Updated: Mar 15
Pedalling's still been restricted but this could change with the easing of the lockdown situation. But for now this post looks at another bygone boozer snapped on that bike ride in July 2018 that brought us the pics of the King's Head and the Roebuck. At the outset this was going to be a short, quick, simple post. As things turned out it's taken a little longer than expected to compile and comes with a little bonus
The Sir Francis Burdett Inn at King's Newton was named after the local landowner and Lord of the Manor, (although not of this manor. That title fell to Viscount Melbourne of Melbourne Hall.) who inherited the Bramcote Baronetcy and nearby Foremarke Hall in 1797. A very local name for a local.
Located by the side of the main road leading from Melbourne to Derby, the Sir Francis Burdett Inn was a regular Saturday evening haunt of mine in my South Derbyshire days. A pint or three of Pedigree to wash down some home-cooked food, what could be better?
The inn dates from at least 1829 when it appears in Glover's Directory of Derby in the hands of one Thomas Buck. The Bucks and the Earps were a pair of families who ran it for a significant proportion of its life. It finally closed around the turn of the millenium, becoming Burdett House - a Bed and Breakfast establishment.
One of my strangest ever beer experiences occured in the Sir Francis. It was a summer Saturday evening sometime around 1990. I'd gone there to eat with my wife and a friend and having ordered the food, large homemade steak and ale pie, chips and peas for me, I carried my starbright pint of Pedigree to our table. No sooner than my buttocks had touched the chair there was a bright flash of lightning and an immediate crash of thunder. Over the next four of five seconds my previously clear pint steadily turned hazy in front of my eyes. It didn't clear in the twenty minutes or so that it took to drink it and its taste was unaffected. The next pint that I was served with was clear - and remained so. So what caused that? Lightning causing atmospheric ionisations which in turn brought about changes in the colloidal nature of protein-polyphenol complexes? Sounds impressive, but I've actually no idea what I'm talking about. I've seen chill hazes which disappear and just plain, crap, cloudy beer but nothing like this before or since. It was weird.
Now here's the bonus. Whilst searching I came across another bygone boozer celebrating the baronet. Pigot's 1820 tome,'The Commercial Directory of Scotland, Ireland and the four most Northern Counties of England' isn't one of my regular reads, but it shows that on Castlegate in Berwick-upon-Tweed there was a Sir Francis Burdett Inn. It also informs us that George Sharp is in residence. A century later Kelly's Directory of 1921 has James Gibson at the Sir Francis Burdett, 91 Castlegate. That's the last reference to it that I can find. 91 Castlegate is now the address of Old Inn House.
And it didn't stop there. Back closer to his Derbyshire patch there was one in Nottingham.
The Sir Francis Burdett once stood at 32 Mount Street.
Job Clark would've served you there in 1841 if Laselle's & Hagar's guide is to be believed and the pub is shown continuously in use in gazetteers and censuses up to at least 1925. The pub has disappeared from the records by the time that Kelly's 1941 directory was published. It may actually have physically disappeared by then as there are hardly any even-numbered entries for Mount Street in this directory. OK, for 'there are hardly any' read 'there is just one'. Number 18. There's not so many odd-numbered buildings listed either. The Luftwaffe visited Nottingham in the spring of 1941 and I've heard reference to the 'bomb site car parks' of the city. Where the Sir Francis used to stand on Mount Street now stands a multi-storey car park. Perhaps this is one of them.
And even Nottingham wasn't the end of it. The searching also threw up a link to a directory showing that a pub bearing his name had existed on Pond Hill in Sheffield. Further delving revealed that Pigot's directory of 1820 gave an S. Beeley there. Blackwell's 1828 equivalent has John Challenger dishing out the ale. Was it hopped with Challenger hops? I very much doubt it for the Challenger variety wasn't bred until the 1960s. Five years on and the 1833 White's version has a George Bulmer there but can I find nothing after this. No mention in the following year's edition of White and nothing at all later.
A combination of the efforts of the Luftwaffe and the city fathers have left little of any age standing on Pond Hill other than the 15th century, Grade II* listed Old Queen's Head (seen on the left in the image below), so quite where the bygone boozer stood is difficult to pinpoint.
That's four bygone Sir Francis Burdett boozers. Were there more? I don't know. I haven't been able to find any, but if anyone does know of one then please let me know. Seriously, I really would like to hear of any others.
So, just who was this Sir Francis Burdett? He must have had some level of fame or notoriety, over and above that of just being a local big-wig, to have been commemorated as far away from home as Berwick-upon-Tweed.
Sir Francis Burdett was a radical Tory MP. Now, to some of you, that may sound like a bit of an oxymoron but remember that it's the first part of the nineteenth century we're talking about. Very much a reformist, he was opposed to corporal punishment in the army and discrimination against Roman Catholics. He espoused electoral reform to include universal male sufferage, voting by ballot and equal constituency sizes. In addition, in 1820 when he was severely critical of the government of the day with regards to the Peterloo Massacre, he was prosecuted for seditious libel and imprisoned for three months. He probably had quite a few supporters willing to be associated with his name.
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