inns of castle cary and neighbourhood

Public houses were not only places to stay, eat or drink, but were also the venue for courts, parish
meetings and entertainments of all kinds including puppet shows and assemblies as well as less
respectable activities. The Castle Cary area has supported a wide variety of public houses down the
centuries. They varied in size and importance from the Ansford inn to tiny alehouses in Castle Cary's
side streets. In small villages they could be found in the centre of the village, like the Quarry at
Keinton Mandeville or beside important roads like the Pilgrims Rest at Lovington. Some inns have
remained in existence for centuries although relocated or rebuilt but many small alehouses were short
lived. Some lost their licence for disorderly behaviour others simply went out of business. For many
alehousekeeping was a part-time occupation or was carried on by women because the income was
insufficient to support a family. There were also many unlicensed beer and cider houses often in
private parlours or farm outbuildings whose history is more difficult to trace.
Castle Cary’s position, market, and later industry, supported many public houses. There was an
innkeeper in the later 16th century.1 Four tipplers were recorded in 1608, 2 two winesellers were
licensed in 1625,3 and two or three inns in the early 17th century4 although the authorities made
unsuccessful attempts to close at least one.5 In 1686 inns could provide beds for 29 guests and stabling
for 54 horses6 and in 1687 there were three inns and eleven alesellers or brewers.7 Only one or two
licences were issued in the early 18th century but three in 1742, seven in 1746, and nine in 1753,8
despite a petition to the justices in 1744 by the vicar and churchwardens for no more than five as there
were too many little alehouses where the poor wasted their money.9 Three unlicensed premises were
reported in 1758.10 During the later 18th century the number of licences was reduced to five, during
Castle Cary Visitor Aug. 1901.
Somerset Record Office [SRO], Q/SR 3(2)/124.
Castle Cary Visitor June 1911.
SRO, Q/RLa 3, 33; Q/SR 10/12.
Ibid. Q/S Pet D; E.H. Bates-Harbin (ed.), Quarter Sessions Records, 1646—60 (Som. Rec. Soc. 28, 1912),
83, 336.
TNA, WO 30/48.
SRO, DD/HH, box 1.
Ibid. Q/RLa 23/2, 4.
Ibid. DD/SAS HV 68/3.
Ibid. Q/SO 13.
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the early 19th century to four, and then to three.11 However, by 1839 there were an additional four beer
retailers and until the early 20th century at least 10 public houses. In 1905 several licences were
referred to Quarter Sessions.12 Five public houses remained open in 2001, but there were other
licensed premises.
The Three Cups was in business during the Interregnum and possibly later,13 the Shoulder of Mutton
in 1703,14 and the Phoenix in 1718 and 1748.15 None was recorded again although the Phoenix yard
off Fore Street was said to have been in existence until 1829 and frontage of the former inn was
occupied by about six houses and shops in 1808 extending north from the Horse Pond.16 The
Britannia, probably built and opened shortly before 1768,17 was kept for most of the 19th century by
the Andrews family.18 It was the main local staging post for coaches and carriers and later for omnibus
services.19 It has been called the Horsepond since 1992.20 North of the Britannia, the White Hart had
opened by 1859,21 possibly the beerhouse in Fore Street recorded in 1850,22 and was largely rebuilt or
refronted in the 1870s.23 It had a weighbridge in 1896.24
The Fox and Hounds in High Street in 185925 was said to have succeeded a beerhouse called the True
Lovers Knot open in 1838 and 1842 on the corner of Horner’s Yard, south of High Street, before
moving to nearby premises.26 It remained open as an alehouse until 1909 when it sold an average of 40
barrels of beer a year. Its condition and position for trade were only fair and renewal of its licence was
Ibid. Q/RLa 23/6—12; ibid. A/AQP 9; ibid. DD/SAS ( C/212), survey 1810.
Robson’s Dir. Som. (1839); PO Dir. Som. (1859); SRO, QS/LIC 8; ibid. D/P/cas 13/10/3.
SRO, Q/S Pet 20; Q/SR 99/23, 101/15.
Ibid. Q/SR 227/13.
Ibid. Q/SR 283/4; Wilts. RO 383/504; Castle Cary Visitor Dec. 1896, citing advert. 1748.
Miller & Laver, Castle Cary, North Cadbury, and Wincanton, 9; Castle Cary Visitor Oct. 1904; SRO,
DD/SAS (C/212), map 1808.
Wilts RO 383/162; inf. from Parson Woodforde society.
TNA, HO 107/937, 1931; ibid. RG 9/1646; RG 10/2422; PO Dir. Som. (1859).
Bragg, Dir. Som. (1840); Hunt, Dir. Som. (1850).
SRO, D/PC/cas 2/2/18.
PO Dir. Som. (1859). Said to have been opened by John, (Castle Cary Visitor March 1900) or Thomas,
Marshall in 1836 (Castle Cary, North Cadbury, and Wincanton, 29) but in 1839 it was houses, neither owned nor
occupied by them: SRO, tithe award.
Hunt, Dir. Som. (1850).
Miller & Laver, Castle Cary, North Cadbury, and Wincanton, 29; SRO tithe award; O.S. Map 1:10560,
Som. LXV. NW (1885 edn).
SRO, D/R/winc 14/2/14.
PO Dir. Som. (1859); TNA, RG 10/2422.
Castle Cary Visitor Feb., March 1898; Pigott & Co. Dir. Som. (1842); SRO, tithe award.
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refused.27 It was still known as the late Fox and Hounds in 1913 but became a shop.28 A second
beerhouse, unnamed, was recorded in High Street in 1861 and 1865, possibly the White Horse, and
there was a beerhouse in the Market Place called the Live and Let Live which lost its licence in 1911.
Several other beerhouses such as those in Ansford Lane and Cumnock Road were known only by their
keepers’ names.29 A public house called the Half Moon had a club in the 1840s. but that might have
been the one at Ansford.30
There was a beerhouse in Mill Lane called the Pretty Leg from 1842 to 1850.31 In 1872 a builder
opened another there known as the Heart32 and Compasses by 1881.33 By 1894 it was kept by the
Squibb family who had a coach building and motor business opposite.34 It was granted a full licence in
1953,35 and changed its name to the Two Swans c. 1997.
Outlying beerhouses, included the Wheatsheaf, Smallway lane, near Galhampton, opened between
1839 and 1841.36 It belonged to Somerton Brewery by 189637 and to Brutton’s Brewery of Yeovil in
1925 when renewal of its licence was refused.38 The house was known as the Old Wheatsheaf in
1948.39 The Royal Oak on the Somerton road at Clanville was a beerhouse in 1851.40 It remained open
until 1872 or later.41 By 1947 it was probably a farmhouse which preserved the name.42 The Royal
Marine was recorded at Clanville in 1845 and 1881,43 possibly the beerhouse at Blackworthy in 1859
and 1861.44
Kelly’s Dir. Som. (1906); SRO, QS/LIC 1.
SRO, A/BLJ 1; ibid. D/PC/cas 2/2/12.
TNA, RG 9/1646; Smith & Co. Dir. Som. (1865); Castle Cary Visitor Feb. 1898, Sep., Oct. 1904, Sep.
Hants. RO 30M73/F3.
Pigott & Co. Dir. Som. (1842); Hunt, Dir. Som. (1850).
Sometimes Hart: e.g. SRO, D/PC/cas 2/2/22.
Castle Cary Visitor Sep., Oct. 1904; TNA, RG 11/2395; Kelly’s Dir. Som. (1883).
Kelly’s Dir. Som. (1894); SRO, D/R/winc 14/2/14.
Ibid. tithe award; TNA, HO 107/937; ibid. RG 10/2422.
SRO, D/R/winc 14/2/14.
Kelly’s Dir. Som. (1906—23); SRO, QS/LIC 2.
SRO, A/BLJ 3, 6.
TNA, HO 107/1931; PO Dir. Som. (1859). A foot race was held outside the Royal Oak in 1859; Castle Cary
Visitor Aug. 1909.
PO Dir. Som. (1859); TNA, RG 10/2422; Morris & Co. Dir. Som. (1872).
SRO, A/BLJ 6; ibid. D/PC/cas 2/2/11: Royal Oak farm.
Hants. RO 30M73/F2; TNA, RG 11/2395; Castle Cary Visitor Oct. 1904.
PO Dir. Som. (1859); TNA, RG 9/1646.
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Although the Ansford inn was the main public house in Ansford from 1742 there was a second
licensed premises, probably the Half Moon recorded in 176945 and sold with 27 a. in 1772 to the
tenant William Hurt who probably rebuilt it.46 An inquest was held there in 1844.47 It had a large yard,
with stables and coachhouse, used by coal carriers until the coming of the railway. The yard was
converted to cottages before 1880 and by 1891 there were c. five dwellings.48 The Half Moon
remained an alehouse, despite having its licence referred in 1905,49 until c. 1957 when the property
was divided and sold. There was said to have been illegal cockfighting in the cellars in the 1950s.50
After being derelict for a time it became a licensed guest house.51
Also in Ansford parish was the Waggon and Horses on the Wincanton road, locally at Townsend,
Castle Cary, which opened before 1851 in an older building. It was kept in the 1860s by the huntsman
of the Blackmore Vale Hounds.52 The Railway Hotel, open in 1861,53 was built on surplus land sold by
the railway company in 1859 and renamed the Great Western Hotel by 1872.54 Sold in 1875,55 it
reverted to its old name but was destroyed by bombing in 1942.56
At Babcary a tippling house was ordered to be suppressed in 1649.57 Two licences were issued in 1746
but one thereafter and none after 1775.58 No public house was recorded in 1840 but one was said in
1843 to be quiet during divine service.59 That was probably the Red Lion which had recently opened
in a pair of houses east of the village street.60 It changed hands frequently and its keeper usually had
another trade including shoemaking and shopkeeping.61 It was altered and extended in the 19th and
SRO, Q/RLa 23/2—4, 6—8; Beresford, Diary of a Country Parson, I, 94.
SRO, A/BHW 1/1.
Castle Cary Visitor Nov. 1911.
SRO, tithe award; ibid. DD/MKN 20/1; TNA, RG 12/1901; Castle Cary Visitor May 1905.
SRO, QS/LIC 1; Castle Cary Visitor May 1905.
Living History Group, Memories of Castle Cary and Ansford, 141—2.
Ibid. 141; SRO, D/PC/cas 5/6/2.
TNA, HO 107/193; ibid. RG 9/1646; Castle Cary Visitor Feb., Oct. 1903.
TNA, RG 9/1646.
Morris & Co. Dir. Som. (1872); TNA, RAIL 274/173.
A. J. Coombes, bookseller’s cat. (1982).
TNA, RG 11/2395; RG 12/1901; M. Hawkins, Somerset at War, 74; SRO, A/AGH 1/5.
Ibid. Q/SPetD; E.H. Bates-Harbin (ed.), Quarter Sessions Records, 1646—60 (Som. Rec. Soc. 28, 1912),
SRO, Q/RLa 23/2—4, 6—7.
Ibid. D/D/Va 1/4, 2/4.
Ibid. tithe award.
TNA, HO 107/1926; ibid. RG 9/1628; RG 10/2393; RG 11/2379; RG 12/1888; RG 13/2287; PO Dir. Som.
(1861); Morris & Co. Dir. Som. (1872).
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20th centuries.62 A second beerhouse, recorded in 1851, was probably the Swan in Gaston Street in
1861 which had closed by 1866.63
At Barton St David in 1759 John Hill was accused of selling ale without a licence.64 An innkeeper was
resident in 181165 but no public house was recorded in 1841.66 The Waggon and Horses in Main Street
was in business by 184567 and remained open as a beerhouse, with a smithy,68 until c.1891 when it was
renamed the Barton Inn.69
Keinton’s position on a major road ensured that one or more public houses could provide three beds
and stabling for four horses in 1686.70 It is possible that a stonecutter was keeping an alehouse in the
1690s.71 The Three Old Castles and the Quarry may be traced back under similar names: the first,
south of Castle Street, to 1793, the second, north of High Street, to 1813, and both to the two houses
licensed by 1750, one of which was first licensed in 1738.72 They had been joined by a third, the
Masons Arms on High Street, probably by 1841, but that was last recorded in 1871.73 In 1840 two men
entered an agreement for the sale of oxen at the Keinton Quarry inn.74 Licensees were sometimes also
farmers, stonecutters, or general dealers in the 19th century.75 Both inns belonged to breweries by
1910.76 In the 1930s the Quarry described itself as an hotel and the Three Old Castles offered bed and
breakfast, lunches, and teas.77
A Kingweston alehouse keeper’s wife had her purse stolen in 1678.78 This alehouse was probably the
one recorded throughout the 18th century,79 rebuilt or extended in 1751 and provided with signs in
SRO, A/BIC 5/1; A/BIM 1/1.
TNA, HO 107/1926; ibid. RG 9/1628; PO Dir. Som. (1861, 1866).
SRO, Q/SO 13.
Ibid. Q/RJl 9/1.
Ibid. tithe award; TNA, HO 107/937.
SRO, C/C 3/10.
TNA, HO 107/1926; PO Dir. Som. (1866); SRO, D/P/ 4/3/1.
TNA, RG 12/1888.
Ibid. WO 30/48.
SRO, DD/FS 8/2/4, 24.
Ibid. Q/Rla 23/1—4, 6—12.
TNA, HO 107/937; 107/1926; PRO RG 9/1628; RG 10/2394; Morris & Co. Dir. Som. (1872).
SRO, DD/S/BT 25/14/20
Ibid, D/P/ 2/1/4.
Ibid. DD/IR T/18/3.
Kelly’s Dir. Som. (1935, 1939); SRO, D/P/ 2/1/9.
SRO, Q/SR 136/5—6.
Ibid. Q/RLa 23/1—4, 6—10.
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1752 and 1754.80 It was rebuilt in the 1780s and provided with coach house, chaise house, stables and
farm buildings as despite its position on a turnpike road the innkeeper needed to supplement his
income by farming.81 It was known as the Kingweston Inn but only held a beer licence.82 William
Dickinson spent £53 building a brewhouse there in 1800 and £142 extending the inn in 1801.83
However, the innholder in 1811 was bankrupt owing nearly £250 to a London wine merchant as well
as many other debts, but kept his inn.84 The inn was also a farm, with 93 a. in 1839,85 employed three
servants in 1841,86 and was last recorded in 1859.87
Lovington Inn, now Brue Farm, was built because of the importance of the Castle Cary road. Belief
that it was earlier a pilgrim route to Glastonbury has given rise to the name Pilgrim’s Way for houses
beside the road and for the current name of the surviving public house in the parish. A man was in
breach of the assize of ale in 151288 and there was a victualler in business in 1619.89 Probably the same
house, known by 1788 as the Lovington inn and on the north side of the Somerton—Castle Cary road,
had been established by 1738.90 It was held with a farm of 75 a. by 183891 which by 1871 had grown
to 200 a.92 It ceased to be an inn in 1890 when its licence was transferred to an unnamed beershop, on
the same road but further west and kept by the blacksmith. The beershop was known as the New Inn
by 1901 when it was kept by a butcher.93 A restaurant was established in 1957 and in the 1980s its
name was changed to the Pilgrim’s Rest.94
Two tipplers were recorded at West Lydford in 1608,95 a victualler died c.1668,96 and two women
were licensed victuallers in 1675.97 The New Inn, on the Fosse near the Fair Place was recorded in
Ibid. DD/DN 411—12.
Ibid. 409; ibid. tithe award.
Ibid. Q/RLa 23/9—12; 29—30.
Ibid. DD/DN 417.
Ibid. DD/SAS C/63/16; ibid. Q/RJl 9/13.
Ibid. tithe award.
TNA, HO 107/937.
SRO, Q/RJl 9/13.
TNA, SC 2/198/16.
SRO, Q/RLa 33.
Ibid. 23/1—2, 9, 11—12; 29—30.
Ibid. D/P/lov 23/4.
TNA, RG 10/2421.
SRO, D/PS/winc 4/4; TNA, RG 13/2303; A.J. Coombes, Catalogue 79S (1982), item 189; Kelly’s Dir. Som.
SRO, QS/LIC 3; ibid. A/AGH 1/212.
Ibid. Q/SR 3/124—5.
TNA, PROB 11/391.
SRO, Q/RLa 23/1.
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1739 and 1742.98 It later closed but the site was known as New Inn Corner.99 Three victuallers were
licensed in 1746, then only one until 1758 when two were licensed and in 1791 there were two public
houses.100 In 1777 the Lydford inn was possibly no longer licensed.101 The Bell, first named in 1788,
was kept by Henry Payne who drowned in the river in 1792.102 The Crown, recorded in 1810103 and
possibly the beerhouse recorded in 1801,104 was the Old Crown in 1841 and no longer a public
Two people in West Lydford were refused licences in 1855 because of concern over unlawful drink
sales106 and no public houses were recorded until 1871 when a cottage beerhouse was kept at Fair
Place.107 By 1899 it was the West Lydford inn,108 the only beerhouse in 1903109 and 1931.110 It was
called Coombe House inn in 1939111 but later closed and is now a private house.
All rights, including copyright ©, of the content of this document are owned or controlled by the
University of London. For further information refer to
Ibid. Q/SR 307/144; DD/SAS C/1193/4.
OS Map 1:10560, Som. LXIV. NW (1886 edn); TNA, RG 11/2408.
SRO, Q/RLa 23/2—4, 6—8; Collinson, Hist. Som. I, 83.
SRO, DD/SAS C/151/25.
Ibid. Q/RLa 23/9; Castle Cary Visitor May 1915.
SRO, Q/RDe 87.
Ibid. Q/RLa 23/10.
TNA, HO 107/937.
SRO, D/P/w.lyd 9/1/1.
TNA, RG 10/2441, RG 11/2408.
SRO, D/G/SM 160/32.
Ibid. Q/S lic 8.
Kelly’s Dir. Som. (1931).
Ibid. (1939).
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