the history of yeovil's pubs





castle Inn / hotel

7 Middle Street


Before its demolition in 1927 for street widening the Castle Inn (shown as 'C' on the map below) was Yeovil’s earliest house. It was, in part, 13th century and had been an old medieval chantry property – a chantry being a fund to pay for a priest to celebrate daily Masses, generally for the soul of the deceased donor. Chantries were usually endowed with lands given by the donors, the income from which maintained the chantry priest. It was one of seven chantry properties surviving the Great Fire of Yeovil of 1449.

When it first opened as licensed premises, probably before 1580, it was called the Hart or the White Hart. In his will of 24 August 1580, woollen draper Gyles Hayne wrote "...  All that my Burgage or Tenemente, and Gardeyne to the same belonginge scituate and beinge in Pitlane nexte the Harte within the Borough of Yeavell foresayde...".

Later it was known as the Higher Three Cups or Upper Three Cups, until about 1750, to distinguish it from another old medieval pub in Middle Street called the Three Cups, itself later renamed as the George.

Although it was one of Yeovil's four coaching inns, it is unlikely that a coach and horses would be driven through the central arch it since the road at this point was just twelve feet wide and there wasn't enough space in the Castle's rear yard to turn a coach - the stables and coach house were almost certainly off-site.

In 1618 an order was made that only nine licensed premises be allowed in the borough (that is the town, not that part of High Street today called the Borough) and two outside, with the rest being 'suppressed'. The White Hart / Castle Inn was likely one of the nine 'allowed' premises.
Few of the early licensees are known but the earliest appears on a trade token. Most Yeovil trade tokens were issued by tradesmen following the death of Charles I in 1649 in order to overcome the lack of small change in general circulation.

No copper coinage was minted during the Commonwealth and the resulting paucity of small coinage was met by independently-produced and completely unauthorised tokens of brass or latten (copper alloys similar to brass). In 1672 farthings were minted in the reign of Charles II with the consequent demise of trade tokens. A trade token worth a farthing, photographed here (but reproduced much bigger than life size - it is actually only about 12mm in diameter), probably from the White Hart dated 1668, depicts a hart on the obverse, together with the licensee's name, ''Richard Moore'. On the reverse is inscribed 'of Yeavell - 1668 - M.R.D.'. Tokens usually had three initials, representing the surname and two Christian names of the issuer and his wife.

The building had a good arched doorway with Gothic-style hood moulding and on the upper floor a fine two-light traceried window, one three-light and one four-light stone mullioned windows. The arched doorway led through to extensive stabling, housing a large number of horses, as well as a large yard at the rear of the premises, as seen on the map below.

In his will of 1828 William Row of Lyde stated ".... all that my Messuage or Dwelling House and Inn called the Castle in Middle Street in Yeovil aforesaid with the rights members and appurtenances to the same respectively belonging....".

During the 1850’s a daily stagecoach, known as Edward’s Omnibus, left from the Castle to Bath and Bristol. The Castle itself had a large yard and extensive stabling to its rear. It was one of the first of Yeovil's premises to advertise a motor car for hire as well as a lock-up for guest's bicycles.

By the 1890s the Castle Hotel was a tied house of the Royal Osborne Brewery, with a long lease owned by Earle Vincent. When Vincent died in 1893 his estate was sold off the following year which included "the Castle Hotel.... let to Mr John Wilkins."


From the Western Gazette, Friday 18 March 1927

Ancient Yeovil Hostelry

The Castle Inn to be Demolished

Site Wanted for Shops

Arch and Early Windows to be Preserved


 "The next few weeks will see the passing of one of the two oldest buildings in Yeovil, the Castle Inn in Middle Street, which is to be demolished to provide a site for shops. Anciently the residents of one of the priests serving one of the Chantry is attached to the parish church, the building has long been one of the greatest objects of interest to the antiquarian and visitor alike, for it possesses a XV century arch and several early windows. These, through the kindness of the new owner, are to be removed and preserved, together with any other portions of the ancient building which may be of interest.

The Library Committee reported to the Town Council on Monday evening that Mr D Overall, the new owner of the Inn, had made an offer to present to the town the old arch, window, and any other antique portion of the building the Council might wish to preserve if they were removed. The Committee recommended that this offer be accepted with thanks, and stated they were arranging for the removal of these portions of the building at the appropriate time.

Mr AHJ Stroud, on behalf of the Library and Museum Sub-Committee, said they all regretted the disappearance of these links with old Yeovil, but it was inevitable in view of the narrowness of their streets and modern traffic. There were excellent photographs of the Inn, and these were being kept carefully preserved. The Inn stands in the narrowest part of the main street at Yeovil, which also has another ancient hostelry, known as the George Hotel....

"It seems the old must make way for the new" said the Mayor (Aldermen PW Petter), at the Police Court on Tuesday, when the licence of the Castle Inn came up for consideration. Notice of objection to renewal of the licence had been given, but renewal was not applied for. Mr JA Mayo said as notice had been served that objection was going to be taken to the renewal of the licence on the ground of redundancy he should, in the ordinary way, have formally applied for the renewal of the licence. The Castle, however, was going to be pulled down and shops erected in its stead. He need hardly tell the Bench that with the passing of the Castle an old Yeovil landmark would disappear. It's passing seemed a pity in some ways, but he understood provision had been made for the safeguarding of the archways, and that they were to be handed over into the keeping of the town. The licence of the hotel would expire on 5 April.

The Mayor said, on behalf of the Bench, he wished to thank Mr Mayo's clients for treating the matter in the way they had, and also for handing over the best of the relics of the old building to the Museum Committee. They all, he thought, would regret such an ancient place should have to come down, but it would affect a considerable improvement to Middle Street. "In not applying for the renewal of the licence," the Mayor said, addressing Mr Mayo "Your clients are doing a very good thing, and treating the matter in a very nice way."





The first licensee of whom there is any personal information was John Thomas who was born about 1786 in Stockland, Dorset. He was listed as the licensee of the Castle in Robson's Directory of 1839, listed as a victualler in the 1841 census and was listed in Pigot's Directory of 1842. In the 1841 census he is listed with Louiza Lowman, a female servant who may actually have been his daughter. In July 1844 Louisa married William Smith who was to become the licensee of the George Hotel across the road. By 1851 he was living with Louisa and William as a retired innkeeper in Middle Street. He lived with them until his death in 1867.

After John Thomas retired during the 1840's, the license of the Castle was taken on by Joseph Dean. The Western Gazette noted in 1848 "Joseph Dean (late of the King's Head Inn) informs his friends that, in consequence of the site on which the King's Head premises are situated being required for the new Town Hall and market, he has purchased the stock, &c., of Mr John Thomas of the Castle Inn and will succeed to the business there at Lady-day next."

Joseph is first noted in Hunt's Directory of 1850 and in the 1851 census he is shown as a 40-year old licensed victualler from Branscombe, Devon, with his wife, Jane, and a house servant. Joseph died in 1860 and in the 1861 census Jane is shown as a 53-year old widow and inn keeper at the Castle with her 28-year old niece, Ann Billing, working as a bar maid.

The next licensee, George Ring, was born about 1816 in Martock and is noted as the licensee as early as 1866 in Kelly's Directory. The 1841 census finds him, a glove cutter, living in the lodge of Barwick House with his wife Salena and their baby son, also George. They were still living in Barwick House Lodge ten years later and George was described as a glover. Selina died in the summer of 1858 and by 1861 George and five of his children were living with a housekeeper in Ebenezer Row, a row of cottages in lower Middle Street, near to where Poundland's shop is today. George's occupation was given as leather glover. Kelly's Directory of 1866 listed George as licensee of the Castle and in the 1871 census George was listed as a 55-year old innkeeper and was living at the Castle with a new wife, Jane, some eleven years his senior. By 1881 George, now aged 64 and listed as a glove-cutter and publican was living at the Castle with his third wife, 50-year old Sara.

John Wilkins was born about 1826 in North Cadbury. In 1841, at the age of 15, he was listed in the census as a farmer and head of the household with his two younger sisters and younger brother; they were all living in the house of John Court, an agricultural labourer, in Galhampton, North Cadbury. The next time John appears in the records is in the census of 1861 where he is a 35-year old dairyman living in Church Farm Dairy Cottage, Corton Denham. John was living with his 22-year old Yeovil-born wife, Mary, and three children two of whom were certainly too old for Mary to have been their mother. The scene was pretty much the same by 1871 except everyone was ten years older. The 1881 census saw the family living in the Dairy House at Wyke Farm, Sherborne where John was still a dairyman. According to the birthplaces of some of their children, the family had moved around through the years including stops at Corton Denham, Mudford and Chilthorne Domer. In 1889, Kelly's Directory listed John as hotel keeper of the Castle Inn with Mary and five of their children. John was now aged 65 and, having retired from being a dairyman, followed many men's dream of becoming an innkeeper. In 1897 John was still listed as licensee Kelly's Directory but he died in the summer of 1900. Mary left the Castle almost immediately and in 1901 she was licensee of the Crown Inn in Huish with a son and daughter.

John White was born around 1862 in West Coker, son of labourer Sidney White and his wife, Ellen. By the time he was 18 in 1881 John, still living at home, was a coachman domestic servant. By 1891 John had married and he and his Yeovil-born wife, Priscilla, lived in Barwick with their three young children. John described his occupation as general servant. By 1901 John had left service and was listed in the 1901 census as the hotel proprietor of the Castle Hotel with Priscilla and three of their children the eldest of whom, Ada, worked as a barmaid. John was still at the Castle in 1907, but by 1911 he was licensee of the Globe and Crown in South Street.

William S Hardy was born about 1866 in Yeovil was the son of farmer George Hardy and his wife, Ann. In 1871 the family lived in East Lydford, some 13 miles to the north of Yeovil. By 1881 Ann had died and the family moved to Yeovil where George was employed as a commercial traveller for one of the breweries while 15-year old William was unemployed. During the next decade William married and by the 1891 census he was living with his wife, Annie, and their two baby sons at 48 Queen Street. William's occupation was given as a wine and spirit cellarman and Annie was a glover. Ten years later and William and Annie now had five young boys and were living in Camborne Grove. William was still a wine merchant's cellarman, however by 1911 he was the manager of the Castle Hotel and Annie was the manageress. By 1916 William was licensee of the Butchers Arms.







A sketch of the Castle Inn, drawn in 1847 in pencil and sepia watercolour by William Walter Wheatley (1811-1885). Compared with the later photographs shown below, Wheatley's representation is somewhat condensed.


This sepia-toned photograph looking east along Middle Street dates to about 1875 and is probably one of the earliest photographs of the Castle Inn, seen at left. The house and herbal shop of murderer Robert Slade Colmer was the three-storey building next to it - the building where the murder of Mary Budge took place!! This is also the only photograph I know of that shows the original narrow entrance to Union Street opposite the Castle Inn. Note also the stovepipe hat of the man pausing with his barrow in the centre of Middle Street. The tiny house seen immediately above this man was Thomas Hayward's beerhouse.


From my collection. This photograph features in my book "A-Z of Yeovil"

This hand-coloured postcard was post-marked 1904 but the original photograph actually dates to about 1890 when the licensee was John Wilkins and his name appears under the Castle Hotel sign that projects into the road at high level.


This photograph probably dates to about 1880 when John Rundle was the saddler and harness maker whose shop is at right, on the corner of Union Street, opposite the Castle Hotel.


A postcard of Middle Street, featuring the Castle Inn opposite the entrance to Union Street. This postcard was used in 1904.


The Castle Hotel in 1905, when John White was Licensee.


From my collection. This photograph features in my book "Lost Yeovil"

A lovely sepia-toned postcard taken at about the same time as the previous photo when John White was licensee - could that be John posing outside the hotel? Note the proximity to Union Street at extreme right.


The Castle Hotel photographed in 1907.


This photograph was taken in the early 1920's (about the time Stanley Cook was Licensee) as there is a poster indicating that the pub was to be demolished and the site to be used for an 'Up-to-Date Picture House'. In fact this did not materialise and after the pub was demolished in 1927 it was replaced by shops. Notice that since the previous photograph, Plowman's confectioners shop has been inserted into the Castle Inn building - a bit like the shops that were inserted into the frontage of the Mermaid Hotel at about the same time.


Enlarged from the previous photograph, this is also the best photograph of the Castle's porte-cochere, or archway. It is unlikely that a coach and horses would be driven through it since the road at this point was just twelve feet wide and there wasn't enough space in the Castle's rear yard to turn a coach. Although it was one of Yeovil's four coaching inns, the stables and coach house were almost certainly off site.


Taken about the same time as the previous photograph, this view looking east along Middle Street is almost identical to the first photograph in this series except that the Castle Inn is probably the only building that hasn't been rebuilt or drastically altered in the intervening years.


Probably one of the last photographs of the Castle Hotel taken before its demolition in 1927.


The proposed new 'Electric Theatre' cinema that was supposed to replace the Castle Inn. Designed by Yeovil architects Petter & Warren for Albany Ward Theatres in 1919.




as the Hart / White Hart

pre-1580  – Alexander Keele (will of Gyles Hayne)
1580 – Gyles Hayne
1668 – Richard Moore (named on a trade token - see above)
1677 – Mary Moore (Lease)
1679 – Samuel Nixon (Lease)
1691 – Benjamin Snooke (Lease / Mortgage / Bond)
as the Higher Three Cups

1733 – The Three Cups, late Pittard
1743 – John Piddle – innholder (Lease) noted as the Higher Three Cups
1756 – Joseph Hodge – innholder (Lease) noted as the Higher Three Cups
1760 – Joseph Hodges (Poor Rate Book)
1770 – Joseph Hodges – Innholder (Will)
1771/2 – Joseph Hodges (Junior) – innholder (Claim under Will)

as the Castle Inn

1768 – Joseph Hodges (Insurance Document) noted as the Castle Inn
1785 – Row, owner - Hewlett, occupier (Land Tax Returns)
1798 – William Rowe, owner (Land Tax Redemption)
1822 – Elisha Court (Pigot’s 1822 Directory) listed as Castle
1824 – Elisha Court (Pigot’s 1824 Directory) listed as Castle, Middle Street
1827 – Elisha Court (1827 Jurors List)
1828 – William Row, proprietor - E A'Court, occupier (Land Tax Returns)
1830 – Elisha A’Court (Pigot’s 1830 Directory) listed as Castle, Middle Street
1839 – John Thomas (Robson’s 1839 Directory) listed as the Castle
1841 – John Thomas – Victualler (1841 census) pub not named
1842 – John Thomas (Pigot’s 1842-4 Directory) listed as the Castle
1848 – Joseph Dean - bought stock, etc., took over on Lady Day (Western Gazette)
1850 – Joseph Dean (Hunt & Co 1850 Directory)
1851 – Joseph Dean - Licensed Victualler (1851 census) listed as Castle Inn
1852 – Joseph Dean – Inn Keeper (Slater’s 1852 Directory) listed as the Castle
1859 – Joseph Dean (Harrison, Harrod & Co 1859 Directory)
1861 – Jane Dean (52 year old widow of Joseph above) – Inn Keeper (1861 census)
1861 – Mrs Jane Dean (Kelly's 1861 Directory)
1866 – George Ring (Kelly's 1866 Directory)
1871 – George Ring – Innkeeper (1871 census) –age 55 with wife Jane age 66
1875 – George Ring (Kelly's 1875 Directory - Hotels & Inns)
1881 – George Ring – Glove Cutter & Publican (1881 census) listed as Castle.
1889 – John Wilkins (Kelly’s 1889 Directory) listed as Castle Inn
1891 – John Wilkins – Hotel Keeper (1891 census) listed as the Castle Inn
1895 – John Wilkins (Kelly’s 1895 Directory) listed as Castle Inn
1897 – John Wilkins (Kelly’s 1897 Directory) listed as Castle Inn
1901 – John White – Hotel Proprietor (1901 census) listed as the Castle Hotel.
1905 – John White - from dated photograph above.
1907 – John White (Kelly’s 1907 Directory)
1909 – Edward James Slann - Manager - License transfer (Borough Petty Sessions)
            Messrs Knight & Co, owners
1911 – William Hardy - Manager (1911 census)
1912 – William S Hardy – Manager (Yeovil Directory 1912)
1914 – William Hardy (Kelly’s 1914 Directory) listed as Castle Inn.
1916 – Joseph Tucker Brice (Kelly’s 1916 Directory)
1923 – Stanley Cook (Kelly’s 1923 Directory) listed as Castle Inn

1926 – Building demolished.






Lease and Release - 16/17 July 1677 - Richard Thomas et al, Trustess of Merchant Company of Taylors in the City of Wells - Lease and Release to Mary Moore


Lease - 19 September 1679 - William Webb and Mary his wife, to Samuel Nixon, lease for 99 years.


Lease - 14 February 1691 - William Webb, cooper, of Yeovil, and Mary his wife, to Benjamin Snooke - messuage in Middle Street.


Mortgage - 16/17 February 1691 - William Webb and Mary his wife to Benjamin Snooke.


Bond - 17 February 1691 - William Webb / Benjamin Snooke.


Bond - 20 May 1693 - Bond for £10. Mariam Webb / Benjamin Snooke, mercer.


Lease and Release - 3/4 July 1693 - Richard Moore to Mary Webb, lease and release with affidavit.


Bond. 23 May 1694 - Arthur Eves, glover / Benjamin Snooke, mercer.


Mortgage - 23 May 1694 - Arthur Eves, glover of Yeovil, and Mary his wife / Benjamin Snooke. Messuage with garden in Pitt Lane, otherwise Middle Street, sign of the Hart, heretofore in possession of Richard Moore


Feoffment (a transfer of land or property that gave the new holder the right to sell it as well as the right to pass it on to his heirs as an inheritance), 26 March 1696 - of Arthur Eves and Mary his wife to George Arthur.


Lease / Sale - 26 March 1696 - £560 - Arthur Eves, glover of Yeovil and Mary his wife / George Arden of Corsham, Wilts, haberdasher, - messuage - the sign of the Hart, and garden in Pitt Lane or Middle Street heretofore in the possession of Richard Moore, decd. now Arthur Eves.


Sale - 26 March 1696 - Arthur Eves, glover of Yeovil, and Mary his wife to George Arthur, haberdasher of Corsham, Wilts, House or Inn 'The Hart' and garden in Pitt Lane or Middle Street - £160 - Signed Arthur Eves, Mary Eves


Lease and Release, 20/21 January 1743 - George Jones and Robert Seymer and James Seymer.


Bond, 21 January 1743 - George Jones to Robert Seymer to indemnify claim of dower. George Jones of Baltimore, Maryland, planter, to Robert Seymer of Bell Challwell, Dorset, for £50, reciting lease and release 20/21 January 1743 of messuage called the Hart and now The Higher Three Cups.


Lease and Release 25/26 January 1743 - George Jones, Maryland, planter, Robert Seymer, Bell Challwell, Dorset, gent, - Higher Three Cuppes and one garden in Pitt Lane otherwise  Middle Street, now held by John Piddle, innholder.


Occupier of Archer's Three Cups - Rate Book


Lease and Release  - 29/30 September 1746 - Robert Seymer of Bell Challwell, Dorset, gent,., / William Coker of Mappowder, Dorset, esquire - Messuage or Inn (the Higher Three Cuppes) and garden in Pitt Lane or Middle Street, lately in possession of John Piddle.


Lease - 9 January 1756 - William Coker, late of Mappowder, now of Wimborne, Dorset, gent / Richard Seymer of Iberton, Dorset, gent., (eldest son and heir of Robert Seymer late of Bell Chillwell, Dorset, decd.). James Upton the Younger of Yeovil, gent., Joseph Hodges, innholder of Yeovil - Messuage called the Higher Three Cups in Pitt Lane or Middle Street, bounded on east with house in possession of Hugh Yeatman, surgeon, and on west by a house in possession of James Dyer, clothier and on north with a garden and ditch belonging to John Francis and George King, and on the south by the street. Now in possession of John Churchouse ands William Symonds as under tenants.


Bond for £100 - 10 January 1756 - Richard Seymer of Iberton, Dorset, gent., / Joseph Hodges of Yeovil, innholder, reciting lease of 9 January 1756.


Insurance of 14s. - 25 December 1768 - Joseph Hodges of Yeovil, innholder, Society of the Sun Fire Office in London - Dwellinghouse 'The Castle Inn' excluding £125 household goods; £100 utensils and stock.


Will, 10 March 1770, of Joseph Hodges of Yeovil
Joseph Hodges of Yeovil, Innholder,  (1) To son Joseph, Inn called the 'Castle', goods, chattles, household staff, impliments of household, and all real and personal estate, except dwelling house; (2) To son Giles £300 (£150 6 months after decease and £150 after twelve months) plus lawful interest, less just debts and funeral expenses. Tenement or dwelling house together with garden and backside  thereto belonging lying in Hindford - Witnesses - Peter Mitchell, Thomas R? (Rowe or Roberts), James Upton.


Release or claim under Will - 23 June 1771/2 - Giles Hodges, collar maker K64, Joseph Hodges, innholder,  eldest son and heir / Elizabeth co-heiress of Sarah Slade decd.


Lease - 23 June 1771/2 - Joseph Hodges, innholder of Yeovil, eldest son and heir.


Lease and Release - 5/6 October 1773 - Joseph Hodges of Yeovil, innholder / Edward Burton, surgeon, and Edward Boucher the Younger, gent. of Yeovi - Messuage in Pitt Lane or Middle Street, formerly called The Higher Three Cups and now known as The Castle. Bond for £300 between above in trust for Mary Sealy, daughter of Samuel Sealy, glover of Yeovil, decd. and Mary his wife also decd.


Lease and Release for Mortgage - 1/2 November 1775 Edward Burton of Yeovil, surgeon, Edward Boucher of Yeovil, gent (the younger) of the 1st part; Joseph Hodges, innholder, of the 2nd part, and Charles Lewis of Martock, clerk, and William Cole of Martock, clothier, in trust for children of John andf Thomas Squire decd. of the 3rd part: reciting lease of Higher Three Cups 5/6 October 1773. Bond - Joseph Hodges £120, and Charles Lewis and William Cole - 30 Oct 1775.


Lease and Release - 27/28 September 1776 - Charles Lewis of Martock, clerk, William Cole of Martock, clothier, and Joseph Hodges, innholder, of Yeovil and William Morham of Bristol, distiller - Higher Three Cuppes as mortgage for £300.


28 September 1776 - Charles Lewis, clerk, William Cole, late clothier, Joseph Hodges, innholder, William Morham of Bristol, distiller; Castle Inn, Middle Street, formerly  Upper Three Cups.


Lease and Release - 22/23 September 1777 - William Morham of Bristol, distiller, and Joseph Hodges innholder of Yeovil of the 1st part and William Tanner of Lyde, esquire, of the 2nd part; Higher Three Cups or The Castle in Pitt Lane otherwise Middle Street.