For many, many years I'd been to every county in England bar one. When I say county I mean proper counties, those that existed prior to the 1974 reorganisation. In reality it makes no difference as I'd been to all the 2021 versions bar one as well. The same one. Herefordshire. I'd managed to visit the other three which snuggle up against Wales's eastern border, namely Cheshire, Shropshire and Gloucestershire, but for some reason or other had never made it to the fourth member of that particular club. Well, I have now.
What drew me there? Well, it all comes down to the passing of time. A few years ago I realised that the only occasions that I met up with both of my siblings seemed to be at funerals and thought that it might make a pleasant change for the family diaspora to congregate in less cheerless circumstances. As I had a big birthday approaching I arranged for we siblings, and the two generations below us in the family tree, to get together in a big house in my old stamping ground of north Wales.
This idea seemed to go down well for the following year my sister did the same thing, only in Oxfordshire. Now it was my brother's turn and his choice of place to celebrate his big birthday, plus an additional year and a quarter thanks to Covid, was in the village of Lyonshall. And so it was, after numerous lateral flow tests, that the three siblings, their offspring and their offspring's offspring descended upon said settlement from the four corners of the realm.
It was a great choice of venue. The accommodation was spacious, warm, comfortable and well equipped and also had a cracking sculpture. The village boasted a number of attractive half-timbered houses but was sadly lacking in one particular amenity – there was no pub.
The village used to have a pub. In fact it used to have several. This image from 1961 shows two of them, the Maidenhead Inn and, on the far right, the Royal George.
The scene today looks little different...
...but the nameplate on the house hints at its past.
The Maidenhead Inn started life as the Queen's Arms and was in existence by at least 1835 when Thomas Lloyd was mine host.
By 1858 it had a new name and a new Lloyd in charge. Was William Thomas's son and had Thomas moved on to another establishment, the Greyhound? I know not the answer to either question but this extract from Cassey's directory lists some of the now bygone boozers that the village used to possess.
Before returning to the Maidenhead let's briefly consider the other bygones listed, for I doubt if I'll be back to revisit them. Firstly The Wharf Inn.
Originally the Weymouth Arms, its name was changed to the Wharf Inn when it became a stop on the Kington to Eardisley horse-drawn tramway which opened in 1820. The line of this is visible on the right of the above image. The tramway closed in 1862 and the last reference to The Wharf Inn that I've been able to find is in the 1863 Post Office Directory with a Richard Huxley living there. It's now a rather fine private residence.
I'll skip the George Inn for a moment and move on to the Greyhound. Text written by a local historian suggests that Winton House, now in residential use, at one time was the Greyhound as well as later being the Railway Inn. Hmmmm? I'm not totally convinced as in the 1881 census there were separate entries for both the Railway and the Greyhound. Maybe it was two separate buildings back then, each a pub. It's a possibility. I'll put a pic of the building in anyway as it's a nice half-timbered, Grade II listed, structure.
Now to return to the George and the Maidenhead. Sometime after the mid 1930s the George acquired a royal prefix becoming the Royal George and rather than celebrating a former monarch it commemorated a warship named after one. Owned by the same brewery, the pair were still in operation in 1961 when plans were announced to close one of them – the Maidenhead. The black and white image further up the page is a still taken from a short local news item from the time that is in the archives of the British Film Institute. If you click here you can get a glimpse inside the two pubs and hear the views of the regulars on the plans. It's a lovely little look back in time featuring a beer-guzzling dog.
So, the Maidenhead seems to have closed in 1961, but what about the Royal George? The most recent pint served crossed the bar of this Grade II listed pub in 2012. Its sign looks sad...
...and there are boards at the windows.
But the ship is not lost. Under the care of a local farmer and developer – a village resident – the seventeenth century pub is currently under renovation with plans for it it to include a café, soft play area, cinema and farm shop alongside the usual pub facilities. Here's wishing it success. As it says on their website, every village needs a pub.
Philip Pankhurst's photograph of The Wharf is copyright and reused 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. If you haven't done so already you can 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.