the history of yeovil's pubs





royal marine inn

36 Great Western Terrace (Goar Knap)


The Royal Marine Inn was built to serve the area known as Goar Knap, which is that area containing Great Western Terrace and New Prospect Place (see map below). The name comes from the Anglo-Saxon gora, a gore, or triangular-shaped piece of land, and hnaep, for rising ground or the crest of a hill.

New Prospect Place, in 1858 known as 'Jenning's Buildings' was a long terrace of small cottages, now demolished and the land used as allotments. They were described as "simply huts with no foundations and originally having earth floors". Even so they were not demolished until 1907.
There are a couple of the cottages left at the western end of Great Western Terrace, the remainder being demolished in the mid-1970's for the sheltered housing scheme - at the time I worked for the Borough Architect and finalised the design of the scheme and supervised its building. As a side note, most of the cottages that were demolished had cellars, one of which lay below the foundations of the new buildings and opened up during construction. I instructed the contractor to fill the void with concrete but after some several lorry-loads of concrete had disappeared into the void it was discovered that an underground stream ran along under the old cellars, the floor of the cellar had collapsed into the stream and the newly-pumped concrete had simply been washed away - surprising that the cottages survived until the 1970's!

The present Royal Marine is a two-storey corner site building, (probably) built of brick under painted render with Ham stone to the corner elevation all under a Welsh slate roof. Fenestration is in nicely-proportioned sash windows with some modern replacements to the first floor. On the quoined corner of the building the main double entrance doors are set within a shallow arched surround and are flanked with carved jambs with a corbelled hood over, supporting a swan-neck pediment - with a similar pediment to the side entrance. The whole of the corner elevation is surmounted by a peak pediment raised above eaves level on a short parapet inscribed with the date 1896. The pediment itself bears a small central shield inscribed, in a flourished script, what appears to be the initials EP, presumably the initials of the builder undertaking the work.

The following is from an un-named newspaper cutting displayed on the Royal Marine's Information Sheet -

"Mary Jane King was eight years old when she died of fever at her home in Goar Knap, which in 1872 was one of the poorest parts of Yeovil. Her father John was a farm labourer with very little material wealth and no savings to pay for her funeral. Determined to take his daughter to the cemetery, he borrowed a handcart and placed the small coffin on it. He then set off along the muddy road through the nearby brickyard on his was to Preston Road.

When some of the mothers living in Goar Knap (or, as it was described in the report, 'the colony') heard of John King's mission, they set off after him determined to prevent the child being taken to the grave 'in such an indecent manner'. He had not gone far before the women caught up with him and forced him to return home. They took the coffin off the hand cart and clubbed together with their neighbours to pay for Mary Jane King to have a 'proper' funeral.

Goar Knap was an area of poverty, and the living conditions were finally cleared when the old Yeovil Borough Council purchased the houses early in this century. The site, off St Michaels Avenue, was never redeveloped but turned into public allotments."

The Royal Marine Inn was built as a corner site beerhouse at the junction of New Prospect Place with Great Western Terrace about 1860 by Stephen Harris, a Master Builder of Kingston, employing 3 men and 2 boys. In 1870 the original owner, John Dimond, leased the premises to Lizard & Mason, who were trading as Eldridge Mason & Co of Dorchester. It was then known as the Royal Marine Inn.

On 29 October 1886 the Western Gazette reported "On Saturday morning, a fire, which, when discovered, threatened the destruction of the premises, took place at the Royal marine, Great Western Terrace. Some clothes in front of the fire in the parlour by some means ignited and had a firm hold of the contents of the room before, through the energetic exertions of the landlord's neighbours, it was subdued. Damage to the amount of about £7 was done."

A further plot of land was purchased in 1896 and the present building was erected - the date 1896 above the corner entrance indicates the rebuild. The 1901 Ordnance Survey map shown above indicates the rebuilt building.

The house obtained a full public house license in 1935 and a skittle alley was added in 1957.



The first licensee was George Connock (listed in the 1871 census as George Cormack), born around 1823 at Montacute. He was married to Sarah, seven years his elder, who was born in Preston Plucknett. Most of their children had been born in Hampshire, where George had been a dairyman. In 1875 the property was conveyed to Alfred & Edwin Pope. George died in 1879 and Sarah assumed the license. She appears in the 1881 census as an innkeeper with spinster Mary Trask as a general servant. Sarah died in 1889 and the license was taken on by George Forsey.

Pub Centenary

The Royal Marine pub, in Great Western Terrace, Yeovil, celebrated its 100th birthday at the weekend with a series of events including old time music hall, a spit roast and fancy dress. Pictured are landlady, Joy Dennett, landlord Clive and pub regular Nick Minchington with Sadie the pub dog.


George Forsey was born about 1853 in Stoke Abbott, Dorset, the son of Job Forsey, an agricultural labourer, and his wife, Eliza.

In 1871 George, still living with his parents in Corscombe, Dorset, was also an agricultural labourer but by 1881 he was living with his future wife's relatives in Beaminster, Dorset, and was working as a labourer on the railway.

He next appears in the 1891 census as a 'Landlord of a Public House' (the Royal Marine) with his wife, Mary née Bowditch, described as a landlady, and their two children. George died in 1894.

Mary continued as licensee for a couple of years after the death of George and in 1900 she married George Talbot and he is listed as licensee from then.

George was born around 1845 at North Cadbury, the son of George Talbott, a miller and baker, and his wife Anne. By 1861, at the age of 16, George was still living with his parents and described his occupation as a blacksmith.

By 1881 George, still a blacksmith, was living at 66 South Street, Yeovil, with his wife, Mary, a dress and mantle maker. Mary died around 1895 and George married Mary Forsey in 1900. 

Mary, first as Mrs Forsey and later as Mrs Talbot, completed 50 years as landlady of the Royal Marine.





The 1901 Ordnance Survey highlighting the location of the Royal Marine.




Courtesy of Elaine Old

Mary Miriam Bowditch - landlady of the Royal Marine for more than 50 years.


Courtesy of Chris Rendell

The Royal Marine photographed in 1985. (The sheltered housing scheme at far left was designed by me in the mid-1970s).


The Royal Marine photographed in 2012.




1870 – George Connock (Royal Marine Information Sheet)
1871 – George Connock – Beerhouse Keeper (1871 census - listed as George Cormack)
1881 – Sarah Connock (65 year old widow) – Inn Keeper (1881 census) listed as Royal Marine
1889 – George Forsey – Beer Retailer (Kelly’s 1889 Directory) listed as Royal Marine
1891 – George Forsey – Landlord of Public House (1891 census)
1895 – George Forsey – Beer Retailer (Kelly’s 1895 Directory) pub not named

The Royal Marine was rebuilt in 1896 (date carved over entrance).

1897 – Mrs Mary Forsey – Beer Retailer (Kelly’s 1897 Directory) listed as Royal Marine. Mary
            Forsey married George Talbot. Mary, first as Mrs Forsey and later as Mrs Talbot,
            completed 50 years as landlady.
1901 – George Talbot – Innkeeper (1901 census) pub not named
1911 – George Talbott – Innkeeper (1911 census) listed as Royal Marine
1914 – George Talbott – Beer Retailer (Kelly’s 1914 Directory) pub not named
1919 – G Talbott – Beer (Kelly’s 1919 Directory) pub not named
1931 – Ernest Symons (RM Info Sheet)
1935 – Ernest Frederick Symons (Kelly’s 1935 Directory) pub not named
1936 – EF Symons (1936 Yeovil Directory) listed as Royal Marine
1938 – EF Symons (1938 Yeovil Directory) listed as Royal Marine
1939 – Ernest Symons (Kelly’s 1939 Directory) listed as Royal Marine PH
1947 – Licensee not named (1947 Yeovil Directory) listed as Royal Marine
1951 – Licensee not named (1951 Yeovil Directory) listed as Royal Marine Inn
1951 – Charles Cook (Royal Marine Information Sheet)
1954 – C Cook (1954 Yeovil Directory) listed as Royal Marine Inn
1957 – C Cook (1957 Yeovil Directory) listed as Royal Marine
1960 – C Cook (1960 Yeovil Directory) listed as Royal Marine
1964 – Charles Cook (Foord's 1964 Directory)
1965 – Licensee not named (1965 Yeovil Directory) listed as Royal Marine
1968 – Licensee not named (Kelly’s 1968 Directory) listed as Royal Marine Inn
1969 – Mr & Mrs Russell (Royal Marine Information Sheet)
1969 – Licensee not named (Kelly’s 1969 Directory) listed as Royal Marine Inn
1970 – Licensee not named (Kelly’s 1970 Directory) listed as Royal Marine Inn
1971 – JJ Stanton (RM Info Sheet)
1971 – Licensee not named (Kelly’s 1971 Directory) listed as Royal Marine Inn
1972 – Licensee not named (Kelly’s 1972 Directory) listed as Royal Marine Inn
1973 – Licensee not named (Kelly’s 1973 Directory) listed as Royal Marine Inn
1974 – Matthew Harris (Kelly’s 1974 Directory)
1976 – MC Ford (Royal Marine Information Sheet)
1978 – SV Dack (Royal Marine Information Sheet)
1980 – JD Blackmore (Royal Marine Information Sheet)
1984 – AE Bailey (Royal Marine Information Sheet)
1976 – MC Ford (Royal Marine Information Sheet)
1987 – Licensee not named (Denton’s 1987 Directory) listed as Royal Marine Inn
1990 – Clive & Joy Dennett (Royal Marine Information Sheet)
1996 – Clive & Joy Dennett (Western Gazette article above)
1996 – Brian & Patricia Bush (Royal Marine Information Sheet)
1998 – Keith Lines (Royal Marine Information Sheet)
2006 – Wayne & Donna Singleton Ford (Royal Marine Information Sheet)
2010 – Donna Singleton (Royal Marine Information Sheet)