the history of yeovil's pubs
142 Preston Road
I've very little other information on the Plucknett, chiefly because the village of Preston Plucknett was not absorbed within the Yeovil town boundary until relatively recently. The building started as a private residence, called Preston House, being turned into a hotel during the mid 20th century. Although it has traded as a hotel in the past, it is now styled as a 'traditional pub' with no hint of accommodation.
Originally built as a private residence, it was recorded as Preston House on early maps. It was most likely built by rich wool stapler John Highmore and in the 1846 Tithe Apportionment was shown to be owned by his son John Noake Highmore (later owner of the Western Flying Post) and occupied by John Channett but was soon occupied by John Noake Highmore himself, certainly during the 1850s and early 1860s - until his suicide at Torquay, Devon, in 1865.
Preston House was home to the farming James family, certainly in the 1920s. The house stood in well-kept gardens adjoining open fields.
From its appearance the Plucknett was probably built around 1840. It is difficult to establish the construction presently camouflaged by the white paint but the rear wall at least is of red brickwork. The building has stone quoins and is under a Welsh slate roof. The extensions are much later. The main elevation is at right-angles to the road and the front door has a good Ham stone portico supported by two Doric columns and two similar pilasters. Ground floor fenestration to the front elevation consists of a pair of nice arch-headed windows with delicate glazing bars above which is one first floor window with, I imagine, a second having been blocked. The side elevation, facing the road, has a pair of well-proportioned sash windows to each floor.
By 1872 Morris' Directory of Somerset & Bristol noted that HE Harbin Esq, Lieutenant of the 16th Somerset Volunteers was in residence. In the 1881 census 51-year old Henry Harbin, a 'Pensioner of the Indian Government' originally from Kingweston, Somerset, was in residence at Preston House with his wife Ellen and a domestic servant. The situation was exactly the same in 1881 except that Henry gave his occupation as a 'Retired Master, Bengal Pilot Service'. By 1901 Henry and Ellen were living in Newton Surmaville House (they were clearly related to the Harbins of Newton Surmaville) with a cook/housekeeper, parlourmaid, housemaid and kitchen maid.
Kelly's Directory of 1902 noted that Henry Raymond was in residence at Preston House but by 1906 it was the home of Linsey Denner until his death in 1917 after which the new resident was Allan Bird but he had given way to Albert James by 1923. Preston House was home to the farming James family, certainly in the 1920s. The house stood in well-kept gardens adjoining open fields.
Thanks to Mike Bolton for the following - "The Plucknett was originally [sic] the town house of Henry Harbin, (possible links to Newton Surmaville?). It began life as a drinking establishment called the 142 Club (the house number) and was frequented on Friday lunchtimes in the 1970's by some of the teachers at Preston Secondary School, of which I was one."
The Plucknett is currently (November 2015) closed and up for sale.
This map, based on the 1901 Ordnance Survey, shows Preston House with its sweeping drive. Lower Farm was to become Preston Park House.
The 1927 Ordnance Survey now shows Preston House lies opposite the newly-created Preston Park.
Courtesy of Chris Rendell
The Plucknett photographed in 1989.
From my collection
Advertisement for the Plucknett from the Visitor, August 1994.
The Plucknett, photographed in 2009.
A photograph of the interior from the 2015 sale details.
The Plucknett - sold? Photographed March 2016
1974 – Licensee
not named (1974
1994 – Tony & Prue Hazelwood (Advertisement)