Tag Archives: pub

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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Picture Postcard Parade: The Main Road and Selsey Arms, West Dean.

8 Feb

Regular readers of my blog might recognize this view, I have featured similar views a couple of times before (here and here) and last week we were just up the road. It is of course the entrance to the ancestral village of West Dean (near Chichester), Sussex, with the school on the left and the Selsey Arms pub on the right.

The difference with this card is its age, this card is postmarked 16th August 1950, probably making it at least two or three decades later than the others, and it was published the well-known publisher Raphael Tuck and Sons, Ltd.

There are a couple of clues in the picture which hint at a more “modern” card. At the bottom of the card is the end of a white line in the middle of the road, according to Wikipedia the first white lines in the UK appeared in 1921. The other noticeable difference is the line of telegraph poles on the left hand side of the road, look at all those insulators on the nearest one.

The nearest pole also has a small sign attached to it, in fact it is probably two signs, one facing each way along the road. I believe that they have the word telephone on them (this printed postcard is not detailed enough to be able to tell for certain), indicating to passing motorists the presence of a telephone kiosk nearby. Last time I was wandering around West Dean there was a telephone box down the road on the right-hand side of the road, just before the pub.

I wish the card was more detailed because I think I can see a bus stop on the left-hand side of the road (for buses towards Midhurst, Sussex) beyond the pub. Today the bus stop is a bit closer, almost opposite the pub, and has a bus shelter for when it rains.

A pub sign with a difference

7 Jul

Pubs have long been used as landmarks for navigation, they are helpful because they are quite easily recognised (most of them have a sign hanging outside) and it helps that many of them are built at road junctions.

The sign shown below at Singleton, West Sussex is unusual, possibly unique (if you know of a similar example then let me know), normally a fingerpost like this would be pointing the way to neighbouring villages, not nearby pubs.

Pub sign with a difference

I don’t know who is responsible for the sign, it appears to be in someone’s garden. I can’t imagine that the highways department of West Sussex County Council were responsible, but whoever is responsible it is a great idea.

According to the British Beer & Pub Association, almost 40 pubs a week are closing across Britain (or they were in the second half of last year), with two a week closing in the south of England. Clearly Singleton is in a very favoured location, with six pubs within a four mile radius.

Identifying my latest picture postcard

26 Apr

I received my latest eBay purchase yesterday, it was yet another old picture postcard, and a bit of an impulse buy. As you can see below, it is captioned Chilgrove from the Downs and of course I have ancestors from Chilgrove (near Chichester, Sussex) but what really appealed to me was that it was such a nice view, the flat countryside stretching for miles, with what looked like more of the (South) Downs on the horizon to the right.

Chilgrove from the Downs

Chilgrove from the Downs

I was pretty certain that it wasn’t my ancestor’s home on the postcard, they were actually on the Downs, but I wasn’t sure exactly where this view was.

I started with my Ordnance Survey Explorer map of the area and tried to pinpoint the buildings in the photo, Chilgrove doesn’t have many buildings so I didn’t think it would be too hard.

With the help of Google Maps aerial view I was able to identify the buildings, and then search for more details on the building and even a photo. It turns out that the building in the centre of the card is the White Horse Inn.

Great I thought, when I am walking the Downs and visiting West Dean I can pop over the hill and stop off at the pub (just to check I have the correct place you understand!) where perhaps my ancestor’s once drank.

However, all links now seem to point to The Fish House, a rather posh looking new restaurant, that neither my ancestors nor me would be at home in, especially after a hard days working (or walking) the fields.

I will still try and visit the same hill as the photographer (a W. Smith of Gosport) did and check if I am correct, before wandering off elsewhere in search of a ploughman’s lunch.

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