the history of yeovil's pubs





coronation hotel & vaults

31 Middle Street 


The Coronation Hotel & Vaults (marked 'A' on the map below) was an impressive albeit relatively short-lived establishment in Middle Street, on the north side of the Triangle. It was built around the year 1900 on the site of the old Blue Ball Inn, itself a pub with an apparently short lifespan. The Coronation Hotel & Vaults, owned by Mitchell, Toms and Company, opened on Thursday 17 July 1902 and was designed by architect Arthur Yeomans.

The Coronation was a large, three-storey building in brick with stone string courses, quoins and mullioned windows under a tiled roof that sported a wooden lantern with cupola. There was a decorative stone frieze just below eaves level that reach down to the midpoint of the second floor windows. The ground floor windows were set back behind an attractive four-arch colonnade on Corinthian columns.

On the ground floor just under half the frontage was occupied by a retail outlet, initially Godfrey & Co's piano shop, followed by Smart's furniture store.

Finally, check out the advertisement at left from the Whitby & Sons Yeovil Almanack Advertiser of about 1920, when EJ Slann (late Manager of the Osborne Brewery in Sherborne Road) was the Licensee. Two shillings and sixpence - that's 12½ pence - for a dozen pint bottles of 'nourishing' stout. A penny a pint - it's no wonder my great granddad died propping up a bar (albeit not this one).

Also of note in this advertisement is the fact that the Coronation Hotel boasted a billiard room and, unusually for fairly modern town centre pubs and hotels, it also had a skittle alley.

The Coronation Hotel & Vaults was finally demolished around 1965 as part of the Glovers Walk shopping complex redevelopment (see final photo). It had served Yeovil for only some fifty years before succumbing to the 'progress' of 1960's concrete and steel architecture - unfortunate for such a grand building and what was surely the most architecturally impressive of Yeovil's watering holes.

Check out the fifth photograph below showing the site today and wonder if the 1960's concept of concrete and steel had it right or, perhaps, not.



Of the licensees listed at the bottom of this page the first two, Arthur Bowler Reed and T Bown, must have been brought in as managers since neither appear in the census either before or after their tenancies. Henry Simmonds, listed as proprietor in the 1911 census had come from Redhill, Surrey.

Edward James Slann was born in Highnam, Gloucestershire on 5 March 1869, the son of butler Reuben Slann and his wife Sophie née Francis. For the first twenty years or so of his life Edward lived in the butler's lodge at Churcham, Gloucestershire with his parents and siblings. On 2 April 1896 he married Mary Mayo at St James' church, Gloucester. In 1900 he was noted as a licensed victualler and by 1911 he and Mary were living at 20 Sherborne Road with their two sons and Edward was manager of the Osborne Brewery. By 1915 he was the proprietor of the Coronation Hotel and died there on 19 April 1920. Mary took over the license on Edward's death but it is not known how long she stayed in Yeovil. Certainly by 1935 Roland Arthur Adams was licensee and remained so until the late 1940's.







Courtesy of Rob Baker

A perspective drawing by architect Arthur Yeomans and published in the 16 May 1902 edition of the Building News.


Courtesy of Rob Baker

The notice of opening of the Coronation Hotel & Vaults in the Western Gazette's edition of 11 July 1902.


Probably one of the first photographs of the newly-built Coronation Hotel & Vaults, this publicity postcard probably dates to between 1900 and 1903 - even before Godfrey & Co started their piano and organ shop as seen in the following photograph. The photographer hadn't got a shift lens or couldn't position his camera far enough away which is why the building appears to lean out at both sides.




This postcard was sent in 1906, by which time Godfrey & Co Ltd were selling their organs from the shop set within the hotel building.



Courtesy of Olly Ewens

The main interest of this photograph of about 1902 is the steam-drawn wagon delivering beer to the Coronation Hotel. Attracting a small crowd at the time, this was one of the few exceptions to horse-drawn vehicles that were the norm of the time.


An early photograph, taken about 1905, just after the Coronation Hotel & Vaults opened with Godfrey & Co Ltd's piano and organ shop on the ground floor.


This photograph dates to about 1905 - notice the nice colonnade of the ground floor windows and the decorative frieze between the second floor windows. See next photo for details on the lamp.


Photo from the Triangle looking down Lower Middle Street shows the Coronation Hotel around 1905. The large three-light Sugg gas lamp was donated to the town by the Yeovil Gas and Coke Company in 1887 to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee but was removed when the underground toilets were built – the location is now the bandstand.


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

A hand-coloured postcard of about 1910 showing pretty much the same view as the previous photo although the trees in the background make it look like Glastonbury Tor has come to Yeovil.


The Coronation Hotel around 1930. The Hotel is lacking its signage and Godfrey's piano shop has been replaced by Smarts furniture store. Note too, that the old Victorian Sugg lamp in the two photographs above has now been replaced by the smart new underground toilets.


Courtesy of Alan Jackson

Alan says "One of the very few professional boxers from Yeovil was middle weight Roy Bexx pictured here as an 18 year old in 1948. Roy’s Father was the licensee of the Coronation Hotel in Middle Street hence it being the location for some of Roy’s exhibition fights. Roy had 19 Professional fights from 1947 to 1952 with 10 wins, 8 defeats and 1 draw, and a 37% K.O. rate, not bad for a local lad."


The same scene in 2009. Just think that this featureless mass of 1960's concrete and reconstructed stone cladding replaced such a wonderful turn-of-the-century building. The toilets have gone, to be replaced with the bandstand - decorated with flowers at right - far nicer on the olfactory senses.


This late 1930s or early 1940s photograph is taken from the Triangle and looks up Middle Street with the Coronation Hotel & Vaults at right and the Co-operative building, later Porter Black's, at left - in front of which the underground toilets are decorated in mock Art Deco ziggy-zaggy black and white presumably so that cars don't drive into it, presumably in the blackout - as if.


The Co-op building (later to be Porter Black's) is still there as are the old underground toilets in this photo of the late 1950s. The Coronation Hotel at right is lacking its signage. Note that the black and white Art Deco painting on the toilets has gone - presumably because traffic didn't bash into it after all.


Many thanks to Alan Tower who sent me the above photo of the Coronation Hotel bedecked in celebration of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II - how apt. It was taken by Alan's mum and dated 2nd June 1953.

The sculpted column capitals and the columns discovered in the July/August 2022 excavations (see below) are clearly seen in-situ.


Courtesy of Vivien and John Cornelius

This is John's mother, Gladys Cornelius, walking past the Coronation Hotel & Vaults (I'm guessing in the 1950s).


From my collection

Two views of a one-pint tankard inscribed "Coronation Hotel" over "Yeovil" over "Pint".


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

This photograph, taken about 1968 from the Triangle, shows the entrance to Vicarage Street at centre. At left is the old Co-Operative store and offices (later Porter Blacks) next is the entrance to Middle Street, Britons shop was earlier Belben's Bazaar, later the Woolwich Building Society and is now a bookmakers. To the right are buildings still existing and now occupied by the Abbey Building Society, at far right is the Coronation Hotel & Vaults in front of which are the underground toilets, later the location of the much-underused bandstand (removed during the years-long 'Yeovil Refresh' project).


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

And there it was - gone! The Coronation Hotel being demolished, circa 1965.


The 1960s really does have a lot to answer for! 


The 2022-20?? Excavation (A "Time Team Special")


During the summer of 2022 the Triangle is going through a re-vamp (Update: February 2024 and it still looks like a bomb site).

During the works a possible cellar was uncovered outside the Entertainer built on the site of the Coronation Hotel, which itself was built on the site of the Blue Ball Inn. Personally, I think that if it does turn out to be a cellar, it is likely to pre-date both the Coronation and the Blue Ball (it may be just a coal hole or even part of the Victorian sewerage system - time will tell). It should also be remembered that most properties in Middle Street had cellars which, despite local legends did not link up, although the occasional short tunnel has been discovered (see the photos at the bottom of this page).

The following photographs were taken on 27 July 2022.


Taken from outside the Entertainer shop and looking across the Triangle, this photograph shows the relative position of the excavation.


Looking along the excavation from the western end.


Looking towards the western end of the excavation.


Looking into the excavation from the western end. Notice the lump of stone in the centre.


Looking into the excavation from outside the Entertainer shop.


Looking into the excavation showing the depth excavated so far in comparison with the modern ground level seen at the top left of the photograph. The lump of stone seen in the photograph before last is now seen to be carved.


A better view of the carved stone.


It turns out that the stone is an upturned column capital carved with an acanthus leaf design. It would have formed part of the window in the bottom right corner (looking from the Triangle) of the Coronation Hotel and Vaults - see various photographs above.


Two of the (red marble ?) columns that were a feature of the window were found in the excavation.

Many thanks to the site manager who took these photos for me.




1903 – Arthur Bowler Reed – Manager (Whitby's Yeovil Almanack Advertiser 1903)
1907 – T Bown (1907 Yeovil Directory) listed at 30 Middle Street
1911 – Henry Simmonds - Hotel Proprietor (1911 census)
1915 – Edward James Slann (Whitby's Yeovil Almanack Adviser 1915)
1919 – EJ Slann – Hotel Proprietor (Telephone Book 1919) listed as Coronation Hotel
1920 – EJ Slann – Proprietor (Whitby & Sons Yeovil Almanack Advertiser 1920)
1923 – Mary Stann (Kelly’s 1923 Directory) listed as Coronation Hotel
1935 – Roland Arthur Adams (Kelly's 1935 Directory)
1936 – RA Adams (1936 Yeovil Directory) listed as Coronation Hotel
1938 – RA Adams (1938 Yeovil Directory) listed as Coronation Hotel
1947 – RA Adams (1947 Yeovil Directory) listed as Coronation Hotel
1949 – JC Bexx (Kelly’s 1949 Directory) listed as Coronation Hotel
1951 – JC Bexx (1951 Yeovil Directory) listed as Coronation Hotel
1954 – Levi Bates (1954 Yeovil Directory) listed as Coronation Hotel
1957 – EL Salkild (1957 Yeovil Directory) listed as Coronation Hotel
191965 – Licensee not named (1965 Yeovil Directory)