the history of yeovil's pubs
rifleman's arms inn
114 Park Street / 24 Park Street
It began life as a beerhouse in the wake of the Beerhouse Act 1830. It has been suggested that the name Rifleman's Arms (along with other similarly-named pubs such as the Crossed Rifles at Bridgwater) were the meeting places of military units or were used for recruiting purposes.
Indeed the 16th (Yeovil) Rifle Volunteer Corps were based in Yeovil and may have met up here for occasions of a more social nature than drill nights whereas the Armoury in Park Road, now a public house, had been built as an actual armoury for this Volunteer Corps.
In the photographs it is seen that the Rifleman's Arms Inn was a large three-storied property of four bays with a porte cochere (the passageway through to the rear courtyard to you and me) at its western end. The Rifleman's Arms was owned by Brutton's Brewery, later Brutton, Mitchell Toms Ltd. The Rifleman's Arms Inn was demolished in the late 1950's / early 1960's.
The first recorded licensee, John Hookey Jones was born about 1804 at Shapwick, Somerset. He first appears in the records in the 1841 census in a building that, based on its relative position in the census returns of 1841 to 1871 inclusive, could only be the fledgling Rifleman's Arms. In 1841 John, his Yeovilton-born wife Elizabeth and children - Ann, Emily and John - were living here where they were to stay until shortly before John's death in 1876.
Inn (since he
was living there
from at least
1841 to 1875) it
is not known
1841 was 'glover
would not have
this time. In
1851 he and
glovers but it
is the 1861
hints at the
beerhouse - his
above this is
what appears to
lists him as the
licensee as does
the 1871 census.
Walter Pardy, was born about 1832 in Yeovil, the son of carpenter William Pardy and his glove sewer wife, Sarah. In the 1841 census Walter was living with his parents and eight siblings in Belmont. Ten years later the family had moved along the road to Park Street where Walter, now aged 19, worked as a glover. In the spring of 1853 Walter married and in the 1861 census he and his wife, Sarah, were lodging with his parents - all his siblings having left home. By the time of the 1871 census Walter and Sarah were living with Walter's younger brother, Samuel, in Park Street. It is not known when he started or took over the Rifleman's Arms but in Kelly's Directory of 1875 he was listed as a beer seller. In the 1881 census Walter is listed as an innkeeper at '114 Park Street Beerhouse Rifleman's Arms' with Sarah and his widowed sister-in-law, Mary Foan. Walter was listed as the licensee in Whitby's 1882 Yeovil Almanac Advertiser but he died in the summer of 1884.
The next licensee was Henry Hollard, born in Yeovil about 1831, the son of glover George Hollard and his wife, Mary. In the 1841 census George, Mary and their six children lived in Park Street. The family were still there in 1851 and Henry's occupation was listed as coach smith. Henry married in the spring of 1853 and by 1861 he, his wife Mary Ann (known as Ann) and their three children were all living in Park Street where Henry's occupation was still listed as coach smith. By 1889 Kelly's Directory was listing Henry as the licensee of the Rifleman's Arms and in the 1891 census Henry's occupation was still listed as coach smith. He was last listed in Kelly's Directory of 1897 but I lost track of him after that. Ann died in 1900.
Augustus Farrant was born in Yeovil in 1850, the son of glovers Emanuel and Jane Farrant. In 1851 the family were living in Belmont and ten years later had moved to Vicarage Street. At the age of 21 Augustus married in the spring of 1871 and the census, a month or so later, listed him and his new wife Mary, aged 19 and from West Coker, living in Victoria Buildings with two of his unmarried sisters. His occupation at this time was given as leather dresser. In 1881 Augustus and Mary were living in Park Street with four children. He was employed as a glover leather dresser and Mary as a glover. They were still in Park Street in 1891 but this was the only record that lists eight children; Alice Jane, Beatrice Ellen, Herbert William, Sarah Annie, Rose Jane, Charles, Bertie Arthur and Lily May. By 1901 Reginald and Henry had been added to the brood. It was in the 1901 census that Augustus was listed as leather dresser and publican at the Rifleman's Arms Inn, although the census didn't name the establishment but simply referred to it as public house, no 24 Park Street. By 1907 Augustus had left the Rifleman's Arms Inn and in the 1911 census he and Mary were living at 21 Mill Road. Augustus was now aged 62 and still worked as a leather dresser. By this time Augustus and Mary had been married for 41 years during which time they had fourteen children although six died in childhood. Augustus died in the spring of 1927 aged 77.
Thomas William Frederick Jenvey was born about 1854 at Bothenhampton, Dorset, near Bridport. By the time he was aged seven his father had died and he lived in Bridport with his mother, Louisa, and four siblings. I next found him in the 1881 census working as a flax weaver and boarding in Bristol. In 1892 he married Elizabeth Hannah Vallius at Bristol. By 1907 he was listed as the licensee of the Rifleman's Arms in the Yeovil Directory and the 1911 census he and Elizabeth were living there with their only child, 17-year old Thomas John. Thomas listed his occupation as 'beer house keeper and mineral water manufactory employee', Elizabeth worked as his assistant - presumably running the pub during the day while he worked - and son Thomas also worked as an assistant in the mineral water manufactory with his father. This was, presumably, the mineral water works just around the corner in Union Street. Thomas Jenvey was still the licensee of the Rifleman's Arms when he died - although he actually died in Cotford Asylum (the Tone Vale County Asylum) on 11 December 1923. The probate record reads as follows "Jenvey, Thomas William Frederick of Rifleman's Arms Inn Park Street Yeovil Somersetshire died 11 December 1923 at Cotford Asylum Somersetshire Probate London 26 January to Herbert George Day labourer and George Cook glove cutter. Effects £1486 15s 9d." (In excess of £76,000 in 2017's value).
Following Thomas Jenvey's death it is likely that Ernest Giles took on the license of the Rifleman's Arms although I have only found him in the records from 1935 until 1947. He was followed by H Devoto for the final half dozen years of the establishment.
Sketch Plan of the Rifleman's arms Inn
This is a sketch based on plans held at the Heritage Centre, Taunton. The original plans are undated but probably from the 1940s when Brutton, Mitchell Toms Ltd were the owners. The range of buildings that included the wash house, toilets and stores were all single-storey lean-to buildings. Notice how small the actual bar area is - presumably the 'private room' was also a drinking area.
Many thanks to Maxine Hawker for sending me this photo of her Aunt Ivy outside the Rifleman's Arms, probably during the 1920's. Ivy was the daughter of Bob Barry of Park Street who was a blind fish-smoker and sold his smoked fish from the barrow in the photograph. Ivy used to help him push the fish cart around the villages.
A 1928 aerial view of the northern end of Park Street running across the photograph showing the location of the Rifleman's Arms (arrowed). South Street curves around at the right of the photo with the Globe Inn at the junction of the two roads and Woborn's Almshouse just visible on the right hand edge of the photograph.
This photograph dates to 1956, shortly before demolition.
The end is nigh! Seen from Bond Street the buildings in Park Street are beginning to be cleared. The Globe Inn has already been demolished and would have stood at the corner of Park Street and South Street at the very right of the photograph. The Rifleman's Arms awaits demolition - the first three-storey building to the immediate right of the car.
1861 – John
Jones – Glover
1866 – John Jones – Beer Retailer (Kelly's 1866 Directory)
1871 – John Jones – Inn Keeper (1871 census) pub not named
1875 – Walter Pardy – Beer Retailer (Kelly's 1875 Directory)
1881 – Walter Pardy – Innkeeper (1881 census) listed as Beer House Riflemans Arms.
1882 – Walter Pardy (Whitby's 1882 Yeovil Almanack Advertiser) listed as Rifleman's Arms
1889 – Henry Hollard – Beer Retailer (Kelly’s 1889 Directory) listed as Riflemans Arms
1891 – Henry Hollard in residence (1891 census) listed as Riflemans Arms Inn
1895 – Henry Hollard – Beer Retailer (Kelly’s 1895 Directory) pub not named
1897 – Henry Hollard – Beer Retailer (Kelly’s 1897 Directory) listed as Riflemans Arms
1901 – Augustus Farrant – Leather Dress(er) & Publican (1901 census) listed as Public House
but not named
1907 – T Jenvey (1907 Yeovil Directory)
1911 – Thomas William Frederick Jenvey – Beer House Keeper & Mineral Water Manufacturer
(1911 census) pub not named
1914 – Thomas Jenvey – Beer Retailer (Kelly’s 1914 Directory) listed as Riflemans Arms
1923 – Thomas Jenvey – Beer Retailer (Kelly’s 1923 Directory) pub not named
1935 – George Ernest Giles (Kelly’s 1935 Directory)
1936 – EG Giles (1936 Yeovil Directory) listed as Rifleman’s Arms
1938 – EG Giles (1938 Yeovil Directory) listed as Rifleman’s Arms
1939 – Ernest Giles (Kelly’s 1939 Directory) listed as Rifleman Arms
1947 – EG Giles (1947 Yeovil Directory) listed as Riflemans Arms
1949 – H Devoto (Kelly’s 1949 Directory) listed as Riflemans Arms
1951 – H Devoto (1951 Yeovil Directory) listed as Rifleman’s Arms
1954 – H Devoto (1954 Yeovil Directory) listed as Rifleman’s Arms