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PUB HISTORY
Hastings, St Leonards,
Rye & Lewes

  

  

Chamberlain’s Vouchers: a primary source for pub history


PUB HISTORY SOCIETY NEWSLETTER, WINTER 2012

When I started researching the Pubs of Rye, East Sussex 1750–1950 I was surprised and pleased to find an abundance of primary sources. Indeed some long gone inns and alehouses only came to light because of these records. Impermanent parchment and paper has survived when wood, brick and stone has long disappeared. I took 1750 as my starting date but with more time and an inclination to learn Tudor English, I could have begun much earlier.

    

When I first opened a file of documents known as Chamberlain’s vouchers I wasn’t sure what to expect. The vouchers turned out to be several hundred itemised payments, authorised by the Chamberlain (Rye Borough Treasurer). A large number of these were issued to landlords for providing hospitality to various customers for a variety of reasons. They are nearly always dated (1652 until 1865), and usually give the name of the landlord and the premises.


Some vouchers are payment for the celebration of local and national events. In 1738, for example, a royal birthday was celebrated at the George Inn and the Chamberlain was requested to ‘Pay to landlord Michael Woolett the sum of £2 being so much Spent in Drinking the Kings Health being the Queens Birth Day and it shall be allowed in your Accounts’.  


Other celebrations include Sessions Dinners, Freemens’ Dinners, Mayoring Day, letting of the Corporation Farms, the opening of the Small Box (a tax box) and other annual events. Declarations of war, victory and peace were celebrated. ‘Spent by the Mayor and Jurats at the Reception for the victory at Audenarde the sum of 14s 4d’, states one voucher in 1708.


November 5th was another celebration and the first voucher paid to the Mermaid Inn in the 1730s was for the ‘5th’. Another ‘5th’ account which contains a footnote by the mayor shows that some events started early.


Rye 4th Nov 1736

‘Pray pay to Mr Thos Bean or his Order One pound seven shillings & sixpence

being so much spent this day And it shall be allowed in yr accots.’

         To Mr Danl Davis                                                                     J Lamb Mayor

         Chamberlain to ye Corporation of Rye                                        Allen Grebell

  

  ‘This seems remarkable the fifth of November happened this year to fall on the

  4th day of the month!’ was pencilled in underneath.


The Mermaid vouchers cease abruptly in 1751. But as Chamberlain’s vouchers are continuous throughout the 18th century it would appear that the Mermaid Inn had ceased to interest the corporation as a place of relaxation. Perhaps its more disreputable ‘regulars’ ie smugglers, drove the corporation away.

   From about 1720 there is a continuous record of detailed costs of celebrations at the George Inn. In addition to dinners there are bills itemising some modest gatherings such as the following for the period August 1760 to September 1761:

 

       The Mayor and Some of the other of ye Gentlemen of ye Corporation had Liquor                                     0 –10– 0

       To the ringers                                                                                                                                        0 – 6 – 0

       To Liquor The Train Bond per Order of Mayor to Drink his Magestys Helth Being His Birth Day                  1 – 1 – 0

       To Liquer the Gentlemen at Opening ye Small Box                                                                                  1 – 1 – 0

       To Liquer the Ringers at his Magestys Morridge per Mayors                                                                     0 – 6 – 8

       To the light Horse Men                                                                                                                           0 – 5 – 0


The provision of more humble refreshment appears to have been settled on a fixed scale. For example, whenever the ringers had their ‘liquer’, which was frequently, 6s 8d was the standard charge. Another regular item is ‘liquer Working the Ingins’, 6s 10d — probably for pumping the water from the water house to the cistern in the churchyard.

Vouchers for the smaller inns and alehouses were frequently issued for ‘lows’– allowances (approx. 2d) to workmen when doing a variety of jobs – such as ‘Morning Drinks to Mr Welchs men at work about ye Courthal & pavement’, ‘Putting the Iron Barrs at the Market’, and ‘To Lows at the Waterhouse & the New Pomp Gun Garden’. A ‘Jurry that was warn’d to view the Body’ was allowed 13s 4d. Poor people and weary travellers were sometimes refreshed at the expense of the Corporation. In 1741 the Red Lion was paid 6d ‘for eating and Drink to a por women by order of Mr Lamb’.


The regular use of the Red Lion by the mayor and jurats is proof of its status. For 50 years, 1735–1785, every Sessions Dinner took place there. The reputation of this alehouse can be gleaned from its bills for refreshment supplied on different occasions. There is some excellent material of this kind in the Red Lion vouchers. One dated 1714, is for ‘two gallons of brandy made into punch £2–8–0, beer and tobacco 2/8, wine 6/-, candles 2/-. ‘Below stairs’ the Mayor’s sergeants spent three shillings.


Another Red Lion voucher celebrates the end of the Excise Scheme in 1733. ‘Pay to Mr John Beaver One pound ten

Mermaid voucher 1742

shillings being so much spent at his house this day on occasion of the Excise bill being Laid aside in drinking the Health of Sir John Norris, Mr Gybbon & Capt.Norris, Trade & Navigation, City of London, all the honest  Gentlemen officers & all honest Corporations that petitioned against the Excise Scheme, Sturdy beggars in their Coaches &c and the same shall be allowed in yr, accs’. Whether this was an all-embracing toast or several separate ones is unclear.


Several vouchers issued to the Dolphin were ‘signed’ by landlady Widow Bean who was obviously illiterate and simply put an ‘X’ against her name. The ‘X’ was then witnessed by someone else as her mark.


The billeting of badly behaved troops was a recurring problem for the Rye publicans who had to deal with them over many decades. Any incident involving the military required a settlement. At the Mermaid in 1716 ‘A Bill of Expences By ye Worshipfull ye Mayer & Juratts of Rye when they met ye Capt & other oficers to Regulate ye misdimenour Commited by ye Draggons Being ye 23 feb 1716 / To Punch 19-00 / To Bear & Tobaco 09’. Apparently Rye had dragoons billeted in the town for many years and it was not only soldiers who caused trouble. In 1774 ‘ye Jury attending the Tryals of two Dragoons wives’ were refreshed at the Red Lion to the extent of £1–6s–8d.


A study of Chamberlain’s vouchers also provides information on changes in drinking habits and the types of drink consumed. Reading the vouchers from 1700–1800, it is possible to get a pattern of drink and food preferences. Gin for example does not appear until 1780 when the expenditure on gin was 2/8d as against £2–2s–6d for punch and a guinea for wine.


For 50 years, to 1750, the order of popularity was wine, punch, beer, cider, and brandy. The most popular wines were Claret, Madera, Lisbon, and Canary. With the addition of sherry in 1794 wine remained the major tipple for a 100 years and in 1820 the monetary proportion of the drinks for a Sessions Dinner is wine £9–12s–0d, punch 10/-, beer and porter £1.


Cider disappears from these accounts after 1775, and its consumption at the dinners prior to this year was never of any volume. The same may be said of Flip, and Negus—a bowl of which cost 7/6 in 1808. Champagne does not make its appearance until late in the 18th century when it was obtainable at the George at 8/- a bottle, about £13 in today’s money.


More solid refreshment increased in price in the 100 years 1725–1825, with ‘gents’ dinners at 2/-, and ‘below stairs – the sergeants and constables – being provided for a 1/-in 1727. By the 1790s ‘gents dinners’ had increased to 2/6d and at the turn of the century prices went up to 3/-, 3/6d, 4/-, with a high of 5/- in the year of Waterloo. Fruit appears modestly priced at 3d in 1786, becoming an expensive ‘desert’ in 1814. Sugar and lemons were in continuous demand throughout the period.


A brief Google search reveals some similar examples of Chamberlain’s vouchers in the archives of other towns and areas of Britain. Have they been investigated by other PHS members?

The Pubs of Rye, East Sussex, 1750-1950


RYE’S OWN, NOVEMBER 2012

Published in October 2012 The Pubs of Rye gives the history of 32 Rye pubs (and one cinema) which existed at sometime between 1750 and 1950. When researching this book I collected information from the National Archive which contains many records of Rye and its licensed premises. Deep in the archive lie hundreds of vouchers – some dating back to the 1650s – which were issued to Rye landlords by the town Corporation. These vouchers were payments for hospitality provided to customers who had served the corporation in some way. They include builders employed on public works, bell ringers, men firing the guns in the Gun Garden and jurors attending Coroner’s Inquests.


 I have also scanned 120 years of local newspapers where I found a vast amount of information dating back to the 1750s. Indeed, on second thoughts this book should be dedicated to the journalists of yesteryear who have left us with so many excellent reports of pub life. ‘Frenchie and the Hoppers’, for example, is a wonderful account of hop pickers drinking in the Bedford Arms in the 1870s, or the ‘Lady Swindler’ who visited Rye one day in 1875 and quickly became the main topic of conversation in the bars of the Cinque Ports Arms and the Crown.



‘A LADY SWINDLER.—On Tuesday last, a rather handsomely-attired female, about 35 years of age, was driven by a Hastings flyman into Rye, and on her arrival she made inquiries at the Custom House for the French Consul, and produced some papers purporting to relate to some property belonging to her. Being informed the Collector had just left with the Superintendent of police, which was a rather singular coincidence, she took her departure, promising to call again, and in the meantime she drove to the Cinque Ports Arms and had some refreshment, not forgetting to entertain the driver, whom she afterwards prevailed upon to lend her 10s to enable her to make a few small purchases. She afterwards left the hotel alone, without paying the score, but stating that she should return to tea after transacting some business.


But instead of that she went to the Crown Inn, and hired a conveyance to take her to some friends at Winchelsea, stating that she was an invalid and unable to walk that distance, as she was one of the sufferers in the Shipton railway accident. On arriving at Winchelsea, she did not pay any visits, but directed the man in charge to drive to the railway station, as she was expecting some one by the next train. She then paid for the hire of the vehicle and dismissed the man, not forgetting to give him something for himself.


In the evening, the flyman began to get rather disconsolate at finding his fare did not return to the Cinque Ports Arms at the appointed time, and he instituted inquiries, calling at the Crown Inn, where he learned that a female answering the description had been taken to Winchelsea. After receiving this unwelcome intelligence he returned to Hastings, minus 10s. and his day’s pay. The last tidings of the ‘lady’ were that she took a ticket at Winchelsea station for Ashford, and although the police have been put upon the qui vive, it is doubtful whether she will again visit this neighbourhood.’


I have also uncovered some long forgotten licensed premises which until now have been ‘hidden from history’. The Dial in the High Street, Henry Huggett's Beer House and the Cock and Coney (now the Ship), are examples which come to mind. Likewise some long forgotten pub games such as Bat and Trap (played in the Ypres Castle Inn and Queen Adelaide), Kick up Jenny (Ferry Boat), Spinning Jenny and the Wheel of Fortune (Foresters and Red Lion), and quoits which was played all over the town but particularly behind the Crown. Two other pastimes were the Kentish sport of Goal Running with the Rye town team based at the Queens Head, and the notorious ‘sport’ of cock fighting and its associated gambling at the George Inn in the 18th century.

Tower Inn 1866-1870

Cock fighting 1769

Ypres Castle c1939

This history is supported by five appendices, providing information on the local friendly societies, the Rye temperance movement, the Treating Scandal of 1852, mock mayor elections in the 19th century and a register of licensees of 59 public houses known to date. The book is illustrated with around 100 photographs many from the archive of John Hodges. The watercolour of the Ferry Boat Inn on the front cover is by Jean Hope and shows the pub prior to 1898. The book is in paperback, 282 pages, price £13.99, and can be purchased at Adams of Rye, the Rye Heritage Centre, the Martello bookshop and at Waterstones in Hastings. It is also available from the publisher, Lynda Russell at hastings.pubs@gmail.com, phone 01424 200227.

 

I welcome contributions of Rye pub memories for inclusion in any future re-print.

The Pubs of Rye, East Sussex, part two


The Jolly Sailor, Watchbell Street


RYE’S OWN, DECEMBER 2012

The Jolly Sailor first opened its doors as a beer house in Watchbell Street in 1830. Landlord Thomas Hearsfield applied for a full licence in 1831, and again successfully in 1832. Both applications were supported by a petition organised by local vicar John Myer who was mayor of Rye in 1828. He urged the magistrates to consider:


‘That your petitioner has legally settled in the said town, has a wife and three small children wholly dependent on him for support. That your petitioner has opened his house under the late act for the sale of beer, which has been regularly conducted by him without any complaint from his neighbours or any other persons whomsoever. Your petitioner begs leave to state that there is no licensed public house in Watchbell Street and the nearest one is the Red Lion. That your petitioner has been informed and believes it to be true that the public in general would be better accommodated if the house of your petitioner were licensed as a regular public house and that he has been advised to apply for the same and has in pursuance of such advice caused the regular notices to be given of his intentions of making such application. He therefore most humbly prays your worships will be pleased to take his case into your consideration and grant the necessary certificate that will enable him to apply to the excise for the necessary license and should your petitioner succeed he hereby most faithfully promises to keep as regular a house in all respects as he has before done. And your petitioner states John Hearsfield is a fit person to keep a public house.’

      

Notwithstanding the support of the vicar and 45 residents, within 10 years the Jolly Sailor had become a common lodging house for poor travellers and itinerants, as in 19th century Rye there was a big demand from the travelling poor for the basic accommodation the Jolly Sailor had to offer.


In 1839 John Hearsfield died leaving the Jolly Sailor and his estate to his wife Mary, who ran the pub until 1841. She also inherited two cottages located behind the pub in Hucksteps Row, and a house in Watchbell Street.


On census night 1841 the Jolly Sailor had 11 lodgers. As well as Mary Hearsfield and her two children, (perhaps the third child had died), the lodgers consisted of a shoemaker’s family of four, two cap makers, a weaver, a painter, an agricultural labourer and two ‘independent’ women, aged 25 and 26-years old. In the same year Mary Hearsfield left this rumbustious and high spirited pub to run a nearby shop, which remained in the Hearsfield family for the next 30 years. “The Jolly Sailor”, said local author Peter Ewart, “was no ordinary tavern, even in those days. Patronised by the roughest elements of the public its interior was the scene of many sinister doings during its comparatively short history.”



In 1841 James Dawson took over from Mary Hearsfield to become the pub’s longest serving landlord, until 1874. Dawson became a well known local character and during the 1850s and '60s was often to be seen standing in the pub doorway beckoning a welcome to many a passing stranger. Dawson was also landlord during the Rye ‘treating scandal’ during the general election of 1852, when surprisingly, given the size of the house, he hosted not one, but three free dinners with free alcohol funded by the parliamentary candidate to the tune of £15. 5s 6d.  In today’s terms this was about £880! The next landlord was William Watts who, like his predecessor John Hearsfield, also owned property in Hucksteps Row. A guide book points out that ‘for many years these small dwellings were considered so far gone they were thought unsuitable for occupation’. But William Watts ‘took an interest in them and several were in consequence restored and tenanted’. Unfortunately for him, some of his tenants were not always on their best behaviour or the most prompt with their rent. In 1879 a group of them attempted to have him indicted for serving porter out of hours on a Sunday morning, apparently because he was demanding they pay their rent arrears. William Watts won the case and a tenant was evicted. The case report informs us that the Jolly Sailor, even when it was ‘closed’ as a public house, traded fish, eels, pork and vegetables, direct from its back gate to the inhabitants of Hucksteps Row and beyond. Watts also sold porter and beer from the back door, which was carried away by the locals in earthenware jugs and bottles.

Complaints about Jolly Sailor customers were regular and continuous, and the police described them at various times as ‘gypsies, hop pickers, rag and bone collectors and those who go mushrooming on the marsh’. The Jolly Sailor also provided accommodation for the many street entertainers who visited the town in large numbers during the second half of the 19th century. This group of customers included the owners of dancing bears, one man bands and various street musicians. While their owners slept the bears were chained and locked in a shed at the rear.


On one occasion the landlord was accused of overcrowding, and to have accommodated 30 lodgers in one night. This turned out to be false, but it was the type of rumour which fed into local folk-lore about the Jolly Sailor over the years. Another widely circulated story was that the pub used a system of taught ropes slung across a room at chest height, for

Jolly Sailor bear

lodgers to drape themselves over in order to sleep. They were woken up in the morning by the landlady slackening the ropes!


In 1886 Thomas Marsh took over the Jolly Sailor as his first pub. He was told “the Jolly Sailor is a difficult house. Some very peculiar characters resort there at times, and great care is needed on the part of the landlord.” Many an incoming landlord was advised by the magistrates of the difficulties he might encounter in the pub particularly if he was new to the town. In 1900 new landlord Henry Wilson was told: “This is not a first class house and it is a difficult thing for a landlord to keep his customers in order.” And in 1909 the final landlord, John Best, was advised: “This house requires a great deal of supervision. You must be careful in the manner in which it is conducted.” However, in 1910 the Jolly Sailor became yet another victim of the 1904 Licensing Act and was closed down.


Twenty years later Adams Guide to Rye and District informed its readers about ‘another abandoned inn – perhaps the most sinister to a bygone generation – the Jolly Sailor, which, could its walls speak, would unfold tales as sordid and crime stained as many associated with the doss houses of the Bowery. Many a person I remember being hailed from the brick floored, smoky taproom, or sparsely furnished and cheerless upper chambers, where the tramping fraternity certainly encountered some strange bed fellows.’ “In my mind’s eye”, said the writer, “I still see the typical landlord, James Dawson, seldom without his churchwarden [a clay pipe with a 24 inch long stem], standing at the threshold of his pub bidding welcome to all and sundry of his customers. The spartan accommodation provided was regarded as much superior to the alternative of passing the night in the vagrant’s ward of the workhouse.”


The original building, now a private house, still stands and portrays feint signage from its pub days of over a century ago.


From The Pubs of Rye 1750-1950 by David Russell.


This book, illustrated with around 100 photographs, is a new paperback, 282 pages, price £13.99. It can be purchased at the Rye Heritage Centre, the Martello Bookshop, Adams of Rye and at Waterstones in Hastings. It is also available from the publisher, Lynda Russell at hastings.pubs@gmail.com, or phone 01424 200227.

The Pubs of Rye no.2

The Union Inn, East Street

RYE’S OWN, FEBRUARY 2013

Postcard of The Union Inn


 The Union Inn which recently closed has joined the ranks of the ‘Lost Pubs’ of Rye. The building was originally two 16th century cottages and a small shop. The cottages may have been licensed centuries ago, but by the 19th century the building was owned by John Swain and occupied by his under tenant John Hunter, who converted one of the cottages into the Union beer house in 1830.  

     John Hunter was keen to become fully licensed, and applied annually over the next three years. His application was granted in 1833 and he became ‘a fully licensed man’.

     However, a full licence did not guarantee immediate success, and for some years he also worked as a self-employed tailor during the day while his wife Sarah ran the pub. John Hunter died in 1839, after which the licence was transferred to his widow.

Union Inn advertisement c1835

     In 1841 the pub was sold, and a deed tells us that: ‘John Hunter, landlord and under tenant of John Swain, sometime since converted these premises into a public house bearing the sign of the Union Inn’.

     A valuation of the property in 1861 shows the licence was then held by their son James and thus, for 30 years the pub was run, but not owned, by the Hunter family. The valuation describes the Union at that time as a very small house, with only one public room separated into a bar and a bar parlour by a partition.

The valuation lists one bedroom but no accommodation for letting. It had a kitchen and wash house at the rear of the building and was attached to a small shop next door previously used by John Hunter as a tailoring shop. At some later date the pub was enlarged when the two cottages and the shop were integrated.

     The valuation tells us that the bar parlour had seats fixed to the floor, shelving behind the bar and a zinc blind on two brass rods. Among the bar equipment was a ‘spirit fountain’, some ceramic spirit barrels with taps and fittings, a beer engine, another zinc blind and four stout metal bars supporting the partition.

     Beer was only pulled in the bar, and parlour customers were served through a serving hatch in the partition. All tables and seats were fixed to the walls or the floor, and the bedroom was furnished with plain deal furniture.

     The shop was basic with only a counter and shelving listed. However, the valuation points out with some pride, that ‘the pub sign was made of wrought iron, and was the first class work of a local blacksmith’. The Union never had a tap room, suggesting perhaps that the landlord was trying to move away from the beer house image, and seeking custom further up the social scale.  

     In the same year, 1861, the next landlord John Paine Munn was charged with having the pub open for the sale of beer at 1.30am on a Sunday morning and for refusing to admit the police. When a constable was finally admitted at ten minutes to two he found two drunks in the bar. Munn claimed they were lodgers and, as the law then stood, lodgers could be served at anytime. However, as the pub had only one bedroom we can assume they were not genuine lodgers.



     By the late 1860s the Union was popular with local fishermen and boat owners. This patronage was reflected in the fact that a number of Coroner’s Inquests into accidents and deaths in the fishing industry were held here. The local bench also felt that fishermen who might be required to attend and participate in these inquests would be more comfortable in the Union than in the more formal surroundings of say, the Red Lion or the George.

     Nevertheless, members of inquests were often required to inspect the body which was laid out in the pub. It was the local custom for members of Coroner’s Inquests to adjourn to another pub after such a gruelling and harrowing experience. In the case of the Union, jurors usually went to the George Tap.

     A typical inquest into the drowning of a fisherman in Rye Harbour, in 1881, was held in the Union Inn in May of that year, but failed to come to any conclusion as to how the ‘accident’ had happened. They could only agree that the deceased was ‘found drowned in Rye Harbour’.

   In the 1930s the Union became a ‘Goth pub’ when it was acquired by the People’s Refreshment House Association Ltd, a temperance organisation influenced by the Gothenburg Model of ‘disinterested management’ founded in Sweden. The manager of the Union was described as an ‘agent in the cause of temperance and good behaviour’, was paid a fixed salary plus any profit from food and non-alcoholic drinks. All profits from alcohol were donated to local ‘objects of public utility’. A few ‘Goth pubs’ still exist in Scotland but as far as I know the Union Inn was the only ‘Goth pub’ in Rye.

     More recently the Union was a contender for most haunted pub in Rye and could boast three different ghosts. One ghost who resided there was apparently that of a young unmarried mother who died after being pushed down the cellar steps in the 1850s. In 1993 researchers into spiritual phenomena witnessed banging and laser flashes, and the kitchen door opening and closing by itself. Further investigations revealed that the landlord’s young son had been visited by the ghost of ‘Postman Pat’ at night, and that several others staying overnight had experienced the ghost of a seaman in a blue jacket sometimes wearing a sou’wester. The old lady next door also experienced the seaman in her attic. We can only ask: Was this the ghost of an old smuggler moving contraband between the attics, or perhaps of the fisherman who drowned in the harbour in 1881?


Pub sign c1930s

     Downstairs, the ghost of Emily, a young woman in a red dress, was often seen walking through the bar towards the cellar steps. She apparently died from a broken neck after being pushed down the cellar steps when pregnant. According to the Ghost Club investigators, Emily and her family lived in the middle cottage in 1856, and her father, a local mortician, was apparently ashamed of her pregnancy.  However, when the investigators made contact with the ghost of Emily in 1992, she denied the baby was hers. The baby’s remains were/are allegedly contained behind a glass brick in the rear dining room. The pub was reputably rid of its ghosts in 1993 when exorcists rebalanced the pubs hidden ley-lines with a row of nine crystals.  

     The Union was listed Grade 2 in 1951, including the projecting shop window with small square panes at the north corner, dating from the early 19th century.


From The Pubs of Rye, East Sussex 1750–1950 by David Russell.

The Pubs of Rye no. 3


The Oak Inn, High Street

RYE’S OWN, MARCH 2013

HASTINGS TOWN, MARCH 2013


Very little information has come to light about this fishermen’s beer house located on the High Street. The earliest known date for the Oak is 1870 when Alfred Bourn was the licensee. However, as a beer house, we can be fairly certain it was in existence well before then, and possibly dated back to the 1830 Licensing Act. The house was then known as the Pig and Whistle.

Oak Inn c1902

Pig and Whistle is a stereotypical name for the traditional English pub, but oddly enough there are or were few actual genuine pubs with this name in the country. I quote the Dictionary of Pub Names by Dunkling and Wright. ‘When Lillywhite examined 17,000 London pub signs in the 19th century, he was unable to find a single example of Pig and Whistle. He estimated that ‘in the 1980s about 10 British pubs were so called’. Thus it would seem that the Pig and Whistle, Rye had an unusual name.

    The Oxford English Dictionary gives several examples of the use of the phrase ‘pigs and whistles’ dating from 1681. To go to ‘pigs and whistles’ at one time meant ‘to go to rack and ruin’. If going to pigs and whistles was going to ruin, and constantly going to the pub was also going to ruin, then pigs and whistles would be associated sooner or later with the pub. From there it would be a short step to naming a pub the Pig and Whistle, first as a nick-name, then as an official name.

Sussex Pig from Rye Pottery

Beer label

The Superintendent’s report on the house was as follows:—The Oak Beerhouse is situated in the High-street, and is two houses thrown into one. There are three entrances from High-street; one opens into the public bar, one into the bottle and jug department, and one into the private bar; and on one side of the private bar is a bar parlour, access to this being gained from the private bar. A public tap room is situate at the back of the bar, and in addition there is a kitchen and scullery on the ground floor. There is also a public entrance from the Undercliff, with a sign board above, by which access is had to the back of the house from the Salts, etc, below, through the back yard, where [there] is a w.c. and public urinal. A private entrance to same yard is gained by way of Ockman’s Lane. The upstairs accommodation is eight bedrooms and a sitting-room. Lodgings are let to working-men. The nearest licensed houses are the Union Inn and the George Hotel; the former is 76 yards from the Oak, and the latter 100 yards, and the house has a frontage of 37½ feet.
    
Sergeant Verrion corroborated the statements in the report, and said he had no complaints to make as regard the conduct of the house because there was practically no trade. It was a house that was rarely visited by the police, because there was not very often anyone in there. The fishing class of people patronised it, but not many of these. There was accommodation for the fishing fraternity in the Union Inn. He did not consider the house was wanted. The people who lived in the immediate neighbourhood did not visit it. The house was managed during the day by Mrs Collyer, while her husband went to work.

C A Collyer, the licensee of The Oak, said he had been there nine years come June. He had had a lot of expense with his wife’s illness and trying to keep a respectable house, but the people would not go there, because they were seen. It was too public. The trade might increase if the rougher class were admitted. He let for lodgings, and had ten beds. He had had eight soldiers billeted on him when they had been through. He sold a barrel and a half a week. He did not get a living by the house. If he took in all sorts of lodgers he might get a living but he took in the working class. He had got two permanent lodgers now.

                                   

THE DECISIONS

After a short retirement of the Bench, the Mayor said the licence of the Oak would be referred.


 After being referred to the Compensation Authority, £254 was granted to the brewers Style and Winch for the loss of their beer house although they were obviously glad to be rid of it, and compensation of £60 was granted to landlord George Collyer for the loss of his licence.  

Oak Inn today


From The Pubs of Rye, East Sussex 1750–1950 by David Russell.


Response: Dear Editor
I see the March issue of “Rye’s Own” has a story about pubs and about The Oak Inn. Apparently somewhere between 1890s and 1901 my Great grandfather was the landlord of the Oak for just 1½ years as he went broke. Mr Cade who had the tailors next door had a receipt he had found with my Great grandfather’s name on it, his name was Charles Henry Ditcher but often went under the name Henry Ditcher. I know it is around that date as out of 6 children born Stuart Ditcher was the only one born in Rye; the rest all older were born in Queenborough Sheppey. I do a lot of family research and so one day I will write about the family.

Julie Brett

    We can also speculate on another theory, that the origin of the name might well have been a very local one: the Sussex Pigs of Rye Pottery! It is known that the famous Rye Pottery Sussex Pig was in use as a drinking vessel for more than 200 years. The pig was hollow and came apart. The head could be removed and would stand alone, on its snout and ears, as a cup or mug. The body of the pig set upright could be used as a jug. According to the Sussex County Magazine it was a Rye tradition at weddings for guests to drink a ‘hogs head’ of beer in one, when toasting the bride and bridegroom. This tradition is dated to the mid-19th century when the Pig and Whistle in the High Street must have been a thriving beer house.

     Yet another origin of the name, one favoured by bar room etymologists, is found in religious mythology. ‘Pige-Washael’ was once upon a time believed to be the angel’s salutation to the Virgin Mary, which, in the language of the Danes meant ‘Virgin Hail’ or ‘Health to the Maiden’. Meanwhile back at the Oak Inn, Thomas Osborne held the licence in 1881, and sought permission of the magistrates at the Brewster Sessions to change the name ‘Pig and Whistle’ to the ‘Oak Inn’. This change was readily agreed, but created some amusement on the bench as ‘Oak Inn’ was regarded to be a pretentious name for a simple beer house. However, as far as is known, Thomas Osborne never applied for a full licence and appears to have been content with beer house status.

     This remained the case until the last and final landlord, George Collyer, ran the premises from 1900 to 1909. Collyer, originally from Ramsgate, took the licence of the Oak Inn five years after leaving the Royal Engineers in 1895.

     The final description of the Oak Inn beer house was a sad and poignant one. When the Oak was finally referred for closure in 1909 the owners, brewers Style and Winch Ltd of Maidstone, didn’t even bother to turn up to the hearing, and the Oak Inn went to the wall. This is the report in full:  


THE OAK INN

The owners of the Oak Beerhouse were not represented, and the tenant, Mr C A Collyer, appeared in person.


The Pubs of Rye No. 4

                                                            The Globe Inn
RYE’S OWN, APRIL 2013


 






 

 







Globe Inn today

The Globe opened in 1834 when a 50 year lease on this piece of land was granted to John Wheeler by the Reverend Lamb of Iden. John Wheeler, a beer retailer, then became the Globe’s first landlord. The lease included the cliff behind the pub which descends from Playden Heights, with its ‘pendants [overhanging parts] being part and parcel of the property’. A fairly large cave in the face of the cliff was also included in the lease. The annual rent was £127.

     Four years later, in 1838, the pub was sold after John Wheeler had emigrated to Canada. At that time the Globe consisted of two parlours, a bar, tap room, skittle alley at the rear and four bedrooms to let.

    






 

 




    In its early days the Globe was used by men employed on the maintenance of the Royal Military Canal which flows nearby, and after which Military Road is named. A sketch map of the canal from the early 1830s shows the Globe as an isolated building in a totally rural setting.

    By the 1870s, adjacent outbuildings had become a forge and blacksmith’s shop on what is now the car park. Stables were established at the back as was an ever popular and now larger skittle alley. By now the Globe was using the old cave in the cliff face as the pub cellar. The cave cellar was featured in local guide books throughout the 1930s.

  The Globe’s most popular and longstanding landlord was Marshall Ames, a busy and energetic man who ran the pub for 40 years from 1859–1899. As well as the Globe, he also had a building company involved in the development of the area in the last 30 years of the 19th century. When Marshall Ames died in 1899 the licence was transferred to Emily Ames, who ran the pub until 1903. Thus, the Ames family ran the Globe for 44 years making it the longest held family run pub in Rye.

    One of the many clubs which came into existence at the turn of the century was the Globe Horticultural Club. Not surprisingly, in an area of cottage gardens and developing allotments, the subject of gardening among Globe customers was always a popular topic of conversation in the bar.  Garden produce was first brought into the pub in about 1898, and from then on displays, particularly of flowers, were a regular Globe feature.

   “The origin of the flower show was a squabble”, said the club chairman in 1903, “perhaps I ought to call it a discussion, as to who could grow the best dahlias. The discussion was a hot one and in the end we decided to have a Dahlia Show to see who could produce the best. After this we formed a Dahlia Club, later a Dahlia and Daffodil Club and from that it became the Globe Horticultural Club. I think that there is no town the size of Rye that could get a show better than ours in the winter months….” However, the club had serious competition from the Rye Gardeners who met and displayed garden produce at the Cinque Ports Arms.

      In 1905 the local press commented:-


‘The healthy, profitable, and fascinating pursuit of cottage gardening was the all-absorbing theme at the Globe Inn on Tuesday evening, when the members and friends of the Globe Horticultural Club assembled

 on the occasion of their annual dinner. The old town of Rye is well served with organisations whose aim is to encourage gardening amongst cottagers in the district, and there are many who think that an amalgamation would be beneficial to all concerned. However this may be, the Globe Horticultural Club has done its part in promoting keen and friendly rivalry amongst the working classes. During the summer and autumn months many excellent exhibits are staged at the Globe shows, and last year many specimens of fruit and vegetables shown were really remarkable, thus showing that the cottagers must have devoted a considerable amount of study to the various plants in order to discover the secrets of nature. This Club has sufficiently demonstrated its usefulness to commend it to the patronage of those interested in horticulture and the welfare of the working classes. We hope the Society, which has an enthusiastic president in Mr. Harry Davis, will meet with continued success.’


 


 

 In 1898, the Globe became the headquarters of a branch of the Bonfire Boys, who by 1905 were known as the Military Road Bonfire Boys to distinguish themselves from other groups in the town. These groups were the antithesis, the direct opposite, of the Bonfire Boys which had plagued Rye for much of the 19th century. One writer described this change as: “the taming of the Bonfire Boys”.

    By the 1920s the forge was occupied by Frederick Sutton a blacksmith from Speldhurst, Kent. But there were occupational dangers working here. I have recently been in contact with Frederick Sutton’s granddaughter Eveline Gillians who lives in Oxfordshire. She told me of a wonderful letter written by my grandmother in early February 1929 saying “Dad seems very poorly, he was kicked black and blue by a colt last week”.  

   

Frederick Sutton

By 1920 the Globe was tied to the Finn Brewery of Lydd and conveyed to Style and Winch in 1921. The photograph of the Globe with Sutton’s forge next-door was taken between 1920 and 1922. The Sutton family were living at 3 Daniel Place, Military Road in 1929, (long since gone) and by 1933 both pub and forge were in the hands of Rye Corporation.


From The Pubs of Rye, East Sussex 1750–1950 by David Russell.

    

    



The Pubs of Rye No. 5

                                                             The Dial
RYE’S OWN, MAY 2013

The most noted landlord of this public house was Stephen Gilbert Fryman. He first came to light in 1824 when he purchased the Bridge Inn, Winchelsea for £60, and sold it two years later for £116 making a handsome profit. But whether he held the licence as well as being the owner is unknown.


     What is known is that around 1826 Stephen Gilbert Fryman was in a trading partnership as a wholesale grocer and chandler in Market Street. This business was still listed in Piggot’s Directory for 1840.

     At some point in the 1820s he acquired the premises at 101 High Street, which from the late 17th century to the late 18th century had been in the occupation of the Gill family of clockmakers.

     As a response to the Clock Tax of 1797 which increased the price of clocks and watches, many public clocks were erected on both private and public buildings. As you might expect from a clock designed to be publicly displayed, they were often large and solidly built. The Gill family had their own clock mounted on the front of their premises in the High Street advertising their business.

     Sometime around 1820 the premises became a public house known as the Black Boy and Still, and later as the Dial or Dial House, obviously indicating the public clock on the front of the building.      Various deeds list some of the occupants and possibly owners of the Dial, but not always the dates of their occupation. A conveyance of 1854 states that ‘it was at one time occupied by Thomas Earl, since of William Payne, since of Sarah Barnes, since of Charles Pilcher, since of Edward Hilder, since of Thomas Bourne, since of Henry Bourne and now of Stephen Gilbert Fryman’. Henry Bourne by coincidence also a clockmaker, applied for a full licence in 1831, and again successfully in 1832.  
     The deed also tells us that in 1848 Stephen Gilbert Fryman was declared bankrupt. Bankruptcy papers lodged in the National Archive state that his property included the ‘said messuage or tenement which was formerly, and again recently licensed as, a public house … was heretofore called or known by the name of the Black Boy and Still, but is now called or known by the name of the Dial’.

     Thus it seems that the premises were licensed before 1830. The licence then lapsed, was restarted by Henry Bourne in 1832, and continued by Stephen Gilbert Fryman into the 1840s.

     Stephen Gilbert Fryman’s bankruptcy is also listed and reported in the London Gazette for 1849, where he was described as a Wine and Spirit Merchant, Dealer and Chapman (ie pedlar or merchant). The Dial is not mentioned.

     After his bankruptcy in 1848 the Dial was sold by his assignees as a public house. A further document states that the assignees of ‘Stephen Gilbert Fryman a bankrupt, sold the public house known as the Dial in Longer Street (now the High Street) to James Jenner, Gent of Portman Square, London for £495’, in 1854.

     However bankruptcy only stopped him from trading for a short period of probably 12 months. By 1850 he was trading vigorously as a wine and spirit merchant, and in the House of Commons Enquiry into corrupt practices during the Rye election of 1852, Stephen Gilbert Fryman is listed as the major supplier of wines and spirits to the numerous Rye public houses and eating houses, who gave out free food and drink during the ‘treating scandal’ of that general election. At a property auction held at the George Inn six years later in 1858, Fryman, still trading as a wine and spirit merchant, purchased another property (now part of the museum) and land in East Street behind the Dial, for £165 from Eliza Turner, spinster of Bexhill. In 1863 and again in 1864 the Dial is listed and named as a fully licensed public house in the annual reports of the Rye Brewster Sessions in the Sussex Express. Unfortunately the licensee is not named.

 Then in 1874, 25 years after his bankruptcy, Fryman re-purchased the former Dial from the executors of James Jenner, one of whom was himself, for £520. This action suggests that he greatly resented being made bankrupt and losing the former Dial public house to his creditors, and was determined one day to regain its ownership.

     Finally in 1875 a mortgage describes the premises as: ‘kept for many years as a public house known as the Black Boy and Still, now the Dial, many years in the tenure of Stephen Fryman’. This is the last reference to the property as fully licensed premises. As far as is known it was never again in use as a public house, and by 1878 the premises were in the hands of his son Egbert Fryman described as a wine merchant.

     In 1886 Stephen Gilbert Fryman, now described as ‘Gent of Chiswick’, sold the premises to John H E Cramp of Rye for £1,100, who then leased the property to Herbert Verral Chapman, brewer of East Guildford (later Chapman Bros). At that time Chapman owned or leased six licensed houses in Rye, including the Globe, Greyhound, Tower, Ferry Boat and London Stout House. Stephen Gilbert Fryman died in 1894 leaving his son Egbert to manage his interests. In 1901 the land at the rear of 101 High Street was conveyed to Chapman Bros, after it had been sold by Egbert Fryman for £400 in 1895.

     Egbert Fryman was then an employee, or perhaps a partner of Chapman Bros and was, in 1899, instrumental in the rebuilding of the Ferry Boat Inn, Ferry Road, and in that pub’s reopening in 1900 as the New Inn. He also had a major role in overseeing and promoting the revamped London Stout House during those years. He was known to be quite vocal in opposition to the Rye temperance movement. By 1900 the former Dial public house had become a part of Chapman Bros wholesale storage and distribution network and an off-licence. In 1920 it was conveyed from Chapman Bros to Edwin Flynn, Brewers of Lydd, who eventually became part of the Style and Winch Brewery of Maidstone.

     According to the Dictionary of Pub Names, in the 18th century the name ‘Black Boy’ was a common name for taverns and coffee houses, and was usually a reference to a personal servant of a rich person. By the 19th century it was more likely to portray a young chimney sweep. A ‘still’ is the apparatus at the centre of the distilling process by which alcohol is produced.
   The ‘Black Boy’ is also thought to refer to Charles II, because of his dark skin and it is tempting to speculate that die hard royalists drank here and secretly toasted ‘the blackboy over the water’ during the Protectorate (1653–1659).  

     The name most probably originated with a former tenant who was a royalist and supporter of Charles II. Apart from the Charles II connection there is also the possibility that the name referred to a black mooring buoy located in Rye harbour — but this is only speculation.

     By the 1960s the premises were in the hands of Carlos and Thrale Ltd, described as ‘hirers of cocktail bars and equipment for parties’. The building is now the Rye Age UK shop.


From The Pubs of Rye, East Sussex 1750–1950 by David Russell.   

1888

Frederick Sutton’s forge

The Dial

The Bridge Inn
Winchelsea

1960s

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THE OLDEST BOOZER IN TOWN?    By David Russell


FROM RYE NEWS
Beer & Skittles 7 January 2015

This was a re-occurring question which kept cropping up when researching my book The Pubs of Rye, 1750­­­-1950.

     First some definitions — Rye has several very old buildings and I am not asking which building is the oldest or even which currently licensed building is the oldest. The question is, which Rye public house holds the longest continuous licence?

     There are several contenders for the title of oldest pub or pub with the longest continuous licence. The Old Bell, the Queen’s Head, the Ship, and until recently the Union Inn, might all be contenders. The earliest documentary evidence for the Old Bell is 1845 but it could have been licensed many years before in a previous century. On the other hand we have evidence that both the Ship and the Queen’s Head date from 1722, so these two pubs might possibly share the honour of oldest Rye pub(s) between them.

     


  


   During the 18th century the buildings on Strand Quay were in use as warehousing for contraband confiscated from smugglers. Periodically the contraband would be auctioned off by the Excise, and buyers would expect to be allowed to taste the goods before purchase. I think this was the beginning of the Ship as a public house and there is evidence in a deed of 1722 when it was known as the Cock and Coney.

    The Queen’s Head, according to another old deed, also refers back to its existence at this time and has been licensed ever since. The histories of both pubs can be found in the book but I am still seeking evidence of earlier dates. So watch this space.

    The sign of the Ship shows a King onboard a ship with a Latin inscription around the perimeter which, to my untutored eye, translates as: ‘God favours King Edward of England’, although which Edward and why I cannot say. Is there a local connection? Any information on this would be welcome.

    A second board on the east wall quotes Lord Pembroke in 1781, “Will Washington take America or smugglers England first?”, followed by a list of Revenue Cutters (customs boats) and Men of War, nearly all from the 18th century. So perhaps the artist who created these signs has, or had, more knowledge of the 18th century origins of the Ship Inn than we do today.


 

SPARROWS – VICTIMS OF THE POT SHOT   by David Russell

FROM RYE NEWS Beer & Skittles 22 January 2015

 In the latest Beer and Skittles series about local pubs, I’m taking a look at the Robin Hood public house in Icklesham where, in the late 19th century they ran a “sparrow club”. At that time sparrows were considered a nuisance and were shot for ‘sport’ and sparrow pie. Sparrow clubs offered prizes such as watches, clocks, stuffed birds in glass cases, firkins of ale and the like.
  

 

 







 The unfortunate victims of these shooting matches first had to be caught. The principal method employed was called ‘batfowling’ and entailed the use of a clap net, which consisted of two poles, each about 10 feet tall, supporting a small mesh net and turned up at the base to form a bag. The catchers would choose a dry, moonless night when sparrows would be roosting, in their dozens, in ricks or ivy-clad walls.
    About two hours after the birds had gone to roost, the pole-bearers would approach their target, standing close to the wall or rick, and at a signal, would clap the net against the target. At the same time, a third operator would flash a torch in the centre of the net. Startled, the unfortunate birds would dash out toward the light, where they would become entangled in the net and flutter down into the bag.  

    The practice of shooting sparrows and pigeons was made illegal in 1921 when it was revealed that half a million sparrows had been shot in 1920.

BALL GAME TO TRAP THE BATSMAN  by David Russell

FROM RYE NEWS Beer & Skittles 5 February 2015.      



This picture appeared in a 14th century Book of Prayers in the Bodleian Library.


This week Beer and Skittles takes a look at a very old pub game known as Bat and Trap. This game is the last survivor of a whole family of games that involves the launching of a ball into the air by mechanical means before it can be struck.

Bat and Trap dates back to at least the 14th century when it was called Trap Ball and may even date earlier, to Viking times. It is known to have been played by Rye fishermen in the Ypres Castle garden from the 1850s, which is one of only two examples of the game being played in Rye that has come to light. The other was Crown Fields behind the Crown.


 

 
 

Bat and Trap requires two teams of up to eight players — one team batting and the other bowling. The game involves placing a heavy rubber ball on one end of a ‘trap’, which is a low wooden box 22 inches [560 mm] long, 5 inches wide and 5 inches high, on top of which is a simple see-saw mechanism. Each batter in turn hits the opposite end of the lever (the ‘striker’) with a bat, so as to propel the ball into the air, and then attempts to hit the ball between two high posts situated 13 feet 6 inches (4.11m) apart, at the other end of the pitch, 21 yards (19m) away.

 The opposing side stand behind and between the posts attempting to catch the ball before it hits the ground. The batsman is out if the ball is caught or if he or she fails to hit the ball between the posts at a height not exceeding 7 feet. After each successful hit, a fielder aims the ball at the ‘wicket’ which is a 5-inch square target at the end of the trap. If the bowler hits the wicket the batsman is ‘bowled out’. If the bowler does not succeed, the batsman scores one run and continues to play. Once all the members of the first batting team have played, the batting and bowling teams change places.

 The game survives in a pub called the Bat and Ball in Brighton where matches are played every Good Friday. The origins of the Brighton game are thought to also stem from fishermen.



This old Whitbread sign is from the 1950s

Reference: Played at the Pub by Arthur Taylor




     

  ‘Baiting’ was meant to guarantee the quality of meat, particularly of beef, as tainted meat was a potential hazard. Consumers in bygone days would observe a butcher slaughtering an animal, which included baiting, to ensure quality.

     Bull baiting was finally outlawed in 1835, a half a century after this bait at the Kings Head, Rye Hill in 1788. Baiting was accompanied by betting on the dogs themselves and the prizes were considerable. The first prize here was a silver collar and the second prize was ‘half a guinea’, which in today’s values is about £900!

     Another ‘blood sport’ which took place here in the 18th and early 19th centuries was cockfighting, which we will return to another time.






In the 18th century the King’s Head, Rye Hill was a butchers' pub where the butchers of Rye congregated for leisure and ‘sport’.

    In the cruel blood sport of bull baiting, bulldogs were trained to seize the bull by the nose, its most tender part, and not let go. The bull wore a collar and was tethered to a stake. The dogs – any number up to twenty – were trained to lie low, out of reach of the bull’s horns.The origins of bull baiting are found in butchery. At one time it was illegal for a butcher to slaughter a bull unless it had first been baited with dogs. It was believed that prolonged physical exertion rendered the meat tender and palatable.

   


Sussex  Weekly Advertiser 17-3-1788

The Red Lion, Lion Street, was a famous Rye pub from the 1500s. Its tap bar was popular with smugglers, highwaymen and sailors, among others. The pub was destroyed in a terrible fire in 1872. The following report appeared in the Sussex Express in November 1849, when the Red Lion was in its heyday:

Red Lion 1860s

RUM GOINGS ON . . .    By David Russell


FROM RYE NEWS Beer & Skittles 18 March 2015






At the Petty Sessions held in the Town Hall Rye in September 1856, Edwin Barden, of the Robin Hood public house Icklesham, was charged with having in his possession 85 gallons of smuggled spirits — which is equivalent to 680 pints of rum!
   Superintendent Thompson and Inspector Jeffreys, of the East Sussex Constabulary, with Walter Hoar, supervisor of Inland Revenue of Battle, proved the finding of 19 tubs of rum in a loft in the defendant’s house, the Robin Hood Inn Icklesham, and one tub in the garden.
    Charles Fraser, the customs officer from Hastings, stated that he had received 85 gallons of rum in 20 tubs from the Robin Hood, Icklesham and delivered them to the custom-house at Rye.
    William Acton, collector of customs at Rye, said he had calculated the strength and value of the spirits, which he set at £107 13s  4d. According to the National Archive currency converter this would be £4,618 in today’s money!
    The lawyer, defending the Robin Hood landlord, said he would not attempt to grapple with the evidence for the prosecution, but would appeal to the bench for their clemency. The full penalty and recommended fine was, he said, according to the act of parliament, treble the value of the smuggled spirits and this the landlord could never pay. But as the bench had the power to mitigate the sum to one quarter of this amount, he strongly urged them to do so as there was then a possibility of the money being paid.
    In response the solicitor for the prosecution said he did not consider it a case for mitigation. The magistrates then consulted together for a short time, and on their return stated that they had found Edwin Barden, landlord of the Robin Hood public house Icklesham, guilty of possessing smuggled spirits and said the fine would be £120 plus £7 10s costs — £5,480 in today’s value.
   The defendant obviously not having that sort of money was taken into custody, but before the business of the court was concluded he appeared again and stated that he was prepared to pay £80 down, and asked for a fortnight to pay the remainder, which was granted with the consent of the prosecution.


Sussex Express 1856 (edited).








Hidden hooch: 19 barrels of rum were found in the loft and hidden in the garden

The premises at 101 High Street, now the Age UK shop, was occupied by the Gill family of clockmakers from 1680. At the end of the 18th century the government introduced a tax on clocks making them more expensive. As a response many public clocks were erected on private and public buildings.

    As you might expect from a clock designed to be publicly displayed, they were often large and solidly built. The Gill family had one of their clocks mounted on the front of their premises in the High Street advertising their business.

   A century later the family had become bankers and by about 1820 the family had moved or died out. The premises then became a beer house and later a public house known as the Dial or Dial House. The name obviously indicated the public clock on the front of the building. It was not at first the official name but came into use by public reference to the building. Thus the face of Gill’s public clock became, by a twist of fate, the most unusual pub sign in the town.  
   The clock has long gone but the (stone) face still reminds us of its earlier years.

 



Election time in Rye could be very noisy as candidates “treated” the voters in the “Rotten Borough” to a few drinks, and Age UK’s Rye shop was the scene of terrible goings on when it was known as The Dial. David Russell explains why it had that name, and why drinkers were not the only ones counting their pennies.

AN EVENING WITH THE HOP PICKERS  by David Russell


FROM RYE NEWS Beer & Skittles 15 April 2015


For this latest glimpse into the social history of our local public houses, I’ve edited this wonderful report that appeared in the Rye Chronicle of October 1870.

 

The day’s labour is done and the hopper sets forth in search of amusement. With dirt thick upon him, away he trudges to the nearest public house. In some instances he is accompanied by a female companion. We arrive at the Bedford Arms and my ears tell me that several of the fraternity are before us. We enter the tap room which is already filled with smoke.

 We take a place at one of the tables and await events. Half an-hour later in come the women and children. I am among a strange crew, but I fraternise with my associates. I get behind a clay pipe and puff my tobacco. I purchase the friendship of one or two in my immediate vicinity by ‘standing’ a jug or two of beer.

     I have time to study the characters of my new friends. What capacious stomachs they have, with what extraordinary facility the beer disappears! We are packed close and noisy. The door opens, and in tumbles an addition to the party, who is at once greeted with “Hallo, Frenchey”, “Here’s Frenchey”, “Frenchey, my tulip, tip us your fins”.

 It is evident at a glance that Frenchey has been imbibing somewhat freely. Curious to know why he attracts so much attention, I go and sit beside him. I discover that he is a foreigner. I muster up my small stock of French and try a conversation. Frenchey turns out to be a German. I declare the fact; the hoppers are amazed and express their wonderment. I invite my foreign friend to drink with me. He accepts and for the remainder of the evening I am addressed by him as mon officier — for Frenchey knows a little French and I know no German.

     I turn the conversation to the war [the Franco-Prussian War: 1870]. I ask him why he does not take up arms amongst the brethren of his nation. He tells me he prefers the more peaceful occupation of hop picking in England. I ask Frenchey to oblige me with a song in German. He agrees conditionally, that I give one in French. Cries of “Horder for the good gentleman’s song”, and rattling thumps of approval with pots on the table are made. Frenchey sings the Watch on the Rhine, and I shout the Marseillaise.

     The hoppers are astonished, and Frenchey is a greater hero than ever. I ask a young fellow near me why Frenchey excites so much interest. He tells me, “Well, look ´ere, he haint in his own country and don’t know so much about things as we do; and if we was in his country we should like someone to help us, shouldn’t we, sir?” I answer the feeling does the hoppers great credit, and am then further informed that Frenchey has just lost the whole of his tallies for his week’s labour, amounting to some nine dozen bushels, and that they are about to make a subscription for him. My informant has already advanced him 1s 6d,

     “Hi lent yon eighteen pence, didn’t’ I, Frenchey?” Frenchey acknowledges the indebtedness. Everybody is talking at the pitch of his voice but there are few listeners. Here is the true Hibernian ring, there the Cockney twang. We are all shouting.

 Suddenly there comes another loud rattling of pots on the tables, and “Horder? Horder for a song”, is called out from one corner. We have more songs, everyone sings. The music nor the words are not always the choicest, but the execution is in keeping with the general composition — Herin’s love-ly ´ome, The dauntless faymale, The Convict of the Isle of France. One song finds especial favour, it bears the euphonious title of Johnny, I hardly knew yer, and has somewhat of the air of When Johnny comes marching home.

 



A GRINDER COMES TO RYE      by David Russell

FROM RYE NEWS Beer & Skittles 29 April 2015

In 1874 the Crown Inn, Rye was host to a customer known as the nobleman organ grinder. For a bet he was visiting every county in England living off the proceeds of the street collections. The following [edited] report appeared in the Rye Chronicle of 4-7-1874.


THE NOBLEMAN ORGAN GRINDER  

This mysterious individual, about whom we have heard so much, since he first made his appearance in the southern counties, visited Rye on Monday last, and created no small amount of interest, as well as conjecture as to the truth of the story of his enterprise. Arriving in the town on Sunday, with his donkey and cart, it was his intention to make one of the principal establishments, (the George) which professes to provide “accommodation for man and beast”, his head quarters, but, we understand, the worthy proprietor did not care to take in the organ grinder, illustrious as he is, therefore, he was compelled to seek shelter under the roof of the Crown Inn, where the hospitable host and hostess, Mr and Mrs Wright, entertained him in a manner which elicited his entire satisfaction. On Monday, after going the round of the town, and replenishing the resources upon which it is stated, he and his donkey must live for three years, in accordance with the conditions of the wager, he took his departure in the afternoon en route for Tenterden, Ashford, Canterbury, &c. The Graphic of December 6th 1873, contains a faithful engraving of the noble grinder and his donkey and cart, surrounded by an admiring crowd, and refers to him as follows: — “Although the age of eccentric bets has almost passed away in this terribly dry, matter-of-fact, nineteenth century, and we no longer hear of gentlemen standing on London Bridge selling sovereigns for shillings, and other doughty wagers made after the third bottle of port, we now and then find an amusing instance of the love of human nature to out-do other people, be it in climbing up the topmost peak of an Alpine peak, or marching the length and breadth of a continent with a displayed standard. The last instance of the ‘betting’ mania comes from the sister isle, which for the past fourteen months has been in a fever of excitement concerning a certain amateur organ grinder, who is confidently asserted to be a nobleman in disguise. He refuses his name to the curious, but owns to the fact that he is not what he seems, and has wagered to ‘grind’ his way through every county in the country.”


GOAL RUNNING AT QUEENS HEAD by  David Russell

FROM RYE NEWS Beer & Skittles 13 May 2015

In the late 19th century 'goal running' was a sport peculiar to East Kent and the Weald, requiring no special equipment or pitch. It  was an adult version of the game of 'tag', found in school playgrounds. The Rye Goal Running club met at the Queens Head and matches were played bare foot on the Salts.

 The following report (edited) appeared in the South Eastern Advertiser in December 1898:


GOAL RUNNING CLUB SMOKER
The Rye Goal Running Club finished up its first season, which has been very successful, with a smoking concert at the Queens Head, on Monday evening. There was a good attendance, and the chair, Mr J Adams,  proposed ‘Success to the Rye Goal Running Club’,  and complimented the members upon having introduced into Sussex a game which, for the most part, has been confined to Kent. For their first season they had a record of eight matches played, four lost, two drawn, and two won, which he took as a good augury of what might be expected from them. As to their finances, those were in an exceedingly good condition, there being nearly £3 in hand, and as to membership, they had an enrolment of about 30. (Applause.)
   Goal running, he said, was capital exercise for those who took part in it, and amused the public, and was gaining a firm hold upon them.  Five years ago no one would have thought that football could have made such progress in Rye as it had, and therefore he looked forward to the day when they would see goal running as popular as football was now.


HIGH STREET BEER HOUSE UNCOVERED  BY David Russell

FROM RYE NEWS Beer & Skittles 27 May 2015

c1902


Little information has come to light about a fishermen’s beer house called the Pig & Whistle, located in the High Street over a century ago. The earliest known date is 1870 when Alfred Bourn was the licensee. However, as a beer house, we can be fairly certain it was in existence well before then, and possibly dated back to the Beer Act of 1830.  

     Pig and Whistle is a stereotypical name for the traditional English pub, but oddly enough there are or were few actual genuine pubs with this name in the country. I quote the Dictionary of Pub Names by Dunkling and Wright. ‘When Lillywhite examined 17,000 London pub signs in the 19th century, he was unable to find a single example of Pig and Whistle. We estimate that in the 1980s about 10 British pubs were so called.’ Thus it would seem that the Pig and Whistle, Rye had an unusual name - what was its meaning?

    The Oxford English Dictionary gives several examples of the use of the phrase ‘pigs and whistles’ dating from 1681. To go to ‘pigs and whistles’ at one time meant ‘to go to rack and ruin’. If going to pigs and whistles was going to ruin, and constantly going to the pub was also going to ruin, then pigs and whistles would be associated sooner or later with the pub. From there it would be a short step to naming a pub the Pig and Whistle, first as a nick-name, then as an official name.

   



     

     According to the Sussex County Magazine it was a Rye tradition at weddings for guests to drink a whole ‘hogs head’ of beer in one, when toasting the bride and bridegroom. This tradition is dated to the mid-19th century when the Pig and Whistle in the High Street was probably a thriving beer house.
    Yet another origin of the name, one favoured by bar room etymologists, is found in religious mythology. ‘Pige-Washael’ was once upon a time believed to be the angel’s salutation to the Virgin Mary, which, in the language of the Danes meant ‘Virgin Hail’ or ‘Health to the Maiden’.
     The original licensed premises is now the Purdie gallery, High Street.



  We can also speculate on a second theory, that the origin of the name might well have been a local one: the Sussex Pigs of Rye Pottery! It is known that the famous Rye Pottery Sussex Pig was in use as a drinking vessel for more than 200 years. The pig was hollow and came apart. The head could be removed and would stand alone on its snout and ears, as a cup or mug. The body of the pig set upright could be used as a jug.


     By the 1950s the New Inn had the only toilet available to the public in Winchelsea. But in the 1970s the pub was refurbished and its toilets ceased to be available from the outside. With a large, expanding tourist trade, there are 100,000 visitors a year to the church opposite alone, proposals were put forward for a much needed public toilet in German Street. This was opposed by residents and became a contentious issue leading to a comparison being made between Winchelsea and the fictitious French town of Clochemerle, then the setting of a popular TV programme. Consequently Winchelsea became a laughing stock. But the matter was finally resolved in 1973 with the site of the present toilet block down the road. (www.winchelsea.net).

     With the closure of the Bridge House Inn down the road the New Inn is the only pub remaining in the town.



WHEN NEW IS OLD AND OLD NEW!  By David Russell


FROM RYE NEWS
Beer & Skittles 10 June 2015


Some seven centuries ago the 'new' town of Winchelsea was founded by Edward 1st to replace an older town of the same name three miles away on the coast. Old Winchelsea was a principle harbour in the Cinque Ports Federation but was lost to the sea in a series of great storms in the 13th century.

     'New' Winchelsea was one of the first towns to be built to a plan - a grid of streets. Today it sits on a hill overlooking the now distant sea. Its principle pub, the New Inn, is so named to commemorate the new town built in 1288. It was first licensed in the 18th century when it was a coaching inn on the road from Hastings to Rye. It was rebuilt in 1722 and its recent sign depicted a section of the street plan. However, this historically themed sign has recently been replaced with another.
    

COCK FIGHTING AT THE GEORGE TAP    by David Russell

FROM RYE NEWS Beer & Skittles 24 June 2015

The George Tap in Lyon Street was at one time a centre of local cockfighting, although it was not the only cockfighting pub in Rye. To give one of several examples: In 1769 the Kentish Gazette advertised a cockfight organised by Abraham Smith: ‘at the George Inn, Rye; the Bull’s Head, Battle and the Swan Inn, Hastings’. This was a tournament circulating between these three inns, with 11 cocks in each of two teams.

Cockfighting had a very strong appeal among the gambling fraternity, and the prize money, contributed by the owners of the fighting cocks, was very high. The stakes for this particular tournament were four guineas for each of 10 fights (£2,540 today) and 10 guineas (£680 today) ‘for the final battle’. We can only imagine the frenzy of activity at the George as customers placed their bets in the parlour or in the taproom before rushing off to view the disturbing spectacle.

As was common in those days each of these three venues would have had their own cockpit nearly always located outside. In the case of the George Tap the cockpit was almost certainly located in the tap courtyard, although we cannot rule out a cockpit inside the building. Cockfighting remained legal until 1835 when it was banned as a cruel blood sport. But in all probability it continued in the town after it was banned when ‘lookouts’ would have been posted at each end of Lion Street.

The Encyclopaedia Britannica (2008) states that ‘the sport was popular in ancient times in China, Persia and elsewhere and was established in ancient Greece in 500 BC. For a long time the Romans affected to despise this Greek diversion but ended up adopting it so enthusiastically themselves that its devotees often spent their whole patrimony betting at the side of the pit.'

It was Julius Caesar who introduced cockfighting into Britain and according to the RSPCA it still takes place here but has declined in recent years.


TRAGEDY STRIKES AT GREYHOUND    by David Russell

FROM RYE NEWS Beer & Skittles 8 July 2015


This week Beer & Skittles no. 14 recalls a lost beer house of Rye, from the mid-19th century.  The beer house in question was the Greyhound, which at one time stood in Wish Street. The relatively short life of the Greyhound is littered with tragedy. Its history is a catalogue of struggle with hunger, poverty, disease, bankruptcy, accidental and premature death.   

    In 1852 John Myers was landlord. This was the time of the ‘treating scandal’ and incredibly for such a small pub, the Greyhound was given a total of £25 [in today’s terms £1,400] worth of free beer during the General Election of that year! However getting a living from this pub was a precarious business and in 1863 the Greyhound closed down after John Myers became bankrupt.

'John Myers of Rye in the County of Sussex, a Licensed Victualler and Dealer in Fishing Nets and Marine Stores ... was adjudged bankrupt … on the 14th May 1863 and is required to surrender to William Hazlett, Registrar ... at the said meeting of creditors, and a second meeting in June for a last examination.'

    After eight months the brewery found another tenant and reopened the Greyhound in early 1864. The new landlord, Charles Jempson, worked by day as a shipwright. Jempson, his wife and three small children moved into the Greyhound and stayed until 1873, by which time they had seven children. According to their great grandson, Roland Jempson of Bristol, Jane Jempson died the following year giving birth to an eighth child. She was then aged 40 and her death certificate records that she died from ‘breast cancer, confinement and exhaustion’. The baby died the following day just 24 hours old. Charles Jempson, ‘Shipwright and Inn keeper’ lived until 1907. He died in Hastings workhouse and is buried in an unmarked ‘common grave’ in Hastings cemetery.

    In 1906 the Greyhound, which had been trading as a public house for 68 years and probably longer as a beer house, became one of the first victims in Rye of the new powers available to local magistrates under the 1904 Licensing Act, and was closed down.

The grounds of police opposition were:

1. That a fully licensed house in the place where the premises are situate is not required.

2. Having regard to the character and interests of the neighbourhood, the number of licensed houses in the vicinity, the licence held in respect of such premises is unnecessary.

3. That in the interests of the public the renewal of the licence is undesirable.



Greyhound Inn c1890

 
'OLD BILLY'  SURVIVED DOODLE BUG      by David Russell


FROM RYE NEWS
Beer & Skittles 22 July 2015

The Royal William public house Camber Sands, known as 'Old Billy', was once described as “a house of great antiquity”. In fact the original Old Billy dated back to 1807 when it was a wooden building nestling in the sand dunes opposite the present Rye Golf Club.

    The first licensee was William Morris, landlord from 1807 to 1858. Yes, a magnificent 51 years! Prior to 1807 he was a carpenter on a ship called the Royal William.

    Daisy Butchers, a former resident of Camber, said: "I am the daughter-in-law of Edmund Duff Butchers, and William Morris was the stepfather of my husband's grandfather who was the next landlord. He was always called the 'General' by locals and by seamen in Rye harbour. He was my three times great grandfather."

    The Old Billy burnt down in the 1890s, was rebuilt and acquired by Rye Golf Club to become a 'small golfers hotel'.

From the 1870s at least, up to the First World War, the Old Billy was the meeting place of those who followed outdoor pursuits or blood sports, including fox hunting and hare and rabbit coursing. It was also used by the Royal Artillery when on gunnery practice on the dunes in front of the pub, and by the Rye Volunteers on rifle practice in the early 1900s.

    The Old Billy was purchased by the Peoples Refreshment House Association in 1924 and was still the only pub in Camber. Camber was considerably developed in the 1930s in the then modern style of Art Deco. A new estate with church, cinema, pub, car parking and 600 houses were built by John Sherwood and the Old Billy licence was transferred into the new Royal William, in the village centre. The estate, including Royal William square, opened in 1937.

    However during the Second World War Camber was evacuated, its facilities closed and the Royal William requisitioned. In 1944 a flying bomb destroyed Camber Church and Memorial Hall and badly damaged the Royal William. A number of soldiers billeted in the area were killed or wounded. Residents were only allowed to return in 1945.

    In the 1950s and 1960s it was a successful Courages pub. The Royal William closed in the early 2000s, nearly 200 years old. Planning permission was granted for alternative use in 2005.


 Daisy Butchers, Camber Jotting, 1978
Sussex Express 14-2-1936
 Keith Swallow, The Pubs of Romney Marsh forthcoming 2016

 



LAMB BUTCHERED BY MISTAKE       by David Russell

FROM RYE NEWS Beer & Skittles 5 August 2015

In 1729 Rye butcher John Breads became owner of the Flushing Inn, Market Street and opened a slaughter house in the rear yard. In 1739 he let the house to John Igglesden who opened it under licence, and named it after the Dutch town of Flushing (Vlissingen to the Dutch).

     Four years later in 1743 John Breads became the assassin in Rye’s most famous murder case when he mistakenly stabbed ex-mayor Allen Grebbell to death in Rye churchyard, thinking he was the mayor, James Lamb. The most common versions of this story relate that Breads had fallen out with Mayor James Lamb, who had previously fined him for selling meat under weight.

     On a dark night in March 1743, Allen Grebbell was returning home from the Fish Market. He was wearing a red cloak borrowed from the mayor, as it looked like rain. He made his way through Rye churchyard where Breads lay in wait, and at a certain spot Breads leapt out from behind a gravestone and stabbed him twice in the back. Because of the mayor’s red cloak he had mistaken Grebbell for Lamb and had murdered the wrong man.

      A few hours into the early morning Breads was apprehended in the town as he staggered around drunk shouting “butchers should kill lambs”, and was arrested. The bloodstained, bone handled knife used on his victim was later retrieved from the churchyard.

      After his arrest Breads was tried in a warehouse on the Strand by the very person, James Lamb, he had intended to kill. After being found guilty he was incarcerated in the Ypres Castle tower, then in use as the town gaol, and was to remain there for many months. On his way from the gaol to the gibbet he was taken into the Flushing Inn, which he still owned, ‘for a last drink’ before being hung on Gibbets Marsh. His body remained on the marsh for 50 years withering away. This gruesome legend relates that old women removed parts of his flesh as a cure for rheumatism! The skull of John Breads is all that remains.

     John Igglesden remained licensee of the Flushing Inn until 1750. He was succeeded by William Marchant who failed to make a success of the inn, and gave it up in 1752. He was apparently unable to pay his rates, and the collector wrote ‘broke’ against his name.

     By 1756 Joseph and Richard Breads, the two surviving sons and, under the law of Kentish Gavelkind, the heirs of John Breads, became of age and inherited the Flushing Inn which, with the slaughter house in the yard, they immediately sold off. One of the sons, Richard, later became landlord of the Queen’s Head in Landgate.









 



The photograph shows the attractive site of the Dolphin alehouse, formerly situated in the open space opposite Ypres Castle on or near the Gun Garden, Rye from 1710 until 1801. As of yet no known drawing or sketch of the Dolphin has come to light and we are only informed by brief references to it.

     The dates and names of Dolphin landlords and landladies are found on Chamberlain’s vouchers issued to the alehouse by Rye Corporation from 1710. In that year landlord Bethyer Hayden was granted the sum of 1s 6d [7½p] for refreshments for ‘the men that fired the guns’ at a celebration in the Gun Garden, 3s 4d [17p] ‘for beer for the ringers’.

     Another licensee George Ogley, landlord from 1739 to 1740, was granted payment ‘for the bricklayers who drank in the house when at work upon the gaol’ ie when repairing the Ypres Castle tower opposite.

     Many later voucher payments were ‘signed’ for by landlady Ann Bean (widow 1753–1766) who was obviously illiterate and simply put an X against her name. The X was then witnessed by someone else as ‘her mark’. After the 1770s the Dolphin alehouse seems to have fallen out of favour with the Corporation and the issuing of Corporation vouchers went into abeyance.

     A document from 1837, records the purchase of: ‘all that property formerly known by the sign of the Dolphin and the stables, buildings, gardens ... on or near the Gun Garden or old churchyard.  It also included adjoining property ‘chambers, gardens and premises’ belonging to Stephen Gilbert Fryman.

   

 


DRINKING WITH DOLPHINS   by David Russell

FROM RYE NEWS Beer & Skittles 19 August 2015

   Both documents detail, what was by then, the former Dolphin 36 years after its closure as an alehouse. This is an important point as some local authors have previously misinterpreted the existence of this building as the Dolphin alehouse and not as the building which was formerly the Dolphin alehouse. At least one local author has quoted the building of the extension of Rye Union Workhouse in 1837 as the reason for the closure of the Dolphin Alehouse, and other authors have unfortunately followed suit. However, this was not the case. The Dolphin closed for reasons unknown in 1801. The workhouse was extended in 1837.

    The Dolphin is said to be named after a privateer of 35 tons usually at berth in Rye Harbour. Thomas Pierce, mariner of Rye, was the master in the 1740s and a customer of the Dolphin alehouse.   

   However the Dictionary of Pub Names by Dunkling and Wright informs us that the name Dolphin is a common one for public houses by the sea. The name comes from a seafaring, Neptunian legend; a  


piece of fishing mythology which states that in days gone by dolphins were thought of as fishermen friendly animals. It was commonly believed that they wound themselves around a boat’s anchor cable thus stopping the cable from dragging, and giving the boat extra stability.

     The Dolphin alehouse formerly of the Gun Garden, should not be confused with another, second licensed premises also called the Dolphin located in the Mint from 1826 to 1865. In the latter year this licensed premises changed its name to become the Foresters Arms.

     A German traveller in Rye once noted: ‘The English are vastly fond of noises that fill the air such as the firing of canon, beating of drums and ringing of bells, so that it is common for a number of them to go up into some belfry and ring bells for hours together for the sake of exercise.’




THREE GHOSTS UNITE IN EAST STREET   by David Russell


FROM RYE NEWS Beer & Skittles 2 September 2015


The Union Inn joined the ranks of the ‘Lost Pubs’ of Rye when it closed in 2012. It was originally two 16th century cottages and a small shop. By 1830 it had become the Union Beer House with a shop attached, both occupied by John Hunter. For some years he worked as a tailor in the shop while his wife Sarah ran the pub.   

     In 1841 the pub was sold, and the deeds tell us that it was ‘sometime since converted into a public house bearing the sign of the Union Inn’. A valuation of the property in 1861 shows the licence was then held by their son James and thus, for 30 years was run by the Hunter family. The valuation describes the Union as a very small house, with only one public room partitioned into a bar and a bar parlour. It had a kitchen and wash house at the rear of the building. At some later date the pub was enlarged when the beer house and the shop were integrated.

     The valuation tells us that the bar parlour had tables and benches screwed to the floor, shelving behind the bar and a zinc blind on two brass rods. Among the bar equipment was a ‘spirit fountain’, as well as some ceramic spirit barrels with brass taps and fittings, and also a beer engine. Beer was pulled in the bar, and parlour customers were served through a serving hatch in the partition. The shop was basic with only a counter and shelving although the valuation points out with some pride, that ‘the pub sign was made of wrought iron, and was the first-class work of a local blacksmith’.

    By the late 1860s the Union was popular with fishermen and boat owners. Their patronage was reflected in the fact that a number of coroner’s inquests into accidents and deaths in the fishing industry were held here. Fishermen who might be required to attend these inquests would be more comfortable in the Union than in pubs of a higher social class such as the Red Lion or the George.

     A typical inquest into the drowning of a fisherman in Rye Harbour was held in the Union in 1881 but failed to come to any conclusion as to how the ‘accident’ had happened. They could only agree that the deceased was ‘found drowned in Rye Harbour’.

     In the 1990s the Union Inn became Rye’s most haunted pub boasting three ghosts. One was the ghost of a young unmarried mother who died after being pushed down the cellar steps in the 1850s. In 1993 researchers into spiritual phenomena witnessed banging and laser flashes, also the kitchen door opening and closing by itself.  

    Further investigations revealed a second ghost when the landlord’s young son was visited by ‘Postman Pat’ at night. Several guests experienced the ghost of a seaman in a blue jacket and a sou’wester. The old lady next door also experienced the seaman in her attic. Was this the ghost of an old smuggler moving contraband between the attics, or was perhaps the fisherman who drowned in 1881?

    Downstairs, the ghost of Emily, a young woman in a red dress, was often seen walking through the bar towards the cellar steps. She apparently died from a broken neck after being pushed down the steps when pregnant. According to the Ghost Club investigators, Emily and her family lived there in 1856, and her father, a local mortician, was apparently ashamed of her pregnancy. However, when the investigators made contact with the ghost of Emily in 1992, she denied the baby was hers. The baby’s remains are allegedly contained behind a glass brick in the rear dining room. The pub was reputedly rid of its ghosts in 1993 when exorcists rebalanced the pubs hidden ley-lines with a row of nine crystals.  

 



 


 YO HO HO AND A BOTTLE OF RUM  by David Russell


FROM RYE NEWS Beer & Skittles 16 September 2015


The Jolly Sailor in Watchbell Street first opened in 1830 and got a full licence in 1832 supported by local vicar John Myer who was Rye mayor in 1828.  

     But within 10 years it had become a common lodging house for poor travellers and itinerants. On census night 1841 the Jolly Sailor had 11 lodgers. As well as the landlady and her two children the lodgers were a shoemaker’s family of four, two cap makers, a weaver, a painter, an agricultural labourer and two ‘independent’ women, aged 25 and 26-years old.

      “The Jolly Sailor”, said Peter Ewart, “was no ordinary tavern. It was patronised by the roughest elements and its interior was the scene of many sinister doings during its comparatively short history.” Even when closed it traded fish, eels, pork and vegetables, direct from its back gate to the inhabitants of Hucksteps Row and beyond. It also sold porter and beer from the back door carried away by the locals in earthenware jugs.

     Complaints about customers were regular and continuous. The police described them as ‘gypsies, hop pickers, rag and bone collectors and those who go mushrooming on the marsh’. The pub also provided accommodation for the street entertainers who visited the town in large numbers during the second half of the 19th century. This group included the owners of dancing bears, one man bands and other street musicians. While their owners slept the bears were chained in a shed at the rear.

     It was often accused of overcrowding. One story claimed the pub used a system of taught ropes slung across a room at chest height, for lodgers to drape themselves over in order to sleep. They were woken up in the morning by the landlady slackening the ropes!

      Many an incoming landlord was advised of the difficulties he might encounter. “This house requires a great deal of supervision. You must be careful in the manner in which it is conducted.” But in 1910 the Jolly Sailor was closed down.

      Twenty years later Adams Guide to Rye informed its readers about ‘another abandoned inn – perhaps the most sinister to a bygone generation – the Jolly Sailor, which, could its walls speak, unfold tales as sordid and crime stained as many associated with the doss houses of the Bowery. Many a person I remember being hailed from the brick floored, smoky taproom, or sparsely furnished and cheerless upper chambers, where the tramping fraternity certainly encountered some strange bed fellows.’

     “In my mind’s eye”, said the writer, “I still see the typical landlord seldom without his churchwarden (clay pipe), standing at the threshold of his pub bidding welcome to all and sundry. The spartan accommodation was regarded as much superior to the alternative of passing the night in Rye workhouse.”

     The original building, now a private house, still stands and portrays feint signage from its pub days of over a century ago.


 


SHRINKING DOWN PUB SIGNS  by David Russell


FROM RYE NEWS
Beer & Skittles 30 September 2015


This week I want to introduce readers to two of Rye’s historic pub signs from just after the Second World War. In the late 1940s and the early 1950s Whitbreads Brewery, which at the time was located in Wateringbury, Kent, started publishing 2”x 3” miniature plaques featuring the Whitbread pub signs of Kent and the south-east portion of Sussex as far west as St Leonards-on-Sea. Whitbreads Brewery later issued more miniatures of the pub signs of Devon and Somerset.

    Known as the 'Whitbread Miniature Inn Signs Series', there were originally five series of 50 each – a total of 250 – which landlords and landladies gave away with a pint of beer as a powerful form of advertising. As the collecting mania grew customers were encouraged to visit other Whitbread pubs across the region.

     Whitbread had to compete with cigarette cards and with many hundreds of matchbox labels also used by publicans to advertise their house. Groups of philluminists, i.e. collectors of match box labels, met in several Rye pubs, including the Ferry Boat Inn, to show off their labels.

    In the 1940s the first three series of Whitbread Miniature Inn Signs were printed on thin aluminium sheet because of the post-war paper shortage. Series four and five were later issued on thin card.

    Included in the first series were two Rye pubs: the Ypres Castle series one, number eleven and the Queen Adelaide series one, number twelve. There might have been others in the town(?)

    Today, 65 years later, the Whitbread Miniature Inn Signs Series are still much sought after by collectors as a visit to eBay will show. There you will find complete sets in all their glorious colour and detail for sale by auction.


FOUR CORNERS OF THE GLOBE    by David Russell

FROM RYE NEWS Beer & Skittles 14 October 2015



The Globe in the mid-nineteenth century


The Globe, Military Road was first fully licensed in 1834 and probably existed as a Beer House in 1830. In 1838 it was put on the market and sold after landlord John Wheeler emigrated to Canada. At that time the Globe consisted of two parlours, a bar, a tap room, four bedrooms to let, and a skittle alley at the rear.

     In its early days the Globe was used by men employed on the maintenance of the Royal Military Canal which flows nearby, and after which Military Road is named. A sketch map of the canal from the 1830s shows the Globe as an isolated building in a totally rural setting.

     By the 1870s adjacent outbuildings had become a forge and a blacksmith’s shop, later known as Sutton’s Forge, demolished after the First World War. Stables were established at the back alongside the ever popular and now larger skittle alley.

     The other feature of the Globe was the old cave in the cliff face used as the pub cellar. The Globe cave became a feature in Rye’s official guide books published by Adams throughout the 1930s.

     The game of skittles played here from the 1830s to the 1870s was a popular version known as Four Corners. Many customers spent all day here playing the game which consisted of four skittles or pins, instead of the more common nine pins, positioned using a square wooden frame. The game required the hurling of a large wooden bowl, known as a ‘cheese’. The 'cheese' was made from 'lignum vitae', a very heavy American hardwood weighing between four and six pounds (three kilos). It required great physical strength on the part of the players. The cheese was thrown at the four pins from a distance of about ten feet (3 metres).

     Because of the space required, Four Corners was always played in a special shed or alley at the rear of the pub. Regular games were played against visiting customers from other pubs such as the Crown, Ferry Road and the Queen's Head in Landgate.

    By the 1870s the game of Four Corners had gone out of fashion and had been replaced with the more traditional game using nine pins in three rows of three.


DATING BACK OVER FIVE CENTURIES     by David Russell

FROM RYE NEWS Beer & Skittles 28 October 2015

The Borough Arms in about 1900



Still often mistaken by many as a pub, the Old Borough Arms, on Rye’s Strand, is now a guest house but provides a fascinating glimpse into the social history of the town.
       The Old Borough dates back, at least, to 16th century when it was known by the sign of the ‘Blue’ or ‘Blew Anchor’. The earliest reference to the Blew Anchor is in 1592 when it was kept by a carpenter John Hammond.
       By 1728 it had become the London Trader, named after a type of coastal vessel plying between the south coast ports and London. It was then owned by the Corporation and rented to the landlord for £3.25 a year. One noted landlord James Shearer is said to have quelled a potential riot which saw local people confronting revenue men over plans to cut a new sluice which would have hindered the local smuggling trade.
        The pub witnessed the birth of many societies. The Wellington Lodge of the Freemasons was formed there in 1814 and the Ancient Towns’ Benefit Society in 1828. The Unity Benefit Society was established at the pub in 1859 and was famed for its popular Goose Raffles.
      During the great depression of the 1890s when beer consumption fell, the landlord tried a side-line selling greengroceries from the taproom, bringing complaints from the police when he did this on a Sunday morning. It was the same landlord who changed the name to the Borough Arms in 1897, which saw its slow decline.
     The former taproom, now The Mermaid Tearooms, was at one time a customs and excise office and then in the 1920s it became a labour employment exchange.


The Borough Arms in 2012



DID YOU SEE DART'S CHAMPION?  by David Russell


FROM RYE NEWS Beer & Skittles 11 November 2015


The following is extracted from an email from darts historian Patrick Chaplin: [www.patrickchaplin.com]

Darts is even more difficult to research than pub history as there were hundreds of leagues. Also hundreds of exhibitions were being played at any one time and local newspapers were dreadful at reporting any of it. I remember back in the early 1980s, the former world champion Leighton Rees visited a nearby town. It was advertised in the local rag but there was never a report to be found. It may well be that the Denny Gower event has been lost to history although, having said that, an appeal via Rye News might produce something.

    'Round the Board on doubles' is exactly what it sounds like. A player throws for each double on the board in sequence, ending with the bull's-eye (double 25), in as few darts as possible. In competition it was often timed and the game varied by either retrieving your own darts or having someone retrieve them for you. Yet another variant is for the player to 'stab' each double with a dart from arms length in the fastest possible time. Given that this advert cites a time of only 9 seconds, I reckon that Denny's achievement was in this version.

    I cannot trace Denny's achievement being recorded in Darts World. There were so many claims for so many difficult 'records' through the years that space simply wasn't available and in any event few reports like this were received by the editor.

     I believe Denny Gower held exhibitions in Hastings, and at the Crown and/or Cinque Ports in Rye. Are there any dart players who remember the 1970s and early 1980s and who may well have seen Denny play, be it an exhibition or local championship match, or attempting the 'round the board on doubles' record?  



NEW WORLD RECORD

DENNIS GOWER OF HASTINGS

Recently set an official World Record,

going round the board in doubles

taking 9.2 seconds — 5.3 seconds

faster than former champion JIM PIKE

NOW YOU CAN BUY THE HIGH PRECISION

TUNGSTON ALLOY “LIN-DART” THAT HE IS USING

LINDRIDGE PRECISION LTD.

STATION WORKS

NORTHIAM, RYE

 

Denny Gower

JENNY CONFUSES MAGISTRATE      by David Russell

FROM RYE NEWS Beer & Skittles 25 November 2015

Kick Up Jenny from the book Played at the Pub by Arthur Taylor


One of Rye's lost pubs was the Ferry Boat Inn in Ferry Road  which opened in about 1832. This was the second Ferry Boat Inn in Rye. The first one, location unknown, dated from at least 1709. The second Ferry Boat Inn became the New Inn in 1899 but reverted back to its original name in the 1960s. It was popular with the employees of Rye Pottery, now also closed.

     In the 19th century the Ferry Boat Inn often came to the attention of the local magistrates. In 1865 the Ferry Boat Inn came into the news when a young woman was charged with stealing a man’s cap whilst he was playing dominoes. Other customers in the games room were playing ‘Kick up Jenny’, a game of which the magistrate had never heard. At his request the game was described to the court by one of the players as ‘a miniature kind of nine pins where instead of throwing a ball at the pins or skittles you swing a lead ball suspended from the ceiling on a thin rope’. The court was assured that ‘Kick up Jenny’ was a game of skill and not a form of gambling.

     According to the English Heritage publication Played at the Pub, a very similar game, or perhaps the same game, known as ‘Devil Among the Tailors’, was common in other parts of the country at this time. A small wooden ball, the ‘devil’, was tethered by a light chain or cord to a swivel at the top of a pole. The ball was thrown by the player around the pole to clatter among the nine small pins, known as the ‘tailors’, which were set up in a diamond formation. Kick up Jenny seems to have been the Rye version.

      Since 1991 this lost pub has been a private residence.


Ferry Boat Inn, watercolour by Jean Hope, Hastings


Typical cockfight location unknown

   Letter to the Sussex Express 1872

Various deeds in the National Archive list some of the occupants and owners of the Dial until 1875. The most well known was Stephen Gilbert Fryman described as a Wine and Spirit Merchant, Dealer and Chapman (ie pedlar or merchant) who in 1852, an election year like now, supplied all of Rye’s pubs and eating houses with free alcohol donated by the candidate to ‘treat’ the voters.

    Rye historian H. P. Clark in his book of 1861 described the besotted scene which occurred during the canvas and election of that year. ‘Public houses were open free to all, and the scenes of dissipation were disgraceful; yet the candidate, like all others, declared that he was protestant and a supporter of religion. There were men and women, boys and girls drunk. Some were brawling drunk, some crying drunk, some singing drunk, some fighting drunk, some stupid drunk, some crazy drunk and some just drunk.’



CLOCK THAT BOOZING   by David Russell


FROM RYE NEWS
Beer & Skittles 1 April 2015


Sussex Express 16-11-1849


PULL THE OTHER ONE . . .   by David Russell


FROM RYE NEWS
Beer & Skittles 4 March 2015


BLOOD AND GORE AT THE KING’S HEAD   by David Russell

FROM RYE NEWS Beer & Skittles 19 February 2015



The map shows the site of the former Dolphin