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Pride, Prejudice, Pestilence and the Elephant.

Updated: May 27, 2020

Lockdown continues. TV companies struggle to fill their schedules as social distancing requirements make it impossible to film further episodes of 'Enders or Corrie. To fill the slots out comes loads of old stuff from the archives.

Pride and Prejudice from 1995. I do wonder if Colin Firth were to reprise his role and dunk himself in a lake today whether Mr. Darcy would attract quite the same level of attention that he seemed to a quarter of a century ago.

Michael Wood's Story of England from 2010. The Great Famine and the Black Death. Moderately relevant, I suppose. Still can't find any flour in the shops and a new global pestilence pervades the present.

Secrets of Bones from 2014. Not such an antique and much more down my street. It also provided the stimulus for this post.

Presenter Professor Ben Garrod, although he wasn't a prof back in '14, is waving about an assortment of humerus bones. This one from a cow, this from a human and here's one from an elephant. It's not the elephant bone that provided the seed for this post, but our good, Norfolk prof himself. Ben Garrod was born in my old hometown of Great Yarmouth and grew up in the Elephant & Castle, which was run by his parents.

The origin of Elephant & Castle as a pub name is frequently described as coming from the Spanish phrase 'La Infanta de Castilla' and therefore something to do with a young Spanish princess. This derivation is highly unlikely, with the most plausible origin coming from the heradlic representaion of the cutler's trade - the elephant indicating the source of ivory for handles and the howdah on its back becoming the castle. However it was derived, Yarmouth had two of them at one time.

The Market Distillery/Red House had a habit of changing names. Before being rebuilt in the first half of the nineteeth century it went by the name of the Elephant & Castle but the new structure became the Distillery. It seems that nobody told the directory publishers as it was still being listed as the Elephant & Castle until at least White's 1890 edition. But this isn't the establishment that interests us today.

Our Elephant & Castle stood at 35 Nelson Road North, on the corner of Well Street, and although it is this pub that interests us there is a connection with the other Elephant & Castle. In 1856, Craven's directory has one Robert Bullimore at the Elephant & Castle in the Market Place, where's he's been for ten years. Two years later he up sticks and moves to the newly-built Lacon's pub... the Elephant & Castle in Nelson Road. He doesn't stay there long, for the 1861 census shows that he's now living with his family at the New Brewery Inn, in Norwich. He doesn't stay there long either as by 1863 he's now the licensee at... the Elephant & Castle in Nelson Road. What drew him away and then lured him back I've no idea, but various members of the Bullimore family continue to run the place until around 1890.

The Elephant & Castle c1950.

Opposite the pub from 1877 until 1959 was Yarmouth Beach railway station, the terminus of the Midland & Great Northern Railway. In season, the pub no doubt took some custom from the travellers that disgorged themselves from trains arriving from midland towns for their fortnight of fun and frolics. And, when the station closed, from the coach passengers arriving at Yarmouth Coach Station which replaced it.

The Elephant & Castle passed into the hands of Whitbread when they bought Lacon's in 1965. The pub closed in 1983 but reappeared as a free house three years later and it was in this incarnation that a regular gave the ten-year old Ben a sheep skull which kindled his interest. The rest, as they say, is history.

Ben has moved on to become Professor of Evolutionary Biology and Science Engagement at the University of East Anglia whilst mum and dad have also moved and are stewards at the local golf club. The Elephant & Castle closed in 2008.

The recently closed Elephant & Castle in October 2008. ©2020 Google.

The building has been in residential use since 2010.

The former Elephant & Castle in 2017. ©2020 Google.

Thanks to Julie Annis, whose grandparents Harry and Gertrude Brightman ran the pub from 1945-68, for the black and white image.

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