Pubs of Combe Down and Monkton Combe

The pub has long been one of the great institutions of British society and a centre for community life. Tabernae (originally shops and not just shops selling alcohol) were introduced by the Romans and the word eventually became corrupted to tavern. They continued after the Romans left and around 970 AD King Edgar, who was crowned in Bath, attempted to limit the number of alehouses in any one village. Alehouses were ordinary dwellings where the householder served home-brewed ale and beer. Taverns were a step up and provided food and wine to their guests. Inns offered accommodation, food and drink to travellers as well as other pursuits such as cock fights or bear baiting.

the ale house door c 1790 by henry singleton 245x300
The Ale House Door c. 1790 by Henry Singleton

From the 14th century inns and taverns had pictorial sign outside to brand themselves. The Ale Houses Act 1551 passed in 1552 required alehouses to be licensed by the Justices at Quarter Sessions.

In the 17th and 18th centuries cheap spirits, such as brandy from France and gin from Holland became increasingly popular leading to the introduction of The Gin Act 1736 and The Gin Act 1751. The 1751 Gin Act forced gin makers to sell only to licensed premises and put drinking establishments under the control of local magistrates. Alehouse was gradually replaced by the term public house during the 18th century.

On 23 July 1830, Parliament passed “An Act to permit the general Sale of Beer and Cyder by Retail in England.” Commonly known as the Beer Act was complete change to the way beer was taxed and distributed in England and Wales. In place of a 16th century statute that had given local magistrates complete control over the licensing of brewers and publicans, the Act stipulated that a new type of drinking establishment, the beer shop, or beer house, could now be opened with opening hours from 4 a.m. to 10 p.m.

It was designed to wean people off gin which caused widespread drunkenness in favour of “a more wholesome and temperate beverage”. Beer was taxed and the cost of beer could be prohibitive to the working class despite that fact that beer was safer to drink than water. Water at this time was untreated and dangerous to drink.

The act enabled anyone to brew and sell beer on payment of a licence costing two guineas. The licence stated whether the beer could be consumed on the premises or as off-sales only. By 1841 licences under the new law had been issued to 45,500 commercial brewers. Thousands of so-called “beer houses” opened, and pubs began to resemble more closely the institutions we know today.

Beer houses offered food, games and lodging as well as beer. They were also known as ‘small beer’ or ‘Tom and Jerry’ shops. In villages and towns many shopkeepers opened their own beer house and sold beer alongside their shop wares. Beer would be brewed on the premises or purchased from brewers.

Some beer houses became brothels and some attracted criminals. Law and order concerns caused the excise fee to be raised to 3 guineas and property qualifications introduced. It was only with the Wine and Beer House Act 1869 that brought licensing of the beer houses back under the control of the local justices. Many beer houses then closed or purchased by breweries and changed to fully licensed public houses. The Defence of the Realm Act 1914 set the 11 p.m. limit on the sale of alcohol throughout the twentieth century. The Licensing Act 2003 repealed the previous licensing laws for England and Wales, taking responsibility away from magistrates and placing it in the hands of local licensing boards.

As well as present pubs I have tried to identify defunct pubs and alehouses in the area.

Viaduct Inn, Brassknocker Hill

the viaduct hotel in monkton combe 1920
The Viaduct Hotel in Monkton Combe, 1920

Originally part of Monkton Combe Brewery which by 1824 was owned by James Carpenter Perks (1785 – 1866) and his half brother Robert Holway Perks (1775 – 1831). They were sons of Charles Perks (1749 – 1813). Robert Holway Perks like his father was a bacon merchant, who also speculated in land. He married Elizabeth Howell (1777 – 1829). James Carpenter Perks was described as a common brewer, dealer and chapman. He married Jane Brownjohn (1779 – 1857)

It seems James owned the brewery and became bankrupt. It’s not clear exactly what happened but the brewery was for sale in 1824.[1] It’s possible it was bought by his half brother but he too must have overstretched himself because he became bankrupt too and, after his death, Monkton Combe Brewery and the Viaduct Inn were put up for sale. It took a long time as adverts for creditors were still being placed in Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette on Thursday 8 March 1838 and the Viaduct was not advertised until 1840.

The pub and brewhouse were built around 1831 – 1834 at about the same time as the Limpley Stoke viaduct itself. It may have been called the Queen Adelaide before being named The Viaduct.

viaduct inn for sale bath chronicle and weekly gazette thursday 14 may 1840
Viaduct Inn for sale Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette – Thursday 14 May 1840
  • In 1848 it was run by Mr W M Ralph[2]
  • In 1851 Henry Smith (b. 1823) was the innkeeper
  • In 1858, 1861 & 1871 it was run by Robert Hanham[3] (b. 1817) who also farmed Waterhouse Farm. He put the Viaduct Inn up for sale in 1870[4] along with a range of other property.
  • In 1878 & 1881 James Cotterell (b. 1840) was landlord[5]
  • In 1890 & 1891 Joseph Richard West (b. 1839) was the landlord[6]
  • In 1893 William Burgess was landlord[7]
  • In 1901 John Garland (b. 1840) was the landlord[8]
  • In 1902 Charles Thomas Johns
  • In 1911 Edward Joseph Bodman (b. 1875) was landlord
  • In 1911, 1919 & 1923 J M Cheater
  • In 1926 license was transferred from Mrs Heifer to Alan William Sutton[9] who was owner until at least 1939
  • In 1950 Frederick Blake

The Viaduct Inn closed in 2005 and was converted into flats.

Crown Inn – Brassknocker Inn

the old brassknocker 1024x768
The Old Brassknocker
queen adelaide inn brassknocker hill bath chronicle and weekly gazette thursday 19 june 1834
Queen Adelaide Inn, Brassknocker Hill – Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette – Thursday 19 June 1834

Known as the Crown Inn and then the Queen Adelaide Inn but was referred to as the Brassknocker Inn as early as 1800.[10]

  • 1841 & 1851 John Downey (b. 1791) was landlord.
  • 1861 Ellen E Downey (b. 1825) was landlady.

Apparently the last landlord was William Goff.

It was converted to dwellings in about 1870 and is now 1, 2 and 3 Brassknocker Hill Cottages.

the brassknocker bath chronicle and weekly gazette saturday 26 january 1935 504x1024
The Brassknocker – Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette – Saturday 26 January 1935
brassknocker inn early 1900s
Brassknocker Inn early 1900s

Wheelwrights Arms, Monkton Combe

wheelwright arms monkton combe bath chronicle and weekly gazette thursday 21 october 1869
Wheelwright’s Arms, Monkton Combe – Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette – Thursday 21 October 1869

Originally a private house and then part of Monkton Combe Brewery it was built around 1750.

Landlords included:

  • 1851 James Hopkins (b. 1788)
  • 1861 James Parfitt (b. 1813)
  • 1871 William Harrold (b. 1819)
  • 1881 John Saunders (b. 1844)
  • 1884 Henry Smith
  • 1889,1897 & 1891 Robert Parrish (b. 1854)
  • 1901 & 1902 William Davis (b. 1863)
  • 1911 & 1914 Henry Smith
  • 1919, 1923 & 1931 John Smith
  • 1935 & 1939 Fred Mayo
the wheelwright arms monkton combe
The Wheelwright’s Arms, Monkton Combe © Copyright Humphrey Bolton and licensed for reuse under Creative Commons Licence, CC BY-SA 2.0

Horseshoe, 124 North Road

Opened as pub about 1875, became an Ushers pub. Closed in 2010 and was converted into 5 flats.

Mentioned Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette – Saturday 4 September 1915

Landlords included:

  • 1884 & 1889 Mary Ann Brooks
  • 1902 & 1911 AS Davis
  • 1923, 1931 & 1939 John Snow
the horseshoe combe down now flats 1024x768
The Horseshoe, Combe Down – now flats
the horseshoe inn combe down 2nd annual outing 16 august 1930
The Horseshoe Inn, Combe Down, 2nd annual outing, 16 August 1930

Three Crowns, 134 North Road

three crowns combe down
Three Crowns, Combe Down
sale of the three crowns combe down bath chronicle and weekly gazette thursday 9 november 1865
Sale of the Three Crowns, Combe Down – Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette – Thursday 9 November 1865

On North Road near the Mason’s Arms and the Hadley Arms. Had a shop, bar, back parlour, tap room, kitchen, brewhouse and cellarage. Closed in the 1960s. Mentioned by Harry Patch in The Last Fighting Tommy.

Open by 1841 when Robert Dayer (b. 1816) was landlord and his wife Hannah is shown as landlady in Hunt’s directory of 1846. Other landlords included:

  • 1864 James Taylor
  • 1876 Edward Isaac
  • 1889, 1897, 1902, 1911 & 1914 William Miles
  • 1931 R Harvey
  • 1939 G H Carter
is it a record skittles score bath chronicle and weekly gazette saturday 20 may 1933 300x229
Is it a record skittles score – Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette – Saturday 20 May 1933
the three crowns combe down now a private dwelling 1024x768
The Three Crowns Combe Down now a private dwelling

Masons Arms, 106 North Road

masons arms combe down 1980s 773x1024
Masons Arms Combe Down 1980s

A beerhouse in 1841, Henry Chiffinch (b. 1791) was landlord. Other landlords included:

  • 1861 & 1876 Charles Sumsion
  • 1884 & 1897 Henry Sumsion
  • 1902 Annie Sumsion
  • 1911 Thomas Ellet
  • 1931 Walter Emery
  • 1939 W G Kelsey
  • 1950 Robert John Chittenden

Only received a full pub license in 1961. Closed in the early 1980s and is now part of Manning’s Funeral Parlour.

the masons arms combe down now a funeral parlour 1024x768
The Masons Arms, Combe Down – now a funeral parlour

Hadley Arms, North Road

Named after the Hadley family who had land holdings on Combe Down from about 1800 – 1904. First mentioned in Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette – Thursday 12 May 1853.

Landlords included:

  • 1846 & 1851 Sam Spence
  • 1861 Thomas Young
  • 1864 Joseph Henry Tabor
  • 1876 John Cox
  • 1884 Edward Gould
  • 1897 George Goddard
  • 1902 & 1911 Farnham Flower
  • 1919 & 1931 Zebina Durkee
  • 1950 Robert Harvey
hadley arms for sale bath chronicle and weekly gazette thursday 11 july 1861
Hadley Arms for sale – Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette – Thursday 11 July 1861
the hadleys start to sell up bath chronicle and weekly gazette thursday 21 november 1901
The Hadleys start to sell up – Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette – Thursday 21 November 1901
the hadley arms combe down 1024x768
The Hadley Arms, Combe Down
the hadley chicks about 1962 played at the hadley arms combe down 300x216
950The Hadley Chicks, about 1962, played at the Hadley Arms, Combe Down. FR – Paul Tidcome, Bob Dunn, Sam Hughes, Tony Fisher. BR – Tony Duckett, Derek Humphries, Bert Miner, Rod Adams, Mike Jones

Carriage Inn, The Avenue

frederick mitchell magistrates speech bath chronicle and weekly gazette thursday 13 september 1877 278x300
Frederick Mitchell magistrates speech – Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette – Thursday 13 September 1877

Built by Ralph Allen along with De Montalt Place.

The original sign was, apparently, a picture of one of Ralph Allen’s stone carriages and the brakeman for the tramway down Ralph Allen Drive on one side and a stone carriage being drawn back up Ralph Allen Drive by horsepower on the other side.

William Butler (1756 – 1846) who, along with William Harrold (1750 – 1817) had built Isabella Place and lived at 1 Isabella Place had obviously was landlord there from about 1786 to the early 1800s.

Thomas Allen (d. 1814) was landlord there in 1814.[11]

In 1818 Sarah Allen was landlady.

In 1824 Robert Hansford (1786 – 1847) was the landlord and it seems that after the pub was sold (see clipping) in 1824 he became bankrupt in 1825 (see clipping).

John Payne (1796 – 1849) was landlord in 1841.

George Heal was landlord in 1848.

Charles Shockman (b. 1797) was landlord in 1851.

In about 1857 Frederick Mitchell (b. 1824), who had previously been a carpenter, took over The Carriage Inn and turned it into a grocery with beer off sales. He also ran a cab and omnibus business.

carriage inn for sale by monkton combe brewery bath chronicle and weekly gazette thursday 14 october 1824
Carriage Inn for sale by Monkton Combe Brewery – Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette – Thursday 14 October 1824

In 1877 he was accused of the murder of his wife by poison. He was said to have been cruel and a drunkard. He was not charged but the magistrates were not at all convinced of his innocence as the clipping shows.

When he applied to have his beer license renewed the magistrates only agreed if it was transferred to his daughter Julia Mitchell (1848 – 1934) and that she conducted beer sales.[12]

By 1861 the pub had been divided into 2 properties as George Chase (1797 – 1875), described as a fly (a one horse two wheeled light carriage) proprietor, and his wife Jane Mogford (1824 – 1900) as well as their son were in 2 Carriage House.

It was until recently the newsagents and sweet shop and is now private housing and Randy’s Bike Shop.

the carriage inn combe down now randy bike shop
The Carriage Inn, Combe Down – now Randy’s bike shop
robert hansford bankrupt bath chronicle and weekly gazette thursday 25 august 1825
Robert Hansford bankrupt – Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette – Thursday 25 August 1825

Rock Brewery, Rock Lane

Operational as a beer house 1830 – 1880s first by John Davidge (1774 – 1844) & his wife Sarah Pobjoy (1778 – 1852) then by George Davidge (1808 – 1884) and his wife Harriett Slade (1806 – 1879). In Rock Hall Lane.

rock brewery combe down now a private house 1024x768
Rock Brewery, Combe Down – now a private house

Jupiter, 68 Combe Road

Opened in the 1880s and closed in the 1950s. Now the premises of Bath Crockhire.

Landlords included:

  • 1889 & 1897 Helen Hill
  • 1902 E Hill
  • 1911 & 1914 Henry John Phelps
  • 1931 A Knowles
the jupiter combe down now bath crockhire 1024x768
The Jupiter, Combe Down – now Bath Crockhire

King William IV, 54 Combe Road

In 1805 a lease divided three strips of ground off Combe Road between Samuel Nowell and William Hulonce.

In 1817 a part was conveyed to Jonathan Rudman, mason. According to Professor Richard Irving the pub was built in 1824 by Job Salter as a house and brewery.

By 1851 the Hulonce family, like many quarry masters were in financial difficulties.

They sold the term of their 1805 99 year lease to Henry Morrish (1807 – 1892) a wine and spirit merchant at 9 Argyle Street who was married to Amelia Maria Futroye (1806 – 1853).

He paid off the £413 15s. 2d mortgage and entered into a partnership with Thomas Hine (1819 – 1868), landlord of the King William who married Ann Louisa Miles (1824 – 1869).

Together Morrish and Hine developed the Combe Down Brewery, with the brewery above the pub and maltings in Ralph Allan Yard.

By 1866, Thomas Hine had handed over the pub to John Croker, while he continued to run the brewery and malthouse. John Croker Henry Morrish were still listed in the directory in 1883.

Landlords included:

  • 1864 Thomas Hine
  • 1876, 1884 & 1889 John Croker
  • 1902 & 1911 Joseph Whitaker
  • 1923 1931 John Wiltshire
  • 1939 R J Garlington
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The King William IV, Combe Down
ladies skittles at the king william combe down early 1960s 300x188
Ladies skittles at the King William, Combe Down, early 1960s

Crown, 26 Combe Road

Opened as a beer house.

26 combe road combe down formerly a beer house now a private house 1024x768
26 Combe Road, Combe Down – formerly a beer house – now a private house

Forester 1876 – Forester & Flower 2006, 172 Bradford Road

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Forester & Flower

Was open as The Forester’s Arms by 1864[13] and renamed The Forester & Flower in 2006.

William Davis was publican in 1864.

Thomas J Bodman was publican in 1876 to at least 1902 and his wife was publican in 1911.

Other landlords included:

  • 1911 M A Bodman
  • 1911 Frederick Cheater
  • 1914 Perrey Ablett
outside the forester arms combe down early 20th century
Outside the Forester’s Arms, Combe Down, early 20th century
outside the forester arms on combe down early 20th century
Outside the Forester’s Arms on Combe Down, early 20th century

Cross Keys, Midford Road

According to The Cross Keys own history page:

The Cross Keys was built in the early part of the 18th century on land that had been acquired by Hugh Sexey of Bruton after the dissolution of the Benedictine Priory of Bath. It was strategically located on the crossroads of the route between Bath, Wells, Bristol and Warminster.
The first record of the Cross Keys as an inn dates from 4th June 1718 when it was described in a lease as 'a new erected tenement or dwelling a Public House on Odwood Down'
There was a downpayment of £42 to take the lease and an annual rent of £1 10 shillings. The lease from 1739 to 1760 was held by Ralph Allen, one of leading figures in the development of Georgian Bath.
In 1896 Sexey Hospital sold the pub to Oakhill Brewery and it remained in the hands of breweries and pub management companies until February 2014 when the landlord Clive and Samantha Prescott bought the freehold.

As the inn was situated strategically on a crossroads, with major roads going to Bristol, Warminster, Bath and Wells, it served as a coaching inn and was the staging post for the Salisbury and Southampton coaches.

In 1884 the landlord was James Green. From about 1886 – 1974 the licence was held successive generations of the Weaver family.

the cross keys combe down by trish steel
The Cross Keys, Combe Down


[1] Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette – Thursday 2 December 1824

[2] Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette – Thursday 12 October 1848

[3] Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette – Thursday 12 August 1858

[4] Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette – Thursday 13 October 1870

[5] Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette – Thursday 26 June 1879

[6] Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette – Thursday 27 February 1890

[7] Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette – Thursday 5 January 1893

[8] Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette – Friday 21 June 1901

[9] Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette – Saturday 25 December 1926

[10] Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette – Thursday 14 May 1801

[11] Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette – Thursday 5 January 1815

[12] Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette – Thursday 9 August 1877, Thursday 30 August 1877, Thursday 6 September 1877, Thursday 13 September 1877, Thursday 27 September 1877, Thursday 1 November 1877

[13] Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette – Thursday 5 January 1865

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