As I've mentioned before I've been tapping away at the keys even more than usual of late. First the general lockdown situation, then the shielding and not to mention the June weather. Of course a non-flaming, flaming June isn't unusual. I remember flaming June managing to make snow stop play when Derbyshire were facing Lancashire at Buxton in 1975. At least it hasn't been that bad yet, but I suppose there is still one day left until it's July.
All this extra key-tapping has taken me to some interesting places. As I was digging around in the depths of the Imperial War Museum's site, as one does, this picture jumped out at me. After those Greyhounds in Wirksworth this was yet another dog. It's location wasn't mentioned but I was pretty sure that I recognised it. And I did.
The Dog Inn stood beside the A47 in Easton, about six miles west of Norwich. From my earliest days, whenever we went to visit Gran in Cambridge we'd pass the Dog in Easton. Every time we went to visit Gran in Scotland we'd pass the Dog in Easton. Be it in Ford Prefect or Anglia or various Vauxhall Victors we'd pass the Dog in Easton. When one of Dad's former work friends moved to the village and we went to visit him we'd turn opposite the Dog in Easton. Roll on a bit to my student days and at the beginning and end of terms I'd drive past the Dog in Easton. You probably get the picture by now. In order to leave the county, unless one wished to head south, there was very little option but to pass the Dog in Easton. Going to Buxton? Snow permitting, you'd pass the Dog in Easton. It was quite a familiar landmark from quite an early age, in its red and white Watney's livery with an image of a Golden Labrador on its sign.
It didn't become a Watney's pub until 1963 when they bought up Norwich brewer Bullard, and the old brewer's name is clearly visible on the sign in the photograph taken by an anonymous American airman in WW2 and a little less clearly visible in this section cropped from an old postcard dating from around 1910. I've sharpened it as well as I can and have done my best to fix the folds and foxing but...
The postcard dates from the Edwardian era but the inn dates from much earlier. I've managed to find it in the 1841 census when a Henry Buxton (there's that place again!) is the innkeeper. It's in the Buxton family's charge for a while. When Henry dies in 1855 his widow Mary takes over the reins and then for a short while son Frederick's in charge before moving on to run the village grocer's shop.
But it goes back earlier than 1841. The Norfolk Pubs site suggests records of it dating back to at least 1792, informing us that:-
Mr. W. Kingsborough announced 8th December 1792 that having left the Sprowston Blue Boar, he had taken on the Easton Dog and `Begs leave to return his sincere thanks to his former friends for their favours and informs them that he has now laid in a fresh stock of the best Wines and Spirituous Liquors, which he is determined to sell on the most reasonable terms, and the continuance of that support which he has experienced shall be retained by every intention in his power.'
(Out of interest I looked up the Blue Boar. There is a Blue Boar in Sprowston, at the end of Blue Boar Lane, but the building certainly doesn't date from the late eighteenth century.)
After having passed it for the final time as a student, and with all my worldly goods back home in Gorleston, I continued to pass the Dog regularly, probably at least once a week, whilst working for a local agricultural merchant. It wouldn't have been unusual to find me inside having a ploughman's washed down with a pint of Norwich Bitter if I were to be passing through Easton at lunchtime.
Then came the bypass. Now anyone travelling along the A47 wouldn't pass the Dog in Easton and wouldn't pop in for a pint and ploughman's. Did it cause its closure? It certainly wouldn't have helped its survival. By the turn of the millennium it was a pub no more. It had become a restaurant. I wonder if they did doggy bags?
Restaurants don't last forever either. Their lifespan is probably quite a bit shorter than that of the average pub. Chez Denis has departed and the Dog is now earning its keep as the Easton Guest House.
The June weather's seen me trapped indoors for the last three days, tapping away. The forecast's looking a bit better for tomorrow. The dog days should soon be with us. Perhaps I'll take a little careful, if unshielded, ride out towards Buxton. Snow permitting , of course. After all, it will still be flaming June.
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