the history of yeovil's pubs





somerset inn

2 Preston Road


The Somerset Inn, shown pink on the map below, was a solid two-storey double fronted building constructed in ashlar to the front road-facing elevation and rendered brickwork elsewhere under a tiled roof. A small off-sales extension stood to one side. Reached by a short flight of steps, the main entrance was flanked by two large bay windows while above were three sash windows.

The inn sign was the badge of the local regiment, the Somerset Light Infantry or, as they were known in the 1850's, the 13th Prince Albert's Regiment of Light Infantry (see illustration left).

An amusing snippet that caught my eye in the Sherborne Mercury of 5 August 1843 stated "On Wednesday last and old Pensioner named Foan, being in the yard of the Somerset Inn in this town, had the misfortune to fall down the well, which is of considerable depth and having about 10 feet of water in it. Some men immediately let down the bucket into which Foan got, but when drawn up about halfway the rope broke and down he went again.  Another rope was then obtained which however broke in the same manner as they were drawing him up, and the poor fellow had another tumble. A waggon line was then procured by which he was ultimately rescued from his perilous situation after having been in the well full half an hour.  We are however happy to say that though he was considerably bruised, he has not received any very serious injury." 

The Somerset Inn closed around the year 2000. It was demolished and a block of flats, Somerset Court, now stands on the site.

The following is taken from an article in the Weekly News of 3 August 1990 -


The Somerset Inn is a new experience

The Somerset Inn at Preston Road, Yeovil, is capturing a large part of the eating out market with its attractive surroundings, top quality meals and friendly atmosphere. The pub is run by Jim Pidgeon, his daughter Jacqueline and son-in-law Charles, who took it over in March. Mr Pidgeon, who has been in the business for 18 years, handles most of the cooking and makes good use of his experience from when he ran a hotel. He stressed that he does not dish up "pub grub" , but serves excellent home-cooked meals.

The Somerset Inn also features an enclosed beer garden, set back from the road, where parents can relax with their children, and a large car park. The pub was recently refurbished inside and out, and is now a very attractive place to eat and drink. The Somerset Inn caters for skittlers and dart players and private competitions are welcome.


New licensee Jim Pidgeon poses with his daughter, Jacqueline (left), son-in-law Charles and barmaid Shelley Bushell.



Yeovilians remember...

Thanks to Mike Bolton for the following memories of the Somerset Inn - "Some friends and I used to run the Yeovil folk club called the Jellalabad in the skittle alley in the late 1970's and early '80's. Previously (late 1960's early '70's) we had run the folk club in an upstairs room at the White Horse in St Michaels Avenue."

Thanks to Will Rich for the following - "I used to call into the Jug and Bottle when I was an underage drinker for a half of cider (6d). The hatch was low down and I was tall, so whoever was serving couldn't really see how old I was (probably 15-16 at the time)."




The Somerset Inn's first recorded licensee, John Ewens, was born in Somerset around 1789. Robson's Directory of 1839 lists John as the licensee of one of Yeovil's first licensed beerhouses in Hendford, but he had moved to the Somerset Inn by 1841. This may be an indication of how lucrative his Hendford beerhouse was. In the 1841 census he is listed as an innkeeper in Preston Road with his wife, Sarah née Glyde, 21-year old seamstress daughter Sarah, 16-year old tailor's apprentice son James, 11-year old carpenter's apprentice son Samuel and 11-year old daughter Caroline who was a dressmaker's apprentice. Unfortunately for John he died the same year and his widow, Sarah, took over the license for several years thereafter.

Sarah was born at Chillington, Devon, about 1790 and she and husband John were certainly living in Yeovil by 1830 when their daughter Caroline was born there. After John's death Sarah was listed as a retailer of beer in Pigot's Directory of 1842 and in the 1851 census she is again listed as innkeeper. Living with her was her daughter Caroline and son-in-law Alfred Day, her eldest daughter Sarah and son-in-law Edmund Wall and Sarah and Edmund's three children; Caroline, Samuel and Sarah Ann. By 1855 Sarah had left the Somerset Inn. She died in Yeovil in 1869, aged about 79.

There are records relating to a Thomas Hull being licensee in 1855 and 1856 but I couldn't find any other trace of the elusive Mr Hull. However it is interesting to note that the Somerset Inn, at this time, was owned by William Bide the glove manufacturer of Reckleford, Town Commissioner and Mayor of Yeovil between 1860 and 1862.

There is a single record relating to Philip Higgins as licensee in 1856. Higgins was born about 1820 at Mudford, just to the northeast of Yeovil, and in the 1851 census was listed as a carpenter living in Back Kingston with his dressmaker wife, Elizabeth, and their two daughters. They were living in Mudford until at least 1847 when their elder daughter, Anna Maria, was born there but they were living in Yeovil by 1850 when their younger daughter, Mary Jane, was born. Philip's tenure at the Somerset Inn was brief since he died in 1857.

Edward Harwood was born about 1824 at Barwick, just south of Yeovil and married about 1845. He and his wife Sarah lived in Chilthorne Domer for several years, where three of their children were born, before moving to Yeovil where two more children were born. Kelly's Directory of 1861 lists Edward as licensee of the Somerset Inn and the census of the same year lists him as innkeeper there, with Sarah and the children. Sarah died in the spring of 1863, aged about 37. After this Edward and the children seem to disappear from the records and had certainly moved on from the Somerset Inn by 1866.

George Parsons was the next licensee but I couldn't trace him with certainty because there were more than two men in Yeovil of that name at the time. The George Parsons of the Somerset Inn, however, was mentioned in the 7 September 1866 issue of the Western Gazette as follows "George Parsons, of the Somerset Inn, Preston Road, was summoned for keeping his house open at illegal hours on Sunday 26 August. PC Deane and PC Eveleigh proved the case. Fined £1 and 6s 6d costs." In September 1867 George had his license suspended at the Petty Sessions "in consequence of a complaint made by the police that the owner, Mr George Parsons, had allowed the house to be used for an immoral purpose."

In September 1870 George Quantock was summoned for selling beer during prohibited hours on a Sunday. Quantock, who had been previously convicted, was fined 40s and costs, and his license was refused.

William Seabright was born around 1844 at Lyndhurst, Hampshire, the son of agricultural labourer Charles Seabright and his wife, Sarah. William was also an agricultural labourer but he moved to Yeovil and married his Yeovil-born wife, Mary, in 1866. They and had a son, William, and a daughter, Albertena. By the time of the 1871 census the family were living at the Somerset Inn in Preston Road, where William was the licensee. By 1875, however, Kelly's Directory was listing him as the licensee of the Royal Oak in Wine Street where he was to remain the licensee until at least 1903. The 1911 census listed William as a retired inn keeper living with Mary at 131 Gold Croft.

James Dominey was born at Stoke St Mary, Somerset, in April 1819, the son of John Dominey and his wife Mary, née Marler. He was a gardener to W H Helyar at Coker Court, East Coker, and won prizes for his flowers and produce at shows. In 1851 he was listed in the census as a gardener living in Sidmouth, Devon, and although listed as married, there was no sign of his wife, Esther (see below), whom he married in Taunton in the spring of 1848. By the time of the 1861 census James and Esther were living in East Coker, a few miles east of Yeovil, with their three children; George, Fanny and Mary - all of whom had been born in East Coker between 1850 and 1859. James was still employed as a gardener. There were also three more children who are not in the records, because they were born and died in infancy between the 1851 and 1861 censuses. Another son, John Henry, later became the licensee of the Bull's Head, Fordington. I couldn't find the family in the 1871 census but in the following census the family were living at the Somerset Inn. James was listed as landlord and Mary, now a 22-year old dressmaker was still living with her parents. Also there were three more children - all born in East Coker - Florence, Herbert and Alice. James died in the winter of 1883 and Esther became the new licensee of the Somerset Inn.

Esther was born Esther Yard about 1825 in Martock, Somerset. In the 1841 census, at the age of 15, she was working as a female servant in Martock. In the spring of 1848 she married James Dominey and in the 1851 census she was living in Sidmouth with baby George, as a 26-year old dressmaker. James, meanwhile, was a live-in gardener also in Sidmouth. As described above James and Esther spent much of their married life in East Coker before James became landlord at the Somerset Inn. After his death in 1883 Esther became the new licensee and was listed as such in various trade directories. In the 1891 census Esther was listed as innkeeper and was living at the Somerset Inn with her three children Florence, Alice and Herbert. Esther died in the summer of 1895, aged 70.

The next licensee was Eli John Welman Parker. He was born in Yeovil in 1860, the son of saddler William Parker and his wife, Anna. In the 1861 census Eli was living with his parents and four older siblings in Vicarage Street. In the 1871 census the family were still at the same address although by this time Eli's mother had died. By 1881 20-year old, unmarried Eli was living as a boarder in Vicarage Street and working as a bricklayer. In the summer of 1882 he married Mary Ann in Langport, Somerset (there were three Marys married in Langport at the time and I couldn't distinguish which one married Eli. She was, however, born in Swell). In the 1891 census Eli and Mary were living in Reckleford with their four children; Emmie, Ellen known as Nellie, Ethel and John. Eli gave his occupation as builder. In 1897 Kelly's Directory listed Eli as the licensee of the Somerset Inn although he may have been running the pub since the death of Esther Dominey in the summer of 1895. He was listed in directories in 1898 and 1899 but by the time of the 1901 census the family were living in Beer Street where Eli listed his occupation as bricklayer once again. Living with him and Mary Ann were children; dressmaker Emmie, cardboard box maker Nellie, Ethel, Harold and Evelyn. In the 1911 census the family were still at 9 Beer Street and Eli was still working as a bricklayer. By this time Eli and Mary Ann had been married for 28 years and had five children; domestic nurse Emmie, gloving machinist Ethel and cardboard box maker Evelyn were still living with them. Eli died in the spring of 1916 aged 56.

Taking over from Eli, George Bedgood was born about 1851 in Crewkerne, some seven miles west of Yeovil, the son of a foreman in a girth web factory Charles Bedgood of Haselbury Plucknett and his wife, Mary Ann, of Honiton, Devon. In the 1861 census George was living with his parents and three siblings in Crewkerne. George married in the spring of 1872 and in the 1881 census he was living in East Coker with his dressmaker wife, Eliza, of Barwick. By 1891 however, George and Eliza were living at 12 Felix Place - the Corporation Baths - where they were listed as the manager and manageress. In the 1901 census George was listed as the innkeeper of the Somerset Inn and he was listed as licensee the following year in Kelly's 1902 Directory but after this I lost track of them in the records.

Ernest Coghlan was born at King's Lynn around 1853 but I could not trace his early life. He first appears in the 1907 Yeovil Directory as licensee of the Somerset Inn and in the 1911 census is listed with his wife, Sarah, and their adopted daughter, Eva. Ernest gave his occupation as publican and Sarah gave hers as his assistant. At this time they had been married 16 years. Ernest died in the winter of 1915 aged about 62 and Sarah became the new licensee. Although I know Sarah was born in Yeovil around 1852, because I couldn't find their marriage in the records I couldn't discover her maiden name and therefore was not able to trace her early life. After the death of Ernest, Sarah was listed as licensee in several trade directories with the last being in Kelly's Directory of 1923. It was in the spring of 1923 that Sarah, at the age of about 70, married a man named Hancock and presumably gave up the license at this time.

It is likely that Edwin Thomas Langdon took over the license after Sarah left although he is only recorded in directories from 1936. He was licensee, however, until the early 1950's at which time the licensee was Edwin Philbrick until at least the mid-1960's.






Preston Road runs across this 1928 aerial photograph with The Park running up to meet it at left. In the lower foreground is Sidney Gardens (laid out on Ram Park) with its bandstand and fountain. The Somerset Inn, arrowed, is seen before the left-hand chimney stack was removed and the bay windows added to the front elevation.


From the Cave Collection (colourised), Courtesy of South Somerset Heritage Collection

A 1969 photograph taken from Fiveways Crossroads and looking down Preston Road towards the Somerset Inn after the demolition of the hospital.


The Somerset Inn, in a photograph of the 1960's. Note the off-sales entrance at right.


Courtesy of Chris Rendell

The Somerset Inn photographed in 1984.


From my collection

Advertisement for the Somerset Inn from the Visitor, July 1992.


Courtesy of Dinah Cheek

Up for sale, circa 1999.


The Somerset Inn - closed, boarded up and awaiting demolition around the year 2000.



The following three photographs showing the demolition of the Somerset Inn are Courtesy of Dinah Cheek.






The following five photographs showing the demolition of the Somerset Inn are Courtesy of Bill and Audrey Robertson.










Somerset Court on the site of the Somerset Inn, photograph taken in 2009. The wall between Somerset Court and the red car is the boundary wall of the Somerset Inn, visible in the second photograph above, to the immediate left of the Somerset Inn.




1841 – John Ewens – Inn Keeper (1841 census)
1842 – Sarah Ewens – Retailer of Beer (Pigot’s 1842-4 Directory)
1846 – John Ewens – owner-occupier (Tithe Apportionment) listed as Inn and garden. John,
            however, was dead by this time.
1850 – Sarah Ewens - Beer Retailer (Hunt & Co's 1850 Directory)
1851 – Sarah Ewens (widow of John above aged 61) - Inn Keeper (1851 census)
1855 – Thomas Hull
1856 – Let by William Bide to Phillip Higgins (late Thomas Hull)
1861 – Edward Harwood – Innkeeper (1861 census)
1861 – Edward Harwood (Kelly's 1861 Directory) listed as Somerset Inn, Preston Road
1866 – George Parsons (Kelly's 1866 Directory) listed as Somerset Inn, Preston
1866 – George Parsons – fined for keeping illegal hours (Petty Sessions, September)
1867 – George Parsons – license suspended, house used for immoral purpose (Petty Sessions)
1870 – George Quantock – license refused (Petty Sessions)
1871 – William Seabright – Inn Keeper (1871 census)
1872 – William Seabright - License transfer (Borough Petty Sessions, February)
1872 – James Dominey - License transferred (Borough Petty Sessions, February)
1875 – James Dominey (Kelly's 1875 Directory) listed as Somerset Inn, Preston Road
1881 – James Dominey – Landlord (1881 census) listed as Somerset Inn
1889 – Mrs Esther Dominey (Kelly’s 1889 Directory) listed as Somerset Inn
1889 – Mrs Esther Dominey (1889 Somerset & Bristol Directory) listed as Somerset Inn
1890 – Mrs Esther Dominey (Kelly’s 1890 Directory) listed as Somerset Inn
1891 – Esther Dominey – Innkeeper (1891 census) pub not named
1897 – Eli Parker (Kelly’s 1897 Directory) listed as Somerset Inn
1898 – Eli John Welman Parker (Whitby's 1898 Yeovil Almanack Advertiser)
1899 – Eli Parker (Whitby's 1899 Yeovil Almanack Advertiser)
1901 – George Bedgood – Inn Keeper (1901 census) listed as Somerset Inn.
1902 – George Bedgood (Kelly’s 1902 Directory) listed as Somerset Inn
1907 – E Coghlan (1907 Yeovil Directory)
1911 – Ernest Coghlan – Publican (1911 census) listed as Somerset Inn
1914 – Ernest Coghlan (Kelly’s 1914 Directory) listed as Somerset Inn
1919 – Mrs SA Coghlan (Kelly’s 1919 Directory) listed as Somerset Inn
1923 – Mrs Sarah Coghlan (Kelly’s 1923 Directory) listed as Somerset Inn
1932 – Thomas Langdon – License transfer from Sarah Ann Hancock (Borough Petty Sessions)
            Langdon was ex-Fleur-de-Lys, Stoke-sub-Hamdon
1935 – Edwin Thomas Langdon (Kelly's 1935 Directory)
1936 – EJ Langdon (1936 Yeovil Directory) listed as Somerset Inn
1938 – EJ Langdon (1938 Yeovil Directory) listed as Somerset Inn
1939 – Edwin Langdon (Kelly’s 1939 Directory) listed as Somerset Inn
1947 – E Langdon (1947 Yeovil Directory) listed as Somerset Inn
1949 – E Langdon (Kelly’s 1949 Directory) listed as Somerset Inn
1951 – E Langdon (1951 Yeovil Directory) listed as Somerset Inn
1954 – EC Philbrick (1954 Yeovil Directory) listed as Somerset Inn
1957 – EC Philbrick (1957 Yeovil Directory) listed as Somerset Inn
1960 – EC Philbrick (1960 Yeovil Directory) listed as Somerset Inn
1964 – Edwin C Philbrick (Foord's 1964 Directory)
1965 – Licensee not named (1965 Yeovil Directory) listed as Somerset Inn
1968 – Licensee not named (Kelly’s 1968 Directory) listed as Somerset Inn
1969 – Licensee not named (Kelly’s 1969 Directory) listed as Somerset Inn
1970 – Licensee not named (Kelly’s 1970 Directory) listed as Somerset Inn
1971 – Licensee not named (Kelly’s 1971 Directory) listed as Somerset Inn
1972 – Licensee not named (Kelly’s 1972 Directory) listed as Somerset Inn
1973 – Licensee not named (Kelly’s 1973 Directory) listed as Somerset Inn
1974 – Licensee not named (1974 Yeovil Directory) listed as Somerset Inn
1974 – Warren C Smith (Kelly's 1974 Directory)
1987 – Licensee not named (Denton’s 1987 Directory) listed as Somerset Inn
1990 – Jim Pidgeon (newspaper article above)
1992 – Ron Chatburn & Gill Fox (Advertisement)