the history of yeovil's pubs





duke of clarence

5 Stars Lane


The early history of the Duke of Clarence, in Stars Lane and shown pink on the map at left, is something of a mystery. Certainly the inn was once known as the Fives Court Inn due to the presence of a fives court at the rear of the premises. The date of this is unknown but is likely to have been during the 18th century, albeit not in the current building.

Fives is a British sport believed to derive from the same origins as many racquet sports. In fives, a ball is propelled against the walls of a special court using gloved or bare hands as though they were a racquet. Although the etymology of "fives" is still obscure, it is generally accepted that the word means the fingers of the hand acting in unison as in a "bunch of fives".

The word was not used before the 17th century, but long before that the game was being played. Although now mainly associated with public schools, fives historically was often played between the buttresses of churches and many records exist in south Somerset of church towers being used. Also there survive several fives walls in the area where the game was very popular, especially in the 18th century. At one time a fives court stood in Huish Field, certainly in 1835 when part of the field was sold.

After being known as the Fives Court Inn for many years, by 1790 it was known as the White Hart until the mid-1860's when it assumed the name Duke of Clarence.

From 1828 until at least 1846 the White Hart was owned by Thomas Cave, the Yeovil brewer and maltster of Hendford (today's Princes Street), later to become partner with Joseph Brutton.

In September 1862 Mr Harris, a builder, applied for a transfer of the license to the Borough Petty Sessions. Superintendent Smith of the police said of the White Hart "this was the worst hole in the town, and it was a piece of a house after all." The license transfer was refused but Mr Harris replied that he was going to build a new house, so we must assume that the present building, and also the name change to the Duke of Clarence, dates from this time.

However, even as late as 1884 it was noted in the Western Gazette's edition of 5 September, in reporting the proceedings of the Borough Petty Sessions "Little mishaps occurred no and again at the Buck Inn. On one occasion, a barrel of porter was stolen from the house and carried to the top of Summerhouse Hill, where it was drunk."

It was renamed the Duke of Clarence in honour of Prince Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence and Avondale (1864 -1892), the eldest child of the Prince and Princess of Wales (later King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra) and grandson of the reigning British monarch, Queen Victoria. From the time of his birth, he was second in the line of succession to the British throne, but never became king: he died before his father and his grandmother, the Queen.

An indenture (re-conveyance) in my collection, suggests that the Duke of Clarence was owned by brewer Edmund Charles Henning and John Blake Sully during the 1880s and mortgaged by Samuel Hitchcock.

Tony Robins recalled that his father, Harold, called the Duke of Clarence the "Young Buck" which must have been a hangover from the days the pub was called the White Hart.


Yeovilians remember...

From me - "The Duke of Clarence closed in 1965 and a Chinese takeaway and a Taxi company occupied the ground floor and new shop fronts were added. In 1979 the Duke of Clarence had its greatest honour to date, when I lived in the first floor corner flat for a year or two. From memory the building reopened as Licensed premises during the late 1990's as an American themed bar simply called Stars Lane (thanks to Tristan Cobb for reminding me), later renamed as Harry's Bar, which then closed and re-opened as Bar 45 and given a bright blue (and somewhat out of character) exterior paint job. Fortunately this incarnation didn't last long and the building received a less harsh paint-job. It is currently (2017) called Karma Bar"



Of the early licensees, George Raymond was born about 1794 at Queen Camel, seven miles northeast of Yeovil. George was listed as licensee of the White Hart in 1828 and 1830 which, at the time, was owned by Thomas Cave the brewer of Hendford. George was also listed as a shopkeeper and bacon and cheese factor. Interestingly in the 1840 Somerset Gazette Directory he is also listed as a brewer making him one of only two or three beerhouse keepers actually known to have taken advantage of the brewing part of the Beerhouse Act 1830. Or was he? The 1841 census also lists him as a brewer, living in the same house in Hendford as the commercial brewer Edmund Henning. It may be, therefore, that George Raymond was running what would effectively have been the brewery tap for Henning's brewery. In 1841 George was living with his wife, Mary, and their 14-year old son, George. By 1851 Henning had gone and George gave his occupation as inn keeper and his son George was listed as his assistant. By 1861 George and Mary were living in South Street where George, now aged 66, gave his occupation as cheese dealer etc. By 1871 George and Mary were living in Thomas' Yard off Kingston where George described his occupation as dealer in cheese, malt & hops. By 1881 George had finally retired and, somewhat surprisingly, gave his occupation as retired publican. He and Mary were still living in Kingston but Mary died in the summer of 1881 and George died in the summer of 1883.

William Trahern was noted in Robson's Directory of 1839 but was presumably too ill to continue running the White Horse and his wife, Nancy, was listed as licensee in the 1840 Somerset Gazette Directory. William died in early 1843 but I could find no further reference to Nancy.

There is little mention of John Kase in the records other than in the 1841 census when he appears as licensee of the White Hart Inn, aged 32 and born in Somerset. There was no wife present, but two sons aged 12 and 4. I couldn't find any further references. A Sarah Case died in Yeovil in 1838 but that may be a coincidence and there is nothing to link her to John.

Similarly John Slade is only mentioned once as the White Hart's licensee, in Pigot's Directory of 1842. In the 1841 and 1851 censuses in Yeovil he is a solicitor living on Penn Hill, South Street, so once again there is no further information on 'our' John Slade. As for John Westover, mentioned as licensee in Slater's Directory of 1842, I could find no further information at all.

There was little more information forthcoming on the next licensee, Robert Bowditch. He was born around 1824 at Beaminster, Dorset, one of the extensive Bowditch family from the area. In the 1861 census he was listed as the innkeeper of the White Hart Inn with his wife, Mary. In 1861 Robert Bowditch was found guilty by the magistrates for selling beer during prohibited hours and was fined ten shillings and costs. This was the last time the White Hart was referred to as such and from now on would be known as the Duke of Clarence. By 1871 Robert and Mary were living in Broadwindsor, Dorset.

John Bunn was mentioned just the once, in Kelly's Directory of 1866. I couldn't find any further information either before or after this date primarily due to an excess of John Bunns at this time.

William Thorne was granted a license for the Duke of Clarence in September 1869. In its edition of 9 September 1870 however, the Western Gazette in reporting the Borough Petty Sessions noted "The beerhouse certificate of the Duke of Clarence, kept by a man named Thorn, was refused, on the ground that the applicant's wife had withheld information relating to the purchase of some stolen goods in May last."

George Lugg was born around 1819 in Yeovil. In 1841 George was an assistant turnkey at Ilchester County Gaol, one of nine members of staff. At this time there were additionally nine members of staff's family, 26 debtors and 52 criminal prisoners plus two infants with their mothers in the gaol. In the 1875 Post Office Directory George is listed as licensee of the Duke of Clarence and in the 1881 census, at the age of 62, he is listed as an innkeeper with his wife, Maria, and young son Charles. Their daughter, Eliza, aged 30 and a widow, was employed as a barmaid. Additionally there were seven lodgers and boarders. After 1881 the Luggs seem to disappear from the records.

John Guppy, by trade a tailor, was born around 1848 in Hardington Mandeville. In 1881 he was living at 10 Stars Lane with his wife, Elizabeth of South Perrott, Dorset, and their five children including their 5-month old son named Bollar Guppy. By 1895 John was listed as a Beer Retailer in Kelly’s Directory and was also listed in Whitby's Yeovil Almanack Advertiser of 1899, but by the following year the family had moved on.

The next four licensees all made just single appearances in the records but in 1911 William Miles took over the license and between them, he and his wife Ada were to run the Duke of Clarence for more than the next forty years.

William Henry Miles was born on 19 February 1871 in Brean, north Somerset. He enlisted in the Somerset Light Infantry in 1888 and served for 21 years, retiring as a Colour Sergeant in 1909. He served in the Boer War and was mentioned in the dispatches of Lord Kitchener with a commendation for the operations in Eastern Transvaal “For conspicuous gallantry and good service during Boer attack on a convoy near Mooifontein, south of Bethel, on 25 May 1901”. His final posting in 1909 was as a Permanent Staff Instructor to the Territorial Army residing at the TA’s Armoury House in Park Road. William's wife, Ada Louisa, was born in 1879 in Aldershot, Hampshire. In the 1911 census William is recorded as an army pensioner, so there are no prizes for guessing where he met Ada. They had married when Ada was just 19 and, being an army family, had moved around during William's army career with children born in Portland, Dorset, Camden Town, London, three in Taunton (the last of these in 1908) and their baby in Yeovil indicating that William spent his last few years of service at Taunton's Jellalabad Barracks before retiring from the army to live in Yeovil around 1909. then became the inn keeper of the Duke of Clarence Inn until his death in 1938. On William’s death, his widow Ada Louisa (b1879) became the Inn Keeper until her death on 24 December 1949. Ada was from a military family, had a brother who was a Lt. Colonel in the Royal Marines and a son who was a Lt. Colonel In the Indian Army Ordnance Corps. Ada’s early life was in Guernsey and Alderney where her father served as a soldier. She was assisted in running the Duke of Clarence by her sister Martha (1886-1968) who had been widowed during the First World War.




A 1928 aerial view of Stars Lane with the Duke of Clarence (slightly masked, but seen as two separate buildings at centre).To the left of the Duke of Clarence and running to the top left of the photo are seen the houses in Duke of Clarence Yard. To the right the large building is the old Palace Theatre - Yeovil's first cinema - on the corner of Stars Lane and South Street. At extreme right is the Triangle. Note also the large gas holder at bottom left.


A colourised photograph of 1960, by Charrington & Co Ltd's surveyors as part of a 'stocktaking' exercise of photographing Brutton's pubs prior to the brewery takeover.


This 1960's photograph of the Triangle shows the Duke of Clarence in Stars Lane, the white building at the very centre of the photograph, before it had acquired the small house between it and the Gaumont cinema. Also seen in the photograph are buildings that would later become Woods Wine Bar (sandwiched between the Co-operative Society shop at left and the Pandora coffee bar on the corner of Stars Lane) and Porter Blacks (the old Co-operative Society building dominating the right hand side of the photograph).


The top of Stars Lane photographed in the 1960's. The Duke of Clarence is the white building at right, a door or two down from the Gaumont Cinema, successor to the Palace Theatre that, in turn, replaced more original cottages.


This aerial photograph of the Triangle dates to 1988. The Duke of Clarence is the white building at centre left. The left half of the large building at bottom left is now Modello while the old Porter Black building, originally the Co-op offices, stands left of centre facing the Triangle with the start of South Street to its left and Middle Street, running from top centre to bottom centre, to its right. At top right is the recently-constructed Quedam shopping centre. 


Photographed in 2009, Harry's Bar occupied not just the old Duke of Clarence building but the adjacent properties as well.


Where the left-hand two windows at first floor are was my flat in the late 1970's.


Photographed in 2012, Harry's Bar has gone and now it is Bar 45 (with a somewhat garish and unsympathetic paint job).


Changed hands yet again - it's presently the Karma Bar. At least the new paint job isn't in the same league of cheap and tacky as its previous colour scheme. Photographed in 2016.


. . . .  and finally

Please don't go looking for this one just yet as it's not there.

Yeovil Town Council please note - this is the design for the plaque that should be mounted on the old Duke of Clarence pub in Stars Lane.

Yes, I know I only lived there for two years but Mr T Hardy only lived in Peter Street for a few months and he got a plaque.

Thanks in advance



owners / occupiers / licensees


as the White Hart Inn
1790 – Mrs Loveridge – Victualler (1790 Universal British Directory) listed as White Hart
1822 – John Severidge (Pigot’s 1822 Directory) listed as White Hart
1824 – John Severidge (Pigot's 1824 Directory) listed as White Hart, Stars Lane
1828 – Geo. Raymond, from T Cave (Land Tax Return - SRO Q/RE1)
1830 – George Raymond (Pigot’s 1830 Directory) listed as White Hart
1830 – Thomas Cave, owner - George Raymond, occupier (Land Tax Return - SRO Q/RE1)
1835 – Licensee not named (Robson's 1835 Somerset Directory)
1839 – William Trahern (Robson’s 1839 Directory) listed as White Hart
1840 – Nancy Trahern (1840 Somerset Gazette Directory) listed as White Hart, South Street (sic)
1841 – John Kase – Inn Keeper (1841 census) listed as White Hart Inn
1842 – John Slade (Pigot’s 1842-4 Directory) listed as White Hart
1846 – Thomas Cave, Owner – Alfred Slade, Occupier (1846 Tithe Apportionment)
1850 – John Denning (Hunt & Co 1850 Directory) listed as White Hart
1852 – John Westover – Inn Keeper (Slater’s 1852 Directory) listed as the White Hart
1860 – Robert Bowditch – Spirit license refused (Petty Sessions)
1861 – Robert Bowditch – Inn Keeper (1861 census) listed as White Hart Inn
1862 – Mr Harris, builder – refused transfer of license (Borough Petty Sessions)

as the Duke of Clarence
1866 – John Bunn jnr. (Kelly’s 1866 Directory) listed as Duke of Clarence, Stars Lane
1867 – Thomas Dodd - Fined for refusing to admit police (Petty Sessions, December)
1869 – William Thorn - License granted (Borough Petty Sessions, October)
1870 – Mr Thorn - License refused (Borough Petty Sessions) as Duke of Clarence
1871 – George Horsey - Plasterer (1871 census) listed as Duke of Clarence
1872 – George Horsey – Beer Retailer (Kelly's 1872 Directory)
1875 – George Lugg – Beer Retailer (1875 Post Office Directory)
1875 – George Lugg – Beer Retailer (Kelly's 1875 Directory)
1881 – George Lugg – Innkeeper (1881 census) listed as Duke of Clarence
1882 – John Henry Norman ?? (Whitby's 1882 Yeovil Almanack Advertiser)
1884 – George Lugg - assaulted by John Penny (Borough Petty Sessions, January)
1887 – George Lugg – license transfer (Petty Sessions, May)
1887 – John Guppy – license transferred (Petty Sessions, May)
1891 – Family of John Guppy, a Tailor, in residence only (1891 census)
1895 – John Guppy – fined for after hours sessions (Petty Sessions)
1895 – John Guppy – Beer Retailer (Kelly’s 1895 Directory) pub not named
1897 – John Guppy – Beer Retailer (Kelly’s 1897 Directory)
1899 – John Guppy (Whitby's 1899 Yeovil Almanack Advertiser) listed as Duke of Clarence Inn
1900 – John Partridge (Whitby's 1900 Yeovil Almanack Advertiser)
1901 – Edward Jee – Publican (1901 census) pub not named
1907 – T Norris (1907 Yeovil Directory) listed as Duke of Clarence, Summerhouse Road
1911 – Mr Bell (Lodger) (1911 census Summary) pub listed but not named
1911 – WH Miles (Whitby's 1911 Yeovil Almanack Advertiser) listed as Duke of Clarence Inn
1914 – William Miles – Beer Retailer (Kelly’s 1914 Directory) pub not named
1918 – WH Miles (Whitby's 1918 Yeovil Almanack Advertiser) listed as Duke of Clarence Inn
1923 – William Miles – Beer Retailer (Kelly’s 1923 Directory) pub not named
1936 – WH Miles (1936 Yeovil Directory) listed as Duke of Clarence
1938 – WH Miles (1938 Yeovil Directory) listed as Duke of Clarence
1939 – Ada Miles (Kelly’s 1939 Directory) listed as Duke of Clarence Inn
1947 – WH Miles (1947 Yeovil Directory) listed as Duke of Clarence
1949 – AL Miles (Kelly’s 1949 Directory) listed as Duke of Clarence
1951 – AL Miles (1951 Yeovil Directory) listed as Duke of Clarence
1954 – AL Miles (1954 Yeovil Directory) listed as Duke of Clarence
1957 – W Gough (1957 Yeovil Directory) listed as Duke of Clarence
1960 – WG Gough
1965 – Licensee not named (1965 Yeovil Directory) listed as Duke of Clarence
1968 – Licensee not named (Kelly’s 1968 Directory) listed as Duke of Clarence (although it closed in 1965).
as Bar 45
2012 – Jordan Frost - didn't last long - that'll teach him not to paint buildings bright blue!!!