Book raises a glass to the history of our pubs
- Credit: Archant
A fascinating slice of the Sid and Otter valleys’ rich history has been served up in a new book which offers a pictorial retrospective on more than 450 Devon pubs.
The book, aptly titled Devon Pubs, is written by Andrew Swift and Kirsten Elliot and gives a charming insight into the pubs and inns hidden among sleepy towns and parishes lying within Devon.
The book takes a look back at the Five Bells in Ottery St Mary, which was probably built in the early nineteenth century.
Its landlord in 1839 came to an untimely end after being thrown from his horse while on his way back to Ottery, having just travelled to Woodbury to obtain his licence.
Under the next landlord, the pub went downhill, and in 1856, it was reported that he had been refused a renewal of his licence ‘on the ground that he kept his house in a noisy and disorderly manner’.
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The pub was demolished in the 1970s to make way for Canaan Way, which now runs between Mill Street and Hind Street.
The Rising Sun in Sidford is also covered. The inn opened on January 15, 1856, when the landlord John Cawley held a celebratory dinner for ‘about 50 of the tradesmen of Sidmouth, and those friends who supported him in obtaining the magistrates licence.
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It was put up for sale the following year, advertised as a ‘newly brick-built inn’ with ‘brewhouse, covered skittle alley and summer tea garden’.
The Golden Lion at Tipton St John gets a mention, too. It has seen few changes since its picture was taken in 1905.
But 57 years earlier, the pub as it stood then – in a thatched building on the other side of the road – was nearly destroyed by fire on two separate occasions.
Unbeknown to the pub’s blacksmith owner in 1848, one of his employees was a bit of a pyromaniac.
The owner discovered evidence of a small fire at the inn’s cellar just after Christmas.
A second blaze hit later, which spread to the cellar’s thatched roof, but was extinguished before it caused too much damage.
Ann Browne, who was employed at the pub, was arrested.
She was found not guilty after expressing her regret. She admitted starting the second fire - but fervently denied any involvement in the first.
Ironically, just before the current Golden Lion was completed across the road in 1874, another fire broke out at the old thatched inn and completely gutted the building.
Devon Pubs is available to buy at Paragon Books, in High Street.