Tag Archives: house history

The Gun Inn, Blackboys: A little background on pub history

11 May

Pub history is something I became interested in through my local history studies, so it was really pleasing to discover that one of my ancestors had been the owner and licensee of a pub.

That ancestor was Henry HEMSLEY (my 3x great-grandfather) and the pub in question (actually a beerhouse) was The Gun Inn at Blackboys, Sussex. I have written several posts about Henry HEMSLEY before, but haven’t written a lot about the pub itself.

Pub history is closely related to family history because an important part of the pub is its people, whether it is the owners/workers or the people/organisations that used it. Many of the same sources are used such as census returns and directories.

Pub history is also closely related to house history after all it is about a building and it’s contents. As such it uses many of the same records that are used in house history, like tax and rate books and maps and plans.

Pubs have also generated their own set of records as a result of the fact that they were licensed. Of course they weren’t unique in being licensed but it has helped generate a potentially large set of records to investigate.

It also helps that pubs have always needed to attract customers, so they needed to be advertised, which means they are often mentioned in guide books and in more recent decades there have been books devoted to lists of pubs and their facilities.

As well as providing a resting place for the weary traveller they also served an important role in the local community, they have served as meeting places for a range of organisations and groups, another excuse for the pub to be featured in newspaper reports.

Then there is the physical building itself (if it still exists) which potentially offers many clues to its history and what it used to look like. There might be architectural features that provide a connection to a brewery or maybe the layout of the building will provide clues to the original layout of the building.

In short there are lots of sources of information for pub history, pulling them all together to create a complete picture can be a complicated task. Just like family history part of the challenge is knowing where to look for the information and not being disheartened when that missing piece of information is not where it should be.

Copyright © 2011 John Gasson.

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