the history of yeovil's pubs





market house inn

South Street


Owned by the Corporation, it appears that the Market House Inn, marked 'E' on the map below, was an optional extra to the job of the Corporation's Toll Collector. As licensed premises it began life as one of Yeovil's early beerhouses, and by 1850 it was being listed as the Market House Inn. This was one of the many licensed premises that for much of the 19th century graced the western end of South Street; the Three Choughs, Cow Inn, Greyhound, Globe and Crown and the Market House Inn.

Throughout the records it is referred to as in George Court or South Street, in fact it was at the junction of both. Humphrey Jeans was recorded as selling beer at the Market House Inn between 1839 and 1861.

A report in the Western Gazette of 28 April 1871 showed that the house was rented by Edwin Lewis who, unfortunately, was in debt to the tune of £200 (in excess of £16,000 at today's value) and had three County Court summonses out against him as well as writs issued by several private creditors. Mr Lewis did not run the Market House Inn after this and died in 1874 leaving a widow and three children.

Other licensees traded almost to the end of the 19th century. By 1911 it had reverted to a private dwelling.

The 1886 Ordnance Survey map above shows George Court bounded on its eastern side by the old Cheese Market (built on the site of two former beerhouses, 'C' and 'D' on the map) and on its western side is the beerhouse. The old Cheese Market was converted into the town's Fire Station in 1915 and was demolished in 1962. Today the site of the Market House Inn is occupied by the library building.



The first licensee was Humphrey Jeans who was born in Yeovil about 1797. He is recorded as a beer seller in Robson's Directory of 1839. The 1841 census shows Humphrey with his wife, Mary, and daughter, Elizabeth. Next door was Richard Bennetts, a painter, and his family; Richard was to set up the Kings Arms (2) within the following ten years. In the 1851 census Humphrey described his occupation as 'Collector of Market Tolls' which he was to repeat ten years later - it seems that Humphrey was quite happy to advertise the Market Street Inn in various trade directories, but when it came to the official census his official title was given. Humphrey died in late 1865 and Mary died in 1869.

Edwin Lewis, the next licensee, took over after Humphrey died and was advertising himself in 1866. He was born in Yeovil around 1820 the son of George Lewis, a leather dresser, and his wife, Ann. In the 1851 census Edwin, aged 31 and married to Rebecca, lived with his parents in Back Kingston. Edwin was a glove cutter and Rebecca was a cook. They had a son, Edwin junior. By the time of the 1861 census they were living in the last cottage in Roping Path; the couple had four sons and a daughter. Edwin was listed as a 'glover ironer' and Rebecca as a laundress. By 1871 Edwin was licensee of the Market House Inn and noted his occupation as innkeeper. Rebecca and three of the sons lived with him. Sadly, Edwin had severe financial problems (see above) and died in late 1874.

George Hallett had been born in Yeovil about 1836 but he first appears in the 1841 census aged 5, with his 6-year old brother, Hugh, living in the Yeovil Union Workhouse - both boys noted as 'deserted'. What their story is will probably never be uncovered, but by the 1851 census he had been restored to his mother, Elizabeth, a labourer's widow. George and his younger brother, Abraham, were both labourers and the family was living at Nobles Nap (near Combe Street Lane). By 1871 George was a coal labourer living with his wife Katherine (known as Kitty), a seamstress, in 10 Paradise Row, Huish. Kelly's Directory of 1875 listed George as the licensee of the Market Street Inn but by 1881 George and Kitty were back in Huish and George was employed once again as a labourer in a coal yard.

Charity Braine was born about 1835 at Queen Camel. She was married to George Braine, a shoe maker of West Camel, but by 1881, as a 44-year old widow, she was licensee of the Market Street Inn with her 22-year old blacksmith son, Fred. By 1889 Charity was running the Greyhound Hotel in South Street and was still there in 1891 but she died in 1895 aged 60. The Market House Inn may have closed for good after Charity left as by 1901 it is listed in the census as a private dwelling.







The Corporation's advertisement in the Western Flying Post of 15 August 1865 for the position of Toll Collector - and the pub went with the job!

The successful applicant was Edwin Lewis. Sadly Lewis got into financial trouble and the two sureties of £200 mentioned in the ad were not, it transpires, properly recorded with the result that when Lewis ended up in court his guarantors, effectively presented with an escape clause, turned their backs on him.


An advertisement placed in the 22 December 1871 edition of the Western Gazette announcing the re-opening of the Market House Inn after the departure of the financially embarrassed


This colourised photograph features in my book 'Yeovil From Old Photographs'.

This colourised photograph of about 1910 shows the Market House Inn in its South Street setting. The Market House Inn is the three-storied building to left of centre. The two-storied building to its left is the Cheese Market building with its three arches at ground floor level. Between the two buildings is the entrance to George Court. To the right of the Market House Inn was an un-named beerhouse. At far left the three- and two-storey buildings are the Three Choughs Hotel and next to it the King's Arms 2.


A closer, uncoloured, view of the Market House Inn at centre. Notice how narrow the entrance to George Court is when seen from South Street. At centre is the three-storey Market House Inn and, at right, an un-named beerhouse.


This photograph features in my book 'Yeovil From Old Photographs'

This photograph is taken in George Court looking south, towards South Street. The building at the far end, facing George Court is the Baptist Sunday School on the south side of South Street. Humphrey Jeans' beerhouse / the Market Street Inn can just be seen as the last building at the end of George Court, on the left.




1839 – Humphrey Jeans – Beer Retailer (Robson’s 1839 Directory)
1841 – Humphrey Jeans – Beer Seller (1841 census) listed as in George Court, South Street
1842 – Humphrey Jeans – Retailer of Beer (Pigot's 1842 Directory) listed as in George Court
1850 – Humphrey Jeans – Retailer of Beer (Pigot's 1850 Directory) listed as Market House Inn
1850 – Humphrey Jeans – Beer Retailer (Hunt & Co's 1850 Directory) not named, South Street 
1851 – Humphrey Jeans – Collector of Market Tolls (1851 census)
1852 – Humphrey Jeans – Retailer of Beer (Slater's 1852/3 Directory)
1853 – Humphrey Jeans (Slater's 1853 Directory) listed as Market House Inn, South Street 
1861 – Humphrey Jeans – Retailer of Beer (Pigot's 1861 Directory) listed as Market House Inn
1866 – The late Mr Jeanes - License transfer (Borough Petty Sessions, January)
1866 – Edwin Lewis - License transferred (Borough Petty Sessions, January)
1866 – Edwin Lewis (Kelly’s 1866 Directory) listed as Market House Inn
1871 – Edwin Lewis – Innkeeper (1871 census) pub not named but in South Street
1871 – William Harding – re-opened the inn (Newspaper advertisement above)
1875 – George Hallett (Kelly's 1875 Directory) listed as Market House Inn, South Street
1881 – Charity Braine (44 year old widow) – Innkeeper (1881 census) Market House Inn
1901 – listed as Private House (1901 census Summary)