old widow) – Inn Keeper Pub (1891 census) as Oxford Inn
1892 – Caroline Skinner - License transfer (Borough Petty Sessions, January)
1892 – Henry Spearing - License transfer (Borough Petty Sessions, January)
1895 – Henry Spearing – Landlord (Witness at Petty Sessions, February)
1895 – Henry Spearing – Beer Retailer (Kelly’s 1895 Directory) listed as Oxford Inn
1897 – Henry Spearing – Beer Retailer (Kelly’s 1897 Directory)
1901 – Henry Spearing – Inn Keeper (1901 census) listed as Oxford Inn
1909 – Henry Spearing – Summoned for permitting drunkenness (Borough Police Court)
1911 – Henry Spearing – Innkeeper (1911 census) listed as Oxford Inn
1914 – Henry Spearing – Beer Retailer (Kelly’s 1914 Directory) pub not named
1916 – H Spearing (Whitby's 1916 Yeovil Almanack Advertiser) Oxford Inn, 11 West Hendford
1923 – Henry Spearing – Beer Retailer (Kelly’s 1923 Directory) pub not named
1927 – Henry Spearing of the Oxford Inn (Probate)
1930 – Mrs Spearing - sale of household furniture (Western Gazette, 2 May 1930)
1935 – Reginald H Spearing (Kelly's 1935 Directory - Beer Retailers) 11 West Hendford.
1936 – Oxford Inn sold off (see advertisement above)
1938 – E Spearing (1938 Yeovil Directory) listed as Oxford Inn