Updated: Oct 16, 2020
Brassington village, just outside the boundary of the Peak District National Park, used to be a centre for lead mining, a fact reflected in the name of one of its two surviving pubs – the Miner's Arms. The other, the Gate, used to be my regular haunt after a mid-week session of rock climbing. In addition to this pair, the village used to support a number of other hostelries. Miners were thirsty types. The fact that the Derby to Manchester turnpike ran through the village probably helped too.
The first of these bygone boozers is the George & Dragon. This would have been an impressive sight for any stagecoach entering the village from the south, sitting squarely, as it does, at the foot of Miners Hill. Grade II listed, it is a 17th century building which was refronted in the 18th.
Although probably operating as an inn in the mid-18th century, the earliest reference to it that I've managed to come across is in Glover's 1828 directory when Richard Fearn was the innkeeper. Essentially it seems to have been run by three families, the Fearns, Watsons and Booths, from then until the last record that I can find of it trading, viz. the 1911 census. Sarah Booth and her son John were running it at that point. It doesn't feature in the following year's edition of Kelly. It's now a pair of residences – Dragon House and Dragon Cottage on what is now known as Dragon Hill.
The second lost pub is the Red Lion. Another Grade II building, situated on Red Lion Hill it was originally called New Hall and was operating as an inn from 1615.
After a short period of use as a workhouse in the early years of the 19th century it had returned to offering accommodation of a more normal nature for an inn by around the mid 1800s when it's listed in the 1849 Post Office directory with a William Dale as the innkeeper. He's still there at census time a couple of years later but the 1857 White's directory has Henry Watson at the Red Lion. That is the last reference to it that I have been able to find. It's now a private residence called Tudor House.
The Thorn Tree is our third. Found on Kings Hill it's now in a sad, semi-derilict state as Thorntree House. Probably dating from the early part of the 19th century it may well have been operating as an inn from the word go.
It appears in Glover's 1828 directory and was in continual operation until at least 1901 although it doesn't appear in the 1912 version of Kelly. Two families, the Potts and the Stones, had it for the bulk of that time.
Our fourth and final offering is the Royal Oak. The only certain reference to it that I have found is in the 1849 Post Office directory when it's in the hands of Mrs. Sarah Slack. As I say, it's the only reference that actually names the Royal Oak, but Sarah is an innkeeper in the 1851 census and her husband, Robert, is given as a beer retailer in earlier directories. I don't know when it closed but it later went on to serve the village as a post office and a shop. It's now holiday accommodation.
Apparently Brassington had another bygone boozer, the Wheatsheaf, but far better folks than me have so far failed to pin down its location. You never know, perhaps it will turn up some day.
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