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Woodborough’s Heritage

Woodborough, a Sherwood Forest Village, recorded in Domesday

Pubs & Beerhouses in Woodborough


By Bernard V Heathcote

In the minutes of the Quarter Sessions, held at Newark during the 17th century, there are a number of references to alehouses in Woodborrow [an earlier name for Woodborough]. The first was in 1607/08, when Henry Buck was indicted for allowing illegal games to be played although his occupation is not given, the event probably took place on licensed premises. During 1630 two victuallers, Edward Birket and Edward Trolove were fined for selling ale above the statutory price and in 1635 Thomas Crofts, was prosecuted for keeping a disorderly house, and likewise a labourer, Christopher Sellers, was indicted for drinking in an inn during the time of prayer. Unfortunately the signs of the alehouses in question are not recorded, but one further reference is of interest, relating to James Cliffe who was fined in 1660 for keeping a disorderly house. Was he the father of James Cliffe and the grandfather of Daniel Cliffe who kept the Bells [Four Bells] public house during the next century, if so, we can claim that the Four Bells was indeed a 17th century inn?

In 1727 three alehouse licences were granted, to Joseph Hodges, John Charlton and James Cliffe. There are a number of other alehouse references in the Quarter Sessions and in the 18th century Nottingham newspapers. For instance in the Nottingham Weekly Courant of February 1762 the sale of a farm and land was advertised at the house of Daniel Cliffe at the sign of the Bells at Woodborough.

To be sold to the Best Bidder at the house of Daniel Clift [Cliffe], known by the sign of the Bells in Woodborough: on Tuesday the 16th February 1762, between the hours of one and three in the afternoon. A good farm house in Woodborough, with barns, stables and other convenient out-buildings, dovecote, malt kiln with convenient malt floors and rooms; a very good orchard and homestead containing upwards of two acres; one close of pasture in Woodborough of two acres and a small pringle [field] about a rood, together with 12 acres of arable land (Note 109).

There are further references to the Bells, in the newspapers between 1791 and 1799, by this time the licence had passed to John Gadsby. Between 1774 and 1798, Noah Wood features as the occupant of the Punch Bowl Inn. In 1796 the Punch Bowl, was offered for sale; the schedule giving some early details about the size and layout of this public house.

In addition to the Bells and the Punch Bowl one other public house is recorded in the 18th century newspapers going by the name of the Boot and Shoe. This is the only reference to this inn that I have found, unless it was renamed the Punch Bowl under the patronage of Noah Wood from 1774 [see below].

To be sold by Auction: On Friday the 24th May 1771, being the Friday in Whitsun-week of the Boot and Shoe at Woodborough, six miles from Nottingham, a copyhold estate situate at Woodborough aforesaid, now in the tenure of Edward Gadsby, consisting of three tenements, barns and stable, an homestead of half an acre of good land and common rights for beasts, horses and sheep without stint. The auction will begin at four in the afternoon. This estate will be put up at sixty guineas, to bid two guineas each bidding, and it absolutely will be sold to the highest bidder (Note 110).

The Bugle Horn

The Bugle Horn was established as a beer shop in 1853, under the terms of the Beer Act of 1830 (Note 111). After the repeal of the above Act, it came, on the 10th August 1872, under the magistrates control as a licensed beerhouse, for the sale of beer only (Note 112). Joseph Leafe was the licensee, succeeded by his son Joseph Richard in 1886.

The Bugle Horn on Main Street extreme left in 1913

Joseph was the brother of William Leafe who kept the White Lion in Lambley; their parents were Thomas [a framework knitter in Woodborough] and his wife Frances. Joseph Leafe owned the property, but probably for financial reasons in 1878 Christopher Wyld of Woodborough had a part share, this passed to his widow, Susan Wylde in 1892 who by 1896 became the sole owner. In 1921 the licensing authorities debated the renewal of the licence for the Bugle Horn. They reported:

The house stands on the main road in the village, nearly opposite to the church and contains three rooms which are used by the public, namely a Bar 11 feet by 10 feet, a Parlour 27 feet by 10 feet 4 inches, at one end, and 14 feet at the other end, and a Tap Room 13 feet by 10 feet 6 inches. These are the only rooms on the ground floor and the licensee and his family use the Tap room as a living room. The house is in a dilapidated condition. The Parlour is in a very bad state, the brick floor having been worn away, the Tap room and Bar have low ceilings. The walls of all the rooms have perished very badly. The brewhouse roof has fallen in, in places, and the tiles have become dislodged. The brewing utensils are very old and have been there for many years. The urinal affords no privacy whatsoever. It is 10 feet away from the back door and 15 feet from the brewhouse wall.

In addition to the Bugle Horn there were, in 1921, three licensed premises in the parish of Woodborough, namely, the Four Bells a fully licensed house situated 66 yards away from the Bugle Horn on the west side, the Nag’s Head, a fully licensed house 530 yards distant from the Bugle Horn on the east side and the New Inn a fully licensed house which is 900 yards away from the Bugle Horn on the north side. The Bugle Horn was the worst of the licensed houses from a structural point of view. Beer was brewed on the premises both at the Bugle Horn and the Nag’s Head. All four houses sold about the same quantity of beer, that is to say, about 70 gallons each week.

The police objected to the renewal of the licence in respect of the Bugle Horn on the grounds of structural deficiency and structural unsuitability of the premises and of redundancy. The view of the Licensing Authority was that premises of the Bugle Horn were structural unsuitable as licensed premises. Having regard to these facts and also the character and necessities of the neighbourhood, and to the number of licensed houses in the immediate vicinity, they were of the opinion that the licence which was now held in respect of the Bugle Horn unnecessary. Therefore, in the interests of the public, the renewal of the said licence was not desirable. The current licence expired on 1st April 1922 and the Bugle Horn closed its doors (Note 113) and joined the Punch Bowl, whose licence was refused to be renewed by the authorities in 1907.

The premises of the Bugle Horn were later demolished and a private house, built in 1978, now stands on the site.

Link: Appendix for more information and photographs on Bugle Horn


The Cock & Falcon

William Hogg was a farmer, in Woodborough, and in 1823 he obtained a victualler’s licence to open an alehouse at his premises in the Main Street (Note 114). He continued to run his farm and the alehouse, which he styled the Cock & Falcon, until his death in May 1845, aged 58 years. The Cock & Falcon and farm were then managed, by his wife Sarah, and his youngest son, William. Mother and son ran the Cock & Falcon until Mrs Hogg died in April 1855 aged 69. However, tragedy had occurred in the family in 1847 when the wife of John Hogg, William’s brother, hanged herself at their farm in Woodborough and an inquest was held at the Cock & Falcon.

Suicide of a young married woman: An inquest was held on Saturday 25th September 1847, at Mrs [Elizabeth] Hogg’s the Cock & Falcon in Woodborough, upon Elizabeth Hogg, aged 28, wife of John Hogg, farmer of Woodborough. Sarah Richardson, aged 15, deposed, that she was a servant to the deceased. On the morning of the day prior to the inquest, Elizabeth Hogg brought her sixth-month old baby to her and asked her to wash and dress it, as she was feeling sick, and was going to lie down. When Mr Hogg came in from his farm, for his dinner at twelve o’clock, he was told that his wife was upstairs. He went in search of her and found her in the garret; she was hanging by a noose, and was quite cold and dead. He fetched Mr Osbourne, surgeon, and together they cut her down. It seems that for some time past she had suffered from pains in her head, which greatly troubled her. The jury returned a verdict of: Hung herself during a temporary state of insanity.

Auctions (Notes 115 & 116) and four inquests were held at the Cock & Falcon between 1831 and 1847 [Miscellany Table 1.]. It continued as a public house, until sometime in the 1860’s, although William Hogg junior was still living at this address at the time of census return of 1871 but it appears that by now he was also no longer farming but listed as a collector of rents.

The Cock & Falcon remained a one-family concern and the reason for its closure is not clear. It is of course feasible it was refused a new licence under the terms of the new Licensing Act of 1869.

Link: Appendix for additional information and plans for the Cock & Falcon

Earliest known photograph taken in 1922 for the sale catalogue of the Woodborough Hall estate.

The Four Bells

Formerly the Bells, Bell, Ring of Bells, Five Bells or Eight Bells

The first definitive record to this public house in Woodborough was in 1762, when an advertisement appeared in the Nottingham Weekly Courant advertising that a farm house was to be auctioned in The Bells, the house of Daniel Cliff (Note 109). However 35 years earlier, it is recorded that James Cliffe obtained an alehouse licence. Genealogical searches, led me to come to the conclusion, that James was the father of Daniel Cliffe, so possibly the Bells may have existed at this early date. It may have indeed been an alehouse at an even earlier date as it has already been recorded [see above] that James Cliffe was listed as a victualler in the Quarter Sessions of 1660.

Photographed just after opening following a full rebuild in 1928.

The sign “Four Bells” first featured in the 18th century, when it was recorded that a Friendly Society, met there in 1794 (Note 117), but for many years hence the other titles were sometimes used. The Four Bells was a reasonably substantial building, and appeared to be a popular venue for holding auctions of land and houses, and coroners’ inquests. In 1872, it was recorded that it had seven rooms, four of which were open to the public. Also featured were stables to accommodate eight horses; the annual value was £18. For a number of years the Four Bells was owned by members of the church, they included Rev. Murray Wilkins of Southwell, Rev. Sherlock and Rev. Trebeck. By 1891 the Inn had passed into the ownership of the laity, and in this year it was sold. The new owner being Robert Halford, an estate agent in Nottingham. In 1898 the Home Brewery bought the Four Bells and today the current owner is Pub Enterprises of Edinburgh.

The ground floor of the Four Bells dated 1926

To be sold by auction: On Monday, 23rd day of February, 1891 at 5 o’clock in the evening, at the “Four Bells” Inn, Woodborough, all that old established Inn called the “Four Bells”, with Granary, Cart Shed, Cow-house, Stables and other out-buildings; also the orchard and croft occupied therein; and containing in the whole three roods and twenty-four perches or thereabouts (Note 118). In addition there were another nine lots of land to be sold all in the occupation of Mrs Emma Reavill [the current licensee of the Four Bells].

Traditionally the occupants of the Four Bells had been farmers, and after the death of both, father-in-law William Reavill and her husband John, Emma Reavill acquired both the licence and the associated farm land. Shortly after the above sale Emma left the Four Bells.

The above plan shows that in 1926, the Four Bells had three public rooms, one of which was a luncheon room designed to attract family groups who were visiting Woodborough. This was a facility which was also being incorporated into some other village public houses. It was in this year that the Four Bells was re-built.

Top left - Lounge Bar in 1999.

Top right - Public Bar  in 1999

Left - Clarence Levers (2nd right) in 1971

The two photographs above were taken before a major interior conversion of the Four Bells during 1999, when the two separate rooms were merged into one; a transformation that was currently happening to a number of public houses in the area.

At one time publicans often remained as licensees for many years in the same hostelry. Clarence Levers served for 21 years, at the  

Four Bells between 1950 and 1971. The accompanying photograph shows him receiving a token of appreciation at his retirement in 1971. He was succeeded by Andrew Round and his wife Doris who between them ran the Four Bells for 28 years between 1971 and 1999. Doris Round retired in 1999.

Over the period 1831 to 1862 ten coroners’ inquests were taken at the Four Bells [Miscellany Table 1.], a summary of one of these is illustrated below.

Child drowned in a pipkin: On Wednesday 29th August 1860, Mr Coroner Swann held an inquest at the Four Bells Inn, Woodborough, on the body of Elizabeth Mellows, a little girl of about a year and half old, the daughter of Samuel Mellows, a tailor. The child had met with her death the previous day under circumstances of a singular nature. A pipkin [an earthenware jar] about two feet deep had been set outside her parents’ house to catch rain-water. The child being missed, a search was made for her, and at last her father found her lying in the pipkin and though the water in the vessel was only four inches deep and she could not have been there more than seven minutes, she was apparently drowned. Mr Osbourne, surgeon, was sent for and in the meantime, the parents laid the body by the fire and rubbed it but on arrival of the surgeon he declared life to be extinct. There were some bricks by the side of the pipkin and it would appear the child had climbed onto them in order to ladle out some water with a little tin can she had in her hand and thus fallen in. The jury returned a verdict of accidental death.

Link: Appendix for additional information and plans for the Four Bells

Half Moon

Paul Richardson was a grocer in Woodborough and at sometime during the 1830’s he additionally began to serve his customers with beer on his premises which he styled the Half Moon. He undoubtedly obtained a Customs & Excise licence under the terms of the Beer Act of 1830. An advertisement in the Nottingham Review of 1839 shows that he was well-established, presumably as a publican in that year being supported by later entries in the Nottinghamshire Trade Directories. Although he continued to trade as a grocer he appears to have relinquished his victualling activities by the 1850’s.

To be sold by auction: Freehold House and Orchard at Woodborough at the sign of the Half Moon in Woodborough in the County of Nottingham, on Thursday 26th September 1839, at three o’clock in the afternoon. All that newly erected messuage or tenement, with the garden and orchard, well stocked with fruit trees, thereto adjoining and containing by measurement as now staked out, three roods and ten perches or thereabouts in the occupation of the owner, Mr Benjamin Greaves (Note 119).

Link: Appendix for additional information for the Half Moon


Nag’s Head

This public house appears to have been established about 1870 (Note 120); it was owned by Noah Wood who farmed in Lambley and Woodborough. Whether it existed at an earlier date is open to conjecture. In 1872 it was described as having eight rooms, four of which were open to the public and had stabling to accommodate four horses. The annual value was £19 19s. The Nag’s Head was initially a beerhouse, but in 1874 it was granted a full alehouse licence, enabling spirits to be sold (Note 121). Noah Wood sold the premises in 1880 and the new owner was Robey Liddington Thorpe, a solicitor in Nottingham, passing to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners on the 10th of May 1909. In 1924 it was bought by the then tenant, Arthur Shaw, but by 1956, it had been acquired by Hardy & Hansons, Brewers of Kimberley. The first licensee was Edward Robinson but in 1875 the new innkeepers was 23 year old William Hogg, who remained as tenant for over 20 years.

At one time the Nag’s Head had a lean-to extension on the right-hand side of the building, but in order to widen the road, this was demolished about 1927. Initially beer was brewed in the Inn, however by 1956, coinciding with take-over by Hardy & Hansons, the brew-house was no longer functioning and in the plan below it is named as a store room.

Left: Nags Head in 1997.

Below left: Ground floor plan dated 4th March 1927. Below right: Ground floor plan dated 5th July 1956.

Link: Appendix for additional information and photographs for the Nag’s Head

The New Inn

The New Inn, situated on Shelt Hill, was established by the time of the 1861 census return for Woodborough; the then licensee being William Harrison. Although it seems very likely that it was operative from about 1853, for Harrison’s name is associated with a beer house listed in a trade directory of 1853 (Note 122), he appears on the 1851 census returns for Woodborough as a cottager having 15 acres of land. In August 1861, the New Inn, with stables, cow hovels and other out-buildings together with seven acres and one rood of land was sold to a Richard Essam (Note 123). However it appears that sometime later it was purchased by the then tenant, William Harrison, and after his death in August 1862 aged 52 years, the ownership passed to his widow, Sarah Harrison and remained in her possession until 1877. In 1872 the New Inn had eight rooms, four of which were open to the public. In addition there was stabling to accommodation four horses. The annual value was £15.

In 1926 the police objected to the renewal of the licence of the New Inn. At that time it was stated that the building was a very old one and contained three rooms which were available to the public, namely a Best Room, 11ft by 12ft and 7ft 9ins high, a Tap Room, 12ft by 12ft and 8ft 3ins high and another room 8ft by 10ft and 9ft high. A portion of the passage was used as a serving bar only. There were 14½ acres of land to the house, 10 acres being grassland, 2½ acres a market garden and an orchard of two acres. The rent of the house was £28 and that of the land £42 per year, while the rateable value was £18 and £28 10s respectively.  

Above: The former New Inn in 2000

The licensee sold 18 gallons of beer, three bottles of spirits and half a gallon of port wine each week in winter and in summer the weekly sales were three 18 gallon barrels of beer, three bottles of spirits and half to one gallon of port wine. In addition the sales of bottled beer amounted to about 72 bottles per week. The cost of goods supplied to the New Inn between 1st May 1925 and 27th January 1926 were: Barrel Beer to Shipstones £305 16s 7d, to Offilers
£45 15s, to Nottingham Brewery £32 18s 8d, Spirits: to Chambers £48 3s 3d, to Skinner & Rook £40, to Kirkby £10 12s 3½d, to Marlow £3 10s, Bottled Beer: to Skinner & Rook £49 9s 5d, to Home Brewery £55 18s 8d, Cigars, Tobacco etc. to Kirkby £13 8s 2d, to Waite £71 9s 8d, to Perkin £17 15s 7d.

George Henry Maltby, the current licensee, agreed that the profits from the public house were hardly enough to pay the rates and taxes of the house and he had to work at his market garden to make a living. There were two other licensed premises in the parish of Woodborough, the Nag’s Head, a fully licensed free house 400 yards from the New Inn and the Four Bells, a fully licensed tied house 1000 yards away. Both these houses are situated in the village and in a more advantageous position for catering than the New Inn. They also have better accommodation for the public and for vehicular traffic.

The view of the Renewal Authority was that, having regard to the character and necessities of the neighbourhood, and the number of licensed houses in the immediate vicinity, the licence for the New Inn was unnecessary, and that in the interest of the public the renewal of the licence is not desirable. The New Inn closed its doors soon after the refusal document was issued on the 20th April 1926 and compensation was refused (Note 124). The building survives as a private house today. Since 1877 the New Inn had changed hands on a number of occasions but at the time of closure the owner was Lady Charnwood Litchfield.

The Punch Bowl

This is an 18th century public house from at least 1774 under the tenure of Noah Wood. In 1796 it was sold at an auction in Nottingham.

To be sold by auction at the house of Mrs Lart, the Bell Inn, in the Market Place, Nottingham, on Saturday 26th day of March in 1796 at three o’clock in the afternoon. A freehold estate situated at Woodborough in the County of Nottingham and may be entered upon at Lady Day next. A good accustomed public house known by the sign of the Punch Bowl and now in the tenure of Noah Wood; consisting of four ground rooms, with chambers over them, a good arched cellar and a homestead containing three roods, 31 perches. There is also a most excellent garden, extremely well fenced and containing near half an acre. The said house if thought more convenient might, for a few shillings expense, be made into two dwellings, there being two pairs of stairs (Note 125).

Left: The former Punch Bowl, Main Street in 1999. It is now known as Punch Bowl House.

Noah Wood continued as the licensee of the Punch Bowl until his death in 1821; he was buried at Woodborough on the 2nd December of that year. His son Thomas then succeeded to the Punch Bowl until he died on Christmas Day 1841, the tenure of the Inn then passed to his son, Thomas, who maintained the licence until about 1860 when William Ashmore became the new tenant. In the early 1870’s Ashmore took over the licence for the New Inn in Woodborough. However it appears that the

Punch Bowl had been purchased at some stage by a member of the Wood family, possibly Noah, as early as 1796 when it appeared at auction [see above]. The family owned the Inn until 1883, their association of the Punch Bowl as tenants and/or owners ending after a period of over a hundred years. Ownership remained in private hands for another ten years until it was purchased by Tom Gamble, Mineral Water Manufacturer in Nottingham and acquired by Home Brewery in 1898. The Punch Bowl returned into private hands after its closure as a public house in 1907. The property stands in the Main Street of Woodborough today.

In 1872 the Punch Bowl had eight rooms; four of them open to the public. The stables could accommodate three horses; the annual value was £18.

At the Licensing Meeting on 28th February 1906 the renewal of the licence for the Punch Bowl was refused (Note 126) and this public house finally closed on 2nd March 1907. The Punch Bowl was sufficiently spacious to hold coroners’ inquests for during the period 1847 and 1861 seven were held there [Miscellany table 1.]. One of these is highlighted below.

Awful death of a Waterloo man; An inquest was held on the 9th December and by adjournment on the 13th December 1861 at the Punch Bowl Inn, Woodborough, touching the death of John Atherley aged 65 years. The deceased was a pensioner, and formerly served in the Scots’ Greys, with which regiment he fought at the battle of Waterloo. On the 2nd December he went to Nottingham, to draw his monthly pension, and on his return called at the Punch Bowl public house. Although he was then intoxicated he called for a pint of hot ale with three pennyworth of gin in it. After drinking that, he together with two or three boon companions, sat drinking gin and ale until the house was closed. The deceased was so drunk that he did not leave the house, but slept where he had had his last drink. The following morning he had tea and bacon for breakfast and during the day again got intoxicated. The following day [Friday] he appeared to be rather more sober, although the landlady filled him two or three pints of ale. He went to bed in the afternoon and lay undisturbed until 9 o’clock when the landlord, Mr Ashmore, found him to be dead. There was no discoloration about the face and no discharge from the mouth. A small box containing opium was found in his pocket but Mr Osbourne, surgeon, of Epperstone having made a post-mortem examination of the body, stated at the inquest that there was no symptoms of poison in the internal part of the body and that he had no doubt death had resulted from apoplexy [a stroke] brought on by excessive drinking. Verdict: Died from apoplexy brought on by excessive drinking and not by poison.

The Royal Oak

John Toplis opened a beer-shop, which he called the Royal Oak, in Woodborough soon after the publication of the Beer Act of 1830, which he ran with his wife Sarah. However, in 1845 the premises were sold and it seems that at this point Toplis ceased trading.

To be sold by auction: On Monday the 17th day of February 1845, at five o’clock in the afternoon at the house of John Toplis, the sign of the Royal Oak in Woodborough, in the county of Nottingham, by the direction of the trustees of the Mr Joseph Hucknall. A good substantially-built messuage situated in Woodborough aforesaid, with a garden, large yard, outbuildings and other conveniences which communicate with the public town-street; also a close of grass land adjoining, lately in the possession of Mrs Mary Hucknall but now untenanted. Also the messuage, being the sign of the Royal Oak above referred to, now occupied by the said John Toplis as a retail brewery and which adjoins the yard belonging to the above premises (Note 127).


Unnamed Beer-Shop

Charles Wood was a butcher in Woodborough who opened his house during the 1860’s to sell beer, under an excise licence, in accordance with the terms of the 1830 Beer Act. At the licensing sessions, in September 1866, he applied to the magistrates to additionally sell spirits but was refused (Note 128). He possibly continued to trade until the Beer Act was withdrawn in 1869. In the 1871 census return for Woodborough, Charles Wood was listed as a butcher, and his premises described as a former beer house, next to the Wood Yard in the Main Street.


Acknowledgements (these are relevant to the complete book)

I would like to thank the staff of the Local Studies Library, Nottingham Central Library, for their cheerful co-operation over the period of my research and especially Dorothy J. Ritchie, for her assistance in helping to select the illustrations from their collection. I also acknowledge the help and courtesy I received from the staff of the Nottinghamshire Archives. I very much appreciate the expert help and guidance that has been cheerfully given by my friend Dennis Apple in reading the proof, correcting my typographical errors and helping to solve my computer problems. I am also grateful to Mr G.B. Stokes, Mrs J.M. Squires, Mrs S.J. Green, Mr G. Smith, Mrs P. Wyler, Mr J.R. Jeffrey, Mr J.W. Taylor, Mr A. Pearce, Mrs D. Piggott, Mr & Mrs D. & M. Bagley, Mr Levers and Mrs L. Grice for providing me with copies of photographs for publication. My thanks also to Mrs N.J. Rae for providing me with her sketch map of south Nottinghamshire which is reproduced on the inside back cover. Also every effort has been made to contact others who may own the copyright of images in order to seek their permission to include them in this publication.

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