Review Number 20 – January 2002

Pubs, Past and Present – A History of Drinking in Walsham le Willows (Part Two)

In the September 2001 issue of the Review we looked at the histories of the Chequers, Four Ashes, Cherry Tree, and Six Bells. There were three other premises selling alcohol that we know existed in the village, the Blue Boar that is still trading, and the Swan and the Golden Lion that are now residential properties.

Fairly recent photograph of the Blue Boar taken from the other side of the road. Large and long red bricked building with large flat straight tiled roof. A couple of vehicles in the car park and a Curry Night sign on the edge of the car park. A number of other signs and a banner are on the building itself as well as the pub’s dark read sign saying “Blue Boar Inn”.
The Blue Boar today

The Blue Boar

This property, built c.1420, is one of the oldest buildings in the village. It was built as a private house and became an inn at a later unknown date. There are references to it in late 18C newspapers when notice was given of auctions of land, property, and belongings to be held there. It was most probably established long before that time.

The first mention of an innkeeper at the Boar was in a Bury Post dated 3rd November 1790 when details was given of the estate and effects of one Henry Wenlock of the Blue Boar. Village records show that the previous year he and his wife Ellener (Last) had baptised a child. Mention of another innkeeper appeared in a Bury Post of October 1813, in a report that a sale of household effects and forty dozen old ports was to take place at the Blue Boar, the property of Mr. Hunt who was leaving the situation.

The baptism records occasionally gave the occupation of the father. In 1818 and 1823 Nathaniel Mayhew is named as a publican possibly running the Boar with his wife Ann.

In 1832 another innkeeper is named, Thomas Lake. The census of 1841 shows Thomas, aged 60, living at the Boar with wife Ann (50), and daughters Ann (15), Maria (14), and Emily (9). Also lodging there was Thomas Vincent, a horse breaker (25). The following year Thomas Lake died but county directories of 1844 and 1846 show that his wife Ann Lake carried on the business at the Blue Boar. The census of 1851 shows that Ann now a widow lived with daughter Maria (24), John Foulsham (7), her grandson, and a hostler, John Landymore (19). In 1850 the daughter Emily Lake had married Ziba Sones an attorney’s clerk who worked for Samuel Golding, a solicitor who built and lived in the Grove.

In 1855 Ziba Sones held the licence for the Boar, but possibly Ann Lake carried on working there as when she died in 1857, aged 77, new people moved in.

William Bullock was named as publican at a baptism of that year, and in the census of 1861 he, aged 38, is shown living with wife Sarah, 30, and three children. Later that year two of the children George, 5, and Ellen, 14 months, died.

The next family shown at the Boar is in the 1864 Suffolk directory is Edmund Nice and wife Eliza (Orfford), who had come from the Swan public house in the village. They were still there in the 1868 directory, but come the 1871 census they had moved on – back to the Swan.

The new people were George (25) and Mary (29) Jackaman who stayed until 1875. Next came George and Mary Ann Catling who had moved across the road from the Six Bells. In August that year their son died. The Bury Post reported: ‘After many years of affliction borne with great resignation George Catling died aged 18.’ The following incumbents were Joseph and Sarah Ann Carpenter. During their time at the Boar there was a fire.

The Bury Post dated 29th. March 1879 reported, ‘A narrow escape in Walsham le Willows – On Sunday morning the hostler at the Blue Boar Inn came downstairs about 7 o’clock to attend to his duties and on going into the tap room found it full of smoke and saw fire. He gave an alarm to his master Mr. Carpenter who directed him to call Mr. John Stevens one of the local fire brigade, who with the help of others stopped the progress of the fire. It appears that some years earlier the fireplace of this room had been made smaller having formerly been a large open one and in making the improvement a brick arch was made to narrow the chimney and improve the draught. There was a very large beam running across the front of the fireplace and Mr. Stevens found a large quantity of soot lodged against the joist which after a long time smouldering had ignited the wood.

The joist about 13 inches by 8 inches was directly above the grate and about 4 feet of it and part of the mantlepiece was completely burnt away. The timely discovery prevented a very serious fire as the building is joined to the thatched house of Mr. Blizzard.’

The volunteer fireman was John Stevens, a wheelwright, who lived across the road in ‘Dages’. Without his help and the actions of the early rising unknown hostler perhaps the Blue Boar would not exist today.

The 1881 census shows that the publican Joseph Carpenter was 64 and his wife Sarah Ann 55. Both were born in Wymondham, Norfolk. Two years later in May 1883 Sarah Ann died. The county directory of 1888, shows that William and Sarah Baker had moved into the Boar. They were still there in 1892 but after leaving were followed by a succession of new publicans, Thomas Ham in 1896, William Drane in 1900, and Charles Bull in 1904. Shortly afterwards Frederick Cubit Forsdike took over with his wife Bessie. Frederick died in 1914 and Bessie continued running the establishment through the First World War until she died in 1920 aged 64. The next publican was Frederick William Cash the son of Jacob Cash who had run the Six Bells for many years. Fred died in 1924 aged 44 but his wife Marion Cash carried on. In 1926 she became Marion Smith after marriage and in 1933 her husband Nathaniel Smith is shown to be the licensee.

The following year Charles Robinson and his family moved in but only for a couple of years as the directory of 1937 shows that Owen Jakeman was the landlord at this date.

The next incumbents were George and Constance Rook. George was to die in 1958.

Other publicans to come to the Blue Boar were Jock Dryden, from the Four Ashes, and after him Barry Hopkin.

After Barry Hopkin left in about 1982 the premises were shut for 18 months. In the next 16 years or so, to the end of the century, there was a succession of about 10 licensees including Don Challis, Captain Mullins, David Calder, Peter Tate, Nigel Snowling, Roger and Josie Stewart, and Peter and Dee Moore.

The village is now pleased to have Alan and Angie Ankin in residence.

The Swan

The Swan public house, sometimes known as the White Swan or the Black Swan, is now a residential property called Cygnet House. It was built and then converted from a non-domestic building in the early 17th century. At what date it became an inn is not known, but certainly it is mentioned in newspapers of the late 18th century as a place where auctions of land and property were held.

The census of 1841 shows that Edmund Pearson (50) was the innkeeper at this time living with his wife Mary (45), son George (25), and daughters Elizabeth (20) and Susan (15). In the 1851 census Edmund was still there, described as a victualler and dealer of stock, with wife Mary and a grandson James Hayward aged 19. They are further mentioned in the county directory of 1855, but baptisms of 1857 and 1859, and the census of 1861 show that the new family at the Swan was Edmund Nice (36), wife Eliza (30), and children Charles (4), Adelaide (2) and Arthur (7 months). The family left in about 1864 and moved to the Blue Boar.

The directory of that year shows that James Hayward, probably the grandson of the Pearsons, had moved in with his wife Elizabeth (Davey), but only for a short time as the following year Roger Bantick took over and then in 1868 Thomas Death and his wife Susan (Finch) moved in. Thomas died the following year aged 46.

The census of 1871 records that Edmund Nice had returned from the Boar with his family that had increased by five children since the census ten years earlier. In 1873 they were off again, this time to the Four Ashes Inn in Palmer Street.

County Directories of 1873, 1874, and 1875 show that John Eastwick was the publican at the Swan. He died in November 1878 aged 62, but his wife Louisa carried on being listed as the innkeeper in 1879 and in the census of 1881.

Directories of 1883 and 1888 show that Henry Pettit and his wife Mary Ann had moved in. During their time here they baptised four children. The census of 1891 records the new family to be George Nunn (54), wife Mary (Pain) (54), son Wesley (20) a shoemaker, daughters Annie (16) and Henrietta (14), and grand-daughter Lilly (7).

They did not stay long as in 1892 Henry and Jane Melinda Colson had moved in. Henry died in 1896 aged 38 but Jane Melinda continued to run the Swan for several years until in the directory of 1912 a new name appeared – Ernest Theodore Allen who was to be the publican for many years. He was certainly the licensee in 1937 and possibly until the Swan ceased trading in about 1950. Local knowledge can only remember him as being in charge. He was known as ‘Scruffy’ Allen.

The Golden Lion

Avenue House in the Street was at one time a public house called the Golden Lion. It was first mentioned in the census of 1861, which showed that Frederick Colson (32), described as a beer seller, was living here with his wife Emma (23). Emma died in March 1868 aged 31 but Frederick continued trading . The 1871 census showed him as also being a farmer of 55 acres employing four labourers.

The last mention of the Golden Lion as licensed premises is in a county directory of 1874 but the name did continue when it later became a coffee tavern, no doubt the venue of the thriving Temperance Society. Frederick died in 1902 aged 73.

In the September 2001 issue a mistake was made in saying that the Ray family moved into the Cherry Tree after it became a residential residence. It should have been the Farrow family. Thank you Jenny Blackburn.

James Turner
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