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Out of the Woods.

Don't you just love mysteries? Recently I watched Lesley Manville and Tim McMullan in Anthony Horowitz's adaptation of his own novel Magpie Murders. I greatly enjoyed trying to work out 'who done it', changing my opinion with every twist and turn of the plot. Solving mysteries is fun. I didn't get that one right but I've just managed to solve one of my own that's been hanging around for a bit. Some images really capture my interest. It might be a pub with an unusual name, an architectural quirk or, as in this case, a pub with no name, although it wasn't the lack of a name that caught my eye this time


I salted this photograph away quite a while ago now, with the intention of trying to identify it sometime, and my most recent spell of indisposition has given me a bit of an opportunity to start looking into it. There's not a lot to go on.




A couple of reverse image searches, with organisations that provide this service, both came up blank. Enlarging and sharpening the pub sign did not produce much joy...


...but I had better luck with the name of the licensee.



Census searches for a Frederick Woods who was a beerhouse keeper produced no results. There was no success substituting innkeeper, publican or licensed victualler either. Now what? The photo looked as if it was taken around 1900 and a search for individuals called Frederick Woods threw up around two hundred and fifty folk with that name in the 1901 census. Not fancying ploughing through all of those, and assuming that the subjects of the image were Frederick's wife and offspring, I had a guess at Frederick's age/birth date. This reduced the size of the list to a more manageable forty-one. The twenty-seventh result on that list produced a find which suggested that I could very well have come out of the woods. Frederick Woods, a licensed victualler, was living with his wife Eliza and their two young children in the Green Man in Great Melton in Norfolk.


Extract from 1901 census.

Norfolk! Now that was useful, for there's a great online resource for hostelries, both extinct and extant, in that county. A leap to the appropriate page on the Norfolk Pubs website threw up this image taken around 1950. Eureka! The porch, the lamp and the position of the illegible sign are identical.



Green Man Great Melton

It would seem that the pub was Great Melton's, or sometimes Melton Magna's, former Green Man and the individuals in the mystery photograph are highly likely to be Frederick's wife Eliza and their two children Helen and Kenneth. I've no idea what the dog's name was and as for the creature in harness, is it a sheep, a goat, a hairy miniature donkey...?



Actually located in High Green, the pub is marked on the 1905 mapping for the Ordnance Survey's 25 inches to the mile map and the Woods family would've been in residence at that time, with Frederick having been the licensee from 1896-1906.




The fact that the pub was in Norfolk, and is on the aforementioned Norfolk Pubs website, means that a lot of the deep digging into its history has already been done for me. In existence from at least 1846, when blacksmith Alfred Cox had the place, it operated until around 1957, when Walter and Edith Phoenix were the final landlord and landlady. Today it is in residential use and it seems that I'm back in the woods as Mr. Google has been unable to get a clear view of the house on account of the green timber.


The wooded approach to the Green Man in 2022. © Google 2023

Even though it stopped serving in the middle of the last century it's still known as the Green Man. The name is even just about discernible on the building itself.


The Green Man in 2022. © Google 2023

And now it's time to get this post uploaded, for I'm off out on a journey around some of Belper's hostelries with a former work colleague. Previous such excursions have resulted in posts like this one which featured Derby's Leviathan Inn. Don't be too surprised in there's not a post on a bygone Belper boozer or two shortly.



The map extract is copyright and is reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland under this licence.



If you've read this far, then thank you. Possibly, like me, you may have some sort of interest in bygone boozers. Clicking here will take you to a searchable/sortable index which you can use to see if I've already featured any lost locals from your locality. You can also subscribe to ensure that you don't miss any future posts. Simply click here to return to the home page (opens in a new tab), follow the 'Subscribe' link and complete the form to receive an email notification of any future post. Or you could simply follow the link at the top of this page.


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Should that be Melton Magna rather than Magma? Not many volcanoes in Norfolk!

Looking forward to the bygone Belper stories.

Tim in Belper

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